Oh man, what an episode. Did you watch it? No? You need to sort out your priorities then, my friend, or perhaps we do? If you haven't seen Game of Thrones Series 7 Episode 4: The Spoils of War, and don't want any spoilers, it's probably a good idea to stop reading.
Here's the episode teaser for The Spoils of War.
Still here? OK, we did warn you.
According to a recent interview with Variety, Game of Thrones Director Matt Shakman told them that the baggage train battle sequence was inspired by the disastrous and tragic events of Pompeii.
The Battle sequence in The Spoils of War
Any Games of Thrones fan has been waiting to see how a Westeros army could handle the combined forces of Daenerys Targaryen. Last night we got a taste of that. We've seen her dragons in action in previous episodes but there is something magnificent about watching one in an actual pitched battle.
[Image Source: Game of Thrones Wiki]
After various frustrating developments for her army in Westeros, Daenerys manages to pull it out of the bag. She successfully maneuvers the Dothraki to catch Jamie Lannister in an ambush. Although not the full Lannister army, it was certainly a tempting and worthy target to hit the baggage train.
Jamie and his forces have very little time to get into battle lines as hordes of Dothraki charge across the battlefield to engage them. Just before engaging, Daenerys dives bombs and immolates the Lannister battle line. And in short order.
After the remaining defenders come to their senses from the initial strike, they are immediately hit by the full force of the horde. Their charge is so devastating that the remaining troops rout and are slaughtered as they flee.. What ensues is a cocktail of hand to hand fighting, dragon flamethrower runs, and general chaos.
With heavy losses, the Lannister army is totally destroyed, along with their baggage train. Mandatory cliff-hanger moments see one or two major character's fates in doubt. Daenerys' losses are minor by comparison. Drogon, her faithful dragon steed, does receive an apparently serious wound from that ballista we saw in Season 7 Episode 2. Why did she fly straight at it? Fair play though, a glorious victory Ms. Targaryen.
Poor Drogon, suck it up you'll be fine.
Pompeii inspires the Loot Train Battle
If you watch the battle sequence carefully you'll notice that the unfortunate troops caught in the middle of the dragon's fire breath are immediately immolated, leaving crispy, crumbling husks of their former selves. Those on the edges, fair a little better and only catch fire, lucky them.
Director Matt Shakman wanted to show the audience the sheer terror the ground troops would experience when confronted with a dragon. "...The horror on the ground is much larger than it has been, I think – the damage and the destruction from the last time we saw a dragon attack in Season 6", Matt Shakman told Variety.
"Now Drogon is the size of a 747 and the cone of flame that he sends out is 30-feet wide. So we discussed early on that the center of that flame would be so hot that it would carbonize almost instantly." - He continued.
Matt Shakman then revealed his inspiration for the carnage, "So we looked a lot at Pompei as a reference, which led to the idea of people just turning to ash in an instant. The people on the edge of the fire are cooking in their armor and rushing to the water to try to save themselves. But the people in the middle, their humanity is just gone in an instant."
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
From this comparison, we can liken the firepower of Drogon to that of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. Pyroclastic flows have temperatures in excess of 500 degrees Celsius. That's hot indeed.
This now sleeping volcano, once obliterated local towns and cities, and people, in 79AD. It has erupted more than 50 times since then but this event is its most famous.
Although Herculaneum preservation is actually more impressive, Pompeii gets all the limelight and for good reason. When Vesuvius erupted that fateful day, the City of Pompeii was inundated with volcanic ash, volcanic bombs. Pompeii's coup de grâce came from a blisteringly hot and fast moving pyroclastic flow that finished off anyone who survived the initial bombardment.
Two thousand people are estimated to have died that day, in ways we can only imagine. The city was abandoned and buried for almost two millennia until it was rediscovered in 1748.
The explorers stumbled upon the site and were amazed to find an almost intact Roman city encased in the thick layer of dust and debris. Buildings, artifacts and of course the dead, were left in amazing levels of preservation. A sobering reminder of the power of the nearby volcano.
The dead of Pompeii and Herculaneum
One of the most iconic images from these sites are the body casts left by the dead all those years ago. Women, children, men and even animals have been found preserved in their final dying moments. Some are very harrowing and you can only really appreciate them when you see them with your own eyes. Yet others are preserved in some curious positions.
You can really see their pain and desperation from all those years ago. Look at the guy in the background of this photo!
[Image Source:Wikimedia Commons]
Although these guys have been preserved as molds, some with skeletons inside, their deaths were instantaneous. If you watch closely in The Spoils of War baggage train battle you might notice how some of the troops are instantly turned to ash, reminiscent of the events in Pompeii. Of course, the major difference being that their bodies are instantly turned to ash, not preserved. The very fact that the soldiers' bones are also cremated suggests Drogon's breath is probably in excess of optimal cremation temperatures of 1400-1800 degrees.
So there you go. Why not watch The Spoils of War again and see if you can find the crumbling ruins of the cremated soldiers. Feel free to comment below and if anyone can tell us why Drogon flew straight towards the Ballista that would be lovely.
Sources: Variety, History