[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Game of Thrones ahead.]
The season 6 finale of Game of Thrones set record high ratings for the show, and left fans eager to know what happens next. Though there is now a year to go until its return, we already have our first big piece of information on season 7 - the list of directors for the upcoming season have been released.
Traditionally, each season of Thrones has had five directors run two episodes each. The list of directors released for season 7 includes four directors, suggesting that this new season will be shorter than those before it (as Game of Thrones' showrunners had already indicated would be the case).
EW revealed the four directors set to work on Game of Thrones season 7, as follows:
- Alan Taylor, who is an Emmy-winning veteran of The Sopranos, and helped create the visual storytelling style of Game of Thrones when he directed the ninth and 10th episodes of season 1, particularly “Baelor” (the episode where Ned Stark was executed). This will be his first time working on the show since 2012, after having spent the last few years directing the movies Thor: The Dark World and Terminator: Genisys.
- Jeremy Podeswa, who is the Canadian director best known for his work on Boardwalk Empire. He has previously directed four episodes of Thrones, and earned an Emmy nomination for season 5’s “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”. He also directed the first two episodes of season six (which includes Jon Snow's resurrection).
- Mark Mylod, who has directed four episodes of Thrones. The British director's most well known episodes from the show include telling the Hound's story in "The Broken Man" and Arya's near-fatal chase scene in "No One". He previously worked on Showtime's Shameless and HBO’s Entourage.
- Matt Shakman, who is a newcomer to the series. Shakman is best known for his work on FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a comedy loved by Benioff and Weiss (the showrunners even wrote an episode, “Flowers for Charlie,” although it was not directed by Shakman). Shakman has also worked on episodes of AMC’s Mad Men, CBS’ The Good Wife and FX’s Fargo.
Three Game of Thrones vets and one newbie are going to run what's expected to be the second to last season of the show. Hardcore fans will notice that Miguel Sapochnik – the director of this season’s hugely well-received “Battle of the Bastards” and the season finale - is missing; though of course, there's still season eight to come. Unless we get a surprise addition to this list, only having four directors confirms that the final seasons of the show will have fewer episodes than any of the previous seasons. Executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss already said that they expected to only make 13-15 more episodes max, though they haven't actually set a number yet.
In other behind the scenes news, it's been confirmed that costume designer Michele Clapton will return for season 7. The Emmy-winner ran the costume department for the first five seasons, spent some time away in season 6, then returned with some Twitter-exploding work in the final two episodes of the season – such as Cersei Lannister’s funeral-black battle dress in the season 6 finale.
At this point, it's clear that the end is nigh. Not only did the season 6 finale tie up a bunch of plots and character arcs (mostly through killing them off) but it also set up all the remaining major players for the end of the game. "Once she (Daenerys) gets on those ships and crosses West, that’s when the clock on the end game starts ticking,” Weiss told EW. “But when she gets back to Westeros, it’s on. Her return is the first domino.”
Game of Thrones returns for season 7 on HBO in spring 2017.