Warning: This post will contain spoilers for the season 6 finale of Game of Thrones.
As the sixth season of Game of Thrones began, fans of the series knew the plot would progress well beyond the written source material for the first time, answering a number of questions that remained in the wake of A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy. Earlier this year, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss speculated that future seasons might contain fewer episodes, as there may not be enough story left to necessitate a full season order for the final installments.
Speaking to Deadline this week, Benioff discussed how far they’ve mapped out the remaining pieces of Game of Thrones:
“We’ve been talking about the ending, from the beginning. It’s a strange phenomenon, we’re in this territory where you are walking on your own and can’t rely on the written material anymore. 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.”
One character who remains a force to reckon with is Cersei Lannister, who took her place on the Iron Throne in the final moments of the Season 6 finale, and Weiss is eager to explore her newfound power:
“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, she genuinely loved her children. Now they’re all gone, and I think that is very interesting for us. Who is she without her children? The answer is something you’ll find out next season. That’s so much of what is to come that I’ll just give it away if I start delving into it now.”
As far as how many episodes the duo are envisioning, it sounds like a pair of shorter seasons is almost certainly in order, with Benioff saying:
“It’s two more seasons we’re talking about. 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. We’re trying to tell one cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end. As Dan said, we’ve known the end for quite some time and we’re hurtling towards it.
Those last images from the show that aired last night showed that. 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.
The thing that has excited us from the beginning, back to the way we pitched it to HBO is, it’s not supposed to be an ongoing show, where every season it’s trying to figure out new story lines. We wanted it to be one giant story, without padding it out to add an extra 10 hours, or because people are still watching it. We’re definitely heading into the end game now.”
Game of Thrones will return for its seventh (most likely shorter) season in 2017.
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