28 May 2019
The Game is over: stream this HBO documentary special for your final fix
Okay, so it’s been a week without Game of Thrones (if you’re asking, “What’s that?” – shame on you). You have two options: stream the entire series from episode 1 on Showmax or watch the two-hour special The Last Watch on Showmax… and then start re-watching from episode 1 when you’re done.
Know the game
Game of Thrones is an epic fantasy set in the far-off distant kingdom of Westeros, which is divided into seven mini kingdoms. And the ruler of all the land sits on the Iron Throne, made hundreds of years ago by Aegon The Conqueror, the first Targaryen king, from the swords of enemies he defeated in battle.
In the books by George RR Martin, it’s made from thousands of weapons and the king sits way up high. Obviously, that’s not going to work for a TV show, so this one is quite a lot smaller but still pretty sweet as a royal throne. Basically, everyone is fighting to sit on the throne. Get it? Got it! Good! Let’s go!
The Last Watch doesn’t focus on the main cast. It zooms in on people behind the scenes, as well as some of the extras who fill in the backgrounds and give the show a solid base.
Sure, the stars like Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke (Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen respectively) get all the focus, but who is standing to the side of the scenes when they’re being filmed, making sure everything is together? Who is printing out scripts for table reads (and then making sure that they’re all shredded)? And who is always there when “a Stark foot soldier” is needed? These guys…
Producer Bernie Caulfield has been doing shows for more years than she cares to remember. She’s worked on everything from The Good Wife and Carnivale to The X-Files. And she’s incredibly good at her job – Game of Thrones creators DB Weiss and David Benioff have labelled her as integral to the show’s success as the cast and scripts.
“Bernie has created a production that could effectively scale up from season to season without losing either its efficiency or its heart. There are so many versions [of our show] that would have fallen apart under the strain of producing 10 increasingly big hours of television on a 12-month schedule. Pretty much every version except the Bernie version.”
And, as you’ll see in The Last Watch, she’s got a potty mouth to rival fan-favourite character The Hound (Rory McCann).
Then there’s “the little guys”, extras like Andrew McClay. He is living every fan’s dream, watching from feet away as his favourite show plays out. And when he’s not wearing armour wardrobe for a scene, he’s wearing his wrap jacket, which is handed out to each and every cast and crew member at the end of the season, no matter how big or small their role.
If you want to see what it means to him, watch as he talks about handing Kit his wrap jacket after a scene.
“I gave The King Of The North (the title Jon’s character rightly deserves) and he keeps trying to give me money for it. But I won’t take no money for it. I just wanted to give Jon Snow his jacket, big time.”
Andrew has been around for at least five of the seasons, and while he’s often at the back of the group or running in the thick of the battle where he can’t be seen, it’s a dream come true for him. And it’s super-cool when he confronts one of his fellow extras, who wanders into the wrong changing tent, asking him, “What are you doing here, wearing that?”, referring to his friend who is a member of the Lannister troops, the enemies of Andrew’s Stark family.
There’s also a reveal from head stuntman Vladimir Furdik, who played the infamous Night King, ruler of the White Walkers.
“They came to me and asked me if I wanted to be the Night King. All I heard was ‘King’ and that was enough for me,” jokes the Slovakian actor.
Besides coaching the cast on sword fights and bumps and bruises, he had to spend hours in the make-up chair to get into character, with a head-to-toe latex bodysuit. If you think that Vladimir would be frustrated sitting on the side-line for five hours because someone called him too early for his final scene, you’d be wrong.
“I love this. You can be a stuntman for the rest of your life, but you can only be an actor for a short time. You grab that time,” he explains.
A crying shame
The Last Watch does give insight into the final season that true fans have craved (even the ones who slagged it off will be watching). The promo videos online have shown Kit reeling in disbelief around his co-stars and crying. Want to know why?
As Emilia reveals, “I cried [after reading the final script at home]. I went for a walk. I walked out the house and took my keys and phone and walked back with blisters on my feet. I didn’t come back for five hours.”
She sat with Kit on the plane to Ireland, discovering that he had chosen not to read the final script. “I sat opposite him at the table read. I wanted to watch him compute what he was reading.”
And the result is an audible “No, no… no!” says Kit.
Everyone around him giggles and smiles – including Emilia, who says “Yes, Yes!” – but the reaction on his face is something that will resonate with fans, knowing how much conflict is going through his – and Jon’s – mind.
The Last Watch is not the behind-the-scenes making-of doccie that we wanted. That will come with the Blu-Ray collection and bonus footage. But it is the doccie that Game of Thrones fans need. It’s fun and light-hearted (like seeing a giant Ferris wheel being built at the amusement park opposite the King’s Landing city set and being in the background during filming), but it’s engaging and reveals just how involved everyone was with making this show possible.
And with that, their watch has ended.
Bonus! Still not satisfied? Showmax also has exclusive behind-the-scenes production episodes and more from the eighth and final season!