After the Battle of Winterfell, many viewers were disappointed to see a lot of fan-favorite characters make their exit from Game of Thrones. But the HBO TV series still had a lot of ground to cover; the Long Night ended, the Night King was defeated, but Cersei still sat on the Iron Throne. So with that unfinished business, Jon Snow had to aid his queen in marching on King's Landing. But fans still had a problem with the absence of Ghost. Jon didn't even say goodbye to his direwolf, instead simply transfering ownership to his wildling pal Tormund Giantsbane.
Audiences were stunned that the episode failed to depict Snow saying goodbye to the beloved companion, though director David Nutter claims it was the requirement of CGI to convey such a moment that the episode opted to avoid the interaction.
“Since the direwolves are kind of CG creations, we felt it best to keep it as simple as possible,” Nutter shred with Huffington Post. “And I think that it played out much more powerfully that way.”
Fans might disagree with the sequence being more powerful this way, as they were quick to hop on social media to voice their displeasure with Jon leaving such an important part of his life behind. However, as anyone who has had to say goodbye to a pet can tell you, it is often the most difficult goodbye you'll ever have to say, so by avoiding the gesture, Jon was preventing himself the heartache, even though Ghost clearly deserved a loving sendoff.
“Keeping Ghost off to the side, I thought that played out better,” Nutter claimed. "Then he just walks off by himself, he turns to Ghost and has this moment with Ghost that I thought was very, very powerful."
Ghost isn't the only one Jon left behind, as the direwolf set out with his Night's Watch companion Samwell Tarly and partner in combat Tormund.
“I think that Jon knows what he’s leaving behind," Samwell actor John Bradley pointed out. "Jon Snow is a noble man, and he knows all about sacrifice ... He knows what he has to keep safe, and he knows he has a responsibility to Ghost and a responsibility to Sam, Gilly and Baby Sam because he knows where they’ll be safe.”
He added, "He was very aware of the sacrifice of leaving those figures behind, and they know — hopefully, Ghost knows what he means to Jon — and Jon knows what Ghost means to him.”
The direwolves debuted in the first episode of the series, with each of the Stark children adopting their own. Tormund actor Kristofer Hivju pointed out that, while fans would love to see Ghost stay with Jon, the canines shouldn't have been that far south in the first place.
“I think Jon is right that the south isn’t the place for a direwolf," the actor noted. "In Episode Two or Three they killed one of them [Lady, Sansa’s direwolf] — it’s a wild animal, it’s like a wolf plus two! I think it’s best for Ghost to go north.”
With the series nearly over, fans are hoping to catch a glimpse of the characters safely heading north, but Hivju noted, "Well, there’s still two more episodes to go. We don’t know if they survive.”
New episodes of Game of Thrones air Sunday nights on HBO at 9 p.m. ET.
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