There are certainly characters on Game of Thrones who have met worse fates than Theon Greyjoy, but there’s a certain pathos to the former Ironborn that stays with viewers. Caught between his desire to please his alienated father, the political machinations of the Lannisters, and the mad sadist Ramsay Bolton, Theon was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. His fall from grace was slow and brutal, stripped even of his name, known now only as Reek.
Yahoo TV spoke with Alfie Allen, who plays Theon, about the inner workings of his character and what we might expect from him the rest of the season. Like many of the GoT actors, he’s also a fan of the show, and he tells us what it’s like watching as an outsider… and hints at another character’s fate.
The Theon Greyjoy we see today bears almost no resemblance to the young, cocksure — if a bit insecure — noble we met in Season 1. But that man isn’t quite all gone. “I think that how much of Theon is there and how much of Reek is there is ever-changing,” says Allen. “Where we are right now, he’s definitely still living in fear. There’s definitely more of the Reek in him, but Sansa’s arrival at Winterfell will reach some sort of memory within him.”
Last week, Theon saw Sansa Stark from across the courtyard and ducked away to avoid her, his face a mask of shame and terror. How long will he be able to avoid her as his master will soon become her husband?
“I think it’s at a point where, when Yara arrives,” Allen says, referring to last season, when Theon’s sister tried to rescue him, “I think there’s a part of him that did recognize her, but he chose not to, and he was just trying to obey his master. And that’s the same thing here: He acknowledged her existence, but at the same time, he doesn’t want to be punished for that.”
Reek and Sansa will both be in this week’s episode, in the same place as we saw them in the first episode of the series — though things have changed drastically. Back then, Sansa dreamed of marrying a king and Theon dreamed of ruling the Iron Islands. And now? “His dream is to obey Ramsay and to not be punished. I think that’s where we’re at right now, where Reek is,” Allen says.
But surely there’s some shred of Theon in there who hopes for more? “I would say maybe some sort of having a wash,” he adds, with grim humor. “Maybe just getting a makeover in general would do him a little good, might give his self-esteem a real boost. But in terms of what his dreams and aspirations are at the moment, like I said, it’s just obey.”
The relationship between Reek and Ramsay is both perverse and hard to watch on screen, but you might be surprised if you ran into either of them off-set. After a long day of Ramsay crushing his pet’s will, “We just go out and play pool in the evenings and have dinner,” Allen reveals. “Ha-ha! That’s really exciting, isn’t it? Sorry.”
This season, he’s been able to relax a bit more. While shooting last season, in an effort to stay in the role, Allen refused to read any part of the script but his own: “I knew that I was going to be just kept in this dungeon for the whole thing, so I didn’t want to have anything that was happening outside of that world in the character’s mind.” But there was a positive side to it. “There’s this part of me that wanted to see how it was on screen — not my parts, but the whole thing in its entirety. So I was just as surprised as anyone watching it.”
Allen has been reading the scripts this time around, though, and he hints at events later in the season. When asked about his favorite storyline, Allen says, “Right now, I really like Shireen and Stannis’s relationship. I think that’s really lovely. I think that that’s interesting and… I’ve obviously read scripts so I can’t say too much… There’s just a lot of really beautiful things going on this year, and also very dark.”
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.