Each episode of Game of Thrones opens with a credit sequence dominated by a gigantic mechanical sun, but only Sunday night did it become apparent just how powerful that sun must be. Virtually every interior in the episode—directed by Daniel Sackheim and shot by Anette Haellmigk—has enormous shafts of light pouring through the windows, Caravaggio style. If Game of Thrones were set in our world, it would be clear that the production was leaning on this effect a little too hard. But it’s fantasy, so it’s more likely that this is simply an accurate portrayal of the way light hits buildings in George R.R. Martin’s imagination. Here’s a brief tour of some of the episode’s important locations and the incredibly bright and well-defined beams of light the characters encountered there.
Slaver’s Bay is pretty far south and is a very brightly-lit desert, so it’s no surprise that light is pouring into the windows at the top of the Great Pyramid.
It’s always sunny in King’s Landing! The Red Keep is in the eastern part of the city and the Great Sept of Baelor is on top of a hill, so they both probably get great natural light in every window. It sure looks that way, anyway.
The Iron Islands
Maybe the point here isn’t that the sun outside is bright (literally every exterior shot of the Iron Islands is either cloudy or rainy) but that the interior is really dark? It’s all relative, right?
It seems to be a really, really sunny day at Winterfell, even if the tiny windows mean it’s still cold enough for a fire. Looking on the bright side, maybe that patch of light means the stone floor was a warmer place to bleed out than normal. With Ramsay Bolton, you have to take whatever small comfort you can find.
Ok, come on, Night’s Watch. You’re in the shadow of a gigantic ice wall, there’s no way the sun is hitting the windows at this angle that brightly. There is clearly some kind of giant light-emitting monster right outside, and killing giant monsters is the entire point of the Night’s Watch, so get cracking.
Not every city in the Game of Thronesiverse depends on an unbelievably bright, low-hanging sun as a light source, of course. The resourceful Dothraki light their temples with a system of braziers instead. It’s hard to imagine a downside.