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May 29 2013

Leeches, Dragons and a Bear: Behind the Scenes of Episodes 307 and 308

By Cat Taylor

One of the things that I’m always amazed by when I watch the show is how easy it is to forget the amount of work that goes into creating each set. The tent in which Robb learns he’s about to be a father was actually built on ‘A’ Stage, one of two new sound stages at the Paint Hall Studio in Belfast. It was designed by Gemma Jackson and then decorated by Set Dec and the Props departments with fabrics and furniture brought in from as far away as India – each piece was specially chosen to reflect the feel and style of House Stark. The scroll Talisa is writing was actually written in the Valyrian language, translated by our wonderful language creator, David J. Peterson.

In the same way that so many departments are involved in a short scene, many locations are often used to tell a single storyline. By now you will have seen the spectacular Ice Wall climb in Episode 306 and so much of Iceland's stunning scenery in the wildlings' approach to it. But by the time we see Orell and Ygritte in the woods, we are back in Toome, Northern Ireland. The scene was filmed back in September, six weeks before we went north of the Wall.

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May 22 2013

“Second Sons” Round-Up: Unhappy Couples and Unassuming Heroes

Wedding bells rang in King’s Landing last night as Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister tied the knot. “Though Joffrey threatens to rape his ex-fiancée, and seems on the verge of ordering his uncle's death for his insolence before Tywin calms things down,” Alan Sepinwall of observes, “the wedding largely goes off okay.”

The mismatched bride and groom piqued the interest of engineers at OKCupid; the dating website calculated the couple as 80.15 percent compatible, Entertainment Weekly reports. (Shae will be happy to know that this score was not mentioned in the honeymoon suite.) Executive Producer David Benioff explains Tyrion’s feelings on consummating his marriage in this week’s Inside the Episode: “He knows she doesn’t want it... He would hate himself in the morning.” Resolved to wait until Sansa is ready, the groom quotes the Night’s Watch: “And so my watch begins.”

Samwell Tarly lives out his own vows by being a "sword in the darkness." Rolling Stone’s Sean T. Collins notes, the crow is “like a hero out of a storybook.” Relive Sam's big moment below with the storyboard from HBO GO’s Interactive Features.

Sam’s surprise attack mirrored Melisandre’s strategy—to keep Gendry from seeing “the blade.” Actor Joe Dempsie describes the Red priestess’ appeal in an interview with New York Magazine’s Vulture blog. Melisandre is “a very powerful force for Gendry, and hard to resist. It's not power he wants, but answers—and curiosity killed the cat.” In an interview with, actress Carice van Houten talks about Melisandre’s resolve, “She genuinely is convinced that this is the way and everyone that doesn’t believe her is just a nuisance.” Cynics like Davos and Arya are “difficult flies.”

Melisandre’s conviction doesn’t stop Stannis from consulting his Hand. Salon’s Willa Paskin was unimpressed by the king’s rationalization to Davos. “His speech is an abuse of the word ‘duty,’ ” Paskin says about Stannis, who is using it as “a justification to do something dishonorable without even thinking about it.” Davos’ advice to spare Gendry’s life embodies Paskin’s definition of duty: “something one who is honorable does whether or not they want to.”

The next Game of Thrones episode airs in two weeks. Until then, catch up with the Viewer’s Guide so you won’t need Lady Olenna to explain the family tree.

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May 20 2013

Blood, Sex and Magic: Carice van Houten Talks Melisandre’s Mission

We already know Melisandre isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty for the Lord of Light. This past Sunday, the Red priestess whipped up something new: Take one Baratheon bastard, prime him sexually, sprinkle on some hungry leeches and voila—king’s blood. In an interview with, actress Carice van Houten discusses the scene, on-screen nudity, and what she really thinks of Davos.

HBO: How does Melisandre view her relationship with Stannis?

Carice van Houten:  She’s convinced that he’s the chosen one. She believes he’s going to defeat the “Great Other," so she loves him—but not necessarily in a sexual way. She respects him, but it’s not a romantic relationship. I wouldn’t say either of them are the romantic kind, per se.

Continue to for the full interview with Carice van Houten.

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