Given the highly secretive nature of their show, Game of Thrones show-runners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are disinclined to give too many interviews taking fans behind the scenes of the popular HBO series. But the annual insider look from Entertainment Weekly has arrived, and it contains some bad news for all you Brienne-and-Tormund lovers out there.
“We need to kill one of them now,” Benioff says in reference to the popular pairing of the red-headed Wildling and the lady warrior. “There can’t be a happy ending or any romantic connection on the show. But we’re not going to tell you which one.” This obvious joke (seriously, he’s probably joking), however, is not the bad news. Before they threaten to murder one or both of these audience favorites, Weiss and Benioff reveal a little more detail about how the Brienne-and-Tormund “relationship” developed from page to screen. It started, Benioff says, with a tiny bit of stage direction for Tormund in the Season 6 script that read: “He stares at Brienne because he’s never seen a woman like that before.” That was it. “And then,” Benioff adds, “we let the actors do what they do.”
The only other real interaction between Brienne and Tormund (fan-generated “ships” have been built on far less) came as the two were preparing to ride off in different directions. This time, Weiss says, the interaction was entirely unscripted. “She looks at him and he smiles at her. It’s not something you could ever write. It’s just this moment where this guy is creeping out on her and he smiles in a way that makes her very uncomfortable and she just looks away. I saw it 150 times and every time it made me laugh; it’s purely the two of them.”
So the bad news here is not that Brienne and/or Tormund might die before Game of Thrones is over. (You learned that lesson a long time ago, didn’t you?) It’s that the entire “relationship” here has nothing to do with the books (in which these two characters have never met) nor even some master plan Weiss and Benioff have been constructing. In fact, Weiss’s accurate description of Tormund “creeping out on [Brienne]” should throw some cold water on some more creative audience fantasies. You know what relationship is based on both the books and some clearly laid groundwork from the Game of Thrones writers?
That‘s the one. It’s not to say that Weiss and Benioff won’t lean into the overwhelmingly positive feedback Brienne and Tormund received from audiences as they write the rest of the series. A flirtatious photo of the pair having a nice reunion at Winterfell was part of the official Season 7 promotional material. But it might be worth emphasizing that while Tormund seems very much into Brienne, the lady from Tarth still seems to have zero interest in him. She does, however, still seem captivated with Jaime Lannister, so perhaps that duo is more worthy of your support.
But whether it be Kingslayer or Wildling or little Bear . . .
. . . Brienne, along with the rest of the cast, will be having a lot of reunions on the show this year. That’s something both Weiss and Benioff are eager to promise. Weiss says:
To me what’s most exciting is being able to play interactions between
various characters that for years we haven’t been able to play. There’s
a whole bunch of reunions and first time meetings that people have
been waiting for for a long time and when you put it on paper you just
want to do justice to the work that these guys have done building
these characters over so many years. You want to give them as much as
So reunions and battles (lots and lots of battles) are the safest bet for Season 7. Tune in for all the heartwarming hugs and heartbreaking carnage when Game of Thrones returns on Sunday, July 16.