Now that the dust has settled on Game of Thrones’ big “Battle of the Bastards,” production has gone in-depth with near-every aspect of the 30-minute battle sequence. Well, almost. Fans certainly noticed a peculiar omission, to which director Miguel Sapochnik explains why one favorite fighter curiously ghosted the battle.

You’re warned of full spoilers through Sunday’s “Battle of the Bastards” from here on out, but for all the CG spectacle that went into thousands of Bolton troops encircling Jon Snow’s Wildling forces, including the giant Wun-Wun, Jon’s direwolf Ghost seemed curiously absent from any proceedings. We’ve heard before that production famously eschews the complicated direwolf CGI as often as possible, something Sapochnik confirmed as much to Business Insider:

[Ghost] was in there in spades originally, but it’s also an incredibly time consuming and expensive character to bring to life. Ultimately we had to choose between Wun-Wun and the direwolf, so the dog bit the dust.

Figuratively, he means. In either case, that about gels with a quote from Sapochnik to Entertainment Weekly, which suggests the “Battle of the Bastards” ended up significantly cut from the shooting script, due to costly and complicated production headaches:

One evening I got home and I kind of knew we couldn’t finish in the time we had left so I wrote a long email to David and Dan and the other producers to suggest an alternative that I thought we could achieve in the remaining time, but that would mean going “off book” for three days. That is to say, we’d be shooting without a script. I finished the email and made a cup of tea (no whisky in the house) then waited for the response, which I fully expected to be a public chastisement and general reaming for even suggesting that (Dan and David like their scripts executed the way they wrote them, and with good reason).

It was late already and if were going to do this we needed to employ this idea first thing the next day. But I couldn’t move forward without their consent and they were in L.A. at the time. I hadn’t even worked exactly out how I’d do it, I just knew we need a Plan B.

Anyway, not 15 minutes later, I get a ping on the email and David and Dan have replied. They said it sucked not to be able to finish as scripted but they also understood the crunch we were in and that they trusted me and to have at it.

For clarity's sake, the “off book” alternative Sapochnik described refers to Jon ending up trampled by stampeding forces, culminating in that big “rebirthing” shot as he clawed upward to fight for air. It might stand to reason that Ghost originally played a larger part in the battle, though also worth noting is that the aftermath already had another complicated canine sequence to film, that of Ramsay being devoured by his own dogs.

We might see Ghost in Sunday’s “Winds of Winter” finale, but would his addition have over-complicated the big Game of Thrones Season 6 showdown?