Why We Decided to Have Hillary Clinton Go Mad First Lady and Burn the White House to the Ground in the Final Season of America

Photo by Gage Skidmore

David Benioff: You know for a lot of fans, this comes as a really shocking moment in the West.

D.B. Weiss: It seems almost uncharacteristic for our heroine.

David Benioff: This is someone we’ve cheered on for years. Someone we believed was going to make the West more peaceful when she finally takes the Oval Office. Someone who’s going to bring access to universal healthcare, and better public schools, and a decent minimum wage. So, to a lot of people, this act seems out of character and out of line.

D.B. Weiss: David and I talked it out extensively in writers meetings going into the final season in 2016. Is this believable? Will audiences buy it? Are we jumping the shark? And what we decided is that yes, absolutely, this is ridiculous, but yes, absolutely, this is true to her arc.

David Benioff: I think, on an instinctive level, you’re right to say there’s no way she would do what she does. The Negotiator of Arab-Israeli Ceasefires, Enemy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Video Game Violence, First Presidential Candidate of Her Kind — that’s not her.

D.B. Weiss: Even in a drama known for spectacle, betrayal, and an utterly cynical view of power in politics, it’s cold.

David Benioff: But for anyone who’s been following the show and her narrative closely, it’s set up from the beginning.

D.B. Weiss: She’s gone through a lot.

David Benioff: At the start, she’s in what becomes a very emotionally complicated marriage with a head of state who abuses his power to his own sexual satisfaction.

D.B. Weiss: But she somehow respects his legacy all the same.

David Benioff: Personally, I think of her every time I hear Pearl Jam play “Better Man.”

D.B Weiss: Let’s face it, her unprecedented ascent in politics is time and again, marred by blundering males less fit to rule.

David Benioff: And yet, she finds her way.

D.B. Weiss: Her following grows.

David Benioff: No matter the misogyny. No matter the unbridled hate from men who are fearful of her increasing power, or the public outcry for imprisonment.

D.B. Weiss: The strategists say she has the upper hand. And just when the Oval Office is in her grasp, and it seems our rightful ruler will finally lead — the scale tips.

David Benioff: The night of the penultimate episode, she finds herself even-matched with an opponent so unfit to rule… we don’t even need to talk about it.

D.B. Weiss: It’s a very dark and sudden moment. It’s abrupt. Her constituents betray her; and she’s isolated, alone. And psychologically, that’s a very vulnerable place to be. For someone with her power, that’s a very dangerous place to be.

David Benioff: When it became clear to us that America was coming to an end, I think there was this feeling like: Well, if this is the series finale, we’d better go big.

D.B. Weiss: Going into those final episodes in 2016, it was important to David and I to earn that spectacle, to push her to the edge, to write her into a place where all she could do is…

David Benioff: A lot of fans say we went too far.

D.B. Weiss: My inbox is full of hate mail…

David Benioff: “Coast Guard’s Blackjack would have intercepted her.”

D.B. Weiss: “So much for Secret Service. WTF?”

David Benioff: “Who needs Kevlar when you have plot armor and a pant suit?”

D.B. Weiss: Viewers are ok with Hillary straddling a dragon all the way from Chappaqua to DC — even though, when you think about it, that’s a lot of strain for the hips.

David Benioff: She does her own stunts. She’s amazing.

D.B. Weiss: It’s not explicit that she was gifted a dragon egg during her travels for the Department of State, but it’s implied.

David Benioff: We like to say it could have happened off-screen.

D.B. Weiss: Viewers are all right with her incinerating #45 as flees the White House in Marine One, too.

David Benioff: I love their last exchange.

D.B. Weiss: He’s leaning out the helicopter to use his catchphrase, “You’re fired!” And she just goes, “Dracarys.”

David Benioff: No one said anything about her BBQ’ing McConnell and the Senate alive, either.

D.B. Weiss: It’s when she razes swathes of MAGA country that critics have a hard time suspending disbelief.

David Benioff: We made the main character go “crazy.”

D.B. Weiss: But you think about what just happened to her at the end there — she would have been crazy if she didn’t do it.

David Benioff: I get stopped in the street by people who say they used to be big fans of America, telling me, “It wasn’t supposed to end like this! I didn’t think it would end like this!”

D.B. Weiss: But that’s the point: Nobody did.

David Benioff: This show has always been about subverting expectations.