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On HBO's Game of Thrones, death is inevitable — it is pretty much the whole show's mantra — however, some deaths still hit us harder than others. After seven seasons of murder and mayhem, you would've thought that we'd be used to seeing our favorite faces perish before our eyes, but alas, just like Tyrion Lannister reaching things on a high shelf, it never does get any easier.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones Season 7.
For five seasons, the Queen of Thorns lived up to her sharp namesake and Dame Diana Rigg proved that she was even more of a national treasure than we already knew. However, Season 7's "The Queen's Justice" saw Highgarden fall and Lady Olenna Tyrell's long run in Westeros come to an end. It was an odd scene to take in, and unlike the blood spraying of the show's usual agonizing adieus, Olenna got a fitting farewell that was just as dignified as herself.
The Thorn In Cersei's Side
As we put on our Olenna tribute veils of black and enter a stage of mourning, showrunner David Benioff spoke to EW about that rose-shaped hole in the show:
"When we initially cast Diana Rigg, we met with Nina Gold, our legendary casting director, and we had tea with her. Dames don’t audition for you, you audition for them. And we loved her. She was funny, she was bawdy, she was everything we wanted for that character."
"We’ve been very lucky to write for these legendary actors — like Diana Rigg. Max Von Sydow, Jim Broadbent, and Charles Dance — people who have been doing it for so long and are so frickin’ good at what they do. She’s one of the best in the world and [Olenna’s final scene] is one of my favorites in the whole season. She really brought it.”
As for that dramatic death scene, it was a lot more refined than your usual #GameofThrones parting. As Jaime Lannister gave Olenna a merciful glass of poison, she just couldn't leave it without twisting the blade one more time. After calling Joffrey Baratheon a "c*nt," Olenna revealed that it was she who poisoned the bratty bastard.
Hearing Rigg drop the C-bomb is a bit like learning that your grandma knows how to swear, or watching Dame Judi Dench kick a puppy — it was a little bit wrong, but pure poetry. However, Benioff's partner in crime, D.B. Weiss, noted that the last of the Tyrells got a rare victory in her death:
“What I love about the way she plays the scene is that even though you leave the scene knowing she’s soon going to be dead shortly after you cut to black you still feel like she won. She’s probably the only character to win her own death scene.”
When your time is up.
The term "favorite character" is bandied about a lot with a show like Game of Thrones, but you would be hard-pushed to find someone who didn't warm to the groovy granny. It is no surprise that Rigg has been nominated for three Emmys thanks to Thrones, and here's hoping that there is one more to come for Olenna's death scene.
Sharing that scene with Rigg was of course Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, but even the Kingslayer said it was a tough scene to film:
“He’s trying to be nice about it. But he’s still killing her, man. She’s an old lady, but she has to go!”
"Olenna is like Cersei in so many ways, but just from our point of view she’s been on the ‘good’ side. And I just love how she goes out. She goes out with bite. She’s never going to beg. She did an amazing job. It was fun to be there and when we wrapped the showrunners came around and said a few words. She’s had a huge impact on the series.”
Tragically, the death of Olenna saw the true falling of the Tyrell empire after their near-destruction during the Season 6 finale. At a time it looked like the family of roses could overthrow the Lannister lions, but #GeorgeRRMartin was never going to make it that easy, was he? Given that both Rigg's Olenna and Natalie Dormer's Margaery were given two of the best deaths ever to grace the show, at least HBO did justice to those fiery females and their throne of thorns.
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)