[The following contains spoilers for Game of Thrones 'Beyond the Wall'.]
With Game of Thrones accelerating toward the finish line, many have begun voicing concerns that the writing is sacrificing too much plausibility in the name of cramming as much spectacle as possible into the dwindling number of hours the series has left. Game of Thrones 'Beyond the Wall' episode director Alan Taylor addressed complaints about the show taking too many liberties with its own timeline, and expecting audiences to accept a few too many credulity-stretching plot developments.
In 'Beyond the Wall' Jon Snow leads his band of not-so-merry men into the frozen wastes of the north, where they are quickly attacked by White Walkers and wights, leading to a desperate battle that sees Snow and his compatriots trapped in the middle of a frozen lake. Amazingly, the trapped men do not freeze to death during the amount of time it takes for Gendry to run on foot all the way back to Eastwatch or for a raven to carry a message the many miles back to Daenerys who immediately fires up a pair of dragons and heads off to save Snow and his band, a decision that leads to the episode's massive twist which sees the Night King killing one of Dany's dragons and turning it into a zombie. Somehow, Snow and most of his men survive the encounter, setting up the season finale where Snow finally confronts Cersei with the proof of the threat beyond the wall.
Social media lit up with complaints about the questionable plotting in the episode, and now in an interview with Variety, Taylor has addressed those concerns and admits that he and the writers knew they were straining credibility in many of their temporal manipulations:
“We were aware that timing was getting a little hazy. We’ve got Gendry running back, ravens flying a certain distance, dragons having to fly back a certain distance…In terms of the emotional experience, [Jon and company] sort of spent one dark night on the island in terms of storytelling moments. We tried to hedge it a little bit with the eternal twilight up there north of The Wall. I think there was some effort to fudge the timeline a little bit by not declaring exactly how long we were there. I think that worked for some people, for other people it didn’t. They seemed to be very concerned about how fast a raven can fly but there’s a thing called plausible impossibilities, which is what you try to achieve, rather than impossible plausibilities. So I think we were straining plausibility a little bit, but I hope the story’s momentum carries over some of that stuff.”
In past seasons, the events of 'Beyond the Wall' may have been stretched out across multiple episodes, lessening the sense that the writers were taking too many liberties with time. Unfortunately, with this season lasting only seven episodes and the final season set to run for just six, writers have had to throw out a lot of the material they would previously have used to buttress the story in favor of pure accelerated pacing and sometimes frantic action, and the result has been an undeniably exciting experience that feels increasingly more detached from any plausible sense of how time and space actually function.
As Taylor says in his quote, the hope has to be that the frenzied plotting and mounting sense of excitement will carry the audience right past the story's more incredible manipulations. Though many seem to be concerned that Game of Thrones is becoming a bit too implausible for its own good, the ratings suggest that not a lot of people are ready to bail on the series just yet.
Game of Thrones season 7 concludes this Sunday @9pm on HBO.