Even the simplest and most self-contained episode of Game of Thrones presents a number of narrative and filmmaking challenges that no other show on television really faces. The universe of the show is so big, the character roster so long and the narrative road map so vast that each and every hour is a massive knot of plot (a plot knot?). When you get to the series' famously eventful season finales, things get still more complicated. When you get to the finale of the penultimate season, and the longest episode in the history of the series...well, you can see how that might be a challenge.
The Season 7 finale "The Dragon and the Wolf" is full of game-changing moments, from Sansa and Arya's execution of Littlefinger to Cersei's plan to hire the Golden Company to Dany and Jon finally getting together even as Bran and Sam finally puzzle Jon's true identity together. Oh, and then there was that little matter of the army of the dead, complete with their new dragon toy, finally coming through The Wall.
On Monday morning, HBO released the latest in its series of "Inside the Episode" videos detailing the delicate storytelling decisions that went into making "The Dragon and the Wolf" such a jam-packed episode. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who also scripted the finale, break down each and every story arc and while the video isn't as in-depth as we might like, it does end up being pretty fascinating. For example, the big twist that the Night King would reanimate Viserion and use him to break down the Wall is something Benioff and Weiss have known they'd be building to in this episode for quite some time, making it feel like more than just a fan service "Wouldn't this be cool?" moment. When it comes to Jon and Dany, things were also particularly delicate, as they had to build to a revelation the character didn't know even as much of the audience already had it figured out, and they had to do it while layering in Jon and Dany's love scene to raise the dramatic stakes. What was particularly interest to me, though, was that Benioff and Weiss talk about the summit at the dragon pit as possibly the most difficult sequence to shoot. It reminded me of a discussion of how The Council of Elrond was shot in The Fellowship of the Ring. Battles are complicated beasts, but sometimes a bunch of people sitting in a circle can be even worse.
Check out the full video below. It's not Season 8, but maybe it'll help put off your Game of Thrones withdrawal just a little bit.