GQ names “Blackwater” the best episode of TV this year
By Winter Is Coming on in Press.

GQ has named Game of Thrones‘ season two episode “Blackwater” the best episode of television in 2012. They have a comprehensive interview with producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, writer George R. R. Martin and director Neil Marshall, where they delve into the process of making the episode. Here are a few quotes I found most interesting.

David Benioff (co-creator): We had one really intense conference call with the HBO brass. It was awkward: They said, “So, what are you guys talking about, an extra $500,000?” We said, “Noooo….” “You guys need a million dollars?” “Ummmm….”

Weiss: I think we asked for $2.5 million. We got $2 million-something. That’s a lot of money in TV. It was a big ask for them, and they understood it was really important. Our point was that the entire season was pointing toward this confrontation. To do what’s normally done on television—the Shakespearean model of talking about battles off-screen—would completely kill the season.


Weiss: At the pace we were shooting, we didn’t really have that much time for dramatic scenes. For this monologue, if Peter didn’t get it right in two or three takes, he had to move on. And he nailed it.

Benioff: Initially, we didn’t know if anyone would watch Game of Thrones, but if they did, we knew they’d be drawn to Tyrion because he’s such a great character, and Peter’s so perfect to play him. When we were courting him, we said, “You will win an Emmy for this.” I’m sure he thought we were bullshitting. (Dinklage won the Emmy in 2011.)

Marshall: In the original script, Stannis Barantheon didn’t get any further than the bottom of the ladders [at the wall of King's Landing] and then he sort of disappeared from the script. I thought, “We have to have him do more than that. If he’s the polar opposite of King Joffrey, then he should be the first one up the ladder. Let’s have a fight with him on the wall.’ We choreographed a whole sequence which was never scripted, of Stannis having a sword fight on the wall, chopping a guy’s head off, and then basically watching his army’s defeat from a bird’s-eye position before being dragged off by his own men.

Benioff: There’s another battle bigger than this one coming up, but not until the end of season four. So we’re preparing our speeches for how we’re gonna ask for more money.

The whole article is a great read, so be sure to head over to GQ and check it out.

Winter Is Coming: A fascinating look at “how the sausage gets made” as David is fond of saying. I appreciate that these guys were determined to get this big battle on screen and, despite the many hurdles, they managed to succeed in a big way. And that last quote has me soooo hyped for season four!


47 Comments

  1. Andy
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    That’s well deserved.

  2. Al Swearengen
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Sweet, Blackwater did kick ass.

  3. Tír Airgid
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Very well deserved. Congratulations to everyone involved. It was an unforgettable hour of TV, one that truly deserves to be classed as “epic”.

  4. Grijnwaald
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Well duh? Just kidding, it was well deserved! :)

  5. Arkash
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Battle of the Wall is coming at the end of season 4 then… strange, I would have seen it in its beginning…

    But battle I’m most looking forward is the Fist !

  6. Andrew
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Benioff: There’s another battle bigger than this one coming up, but not until the end of season four. So we’re preparing our speeches for how we’re gonna ask for more money.

    Battle at The Wall?

  7. Dave
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    What is the battle? Stannis fighting the wildlings? That one didn’t strike me as *bigger* than Blackwater. Would think the battle for Meereen is season three, but maybe not.

  8. Crozyr
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    So with an even bigger battle they mean the battle at the wall, when stannis shows up to saves the day at the end? Or did I miss something? I would really hope for them to make the battle awesome, with giants and so on. I wonder what Stannis will do until then. Maybe they have Dany conquering Mereen? Is that even at the end of book 3? it feels so long ago since i last read it.

  9. Andrew
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Dave,

    Think The Wall itself makes a battle inherently “bigger” — that and the huge wildling host.

  10. chez
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Has to be the battle on the wall, like the Blackwater, that fight on the Wall is where everything culminates for Jon. From S2 and seeing the Wildling army, and through S3 we’ll be hearing about them attacking the Wall. They have to show it. I don’t think the Meereen fight is a battle, more like a skirmish no? A duel, a few creeping soldiers…Wasn’t that all it really was? Where the Battle on the Wall – that will be something legendary.

    I hope they don’t skip the first fight though..when Jon and co. defend Castle Black against the Raiders.

  11. HodorTargaryen
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    The fact HBO actually gave them all that extra cash to do it properly just reinforces that GoT and HBO are PERFECT for each other, the quality in the production this show really shines through and I think that’s a large part of why it’s so successful.

    You can have the most amazing storyline ever but it still won’t work if you don’t give your showrunners room to actually do their stuff, so I’m extremely thankful that HBO actually picked this up and ran with it, they know they’ve got great talent actually running the show (I genuinely cannot think of any other series/movie/anything with better casting) the writing is great, the sets/props/costumes are mindblowing.

