This story contains some spoilers.
“Fire and Blood,” the season finale of HBO’s fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” set a new ratings high, according to EW.
“Game of Thrones” attracted 3 million viewers during its initial Sunday showing and finished the night with 3.9 million viewers after including the 11 p.m. encore.
In contrast, the pilot scored 2.2 million viewers during its initial showing.
When accounting for encores, HBO On Demand and DVRs, the series averaged 8.3 million total viewers per episode.
The airing of the finale comes on the heels of last week’s shocking death of Sean Bean’s character Ned Stark. His loss left many fans bewildered. Executive producers David Benioff (“Troy,” “The Kite Runner”) and D.B. Weiss anticipated a strong audience response.
“We don’t have a sadistic reaction, we’re not taking pleasure in people’s pain because we get it — we had a similar reaction when we read the book,” Weiss explained. “But we wanted a strong reaction and we got one. I think apathy is the worst thing when making a show like this. If people are infuriated, it’s great that this fictional world has such an impact.”
Benioff feels it was crucial that they create a world where you’re constantly in fear for its characters.
“It creates a huge amount of suspense,” he said. “You kind of cling to the characters when you know you can lose them at any moment.”
“Ned dying is telling a hard truth about the price of honor and the price of morality in a world where not everybody has the same values as you do,” Weiss said. “It’s not a simplistic redemptive message, where you sacrifice yourself and it saves the day. At lot of times sacrifice ends up being futile.”
Based on author George R.R. Martin’s acclaimed “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, “Game of Thrones” chronicles a treacherous clash among royal families to secure ultimate power of Westeros, a vast kingdom where life is often fraught with peril and shockingly short.
HBO has renewed the show for a second season, which will be based on Martin’s second novel “A Clash of Kings.”
The series stars Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Fairley, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Kit Harington.
See our review of the finale here.
Take a inside look at the finale here.
See more of Benioff and Weiss’ interview with EW here.