The Sand Snakes are likely counted as Game of Thrones’ biggest misfire, though the outcome of Sunday’s “Stormborn” was no less shocking. Now, star Jessica Henwick reveals how Iron Fist changed her character’s arc in Season 7, and why the Sand Snakes’ introduction might have stumbled as it did.

You’re warned of full Game of Thrones spoilers from here on out, but more malicious fans partly got their wish with Sunday’s “Stormborn,” as both Nymeria (Henwick) and Obara Sand (Keisha Castle-Hughes) were given inglorious exits at the hand of Euron Greyjoy. It came as something of a surprise that Henwick returned at all, given her commitment to Marvel’s Iron Fist and The Defenders, and as Henwick tells Entertainment Weekly, Season 7 actually had larger plans for Nymeria that her availability affected:

The plan was for it to be a more of a drawn out storyline. But because of my limited schedule [the story changed]. The first thing I thought was that it’s brutal. It’s hard reading these scenes where characters you love are getting absolutely demolished. And in our case, it’s by a crazy madman. I knew it was going to be very intense and very physical. I was excited because on the page you could feel the scope of it. And there is something fulfilling about finishing it.

Granted, Season 7 likely has further plans for Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) and their mother Ellaria (Indira Varma), but few fans will likely lament the loss of such underdeveloped characters. In that regard at least, Henwick acknowledged the difficulty with adapting the literary Sand Snakes; to balance distinct characterizations with their simultaneous, shortened introductions:

I think that it was hard for [the producers] from a production point of view. In the books, there are seven Sand Snakes and there was a lot of discussions about how many were going to be introduced [in the show]. Originally it was going to be Obara, Tyene and then they couldn’t decide on Sarella or Nymeria. Obviously, I’m very lucky Nymeria ended up being the one they chose. It was always acknowledged that it was going to be very hard to give each of us a storyline. They had to introduce three characters all at once and differentiate them. When you’re limited to an introduction of two lines per character and there are four characters in the scene — during our introduction scene in season 5 — it’s hard to create a lasting impression. You kind of have to shove a character down the audience’s throat and Game of Thrones’ success is in its multifaceted characters. At the time it was definitely frustrating feeling like there’s so much potential here, and a lot of the stuff that we shot didn’t make the final cut. It was hard. But overall, given the size of the character, I’ve been very happy with how it’s come out. It is what it is. There’s nothing I can say, really.

Obara and Nymeria are far from the first or last Game of Thrones characters given abrupt exits over the encroaching endgame, but would Season 7 have been better off to draw out another Sand Snake storyline? Should Game of Thrones have steered clear of Dorne altogether?

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