    I can’t wait to see how S3 goes, I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be an absolute monster in the ratings!

  12. Yago
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    “Bigger battle”? Nice. Stannis vs Wildlings is gonna be awesome.

  13. Duff Man
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    And then even further down the road will be an even bigger battle: The Battle of Mareen

  14. Yago
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Duff Man:
    And then even further down the road will bean even bigger battle:The Battle of Mareen

    That’s not really a bigger battle is it? More some guys getting in the city, freeing the slaves and that’s it.

  15. Duff Man
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Yago,

    I’m talking more about the battle that’s yet to happen which I’m guessing occurs in The Winds of Winter. That one I’m expecting will be pretty massive you’ve got Victarionand the Iron Fleet battling out at water some sort of huge land Battle right outside the City with possible help from the Dothraki (calvary) and probably a couple of dragons involved as well. I’m thinking it’s going to be pretty chaotic.

  16. Watson
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Interesting to know that the final scene was also added by D&D. I loved that.

    As for the battle, it depends on how they write Mereen. But one way to do the battle on the Wall would be for the camera to stay atop the wall and only show the destruction below in long shot CGI. That would make for a simple shoot and a whole lost of post production, but would probably be affordable.

  17. Nick_Scryer
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Hmm… if he’s referring to the battle at the Wall then what is going to be Stannis’s end point for this season and what’s he going to do until ep9 next year??

  18. Diego
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Nick_Scryer,

    Well, with Selyse and Shireen actually being in this season, internal conflict is probably going to drive Stannis this season. I can see the season ending with Davos reading the letter asking for aid on the Wall, but that’ll probably mean no Stannis in Season 4 until the last few episodes.

  19. sunspear
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Those comments about a big battle at the end of Season 4 puzzle me. I’ve been expecting several smaller scale fights of the Castle Black attack, the attacks on the gate, and the siege of Meereen. It’s going to be kind of awkward pushing one of those to the end of Season 4, especially with my timeline. They must be planning on a lot of added scenes.

  20. mags giantsbabe
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Kit was featured in the January issue of Total Film and said something interesting along the lines of “Jon has to try and save the lives of those he cares for”, so yet again we can speculate over where his story might be cut off in S3.

    With regards to the battle, hearing it might be at the end of S4, I have a feeling the events in that story might be swopped around a little?

  21. sunspear
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Far more interesting quote from the article.

    There’s still two gigantic books to go (five have been released; Martin is halfway through the sixth of seven

  22. Caro H
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Of course it had to be the best episode of TV this year, no surprises there!! XD & i think the big battle at the end of S4 will be the wall & stannis against mance

  23. HugeFloppyGut
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    The battle they are talking about is clearly stannis saving the wall vs the wildlings. Its already confirmed that stannis had the least amount of shooting days this season, so they are saving most of his storyline in book 3 to season 4. Plus they need alot of money for that battle b/c of all the extras, plus the CGI that will be involved with creating the Giants etc.
    The writers are clearly pushing more and more story lines back so that they don’t catch up to Martin and his books. i think thats good that the battle will be at the end of season 4, cause feast of crows was kinda boring. Makes season 4 alot more interesting

  24. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the part where Stannis arrives is the part of the big battle they are referring to. Stannis arrives after the big battle when Jon is sent to treat with Mance and kill him. The big battle is Jon leading the defense of the Wall against Mance and his giant host.

  25. Iron Born
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    It’s not tv it’s H.B.O

  26. John W
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    They mentioned season 4. So I guess it’s safe to assume season 4 has been approved by HBO.

  27. blatz
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    sunspear:
    Far more interesting quote from the article.

    There’s still two gigantic books to go (five have been released; Martin is halfway through the sixth of seven

    This caught my attention also. If this is true, it’s news to me.
    please be true please be true

  28. Jamie B
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    blatz,

    He “started” with around 400 pages done – all the stuff cut from ADWD.

  29. Virtus
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    sunspear:
    Those comments about a big battle at the end of Season 4 puzzle me. I’ve been expecting several smaller scale fights of the Castle Black attack, the attacks on the gate, and the siege of Meereen. It’s going to be kind of awkward pushing one of those to the end of Season 4, especially with my timeline. They must be planning on a lot of added scenes.

    Saying that the next big battle on a Blackwater scale will be at the end of S 4 does not mean that there aren’t smaller skirmishes in between. The wilding attack on Castle Black is an important fight, but not nearly as large in numbers.

