Among the massive pile of Emmy nominations Game of Thrones has garnered (a record 32) heading into next month’s awards ceremony, one of them is a nod for “Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series” for the Miguel Sapochnik-helmed episode, The Long Night. That, of course, was one of the most anticipated episodes in Thrones history and featured the nonstop violence of the Battle of Winterfell that resulted in the surprising death of the Night King.
About that last bit — Sapochnik has revealed in a new interview some fresh detail about the iconic scene involving Arya finally putting an end to the undead king. Specifically, some fresh detail about a part of the scene that may have nagged at some of you.
We’re talking about the fact that Arya seemed to appear out of nowhere, sailing through the air in slow motion right into the arms of the Night King, who turns, grabs her and doesn’t notice the swift movement of her dagger switching to a hand that’s closer to stabbing position. It turns out, the show’s team had actually originally intended to present Arya’s frantic approach making her way up to the Night King, which would have involved Arya jumping across a series of rooftops Assassin’s Creed-style on her way to the Godswood.
That footage was left on the cutting room, though, because it apparently disrupted the “rhythm” of the scene.
“I questioned everything and we worked long and hard to find the right balance of credibility versus wish fulfillment,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Then we shot it and reshot it and found that what was really important was rhythm.
“At one point there was an elaborate plan to have her fight her way into the Weirwood forest, but as we progressed we realized she’d already done that earlier in the episode, so it felt like a repeat. In the end, we felt it didn’t matter how she got there — what mattered was setting up that moment when the Night King catches her mid-leap and we think she’s done for, then she pulls her knife switch and takes him out. I loved Maisie’s performance post the takedown as well, sharing a moment with her brother, Bran. That weary smile. ‘Not today.'”
It’s a great detail to have from Sapochnik, who’s one of three directors from the show up for Emmys next month. Sapochnik will certainly be tough competition to beat, given that he’s directed many of the most important episodes in the series in addition to The Long Night, including Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards. Speaking of The Long Night and that unforgettable scene with Arya, the actor who played the Night King is still giving fans a ton of content via his Twitter feed, such as this wistful recent tweet that’s making us want to rewatch it all over again: