Warning: This story contains spoilers for Game of Thrones.
For Game of Thrones fans who had a serious case of FOMO because they felt the dim lighting for “The Long Night” was lacking, the cinematographer behind the game-changing third episode of the final season has a message about the nighttime vibes.
“We tried to give the viewers and fans a cool episode to watch,” Fabian Wagner confidently told TMZ. “I know it wasn’t too dark because I shot it.”
Best known for notable episodes like Battle of the Bastards and Hardhome, Wagner explained the artistic intent ahead of the episode in an interview with Vanity Fair.
“I wanted to evolve the lighting,” he said, to make the “storytelling of the lighting evolve with the storytelling of the characters.”
In other words, the creative choice dramatically illustrates some important plot points, such as when the army of dead had wiped out the Dothraki by extinguishing all the torches, sweeping the blazes into the black sky, as well as illuminating the flames in Melisandre’s eyes.
Although Sunday’s episode might have gotten the most attention for the epic moments, it’s not the first time its dim lighting has come up.
Last season, another Game of Thrones cinematographer explained the look was intentional and that the idea is to authentically capture the story.
“I think we’re all very much on the same page where we’re trying to be as naturalistic as possible,” Robert McLachlan told INSIDER in 2017. The idea is to bring the set to life “as if they’re absolutely not lit by us, but only by Mother Nature or some candles so that it feels more naturalistic, albeit enhanced in some cases,” he said.
Still, many fans lit up Twitter to level criticism at the darkness. Visually, that is. Not the tonal darkness setting the mood for key deaths like Lyanna Mormont.
The difference in the viewer experience might all come down to compression. But enough about that. Ready to rewatch? The best tack is to turn the lights off and adjust your TV brightness settings to illuminate the events, or to cut out the cable company and simply stream it.