  30. Mrs. H'ghar
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to all involved in this epic episode, kudos are well deserved! A woman noticed this quote in the interview, something puzzled mentally many times:

    Martin: David and Dan will say, “We’re thinking of eliminating this character, and I tell them, “Well, you can eliminate that character, but in Book Six, he has this big thing that he does, so you’re going to have to deal with that later.” And then maybe they change their mind. Or not. [laughs]

    Let us hope this is the first of many acknowledgements of the genius of this series.

  31. Aegon the Conqueror
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    HBO so very much thank you for giving them the extra cash! And Please give them everything they need for season 4. We all beg of you!

  32. David The Grey
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    2 million something to make Twitter blow up? It was totally worth it! :-)

    I agree with GQ’s rating, totally loved that episode, cannot wait for the DVD (for my Mom) and BR (for me).

  33. Joaquin
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Mrs. H’ghar,

    I think he was referring to Maggo (one of Drogos blood riders). On season 1 Maggo gets killed on Episode 9 with a slash in the face delivered by Jorah. I watched an interview where Martin says that Maggo will have PoV on Winds of Winter.

  34. Robert
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Joaquin,

    I thought George said there wouldn’t be any new PoVs… unless it’s a prologue/epilogue?

  35. Joaquin
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Robert,

    http://www.vulture.com/2011/10/george_rr_martin_on_his_favori.html on that artivle he talks a little bit of Maggo but i l post the intervuew for you when i find it.

  36. Winter Is Coming
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Unless I missed an interview, I don’t George ever mentioned that Mago was going to become a POV character. But he did say he becomes a fairly prominent character in The Winds of Winter.

  37. Joaquin
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Winter Is Coming,

    I think he mentions it in an HBO interview but i could be wrong. I think we will see new pov characters on the following books. A point of view of a dothraki could be interesting.

  38. Selmy
    Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Batlle of the Wall, my favourite one. I had chills reading it, mammoths and giants… they’re going to have to film Jon’s POVs fast, cause this one is going to be a CGI batlle. :)

  39. Tom O' Sevens
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    Definitely the battle at the wall. The battle for Mereen is not nearly as big. It’s Jorah and Barristan sneaking through the sewers of Mereen and then freeing the pit fighters. We actually never read the actual battle in real time in the book

  40. Watson
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    Joaquin,

    My recollection is that he had previously said that no non-Westerosi POVs will ever be featured.

  41. Alan
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Pretty amazing that HBO, already with a huge budget, ponied up.

    As for the rest, I think people are overparsing statements that weren’t made with that much certainty.

    Does “end of Season 4″ mean Episode 9 or “somewhere in the back half” or “well, we haven’t really mapped it out”?

    Is “halfway through book 6″ really “halfway”? I expect it’s more “He’s started book six but not finished.”

    Finally, Maggo has a large role to play as, I think, an antagonist to Dany — though I don’t remember if George actually got that specific. I’ve never heard an interview with him as a POV, and he’s repeatedly said there won’t be a Dothraki-POV and no new POVs (non-intro/epilogue). People change their minds, of course, but I don’t think Maggo is going to be a POV.

  42. ANiceChianti
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Tyrion Pimpslap:
    I don’t think the part where Stannis arrives is the part of the big battle they are referring to. Stannis arrives after the big battle when Jon is sent to treat with Mance and kill him. The big battle is Jon leading the defense of the Wall against Mance and his giant host.

    This^

  43. ANiceChianti
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Mrs. H’ghar:
    Martin: David and Dan will say, “We’re thinking of eliminating this character, and I tell them, “Well, you can eliminate that character, but in Book Six, he has this big thing that he does, so you’re going to have to deal with that later.” And then maybe they change their mind. Or not. [laughs]

    I don’t know if he had anyone in particular in mind with that quote, but the Blackfish jumps to mind (I hope!)

    …Just read the Mago comment. I guess he works for the “or not” side of the quote. Different interpretation of the word “eliminating.” Wonder what his role will be.

  44. ANiceChianti
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Who was the one that Dany swore vengeance upon (specifically) for the rape and murder of the girl, Mago or Pono?

  45. Tom Savage
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I reckon they will have Jon leading a minor skirmish/battle earlier on in the season and then combine the main wall assault/Stannis’s attack in episode 9, that way they will have only 1 major battle to worry about and not two.

  46. Monica
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    I love this show, but please don’t let the drama take a back seat to special effects! Peter Dinklage said as much in an interview with the LA Times about six months ago. Even the GQ article emphasized that real people were used in” Blackwater.” On Halloween, WiC had a picture of a guy wearing a White Walker mask that looked better than the CGI White Walker on a horse at the end of Season 2! Anyway, congratulations to all!

  47. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Monica,

    The White Walker in S2 was not CGI(except for the eyes) and the Halloween pic that was posted was not better than the makeup/prosthetics on the show.


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