[Editor's Note: Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 7 below!]
The final episode of Game of Thrones Season 7 doesn't contain a single physical battle, and yet it displays one of the series' most complicated visual sequences to date. That's because it contains the type of battle that the show's success hinges upon: a strategic showdown of will and wit that requires detailed blocking of both cast and crew.
In the Dragon pit summit, almost every main character left alive faces off in a tense, but restrained (particularly for a group that has committed countless gruesome murders among them) meeting to discuss a possible alliance. Many of these players have years of pent-up frustrations between them, and may not have come face-to-face in quite a while. Thus, every glance and exchange between them is significant, and none of the dozen or so participants is without a meaningful role.
"There's so many different moments between different people, and they need to be shot that way." — D.B. Weiss
The challenge of orchestrating such a scene began in the writing process. As showrunner D.B. Weiss recalls in the BTS video below, "It forced us to examine what the different tonal variations were in those reunions."
In this clip, we hear mainly from the actors about the psychology of the scene, but it's the camera blocking that has us impressed. In a series of what Weiss calls "mini-scenes built out of looks" camera moves and edits speak volumes.
In fact, the cast and crew spent ten days shooting just this sequence. In an "Inside the Episode" clip released by HBO, Weiss recalls, "It's a deceptively difficult thing to shoot, because there's so many different moments between different people, and they need to be shot that way. Otherwise, it doesn't feel like anybody's looking at the person they're supposed to be looking at, or playing off the person they're supposed to be playing off."