Game of Thrones currently stands as one of the most popular shows in the world. The penultimate season brought in an average of ten million viewers across seven episodes, with the final episode, The Dragon and the Wolf, garnering over twelve million viewers. Hype for the eighth and final season is astronomical by this point, with fans all across the world eager to see how the grand saga will reach its conclusion. But as the war prepares to rage with Jon Snow, Arya Stark, and Daenerys Targaryen up against the forces of the Night King, a different kind of battle has been waging in real life: the fight to bring to life the final season and make it a worthy finale to one of the most successful series of all time.
As revealed in this article from Entertainment Weekly, bringing the epic TV series to its conclusion has not been easy. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have revealed that their battle scenes will be the most elaborate sequences yet, while Miguel Sapochnik, one of the directors for the season, has revealed he will be staging the epic battle of Winterfell, where our heroes will be going against the unstoppable undead armies of the Night King. Sapochnik estimates the length of the sequence will surpass the similarly elaborate Helm’s Deep siege from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and it seems the crew is feeling the pressure that comes with creating such a set piece. The crew had been working eleven weeks at night in the rural countryside, enduring freezing weather conditions, general exhaustion, and gruelling hours.
Still, the sequence in question should be worth it. According to the article, Bryan Cogman says:
‘This final face-off between the Army of the Dead and the army of the living is completely unprecedented and relentless and a mixture of genres even within the battle. There are sequences built within sequences built within sequences. David and Dan [wrote] an amazing puzzle and Miguel came in and took it apart and put it together again. It’s been exhausting but I think it will blow everybody away.’
The producers hope the effort will be worth it, but that doesn’t make their jobs any easier. For sequences this elaborate, any small mistake can disrupt the entire operation, as showcased when the shoot was forced to pause when a police helicopter buzzed the set. Or when a crew member among the seven hundred and fifty extras fainted from remaining still for too long, forcing medics to be called in.
The individual actors have been suffering too. Maisie Williams who plays Arya Stark, has been absent from battle scenes in the past due to her character’s training plot but now, she takes the plunge. Williams was forced to undergo a full year’s training ahead of time and has found the shoots ‘physically draining’. Iain Glen reveals the crew don’t get to bed until seven in the morning and he himself only gets a few hours before he’s back at it the next day. Other actors have been quoted as saying they hope they never have to do anything like this again.
But amidst all this chaos, all this news sound incredibly exciting. A battle sequence to surpass Helm’s Deep? All the characters we’ve loved finally coming together? And of course, the ultra kept secret of the show’s finale. Cast and crew have been utterly mum about it, naturally, but the article quotes Weiss as saying that he expects much fan debate if it was ‘A or an A+ finale’. Hopefully, the behind the scenes madness will be well worth to bring home the epic fantasy saga to its much speculated conclusion. We also hope the actors get some much needed rest!
Featured Image via EntertainmentWeekly