Game of Thrones’ season 5 finale Sunday night featured a number of pivotal scenes, one of which was Cersei Lannister’s long-anticipated naked walk through the streets of King’s Landing.

Cersei’s Walk Of Shame

The High Sparrow had imprisoned Cersei, holding her in a dank cell for her crime of incest with her cousin Lancel. Cersei, after enduring the harsh treatment for a lengthy amount of time, decides that it’s time to confess her sins to gain her freedom. Upon confessing to her affair with Lancel, she believes that all will be done. The High Sparrow, however, has other plans for her.

After septas strip her bare and scrub her flesh, they take a dull razor to her long golden hair, giving her a jagged cropped cut and shallow lacerations to her head from carelessness. It is in this degraded state that Queen Regent Cersei Lannister will have to walk through mob-like crowds lined up on the streets, all the way to the Red Keep, as both insults and waste are indiscriminately thrown at her.

According to actress Lena Headey, the punishment that Cersei faces at the hands of the High Sparrow and his followers is a bit much. “Cersei has done wrong, but she doesn’t really deserve this,” Headey told Entertainment Weekly.

“I don’t think anyone deserves that treatment. She’s been beaten and starved and humiliated,” Headey added. “She thinks when she comes out and confesses that this is it—even when she’s on her knees [confessing to the High Sparrow], she’s partly lying. She thinks she’s good to go. She has no idea what’s coming when she walks out to the steps, or that they’re going to shave her hair off like Aslan.”

Read The Game Of Thrones Finale Recap HERE

Game of Thrones creator David Benioff says that the scene was designed to make viewers empathize with Cersei. After the indignity of the long trek, which leaves Cersei covered in eggs and spit and everything else, and with her feet torn to bloody shreds, she finally arrives at the castle. As she’s carried off to get cleaned up, her tears are replaced by a look of pure conviction.

“Watching this scene flips it all because she’s being so horrifically abused you start to feel for her,” Benioff told EW. “It’s almost impossible not to feel for her because she’s a human and being tormented. So what we hope is, by the last shot, is you’re almost rooting for her, in a way, and hope she gets her revenge on those who have mistreated her.”

George R. R. Martin, who wrote the books that Game of Thrones is based on, believes that Headey deserves most of the credit for the emotions evoked in the walk of atonement scene.

“Never underestimate the charisma of an actor or an actress, and how they portray the part,” Martin told Vulture. “Just seeing someone or hearing their voice can go a long way towards making a character more sympathetic. Sometimes it goes beyond words. And Lena is a very sympathetic actress. Great face. She can project sincerity. A different actress wouldn’t be able to sell it.”

Lena Headey On Nudity

Headey found it relatively easy to get into Cersei’s mindset while filming the nude scene. She was without the armor that Cersei’s long, flowing wig usually provides. And, even though she used a body-double for the scene, she was half-naked covered in slime, and having extras vehemently yelling terrible things at her. As Cersei, she understood that the only thing to do was to believe fully that survival was the only option.

“It’s not hard when people are screaming at you and you look like shit and you’re being f–king humiliated to figure out how that would feel,” Headey told Vulture. “There’s a part of you that’s f–king terrified. I can’t even imagine people wanting your blood.”

So what’s next for Cersei? “I think she’s got some people to kill before she’s done,” says Headey.

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