There are days when it seems that “Game of Thrones” could sustain its own separate internet.
Scour the one we do have and you can find behind-the-scenes photos of characters in different shooting locales, plenty of confirmed and unconfirmed fan theories, and enough character history to populate more than just the four spinoffs that HBO announced back in early May.
With all that information to sift through, we thought it might be helpful to pick out some vital tidbits that we need to know before heading into Season 7. Given that this series is facing a level of scrutiny unprecedented in TV history, we’re not counting out the idea that some of those set photo leaks might be fiendish misdirection. Therefore, we’re going off of verifiable reports and the words of the creators and stars themselves. They might not be giving us a ton of information, but at least we don’t have much longer to wait.
1. The Episodes Will Be Fewer and (Mostly) Longer
It’s always tough for “Game of Thrones” to fit its expansive story into the length of a TV season. With a shorter order this year (there are only seven new episodes instead of the usual ten), it makes sense that a few of these chapters are going to go through some extra stuffing. If the HBO.com runtimes are to be believed, we’re not only in for some extra-lengthy runtimes, including a season finale just shy of an hour and a half. The most curious part of this particular report? A 50-minute episode, which would make it the shortest in the show’s history.
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2. There Are Four Directors, All Male, Including an “Always Sunny” Vet
Of the four confirmed occupants of the director’s chair, three are returning champions. Jeremy Podeswa, who’s been at the head of four episodes over the past two seasons, including “Unbowed, Unbent and Unbroken” and “The Red Woman.” Mark Mylod, who’s had a similar episode output over Seasons 5 and 6 is also coming back. Alan Taylor, of “Thor: The Dark World” fame, is returning to the show after a five-year absence. The new addition to the directors’ stable is Matt Shakman, a longtime TV vet who’s done extensive work on Benioff/Weiss favorite “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
3. Another Huge-Scaled Fight Scene is On Its Way
Benioff and Weiss have spoken about the historical influences on last season’s mammoth Battle of the Bastards. But this year, the show is looking to make history of its own by staging another formidable showdown.
Rather than put all their chips into one centerpiece battle, as they have for season-peak spectacles like “Blackwater” or “Hardhome,” this season’s production saw the show producing two large fight scenes at once.
“It’s the first time we shot two battles at the same time in different countries [Spain and Northern Ireland],” Benioff told Entertainment Weekly. “It was really hard in terms of a strain on resources and manpower. That was a difficult month, but we managed to get through it.”
That Northern Island battle he’s referring to is likely the one in Belfast we heard about just last week. The show’s been bracing us for a war and it’s one that’s probably going to happen on multiple fronts. (Also, if this really does deliver as a battle larger than any they’ve done so far, remember that they lit 20 people on fire at once back in Season 5.)
4. Cersei and Jaime Might Be on the Rocks
At SXSW in March, an innocent slip from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in an interview with The Daily Beast gave us some insight into where the series’ most fraught brother-sister relationship might be heading.
“Plus, there are no other suitors. Well, that’s not true… but he has to step up and take his father’s place,” Coster-Waldau said.
If this means that Jaime is no longer the main man in Cersei Lannister’s life, the newest occupant of the Iron Throne might be looking elsewhere for a more advantageous marriage. The only other on-screen partner we’ve seen Cersei with is cousin Lancel. After being a casualty of the massive explosion that ended Season 6, it’s safe to assume he’s not the one Coster-Waldau had in mind.
5. There Are Familiar Faces in the New Cast
It’s hard to believe that Jim Broadbent hadn’t already played a character in the “Game of Thrones” universe. As one of Britain’s most respected character actors, it was only a matter of time before he popped up in the world’s most popular TV franchise. After months of online speculation, Broadbent all but confirmed his role in a March ScreenCrush interview (everyone was so chatty back in March!), explaining that he’d filmed five episodes as an archmaester. Signs point to he and Sam Tarly spending plenty of time together this season at the Citadel.
Continued on the next page: Those Greyjoys, the fate of The Wall and Bran the Not-Quite-As-Powerful-As-You-Might-Think