- [Warning: This story contains spoilers for episode nine of Game of Thrones’ sixth season, “Battle of the Bastards.”]
Miguel Sapochnik tells THR all about Kit Harington confronting his “worst fear” and slipping into a “fog of war.”
Fully unpacking “Battle of the Bastards,” the ninth episode of Game of Thrones’ off-book sixth season, requires weeks and weeks of examination. The bountiful beats within the battle, from the opening act of Rickon Stark’s death on the field to Ramsay Bolton’s defeat inside Winterfell, are almost too many to count.
But if there’s one component worth examining in greater detail, it’s Kit Harington’s work as Jon Snow, the leader of the battle. The actor, whose involvement in season six was kept under wraps until Snow’s official resurrection (even if it was widely expected by the fan base), stands front and center throughout “Battle of the Bastards,” trying and failing to save Rickon, subsequently charging into battle on his own, and nearly facing down the entire House Bolton calvary with nothing but his Valyrian sword as backup… until his own calvary arrives, two armies of horse-riding warriors smashing into one another.
From there, Snow fights through the field in what just might be the spectacular episode’s most spectacular scene: an uninterrupted minute-long shot, reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan, featuring Harington hacking and slashing enemies, dodging downpours of arrows and sword-swinging soldiers, and witnessing firsthand a level of spirit-breaking human carnage.
Miguel Sapochnik, who directed “Battle of the Bastards” as well as season five’s celebrated “Hardhome,” says of the sequence, “There weren’t specific conversations about the details of the shot, rather once we had decided that this was what we were going to do, I would check in with [showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff] every now and then to make sure they were liking what we were thinking and then Kit and I would work through the choreography with [stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam] and add spaces for performance so that it had a more an emotional journey to it.”