Months ago, we learned the eighth season would see the return of veteran directors Miguel Sapochnik (“Hardhome,” “Battle of the Bastards,” “The Winds of Winter”) and David Nutter (“The Rains of Castamere,” “The Dance of Dragons,” “Mother’s Mercy”), as well as the showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are directing the finale. What we never got to find out is how Sapochnik and Nutter would divvy up the first five episodes. Now, thanks to Miguel’s director of photography Fabian Wagner, we know Sapochnik is the one directing two episodes — and we know exactly which two!
At Collider, Wagner didn’t just talk about his work with Zack Snyder for the DC Universe; he also discussed his past Game of Thrones work with Sapochnik (particularly in “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Winds of Winter”), before moving on to what lies ahead:
“[‘The Winds of Winter’] is my favorite episode,” the DP admits. “Obviously ‘Battle of the Bastards’ became the big episode everyone talks about. But yeah, I personally really love ‘The Winds of Winter’ … Everything comes together from beginning to end. We put a lot of prep work into that and trying to work with all the characters and visually bring it all together for that season … so that was really great fun. I just loved the montages and the music, which I thought gave a new level to the music in Game of Thrones.”
“I’m actually back on Game of Thrones right now for the last season,” Wagner says, though we already knew that — in fact, that’s how we first found out Sapochnik would return for the last season. “I can’t really say much about it, but we’ve been prepping and we started shooting. It’s a very exciting season. I’m shooting again with Miguel, so we’re back together as a team and we’ve got a couple of very exciting episodes ahead of us.”
That’s about what we could expect — it was likely one of the directors would take two episodes while the other handled three. But which two episodes is Miguel directing? Now, the answer may be more telling than it appears; as I see it, whichever episodes he helms are bound to include the big battle sequences, which gives us a clue about the general layout of the season. If you consider that a spoiler, do not read ahead!
Wagner certainly doesn’t consider it a spoiler, as he sees no issue in revealing they are “shooting Episode 3 and Episode 5.” Granted, the show could be using Sapochnik’s skills differently than expected; after all, he was also responsible for ‘The Winds of Winter’, which is perhaps the best episode in the show’s history but had no battle sequences. But let’s be honest: if someone is directing battle sequences, it’s probably going to be him. The notion of two big battle episodes lines up with the two big sets specifically built (or rebuilt) for that kind of action setpiece — the new Winterfell and King’s Landing sets.
As disclosed all the way back in March, episodes three and five were written by Benioff and Weiss, so Sapochnik will exclusively work on the showunners’ scripts. Nutter, in turn, is directing Dave Hill’s season premiere, Bryan Cogman’s second episode, and the showunners’ fourth, while Benioff and Weiss are directing their own series finale script.