6:00am PT by Aaron Couch
'Game of Thrones' Director Previews "Extraordinary" Scope of Dorne, Braavos
Game of Thrones is ready to explore new worlds.
The HBO series will venture to Dorne and Braavos in Sunday's episode, as long-teased storylines finally come to the screen. Arya's (Maisie Williams) storyline picks up as she finally makes it to Braavos, while Dorne gets introduced as the late Prince Oberyn's (Pedro Pascal) family mourns him in his native land.
Introducing the new areas was a big responsibility for director Michael Slovis, as both regions are poised to be hugely important for the new season. Slovis gives much of the credit to production designer Deborah Riley, who helped the scenes look larger than life on screen, all on a (admittedly generous) TV budget.
"If you were able to see the drawings that [Riley] did of what Braavos should look like ahead of time and then you see the finished product, it's identical," Slovis tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It's extraordinary what she did with fishing nets and little groups of people."
Braavos was shown briefly last season when Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) ventured to the Iron Bank to plead for a loan. But this episode will take viewers beyond the bank's walls as Arya begins to make it her new home.
"There's a whole fishing, seaside tie to the water," Slovis says of its feel.
Last year, Game of Thrones fans fell in love with the fiery Oberyn, who often spoke fondly of his native Dorne. In the coming episode, viewers will meet Oberyn's brother Doran (series newcomer Alexander Siddig), who has a confrontation with Oberyn's former lover Ellaria (Indira Varma). Both are predictably unhappy about Oberyn's brutal death at the hands of The Mountain (Hafthor Julius Bjornsson).
The early setup in Dorne has big implications for the rest of the season, says Slovis, who also directed the season premiere. He depended heavily on showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss for guidance on what tone to strike with the first scene introducing Dorne.
"My two episodes are are bridges from the previous season to the new season," says Slovis. "The most important thing is that they services their long term story goals."
Slovis is the latest Breaking Bad alum to step behind the camera for Thrones. Michelle MacLaren directed key episodes in seasons three and four, and Slovis earned acclaim for Breaking Bad's signature look as its cinematographer throughout its entire run.
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He credits MacLaren with helping to bring him into the fold, saying she prepared him for all the Breaking Bad questions he would receive — particularly from the camera crew interested in his the AMC show's cinematography secrets and Bad superfan Carice van Houten (Melisandre).
"All anyone talked about on Breaking Bad was Game of Thrones. And everybody on Game of Thrones wanted to hear about Breaking Bad," says Slovis."It was really funny."
Stay tuned to The Live Feed following Sunday's episode for a full post-mortem with Slovis.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO.