Game of Thrones is the modern benchmark in television storytelling, but how is it so effective? That’s exactly what this episode of Lessons from the Screenplay looks into. As they explain, the huge cast of characters and sprawling storyline means leaning heavily on the fundamentals of storytelling. Every scene— from basic dialogue scenes to epic battles— addresses the basic fundamentals of telling a story, sometimes following the rules and sometimes breaking them. The emotions can vary hugely from scene to scene and the show is no stranger to brutal gore, so how do they make it all work?

Well, to start with, you need to look at how they define a scene. It’s not based off of a number of shots or a specific length, instead it’s about the elements: desire, action, conflict, and change. A single conversation or an ongoing battle will all share these qualities. Through this video, Lessons from the Screenplay shows how Game of Thrones masters these elements, threading them throughout a scene to keep the view spellbound.

If you have a Game of Thrones-shaped hole in your life or you’re just interested in how to tell a story, this video is fascinating. You can check the entire video out here:

Game of Thrones knows how to deal with pleasure and pain, soaring victory and horrific defeat. They can change in a moment or we can painstakingly watch it shift. From a 10-second conversation to a 23-minute scene, the way the show varies the elements of storytelling keeps all watching. By playing with our own expectations and understanding of how the show works, we’re always left guessing. It’s become an obsession for a reason. This show is far larger than its epic shots, political twists, and the fact that it’s got god damn dragons. This show knows how to tell a story.