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The bloody reason why Game of Thrones will make TV history today.

The battle of Winterfell is finally here and it’s making cinematic history.

Fans of Game of Thrones have been waking up in a cold sweat for weeks thinking about this week’s episode of the blockbuster show, which is comprised entirely of an epic battle sequence set against the backdrop of Winterfell. It’s an episode that has always promised to decimate more than a few of our beloved characters, but in this case it is not the death count that promises to make to make the battle of Winterfell one for the TV history books.

According to Entertainment Weekly, who were present on set for some of the filming “the episode is expected to be the longest consecutive battle sequence ever committed to film.”

The sheer size of the production is also unprecedented for a TV series and even for a feature film.  The episode itself will run for 82 minutes, ensuring that it’s not just the longest episode of season eight, but the longest episode ever to air in Game of Thrones history.

Some thoughts to keep in mind while watching the gargantuan battle scenes include the fact that it took just over 11 weeks to film with more than 750 people working overnight, every night, in freezing cold temperatures to bring the action to life. The episode has also brought together the largest number of Game of Thrones main characters onto the same set since the show’s premiere episode way back in 2011.

It’s also the first time we’ll see Arya Stark (played by Maisie Williams) in a Game of Thrones battle sequence because, despite her years of training and many adept kills, she’s never actually been in the fray until today.

While there will be other battle scenes to come in season eight, this will be the largest one, along with being the final face-off between the Army of the Dead and our central Game of Thrones characters.

game of thrones recap season 8 episode 2
This is first time we'll see Arya Stark (played by Maisie Williams) in a Game of Thrones battle sequence. Source: HBO.
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In order to avoid 'battle fatigue' for the captivated audience, the episode also contains smaller battle sequences built within the larger, more sprawling action shots. It is also directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who is responsible for helping the show's previous biggest battle sequences, including the Emmy Award-winning Battle of the Bastards. 

In the lead up to the episode premiere, Sapochnik told fans and press that he had tried to find a longer battle sequence in cinematic history than this particular Game of Thrones one and was unable to. The closest match for the episodes he was able to find was the nearly 40-minute Helm’s Deep siege sequence in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

And if you think your favourite Game of Thrones stars had an enjoyable time filming the history-making episode, the short answer is they did not.

Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister on the show, told Entertainment Weekly that the filming process was 'brutal', while Iain Glen, who plays Ser Jorah Mormont said “It was the most unpleasant experience I’ve had on Thrones. You have an absolute f—ked bunch of actors. But without getting too method acting about it, on screen it bleeds through to the reality of the Thrones world.”

Thankfully, their suffering will be our gain as Game of Thrones cuts a bloody path towards history-making television.

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