Into the fIre

SFX - - Game of Thrones -

Back in the Belfast HQ, even with much of the plot­ting un­der wraps (and with SFX hide­bound by NDAs that threaten to gift our first­born to the White Walk­ers), it’s hard to dis­agree. In the cos­tume de­part­ment, they’re work­ing on Dothraki win­ter wear – be­cause, one of the team ex­plains, the hith­erto scant­ily clad, desert-dwelling horse­men are “now in Wes­teros”. Next door, in leather­work and met­al­work, Lan­nis­ter army uni­forms are be­ing buffed and pol­ished.

Ar­mourer Tommy Dunn and his team of six are equally busy. “We’re in a world of shields at the mo­ment, for a se­quence we have in Spain,” he re­veals be­fore threat­en­ing to cut out our tongue with a gleam­ing slice of Va­le­rian steel.

Mean­while, in the sculp­tors’ hut, three crafts­peo­ple are get­ting busy with hot wires and reg­u­lar kitchen knives. They’re shap­ing a pile of 40 poly­styrene blocks, stacked to the di­men­sions of a dou­ble-decker bus, into a gi­ant… well, that would be telling.

One thing we can say with some as­sur­ance: in GOT sea­son seven, the women are now run­ning the show. Cer­sei, Sansa, Dany, Arya, Yara Greyjoy, Olenna Tyrell, El­laria of Dorne and, of course, fear­some ado­les­cent Lyanna Mor­mont – for­get the beardy men, as it en­ters its sec­ond-last lap, these are the show’s real war­riors. The line-up’s un­of­fi­cial queen whole­heart­edly con­curs with this.

De­vel­op­ment of fe­male char­ac­ters is com­plex and also pow­er­ful

“When I first read the books and [heard] they were turn­ing them into a TV show,” be­gins Gwen­do­line Christie (who plays Bri­enne of Tarth), “I won­dered if they would cut down the point-of-view fe­male char­ac­ters. And I was re­ally pleased that those fe­male char­ac­ters were hon­oured and con­tinue to be at the fore­front of the show. And we see a de­vel­op­ment of the fe­male char­ac­ters that I think is three-di­men­sional, is com­plex, is con­flicted – and is also pow­er­ful.”

Of course, with great power comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity. That’s the case be­hind the cam­eras as well as in front of them. With Game

Of Thrones the jewel in HBO’s crown, not to men­tion the fever­ish fan an­tic­i­pa­tion the world over, has suc­cess made the jobs of the writ­ers, pro­duc­ers and direc­tors more dif­fi­cult? Do Cog­man and his team wake up at night in a fever dream, trou­bled by a mes­sage from the Three-Eyed Raven: “We’ve only got 13 more episodes – don’t mess this up for us…”?

“No, I don’t think so, truth­fully,” the Cog­man in­sists. “It gives us a lot of free­dom. We’re very for­tu­nate that we have a net­work and a pro­duc­tion crew and team that can pretty much make any crazy idea we have come to fruition. You can’t say that about most shows. So that’s been a won­der­ful lux­ury to have as writ­ers. You can write a scene about a zom­bie army cas­cad­ing over a cliff and they’ll do that for you! Or you can write a scene where Jon Snow is in the mid­dle of horses run­ning back and forth, and they’ll do that for you, too! So that’s amaz­ing.”

Let the sea­son – and all-out war – com­mence…

Game Of Thrones sea­son seven be­gins on Sky At­lantic on 17 July.

Blonde am­bi­tion: will the Lan­nis­ter twins’ many debts be paid this year?

Daen­erys: a queen whose plat­inum hair matches her nerves of steel per­fectly.

A flash­back to the be­gin­nings of the White Walk­ers...

“Don your fur coats, boys. It’s the bat­tle of our lives.”

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