"The Long Night" — the April 28 episode of "Game of Thrones" also known as the Battle of Winterfell, was the longest episode of the hit HBO show ever, clocking in at 82 minutes. It was also the second most watched "GoT" episode ever, Deadline reported, with 12.02 million viewers tuning in live (that's not including HBOGo and HBO NOW on-demand and streaming figures).
But according to many fans, the episode was also way too dark to see. Complaints about how it was difficult to watch the epic action go down in all that darkness were far and wide.
Now the episode's cinematographer, Fabian Wagner, has an explanation for why that happened.
Fabian — who also served as the cinematographer on other battle-fueled "GoT" episodes including "Hardhome" and "Battle of the Bastards" (which, like "The Long Night," were directed by Miguel Sapochnik) — told TMZ that he gets why people would be upset if what they ultimately saw on their screens came across as too dark. "We tried to give the viewers and fans a cool episode to watch," he said. But, he insists, "I know it wasn't too dark because I shot it."
"['Game of Thrones'] has always been [a] very dark and a very cinematic show," he added, explaining that the series is meant to be watched in a dark environment or viewed like a film — in a theater-like setting if possible. Fabian also recommends not watching on a phone or in places that are well-lit, and adjusting TV settings.
"A lot of the problem is that a lot of people don't know how to tune their TVs properly," he told Wired. "A lot of people also, unfortunately, watch it on small iPads, which in no way can do justice to a show like that anyway."
He added, "'Game of Thrones' is a cinematic show and therefore you have to watch it like you're at a cinema: in a darkened room. If you watch a night scene in a brightly lit room then that won't help you see the image properly."
As TMZ explains, Fabian also believes that "the pixelation and muddy dark colors fans saw on their TVs and mobile devices are due to HBO's compression of the episode … which leads to poorer visual quality. This is made worse if it's being viewed on a streaming service with a weak connection," the site writes.
According to Fabian, "The showrunners decided that this had to be a dark episode. We've seen so many battle scenes over the years — to make it truly impactful and to care for the characters, you have to find a unique way of portraying the story." He believes that a lighter look would have done a disservice to the series. "Another look would have been wrong," he further told Wired. "Everything we wanted people to see is there."
He's not letting the complaints get to him. "With a lot of hype comes a lot of criticism," he told Wired. "People love to find something to talk about, and so that's totally fine."