This is the season of Game of Thrones where the television series surpasses the novels, adapting material author George R.R. Martin has yet to publish. It’s an unusual situation for an adaptation to be adapting an unfinished work, but neither HBO or Martin appear bothered, especially while Game of Thrones only gets more popular every day.
When the season 6 trailer dropped, it quickly garnered millions of views, setting a new record for HBO. With so much of what’s to come this season unknown, that trailer has since been pretty thoroughly analyzed. From it we learned a little about where some characters will start out, and less about the fates of others, but it certainly gave the impression season 6 will be a season unlike any other. And with Game of Thrones that’s saying something.
At several points during the trailer it clearly depicts a field of battle, with banners and barricades and armed men on horses. Many are theorizing that this is a battle involving some combination of the Boltons, the Night’s Watch, wildings, and/or other Northern houses, but regardless of just whom it is taking up arms against whom, expect a big battle this season.
Game of Thrones writer-producer, Bryan Corgman called the season 6 battle their biggest yet when speaking with EW, adding:
“We’ve always wanted to get to a place – story-wise and budget-wise and time-wise and resource-wise – where we would be able to do a proper battle, with one army on one side, one army on another side.”
Obviously, Thrones has already depicted some major clashes on screen — Blackwater, Castle Black, Hardhome — but none of those can equal this upcoming battle in scale. Whereas previous battle scenes focused on fights between small groups of combatants, like Blackwater, or on almost entirely CGI’d enemies like in Hardome, the battle coming this season was created using an army of extras and horses.
Season 6’s battle will come during an episode directed by Miguel Sapochnik, director of last season’s ‘Hardhome,’ in which the Night King led a devastating attack with his army of the dead and for which Sapochnik earned much acclaim. This battle, however, promises to be more chaotic, and showrunner David Benioff admits it was his work on ‘Hardhome’ that secured Sapochnik the job:
“Miguel did such a fantastic job with ‘Hardhome’ we thought we should bring him back – this time with horses. Horses are not easy, at all. And certainly in terms of numbers – number of extras, number of stuntmen, number of shooting days – it’s the biggest we’ve done.”
Going off of previous seasons, this battle they’re speaking of likely doesn’t come until late in the season; say, somewhere around episode seven or eight. And even though there’s some steep competition with the previous battles enacted on Game of Thrones, if season 6 really is the ‘best season yet,’ then delivering on the biggest battle should be no sweat.
Game of Thrones season 6 will premiere on HBO on April 24, 2016.