7:00pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'Game of Thrones' Showrunners Talk About the Third Season's First 'Epic' Moment
As viewers might have been able to glean from the preview, the next episode of Game of Thrones includes one of the biggest scenes from the books that the HBO series has tackled to date.
"And Now His Watch Is Ended" might not approach the level of season two's "Blackwater" in its non-stop tension, but it comes with some big payoff for fans familiar with the turning point -- and for those completely in the dark.
Showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff, recently speaking with a handful of reporters, described their excitement (and apprehension) at tackling the pivotal moment.
"We always knew it was going to be one of the big ones," says Weiss. "That was one of the scenes I remember reading it for the first time in the books and being so swept away by it. I remember thinking [that] if we could ever get this to series and we could ever get to season three, we'd actually be able to put that scene on screen."
The duo has learned a lot about tackling the scale of the scene, which demanded one of the series' biggest troupes of extras to date, from "Blackwater."
"A lot of it comes down to the director," adds Weiss. "Alex Graves was the right man for the job. He took a scene that had us quite nervous -- the number people on set, the size of the action, the amount of the effects work -- and had it all done in a few days. A scene that might take a feature eight days; for us it was two or three. It was good to see, because as the series goes on, we have more and more scenes like that. We have a giant battle episode in season four that's going to be incredibly difficult to pull off."
The increase in action is another reason why the production budget for the lavish series continues to inch upward.
"HBO has been very supportive of us and giving us what we need to make the show," says Weiss. "It's not so much about a number as it is about what the story requires and how much that ends up costing. This season is more expensive than the previous seasons, without a doubt -- and resources were spread evenly throughout the season, which leads to more sensational, epic, set piece type scenes happening throughout."
Those bigger moments, like the one from "And Now His Watch Is Ended," are where Game of Thrones seems to be the most strict in its adaptation of George R. R. Martin's source material. Some of less grand storylines, like the current scheming between Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) and Sansa (Sophie Turner), marks a more natural departure from the books.
"Oftentimes, when in doubt, we prefer to have our known characters and our brilliant actors who are with us all of the time taking over from some of the more minor characters," says Weiss, referring to Sansa's unexpected (and ambiguous) ally, a role originally tackled by Sir Dontos (Tony Way) in the books.
But purists rest easy. Weiss and Benioff are quick to note that the series has not seen the last of Sir Dontos, either.