Wait, were all those horses OK?
Yes! As bone-crushing and terrifying as the sequence was, none of the 80 horses used to film the scene were harmed in the making of this equestrian melee. They all lived to pretend to fight another day. Hopefully they all got extra bags of oats for their troubles and thanked their agents for not letting them audition for Luck.
"We're going to make that look as close as possible to a collision without actually colliding the horses," says stunt coordinator Rowley Irlam in the informative behind-the-scenes video above. "So in very tight formation we'll have those guys cross and they'll pull the horses as they cross through and they're falling on very thick falling beds so we don't injure the horses or injure the guys."
Is Jon Snow a bad military commander?
Through six seasons, we've seen Jon Snow's impressive military prowess. We know he's a skilled leader of men, a great shouter, and an incredible swordsman -- also, who knew he was so good at blocking arrows with a shield? -- but this episode exposed something I've long suspected: dude should not be drawing up his own plays.
As a death-beating survivor, he's peerless. But, as Sansa warned, his hot head and passion for his family lead to him making a horrible tactical mistake. Ramsay won the psychological battle. He also won the military battle. The only reason Stark banners are flying at Winterfell is because Littlefinger showed up with the Knights of the Vale at the last minute, taking a page from the Peter Jackson third-act-twist book one more time. This was not part of Jon's strategy. I assume next week will deal with the fallout of his many tactical mistakes.
What the hell is a pincer movement?
If you sleep through History Channel documentaries, you might've been surprised to hear the phrase "pincer movement" in the behind-the-scenes videos for the show. It's a well-worn tactic used by notable commanders like Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Genghis Khan to defeat enemies on the battlefield. The maneuver mostly involves attacking your opponent on both sides and pinching them in.
Ramsay's version of the double-envelopment pincer move, which involved those ugly shields and some scary-looking spears, was particularly brutal. Though the tactic is a popular way to destroy your attackers, the creators of Game of Thrones had a few specific historical examples in mind, in addition to cinematic inspirations like Akira Kurosawa's epic Ran.
"Initially we based Battle of the Bastards on the Battle of Agincourt which took place between the French and English in 1415," explained director Miguel Sapochnik in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "But as needs changed, as did budgets, it became more like the Battle of Cannae between the Romans and Hannibal in 216 BC."
How did they film this thing?
Very carefully! Any battle scene is a logistical and scheduling nightmare for a production staff, but judging from interviews with Sapochnik, this was a particularly challenging shoot. Thanks to three days of constant rain, the production had to make some last-minute changes from the original script that D.B. Weiss and David Benioff provided. Like Jon Snow, the crew had the odds stacked against them.
"Finding a way to cram in and organize everything so that we would use every single minute well in order to squeeze every ounce we could out of our time was the most logistically complicated thing I've ever been involved in," Sapochnik told EW. "When all was said and done, we had around 500 extras, 160 tons of gravel, 70 horses and riders, 65 stuntmen and women, seven principle actors, often four camera crews, 25 days to shoot it, and a call sheet with often up to 600 crew members."