There have been few shows in the history of television as successful as “Game Of Thrones.” The fantasy epic, adapting George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novels, has quadrupled its viewership on HBO since the first episode, with nearly two-thirds of HBO viewers watching last season’s finale, a whopping 8 million viewers, far more than most network shows these days. And it’s not just a success in the U.S., it’s huge all over the world too.
It’s understandable that the network would want to hang on to this cash cow for as long as possible, particularly given their current dearth of other dramas — audiences for “The Leftovers” are relatively tiny, while “True Detective” screwed the pooch in a big way in the second season, with viewers leaving in droves. The network have stated they wanted it to run for as many as ten years. But showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have suggested that they’d ideally like to see it wrap up after seven, with Benioff saying in 2014 ‘It feels like this is the midpoint for us. If we’re going to go to seven seasons, which is the plan, season 4 is right down the middle, the pivot point.”
It looks like a sort of compromise has been reached: at the Television Critics Association press tour yesterday, HBO bossman Michael Lombardo told reporters that a deal is close for the show to be renewed for two further seasons, beyond the sixth that airs this year, bringing it to at least eight in total. Good news for fans, right?
Maybe. In the best case scenario, Benioff and Weiss have realized, with production wrapping on the sixth season, that they needed more than ten episodes to wrap up the story/kill off the remaining characters. In the worst case, HBO threw so much money at them they can’t refuse, and we’re set for a wildly over-extended third act (as seen with, for instance, the “Hunger Games” on the big screen). We’ll start to find out how much story the team have left in them when the sixth season arrives: the network revealed at the TCAs, per The Hollywood Reporter, that the show will be back on April 24th, a few weeks later than usual.
Of course, the question of whether one of the main characters will be back is still up in the air. We left Season 5 with Kit Harington’s Jon Snow bleeding out on the snow, betrayed by his men from the Night’s Watch. Since then, speculation’s been flying about his fate. Is he really dead? Is he alive? Is he really dead, but set to be resurrected? HBO expertly teased the question with posters featuring Harington, but now Natalie Dormer may have given the game away on Jimmy Kimmel.
The actress says that “there are some posters up that may have given the game away,” suggesting that Snow is indeed alive, but then backtracks, claiming she only reads the scenes featuring her character, so she doesn’t know. Further teasing? Or a slip of the tongue? You can watch the video below and parse it for yourself.