The seventh season of Game of Thrones finished back in August 2017 and it feels like we've been waiting forever for the final season to premiere. Now that we finally (FINALLY!) have an official confirmation of the premiere date, it means it's time to panic. April 14 is right around the corner, but we have a lot to prepare for, especially since this season will have the show's biggest battle sequence to date.
"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," co-executive producer Bryan Cogman told Entertainment Weekly. "David and Dan [wrote] an amazing puzzle and [episode director Miguel Sapochnik] came in and took it apart and put it together again. It's been exhausting but I think it will blow everybody away."
That definitely sounds worth waiting for, to be quite honest. Sapochnik, who directed the Emmy-winning episode "Battle of the Bastards," will direct the great battle of Winterfell in which we see the tenuous alliance between the North and South go against the Night King and his army. EW revealed that the episode is expected to be the longest consecutive battle sequence ever committed to film, and will assemble the largest number of GoT's major characters together since the series' first episode in 2011. And even though it was an exciting venture, a few members of the "20-some" cast reveals that it was also one of the most exhausting they've ever embarked on.
"Nothing can prepare you for how physically draining it is. It's night after night, and again and again, and it just doesn't stop," Maisie Williams admitted. "You can't get sick, and you have to look out for yourself because there's so much to do that nobody else can do . . . there are moments you're just broken as a human and just want to cry."
Williams's words echo the sentiment from Kit Harington's interview for GQ Australia's January 2019 cover story. "The last season of Thrones seemed to be designed to break us," he candidly admitted. "Everyone was broken at the end. I don't know if we were crying because we were sad it was ending or if we were crying because it was so f*cking tiring."
Other action veterans on the show agree. Iain Glen, who plays Ser Jorah Mormont, referred to the nearly three months of shooting as the "most unpleasant experience I've had on Thrones." The Hound actor Rory McCann added, "Everybody prays they never have to do this again."
It's enough to make you wonder how insane this battle truly will be, in the grand scheme of things. The answer is: seriously insane. Apparently, while preparing for the shoot, Sapochnik searched for a longer battle sequence in cinema history and the closest he could find was the nearly 40-minute Helm's Deep siege in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. He even studied that battle to research when audiences get "battle fatigue" from all the repetitive action. "One thing I found is the less action — the less fighting — you can have in a sequence, the better," the British director divulged.
Back in December 2018, Vladimír Furdík, the actor behind the famously diabolical Night King, revealed that the epic battle will actually be going down in episode three of season eight. For those who may not recall, the final season will consist of six feature-film-length episodes, which means the battle will happen smack-dab in the middle of the season.
"In the third episode of the last season, there is a battle that the creators intended to be a historic moment in television," Furdík revealed at a fan convention in Hungary, as translated by Mashable. "Almost the full episode will be about the battle, it will take about one hour."
For a reference point, this is the battle where the armies of Westeros go against the Army of the Dead. We're talking giants, dragons, soldiers from the North and South coming together to become one unified battalion and defeat the biggest bad that ever did bad — who also has a dragon on his side, of course. We're talking about a battle sequence that famously took 55 days just to shoot outdoors, which doesn't even count the time they spent filming in the studio.
Usually the big battles take place later in the season, so the end is much more dramatic, like season six's "Battle of the Bastards." So hearing that this one is going to take place as early as the third episode is surprising. It totally changes our idea of how the season will pan out!
If the battle takes up the whole of episode three, what can we expect from the remaining three episodes? That must mean that the remainder of the season deals with the fallout of the battle, namely what happens when the victor emerges. Though with a war like this, "victor" might be an overstatement. It's more like, how will whoever is left alive deal with the wreckage that remains? Will there even still be a Westeros left? Will this be what permanently stops "the wheel?" There are so many questions, and we have no idea what to expect! April can't come soon enough.