If you’re like us, then you’re still trying to catch your breath from last week’s Game of Thrones episode where the audience finally saw Daenerys strike back after suffering two major losses to her Westeros allies.
Her arrival on the battlefield with Drogon was one of the most gripping and magnificent scenes to date, from a show that has become known for its elaborate and massive action set pieces. However, while “Blackwater Bay” “Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards” have continued to set the bar, “The Spoils of War” stands out amongst itself with its outstanding accomplishments in visual effects. This is also the first episode of Game of Thrones in quite some time that should have left everyone morally conflicted since there were major characters on both sides the audience was rooting for.
In this behind-the-scenes featurette from HBO, the show’s producers and technical crew discuss the massive amount of time and energy spent bringing the fiery “Loot Train Attack” to life. The process required the crew to have 4 cameras shooting most of the time and even upwards of 7 or 8 cameras for the whole sequence. That includes a “spider camera” that can speed through the air along a cable at 70 miles per hour, 3 different tracking vehicles for the Dothraki horse charge, and a “souped up drone” for many of the overhead dragon shots.
The pyrotechnics alone is pushing the limits for film-making, even breaking a record for setting 20 stunt men on fire at once. To pull off the complexity of Daenerys riding Drogon, the team combined practical effects shots of fiery explosions that were interlaced with heavy VFX and green screens. The method behind the madness is breathtaking and to put it all into context, throughout all of season 6 there were only 11 featured shots of Emilia Clarke riding Drogon, whereas she had over 80 during this entire battle alone.
Baked through the technical accomplishments, the featurette provided some character insight from the actors too. Early in the video Emilia Clarke explained how Daenerys got to this moment of bringing her dragon to unleash total chaos and destruction on her enemies.
“Every time that something goes wrong, more Targaryen comes out. More fire comes out. She starts to take matters into her own hands.”
Tensions have been high in the first 4 episodes as Daenerys’ arrival in Westeros has gone much different than she originally planned. During these setbacks, Daenerys has listened from her consul’s concerns about her turning into the “Mad Queen” like her fire-loving father.
We can probably expect more of these moments to happen if Daenerys’ back is against the wall and she decides to unleash the most lethal weapon the world has ever known. As long as she has these trump cards sitting in her back pocket, she’ll be tempted to use them.
This is a war the Mother of Dragons intends to win at all costs.