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The Military Strategy of the Battle of the Bastards, Explained

Read more in Slate about Game of Thrones.

On Sunday night’s Game of Thrones episode “Battle of the Bastards,” director Miguel Sapochnik pulled off something that many directors try and very few achieve: a battle sequence that moves smoothly from large-scale troop movements to intimate confrontations between soldiers. He did it in such a way that everything was legible to viewers while finding time to show how little sense the chaos of war made to a soldier on the ground.


Chaos of war scenes are a dime a dozen—though the minutelong shot of Jon Snow in the center of the battle is an extraordinary example—but legible large-scale tactics are much rarer. Good luck reverse-engineering Agincourt from Olivier’s Henry V (a clear influence here), to say nothing of lesser efforts. But in “Battle of the Bastards,” the audience can see why each soldier is doing what he’s doing, even when the soldiers themselves don’t know. So here’s a big-picture look at the tactical side of Game of Thrones’ best battle sequence yet.