[Editor’s note: Spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season 7, through the finale, follow.]
The Season 7 finale of “Game of Thrones” brought with it one big death (Lord Baelish, we hardly knew ye), a big reveal (Jon Snow’s real name, in fact, is Aegon Targaryen), and a big scary ice dragon destroying the Wall protecting Westeros from the North.
It’s all leading up to the show’s final chapter, which we’ll see when it… eventually… premieres. Here’s what do we know right now about Season 8, based on reports and interviews with the cast and producers.
Pre-Production Has Already Begun in Northern Ireland
This is per the site The Watchers on the Wall, which also spotlighted some photos taken by a reader of construction happening right now.
Production Begins In October 2017
This is according to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who told Collider that he’ll be back on the set then. If the filming lasts the same length of time as previous seasons, this means the season will wrap in April 2018, approximately six months later. But THR reports that production could continue until August 2018.
That might seem like a long time, especially since the season is set to last for six episodes (as opposed to Seasons 1-6, which were 10 episodes, and Season 7, which was 7). But…
The Six Episodes May Be “Feature-Length”
This was reported by David Chen on Twitter, after a Con of Thrones panel featuring sound designer Paula Fairfield:
Fairfield just said the Season 7 finale of GAME OF THRONES will be 82 mins. Final season they're considering making each ep feature length!
— David Chen (@davechensky) July 1, 2017
So the lengthy production time would make sense.
Season 8 Won’t Necessarily Set Up Any of the Spin-Offs
HBO’s Casey Bloys told Entertainment Weekly earlier this summer that while they’re deep into developing “Thrones” prequels, the priority is making “Thrones” as good as possible. “You’re not going to see a situation where the next show in the ‘Thrones’ universe launches off the back of this one. The show that Dan and David have created will get its proper send off first. We wouldn’t want to take away from that in any way,” he said. Thus, don’t expect there to be any direct connection between the events of Season 8 and whichever of the prequels and spin-offs goes first.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss Will Write The Final Four Episodes
At SXSW earlier this year, we learned which writers had been assigned to each episode: Dave Hill (who wrote Season 6’s “Home” and Season 7’s “Eastwatch”) will write the first episode of the season, Bryan Cogman (responsible for this season’s “Stormborn”), will write the second, and Benioff and Weiss will write the remaining installments.
Season 8 writing assignments:
— A Storm of Spoilers (@StormofSpoilers) March 12, 2017
Like Past Seasons, It Could Be a Bit of a Sausage Fest
That is an all-male writing staff, which is disappointing, but not exactly a first for the show: Season 7 featured exclusively men behind the scenes as writers and directors. In fact, the last time a woman directed an episode of “Game of Thrones” was Michelle MacLaren in Season 4. The directing line-up hasn’t been announced yet, so hopefully the last season manages to address that.
Weiss and Benioff Will Get All the Time They Need To Make Season 8
Again, according to Bloys:
So as of now, the final season could air in 2018 and/or in 2019 depending on their needs?
Yeah. They have to write the episodes and figure out the production schedule. We’ll have a better sense of that once they get further into the writing.
This Could Mean Another Gap Year At the Emmys
If the final season could premiere as long as two years from now, that might mean another year without any “Thrones” nominations. While in 2016, it led the field with 23 nominations, 2017 was the first year since the show’s debut where “Thrones” wasn’t Emmys-eligible due to its release date (Season 7 will compete in the 2018 Emmys, a year from now). In order to compete in the 2019 Emmys, 50 percent of Season 8 — at least three episodes — will have to premiere before May 31, 2019.
The Epic Season Might Include An Epic Love Triangle
Plot-wise, it’s clear that much of Season 8 will focus on the oncoming battle between the White Walkers and humanity. But as we saw in the Season 7 finale, Jon and Daenerys are now an item (despite the show officially, simultaneously confirming that they are aunt and nephew). But Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson also has a theory that the eighth season could revolve around a Jon/Dany/Tyrion love triangle, based on George R.R. Martin’s original 1993 pitch for the series.
It’s an idea definitely supported by the final minutes of the episode, as well as Tyrion’s actions over the course of the season. But it’s only one of the many complicated interpersonal dynamics that we can expect to share the screen with the dragons and ice zombies.