Game of Thrones is one of the hottest shows on television, and has been for six violent and bloody seasons. The fantasy show tells the story of a power struggle on an epic scale, where people travel across countries, utilizing everything from magic to murder in order to rule the seven kingdoms. Or possibly to avenge their fallen loved ones.
Based on A Song of Ice and Fire, a series of books by George R.R. Martin, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have nearly completed the story. In fact, they have outrun the book series. Martin has published five books, with the sixth and seventh still unreleased, but the author has informed Benioff and Weiss how the series ends, and it looks like that was a smart decision. The final two seasons of Game of Thrones are also going to be shorter seasons, with only seven episodes airing in the seventh, instead of the usual ten.
While some people might be disappointed in a shorter season, there are benefits. Actor Iain Glen, who plays Jorah Mormont, told RadioTimes.com that the amount of time spent in creating these seven episodes is the same amount that was previously spent on ten:
"They are taking the length of time it takes to shoot ten episodes to shoot just seven this year and six next year. There are fifteen more hours left in Thrones as we understand it, but that may change, but that’s as far as we know.
I think the scale and size of the set pieces, the world that is being created it’s just getting more and more extraordinary and they feel they need that time to shoot seven hours as opposed to ten."
The extra time could be spent in a number of ways. There could me more takes of certain shots, using more time to get the perfect performance or look. There could be more time spent in post-production, indicating more fantasy elements, or bigger battles. It could even mean that the gore and violence the show is famous for could be heightened even further.
Still, not even the actors know what is planned for the final season. Game of Thrones is well known for killing its main characters, generally several a season. As Glen points out:
"I don’t know of course if I am going to make the last one. I am sort of doing a head count, but I think it’s certainly under ten people who were in the original pilot and have been in every season since. I have grown very attached to it. I love the people involved. Dan and David are very benign showrunners and very good people. ... This season you feel that the drama is moving towards its end game, more characters are overlapping so we are seeing a lot more of each other, than perhaps in the past. In the same scenes and we are going to the same places."
Speaking to that overlap, Benioff also had something to say about the upcoming series end:
"We’ve known the end for quite some time and we’re hurtling towards it... Daenerys is finally coming back to Westeros; Jon Snow is king of the North and Cersei is sitting on the Iron Throne. And we know the Night King is up there, waiting for all of them. The pieces are on the board now. Some of the pieces have been removed from the board and we are heading toward the end game."
So, although many fans may be disappointed to see Game of Thrones hurtling quickly toward its endpoint - 15 hours is a relatively small amount of time, after all - at least viewers of the HBO series can rest assured the final episodes are being given their due. Plus, with Glen's comment that the last seasons will be "more extraordinary" fans can expect a proper spectacle in the coming battle. As some of the characters realized last season, winter is no longer coming. It is here.
Game of Thrones season 7 premieres on HBO summer 2017.