Game of Thrones season 6 came to a close on Sunday, with the finale marking the series’ most-watched episode ever, and with all of the action, overdue character returns, fan theory confirmations (and dismissals), and other long-lasting story line resolutions at play this year, the bar has been set at its highest peak yet for the final two seasons.
The HBO series will return to the small screen with a pair of abbreviated final seasons, and co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are already dropping major hints about what fans can expect to see in the last leg of the hit series. In fact, Benioff recently said they’ve already got the show’s ultimate end point in view, and even though they’ve surpassed George R.R. Martin’s books, things are becoming ever clearer now from a creative perspective.
In their interview with Deadline, the executive producer pair revealed that they’re still deciding how many episodes season 7 and season 8 will each contain, but they have a rough estimate already: “From pretty close to the beginning, we talked about doing this in 70-75 hours, and that’s what we’ll end up with. Call it 73 for now.” Additionally, Weiss and Benioff had this to say:
“As we get close to the ending, we’ve been talking about that for so long, things come into better focus. Once we get to the final end game, we’ve got very specific ideas that have grown organically over the past six plus years about where everything will end up.”
The pair's aim, Benioff said, is to "tell one cohesive story with a beginning, middle, and end ... we've known for quite some time and we're hurtling towards it." Indeed, the final moments of the season showed the coronation of Cersei Lannister as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, the North's recognition of Jon Snow as their king, and the long-awaited journey of Daenerys Targaryen to Westeros. "The pieces are on the board now," he teased.
Among those pieces still in play after that explosive season 6 finale, Weiss added, is the mental status of Queen Cersei, now that she’s a childless mother as Maggy the Frog once prophesied:
“That’s what so much of next season is going to be about. Finding out what Cersei’s mind-set is. Who is she? While Cersei has certainly done a lot of horrible things in her life and she could be a very cruel person, the one thing that was redemptive about her was that she genuinely loved her children … Who is she without her children? The answer is something you’ll find out next season.”
Another major player in the big game? The Night King and his possible descent from beyond the Wall. “What is laid out in this season is, very clearly, that the wall isn’t just a physical structure keeping the army of the dead out,” said Benioff. Indeed, as much was directly spoken to by the return of Benjen Stark, who has been self-exiled north of the Wall after being touched by the Night King because if he were to cross the border, the Night King could follow. Whatever mystical boundary exists within the Wall, it's still preserved... for now:
“If the Wildlings managed to make it over, which they have, and the Night King has so much more in the way of power and troops who’ll do literally anything he says … we’ll keep it at that, for now.”
One thing we can know for certain about the Night King (whom they lovingly refer to as Death), is that he’ll remain mute so long as we know him. “What’s death going to say? Anything would diminish him. He’s just a force of destruction.” That's a pretty chilly warning for such an already-ice cold character, then, isn't it?
Game of Thrones will return for season 7 in the spring of 2017 on HBO.