Emma D’Arcy and Ryan Condal arrive in Spain for HOTD Season 2 shoot

Dragonstone Castle, Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy), 1x10 (4)

After curious Cáceres locals provided us with two straight days of spoiler-filled leaks, yesterday’s production became an impenetrable bunker. Thankfully, today’s shoot has resulted in a few new photos at the Grand Sept filming location, as well as the arrival of Emma D’Arcy (Rhaenyra Targaryen) and showrunner Ryan Condal.

Plaza de San Jorge sits just below San Francisco Javier church, which was digitally replaced by the Grand Sept in season one, as seen in the frame below, captured from the ninth episode, “The Green Council”. As you may recall, this is where Prince Aemond and Ser Criston battled Arryk Cargyll for control of Prince Aegon.

The square below the Grand Sept will return in Season 2
The square below the Grand Sept will return in Season 2

Filming took plaza at the plaza again today. Although we don’t know what they filmed, it’s fair to say the square will represent the same location again, as thanks to photos published by Hoy we can glimpse a group of extras dressed as septas:

HOTD S02 05-22 Cáceres Spain Grand Sept 1 Septas

Egg dalla Cittadella got a closer look at the Septas and a silent sister:

HOTD S02 05-22 Cáceres Spain Grand Sept 2

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HOTD S02 05-22 Cáceres Spain Grand Sept 3

Filming started this morning at the nearby Casa del Sol, which—as we showed you— has been transformed into the “Cock inn”, before quickly moving on to the square. Considering the presence of the Silent Sisters, who are involved in funeral rites, it seems likely another part of the funeral procession they’ve been filming for a few days was shot here. This time, that would be the arrival to the Grand Sept.

Hoy also reports that the nearby Barruecos natural monument outside the city will see brief filming—but only for a single day, with drones and no cast members or extras present, so don’t get too excited if you recognize the name… Of course, this was the site of one of the largest battles in Game of Thrones: season seven’s Battle of the Goldroad, in which Daenerys and the Dothraki ambushed the Lannister army, which was returning to King’s Landing with its spoils from Highgarden.

Highgarden Field of Fire 7x04 (27)

It’s fair to say nothing comparable will be filmed this time—likely just establishing shots. The only question is, of course: establishing shots of what? The semi-arid site could depict anywhere in the South—most likely the Crownlands or the Reach, given where the story will likely take us. I’ve already seen folks speculating this natural park will be used for the surroundings of Rook’s Rest, a minor stronghold that’ll have a major role in the story, but as far as I’m concerned we know too little to even speculate, especially considering there will be no actors in costume or newly built sets to give us an idea of what the location may represent.

Speaking of actors and what their presence may or may not mean, Emma D’Arcy’s arrival in Cáceres yesterday rises some obvious questions… and the answers are potential spoilers, so do not continue reading if you don’t know the story well.

If you’re familiar with the source material, you know Queen Rhaenyra isn’t supposed to set foot in King’s Landing for a long while after the point in which we left her off—a ton of things need to happen before she does return, including several major battles and events that are unlikely to all be crammed into a single season—especially one with only eight episodes. If the rumors are true and the Battle of Rook’s Rest happens around the mid-season, that’d leave only four episodes for the Sowing of the Seeds, Aemond taking charge, the Battle of the Gullet, the Battle of the Honeywine, and the taking of King’s Landing… which is concurrent with the Battle at the Red Fork, the sack of Lannisport and the retaking of Harrenhal. I believe it’s fair to say that, unless the story is paced even faster than in season one (despite Ryan Condal claiming just the opposite), it’s difficult to imagine they could include all of these events in just four episodes. Those are, of course, just the main events, with no time for the politicking and character developments and relationships the show is really about. This franchise has never had one epic battle per episode and I doubt they’re starting now.

In my view, this leaves four options for D’Arcy’s presence in Cáceres. Option one: that they’re essentially just visiting and serving as a fakeout for curious onlookers like ourselves, which wouldn’t be unprecedented in this franchise. Option two: Rhaenyra will technically show up in King’s Landing but it’ll only be for a flashback (even though no flashbacks were planned, as of the last time Condal spoke of this) or perhaps a vision of some sort. Considering the funeral they’ve been filming, I wouldn’t find it too surprising if Alicent hallucinates the person she blames for that death. Option three: Rhaenyra will in fact take King’s Landing by the end of season two, which would mean either moving around several major events for season three or excising them completely. Option four: Cáceres will not only be used for King’s Landing—it’ll also stand for somewhere Rhaenyra would be within the portion of the story most of us expect season two to cover. This is possible… except that Rhaenyra doesn’t really leave Dragonstone and Cáceres isn’t really apt for that, and neither is it apt for any other place Rhaenyra would believably visit.

Dragonstone isn't exactly known for its Southern European architecture...
Dragonstone isn’t exactly known for its Southern European architecture…

Personally, I’m partial to either of the first two theories: D’Arcy is in Spain just to visit (and mess with our expectations… but mostly to visit—they did complain they never got to visit Spain for season one!) or Alicent will hallucinate Rhaenyra as the body of her grandson is taken from the Red Keep to the Grand Sept. However, I can’t claim to be certain of this: it’s mostly baseless speculation!

D’Arcy isn’t the only surprising appearance in Cáceres, however. Showrunner and writer Ryan Condal has also been spotted, days after fellow executive producer and writer Sara Hess was also seen to be in the city:

Considering the writer’s strike going on right now in the United States, Condal is supposed to only serve as producer and not writer… whatever that means, since rewriting a single word of the script, even acting in the role of “producer”, would be considered writing by the WGA and hence strike-breaking. I don’t envy Condal’s position—he’s treading on thin ice here. Personally, I wish HBO had been forced to shut down and delay production, which would only incentivize them to give in to the workers’ demands. That doesn’t seem to be in the cards, unfortunately. Hopefully the show won’t suffer because of this… but rewrites during production are incredibly common and often necessary, and they won’t be allowed this time.

But enough of my editorializing: what do you think of today’s news? What do you believe they’re filming at the Grand Sept location? What about Malpartida? Most importantly: do you believe we’ll reach the taking of King’s Landing by the end of season two or is Emma D’Arcy in Spain for some other purpose?


  1. Regarding “writing” anything on set in violation of WGA rules, I doubt any of the main actors would allow a single word to be changed. They are all SAG & they’re not going to screw over another guild just to get a new line into an episode.

    As for the rest, it’s difficult to comment considering so much of your analysis is heavily based on book spoilers.

  2. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, which is used for Dragonstone, is also in Spain, North Basque coast. D’Arcy is likely doing some filming in Spain if not exactly Caceres.

  3. Red Aly,

    There’s no filming in Gaztelugatxe or any part of the Basque Country this year. Just as there wasn’t for season one; the famous stairs were recreated via set construction and VFX. They’re only going to Spain for Cáceres and Trujillo this time, that’s for sure.

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