Image Credit: HBO
Warning: This story contains spoilers for this Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, titled Battle of the Bastards. You have been warned.
Earlier today, we reported about Battle of the Bastards director Miguel Sapochnik opening up about the technicalities of shooting the massive battle scene in the episode.
Now, the second part of the director’s interview with Entertainment Weekly has been released, and it contains more of Sapochnik’s insights on the psyche of the characters and the bloodlust taking place during the brutal scenes between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton, and Sansa and Ramsay in Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 9.
Jon Snow and Ramsay finally met each other for the first time the day prior to the Battle of the Bastards, but he had no idea what Iwan Rheon’s character is truly capable of until that chase scene with his brother, Rickon Stark. Throughout the entire battle, it seemed as if Jon Snow was simply fighting just to get to Ramsay. In the end, he does, and that’s the moment when the two bastards finally meet face to face, and things didn’t end so well for Ramsay.
Asked about his experience shooting the bloodlust scene, Sapochnik recalled:
We spent an entire day beating Ramsay. It was a little surreal but mostly fun. I mean you have to make it fun to take the nastiness out of it on set.
Early on, Kit and I discussed what that moment was and how it should be an empty victory for Jon. His character takes a nose dive into darkness this season in some respects. His faith in humanity is fractured and fragile, he’s tired of fighting and living and yet he cannot seem to die and so in a way he’s lost.
From a certain point of view, Battle of the Bastards is all about his journey back to life, at the 11th hour, rediscovering the desire to live.
As we were mulling that over and how we might show this conflict one day, Kit said to me “I’m just going to punch him like I’m kneading bread.’” And I thought fantastic; this is going to be both poignant and horrible.
And that’s what we did. Poor Iwan took it on the chin a few times but he did an amazing job. They both did. There’s this weird moment that made the final cut when Iwan stops scrunching up his face to receive the blows and just lets himself relax into it. On camera it looks like we’ve used some sort of digital effect to make his face change but it’s all real. Really disconcerting and kind of disturbing.
Sure, the scene between Jon and Ramsay had been brutal, but surprisingly (or maybe not), the final scene between Sansa and Ramsay was even more ruthless, but in a satisfying way.
Asked about his goals for the scene, Sapochnik said:
I must admit I kind of wanted to make people start to feel for Ramsay in that wonderful way Thrones turns these things on their head but [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] were clear: They didn’t want anyone to sympathize with Ramsay Bolton and this time they wanted blood.
In a way I agree, this is not a time to be morally ambiguous. Ramsay needs to die, and horribly. This is what the audience has been waiting to see. That said, there’s no need to dwell on the actual carnage. What’s left to our imagination is always way worse. The most effective moment for me was the sound of a squealing pig you hear from Ramsay in the background as Sansa walks away. Apparently it’s actually what happens when you rip someone’s wind pipe open while they’re still alive and gasping for air.
The other thing I loved was the close-up shot of Sansa as she watches the dogs attack. There’s a moment where she turns to leave but then stops and leans back in, lingering a moment longer. It’s my favorite shot of my episodes this year.
In every pivotal scene in the hit HBO series, it seems like that scene is the best yet. The scene between Sansa and Ramsay is undoubtedly one of those cases.
Sansa is able to gain vengeance, but at the same time, she has regained control of her own life by doing things on her own terms, and not at anyone’s bidding.
Just when you think your last favorite scene cannot be topped, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss has done it again. They have created another mind-blowing scene that will surely make anyone’s list of favorites from the show.
One more episode to go for Season 6 of Game of Thrones. The show returns on HBO at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 26. You can watch the preview trailer here.