By the end of Game of Thrones, I was feeling as burnt out on the the series as King's Landing after Daenerys' massacre. I wasn't sure I wanted to watch the documentary about the making of the final season, titled The Last Watch. What could it tell me that I hadn't learned in the oodles of bonus features HBO dropped over the course of the final six episodes? But the two-hour special ended up truly exposing a side of the enormous series that most viewers hadn't yet experienced.
The Last Watch thankfully avoids digging into plot choices or Westerosi lore, sparing viewers the kinds of rehashing and controversy found online during Season 8. It barely spends time with the actors fans have come to adore. Instead, Jeanie Finley's film introduces us to the men and women who truly made Thrones run. There's the dedicated "Head of Snow," who poured white flakes in the corners of Winterfell, and an eager extra who's been a loyal House Stark guard for multiple years. You meet the woman who ran the snack cart frequented by extras and crew members and is proud of her famous toastie, plus the husband-and-wife team in charge of prosthetics, missing their daughter back home as they turn people into wights.
These are people who rarely get glory on any production big or small, but are essential to making it run. In that way, The Last Watch is a genuinely moving document. Yes, it is a victory lap for a mammoth achievement in television history, but it's the right kind of victory lap, one that turns the spotlight away from the figureheads like showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
The documentary isn't devoid of snippets with the stars. It takes us into the finale table read, in which Kit Harington learns how Jon stabs Daenerys. He's shocked; Emilia Clarke makes memeable face. Cast members -- including Harington, but also Tom Wlaschiha, who played Jaqen H'ghar -- are sent to Spain as decoys to keep the plot hidden. But all of the actors' actions are contextualized by the usually silent forces that support them. Here are some of the champion Thrones employees that The Last Watch highlights.