Production on Game of Thrones' eighth and final season will run well into the summer, but they've just completed what is its largest ever shoot: a battle that took a whopping 55 nights to film, and is the biggest in the series' (and thus probably TV) history.
In a now-deleted Instagram post, A.D. Jonathan Quinlan thanked the cast and crew for making it possible, writing:
"This is for the Night Dragons.
For enduring 55 straight nights. For enduring the cold, the show, the rain, the mud, the sheep sh*t of Toome and the winds of Magheramorne.
When tens of millions of people around the world watch this episode a year from now, they won’t know how hard you worked. The won’t care how tired you were or how tough it was to do your job in sub-freezing temperatures.
They’ll just understand that they’re watching something that’s never been done before.
And that’s because of you."
That alone is worth getting hyped over, but what exactly IS this ridiculously epic battle? It'd be easy to assume that it's the very final showdown, and thanks to various set leaks we might know the answer. Major spoilers below.
If you've been keeping up with filming, then you'll know that one of the locations cited in Quinlan's note, Toome, is the Moneyglass set being used for Winterfell. The other, Magheramorne, is an expansive, multi-purpose green screen set, and it too has been used for Winterfell.
Moneyglass is where, a couple of months ago, a huge, potentially devastating spoiler was revealed, as the Winterfell set was filmed on fire. Watchers on the Wall has also reported the use of siege engines at the Magheramorne site, along with what appear to be Dothraki wights, and a hell of a lot of corpses.
What all this amounts to, then, is a mammoth battle between the living and the dead at Winterfell in Season 8, with all of this expected to take place in the season's third episode (so the halfway point), which is directed by none other than Miguel Sapochnik, who is the man for huge battles in the North.
The Unsullied and Dothraki will be involved, along with the Night King's army, and likely most of the major characters too, almost all of whom are in the North already or on their way there. It'll likely end with the Stark homestead being burned down, though that might not be as disastrous as it first sounds: fire is one of the most effective weapons against the wights, so it could be a means of destroying them, and/or the bodies left behind after the end of the battle.
For a reference to its scale and complexity, the Winterfell battle in Battle of the Bastards took 25 days to film, although with the wights (and presumably dragons) involved here, it's no wonder that it's a longer, more complex shoot.
There's also a massive production taking place on the King's Landing set, which will be another battle (whether that's between the living and the dead or purely the living is unknown, though it could even be the Night King's army vs Cersei's army vs Jon and Dany's armies), but it's difficult to imagine the shoot topping this.
Are you excited for Game of Thrones Season 8? Share your thoughts down in the comments.