[Spoilers ahead.] Last night’s surprisingly good mid-season episode of “Game of Thrones” was primarily shot outdoors. Even still, there were dozens of scenes we had to freeze-frame and lighten to get a better look at things.
The object that most interested us was Bran’s wheelchair. Obviously this is not something anyone in Westeros has ever seen, and early in the episode he explains to Meera that Winterfell’s Maester has created it specifically for him.
What’s interesting is that this is not just a conventional chair with wheels bolted onto it; looking over the design reveals it to be purpose-built. For instance the seatback is made from straps of leather, presumably as a lightweighting measure as we’ve not seen this type of construction on other chairs on the show. Look at the contrast between the two interior chairs below, for instance.
The chair rests on a chassis that connects to the wheels. You can see that the rear of the chassis comes to a point.
We can’t figure out why; perhaps the point is attached to a centered smaller wheel that prevents the chair from tipping backwards? In every single shot featuring the wheelchair, this area is always (purposefully, we believe) obscured.
Similarly, we never get to see what the front wheels of the chair look like.
The chair has been designed with a handle, towel-bar style and placed quite high up, just aft of Bran’s shoulders. We feel this is a poor ergonomic choice. Given the rolling resistance–Winterfell isn’t exactly paved, and the bearings on that thing have to be shit–we’d imagine you’d want the handles lower, closer to Bran’s center of gravity, to make it easier to push.
I’ve watched and re-watched the scene where Bran’s wheelchair is shown in motion, and the lower half of it is completely obscured to the viewer. I believe the version used in that shot is probably motorized.
Here’s something else we found of interest. On the show, northern Winterfell is presented as something of a backwater (perhaps mirroring the real-life UK’s prejudiced views of their own northern regions). Yet as evinced by Bran’s wheelchair, Winterfell’s craftsman are apparently advanced in wheel design. Because down to the south, where we see a wagon train comprised of the wealthy Lannisters’ and captured Tyrells’ vehicles, their wheels look primitive and brutish. They range from slab wheels to crudely-spoked varieties.
Bran’s wheelchair, in contrast, has delicate spokes that are twinned on either side of the hub.
One particularly dark (visually speaking) sequence in this episode took place in the cave on Dragonstone. There is at least one shot where we are apparently meant to be awed by the dragonglass/obsidian deposits within the cave, yet we cannot even make them out without artificially lightening the shot.
As for those cave drawings, done by the predecessor race on the show known as the “Children of the Forest,” their drawing skills are wildly uneven. The bulk of it consists of crude geometric shapes.
We do see one shot where these COTF have drawn themselves alongside their taller human counterparts.
That drawing is so crappy that if my own child drew it, I’d rip it right off of the refrigerator.
However, the COTF are apparently much more skilled at drawing White Walkers:
I’m not sure if you could see it on your TV, but the eyes are even somehow rendered blue.
Speaking of caves, back at Winterfell’s subterranean crypt, the viewers are again presented with absurdly dark scenes. The screen is so black that you can’t even see the bulk of the statues, some of which feature direwolves next to the humans. That’s got to drive whatever production artist took the time to carve those statues nuts.
Upstairs at Winterfell, we can see a castle’s version of a closed window has no weatherstripping at all. Can you imagine the draft in there?
Over at Dragonstone, we get the now-obligatory shot of the Westeros’ Worst Front Entryway…
…as well as this shot indicating they needed a lot of freaking bricks to build this place.
Finally the episode moves down to Highgarden and the climactic scenes of Daenarys laying waste to the Lannisters with her fire-breathing P-47 Thunderbolt. We get a good look at what a dragon strafing run looks like.
We also get a much better look at the anti-dragon weapon designed by Maester Qyburn and revealed in episode two. Although Jaime refers to it as “Qyburn’s scorpion,” we maintain that the design is based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Giant Crossbow. (In our understanding, a ballista/scorpion works with torsion springs; here you can clearly see the thing Bronn is manning has massive leaf springs.)
It’s also got a fancy little gunsight!
And we were tickled to see that the weapon came inside of its own wagon with breakaway sides.
We get a good look at the winding wheels, which apparently provide so much leverage that Bronn has a relatively easy time loading the contraption. Speaking of which, we were impressed that this uneducated “sellsword” could load, aim and fire it no problem, despite having received no (onscreen, at least) training. I can’t even operate a fire extinguisher properly and Bronn is shooting a dragon out of the sky with this thing. Maester Qyburn is some kind of freaking UI genius.
Finally we see Jaime Lannister sinking to the bottom of a lake, hastened by the weight of his armor and golden hand. Given that armor needs to be unbuckled from its wearer by an assistant, this doesn’t look good for Jaime. Then again, maybe Bronn’s a strong swimmer too and can get to him in time. Guess we’ll find out next week.