Timed to the holidays, HBO Home Entertainment has released Game of Thrones: The Complete Series on Blu-ray. But in addition to the standard Blu-ray box set, HBO Home Entertainment has also released Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection, which is one of the most beautiful Blu-ray box sets I’ve ever laid eyes on. Packaged in a visually striking wooden shadow box case (complete with knife cuts here and there for good measure), the individual seasons are actually panels that make up a beautiful scene inside crafted by Robert Ball, with each season focused on a different moment from the show. A genuine “Hand of the King” clasp holds all nine custom plated disc sleeves together.
I got the chance to check out The Complete Collection in anticipation of its release, and can attest that even beyond the beautiful casing, the bonus features and pristine image quality make it a very wise buy for any massive Game of Thrones fan. Yes, even despite that ending.
It’s no secret that the final season of Game of Thrones was creatively mixed at best, and that the finale was intensely divisive. I personally wasn’t the biggest fan of how it all went down, but that doesn’t negate the truly great seasons of the show that came before, and the disappointment is offset in the Blu-ray box set by some truly great bonus features and a must-watch reunion special.
Both the Complete Collection and the more reasonably priced Complete Series Blu-ray sets include an exclusive bonus feature called Game of Thrones: Reunion Special. This two-hour show is exclusive only to these box sets—you can’t see them anywhere else—and it’s phenomenal.
During production of the show’s final season, Conan O’Brien flew over to Belfast to host this reunion special, which gathers the cast together to discuss iconic events from the series and how it was made. The audience of the theater is made up entirely of the Game of Thrones crew to avoid spoilers, adding to the intimacy of the proceedings, and the cast is joined onstage by former colleagues like Sean Bean, Jason Momoa, and Mark Addy to reminisce about the early days of the show and how significantly it has changed.
The Reunion Special is not only a delight (O’Brien is a fantastic emcee and asks all the right questions, and it’s clear he did his research), it’s also hilarious and insightful as well. The cast gets brutally honest about one another, as Kit Harington decries how “chatty” Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams were on set, while the rest of the cast is happy to point out how much Harington complained about how brutal his work was versus that of the other cast. The latter roasting is accompanied by a video that juxtaposes behind-the-scenes footage of Harington filming in (and complaining about) the snow and the mud with behind-the-scenes footage of Emilia Clarke talking about what a lovely time she’s had filming in places like Spain and Malta. It puts the cast in stitches.
Then there’s the insight. Peter Dinklage reveals that when he was asked to join Game of Thrones, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss pitched him Tyrion’s arc all the way up through killing Twyin, and Dinklage was sold. Conleth Hill, meanwhile, reveals that George R.R. Martin told him one piece of information about Lord Varys when he was cast that he couldn’t share until after the show was over—that Varys was ultimately a good person. That nugget informed Hill’s performance throughout the entire series.
And how significantly did they try to sell Jon Snow’s “death” at the end of Season 5? Harington actually gave a goodbye speech on his “last” day on set that spurred Turner to write him a letter telling him how much he meant to her and how much he’d be missed. It was “the nicest she’s ever been to me,” recalled Harington during the special.
It’s abundantly clear during this Reunion Special that this cast is and was, for better and worse, a family. Some were closer than others, but they’d all been through this taxing ordeal together, and since the Special was shot during their final season, everyone is a bit wistful about it coming to an end. And then the death blow: a final clip reel is extremely emotional as beloved producer Bernadette Caulfield breaks down in tears discussing the sacrifices everyone’s family had to make so they could devote so much of their lives to making Game of Thrones, and when the lights come up the entire cast onstage is in tears, with some full-on bawling. It’s really quite touching, and almost makes you forget about how the show ended. Almost.
Elsewhere on the box sets you’ll find Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, the feature-length documentary about the making of the final season that aired on HBO a week after the finale, as well as audio commentaries for the final season, a new 30-minute making of doc on The Battle of Winterfell, deleted and extended scenes that have never before been seen, and new animated pieces that delve into the history and lore of Game of Thrones. This is in addition to all the audio commentaries and featurettes for the previous seasons, which are also included.
Honestly, as someone who really loves parts of Game of Thrones and really hates others, I can attest that The Complete Collection is an extremely worthwhile purchase (for yourself or as a gift). The resolution of the episodes is stunning, the box itself makes for a gorgeous display, and I can already see myself revisiting this Reunion Special a few more times—it’s that good.
Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection, Game of Thrones: The Complete Series, and Game of Thrones Season 8 are all available for purchase now.