[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Game of Thrones ahead.]
Despite the presence of a massive dragon, the big final battle in this week’s Game of Thrones included a lot of practical effects. In previous seasons of the show, the huge battles have been saved for the penultimate episode. But with a shortened season and a ticking clock until the series is at an end, Game of Thrones has been switching things up this year. The end of episode 2 gave us our first big battle, but ‘The Spoils of War‘ put even the Battle of the Bastards to shame.
Following weeks of questionable advice and devastating losses, Dany finally mounted Drogon and led her Dothraki against the Lannisters. What resulted was the biggest spectacle the show has given viewers yet, and possibly one of the most grandiose moments in television history. While the fate of Jaime and the others is up in the air, most of the Lannister and Tarly forces were wiped out in the battle. Fans also finally got to witness both a dragon and the Dothraki in battle, which delivered dozens of breathtaking action sequences. Now, audiences can relive the chaos and dive into what it took to bring the climatic confrontation to life.
HBO released two new behind-the-scenes looks at this week’s Game of Thrones. Up top, is an extensive breakdown of the loot train attack that finally brought Dany into the field. Like Aegon’s victory over the Lannisters and Gardeners 300 years before, the battle demonstrates just how devastating a dragon is in combat. Pulling off the scene, however, required lots of VFX and a surprising amount of practical effects. Along with the deep dive into the battle, the network also released a look at the overall episode, which you can see below:
While the above video offers some insight into Sansa and Arya’s reunion and discusses the other events of the episode, the loot train breakdown is a fascinating look inside the show. From the construction of the strafing dragon attack to the record-breaking 20 people on fire scene, the mind boggles imagining all the work and coordination that went into the episode.
Part of the reason this season has been shorter is to allow the budget to be spread out over fewer episodes. As noted at one point in the video, season 6 only featured 11 shots of Dany on her dragon. This episode alone had over 80. Between the massive scale of the battle to the props and explosions required to all the dragon VFX, it’s hard to imagine how any episode will top this one without featuring all three of Dany’s dragons.
We also get to see some of the new tech used to shoot the scene. The spidercam is the most intriguing, something James Gunn also used on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for some of the action scenes. With new camera rigs like the spidercam and drones, television filmmaking is entering an age that rivals most blockbuster films.
Of course, besides all the epic action, the battle also showed us that Dany’s dragons can be wounded. If enough people were manning scorpions with the maneuverability we saw in this episode, Dany’s advantage may not last much longer. Hopefully, she doesn’t get too cocky after her victory. After all, there’s still plenty more danger to come.
Game of Thrones continues next Sunday @9pm on HBO.
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