Helen Sloan/HBO
June 15, 2014 10:45 PM

If you haven’t watched Sunday’s epic finale of Game of Thrones, stop reading now.

Are you still here? Beware of spoilers. Seriously.

He may not have technically sat upon the Iron Throne, but Tywin Lannister certainly pulled the strings in the world of Westeros. So when he met an undignified death perched on a different throne, offed by his frequent target of scorn, his son Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), director Alex Graves says it compares to “Ned Stark getting killed” in the hit HBO show’s first season.

While the Lannister patriarch was loathed almost as much as his daughter Cersei and late grandson Joffrey, saying farewell to actor Charles Dance “was sort of like your last day of your favorite presidency,” says Graves. “It was a big thing because everyone’s crazy about Charles and crazy about Tywin.”

After his final scene, Graves says, “I had a big speech about Charles with [creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss] and we all applauded him and celebrated him and he was very touched. And there [was the] usual joking around but it was really pleasant.”

Graves calls Sunday night’s action a Game changer. “It’s going to shuffle the chess game dramatically,” he says. “The whole episode really resets the show and takes it into a territory that no finale ever has. The truth is it’s the big turning point in the middle of the book series where we really turn left and head towards new ground.”

What About Daenerys?

In more big news, what does it mean that the Mother of Dragons has to give her children a timeout? “The dragons are killing people and can’t really be controlled, so she has to seal the dragons away, in theory, forever,” says Graves. “It really ends with her completely destroyed, and [she’s] lost everything she’s got just so she can try to rule. Given the Targaryen blood, you begin to see a little bit of madness and that’s about the future of her character.”

Graves credits actress Emilia Clarke with making the scene so powerful. “It doesn’t get any better,” he says. “I don’t think in my whole life or career. Working with Emilia and everything coming out of her in that character.”

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Good Times in Westeros

But despite the heavy material, Graves says the cast managed to keep things light. “It’s very funny behind the scenes,” he says. “Everyone’s so polite and wonderful and then it’s like, ‘Well, how will they cut off his head in this scene?’ ”

With an eternity until the next episode, can Graves toss fans a spoiler bone for next year? “No way,” he says lightly. “The only thing I would tell you is that I would never tell you anything about the next season.”

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