Almost exactly a month ago, HBO announced that Game of Thrones would be returning for at least one additional season, making its grand total eight years (with the possibility of even more seasons to come!). Four weeks is a lot of time – just enough, it turns out, to let the news sink and to properly discuss it when enough of us congregate together to be officially labeled a murder.
So, what’s the consensus at the Wall? Is this a welcome development – or a suspect one? Is the extra year(s) a money grab or an admission of error? And will we even be around in three years’ time to debate the outcome of the eighth season? Let’s find out.
I normally hate to say “I told you so,” but, this time, I think I’ll allow a little self-indulgence: I just knew that David and Dan wouldn’t be able to tell all of A Song of Ice and Fire in just seven seasons.
But now that we know Game of Thrones will be going for at least eight years, that brings up a whole host of assorted questions. Which books will seasons seven and eight cover (will it just be book seven, A Dream of Spring, or will book six, The Winds of Winter, also find its way in there)? How likely is it that the cast will return past season six (remember, all of their contracts end next year)? Do you think we’ll see a season nine, as well? And, in retrospect, is it now a mistake for the showrunners to have covered all of books four and five primarily in season five?
Personally, I’m quite happy that GOT will go on for at least eight seasons; it means it has time to get its shit back together. My main problem with the show recently (which, to be fair, comes directly from the books) is that it no longer has a sense of direction. There are a lot of advantages to subverting narrative formulas and killing off the expected heroes, but do it too much – as GOT and ASOIAF has – and the audience goes from, “Ooh, I have no idea what’s happening next!” to “Okay… where is this going, guys?” The War of the Five Kings is over… ish (all hail, King Balon), and, apart from some vague promises of winter and Daenerys coming to Westeros, the show has devolved into a series of subplots, only three of which I care about (Missandei and Grey Worm, Brienne and Pod, and Sansa and Theon). Were the show to only run for only one or two more seasons, I don’t think it could regain its sense of urgency. With three-plus more seasons, there’s at least hope. If a ninth season is necessary to accomplish this (and not to squeeze the GOT cash cow dry), then so be it.
Which books will be covered? I’ve no idea. I mean, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring better be packed if they’re to tie up all the loose ends in the series (please refer to my complaints about pacing above). So, it’s more than possible that TWOW will be distributed between seasons six and seven, the way A Storm of Swords was between seasons three and four. And then, of course, there’s all the deviations the show has taken from the books. Perhaps it’s better to think of the books as guidelines rather than the source material at this point.
I think it was a wise decision to consolidate books four and five into season five simply because A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons were so fucking boring! Also, George Martin intended for AFFC and ADWD to be one book, so it makes sense to merge them into one season. The only thing I’m sad was omitted was the Kingsmoot, but since it looks like we’re getting that next season, I have no complaints.
I suspect the cast whose characters survive season six will renew their contracts. Some of them might be sick of the show by then, particularly the child actors, but this is still a dream gig for any performer. The only character I can imagine believably switching actors is Arya – you know, maybe the second face gets stuck or something.
Well, to be fair, the first three novels were supposed to be one book, too. =)
True. The entire series was supposed to be a trilogy. The difference for me is that, whatever GRRM’s early plans were, the content that was originally intended for one book ended up warranting three giant novels (and four seasons). I don’t see that in AFFC and ADWD. When introducing or expanding upon new lands, like Dorne and the Iron Islands, I understand the need for detail, but Tyrion’s never-ending boat trip and Brienne’s fruitless wandering, for example, did not require the space they took up.
I feel that is the right decision. Similar to Marc, I thought that just two more seasons is too little and may feel rushed; although we do not know the remaining story, the current situation at the end of season five is so complex that wrapping it up in 20 episodes would likely involve some cop-out solutions not worthy of the plot so far. My best guess was 7.5 seasons, but if the eight seasons they are now talking about means 80 episodes in total, I’m up for it.
There is little point in discussing which book(s) the next season will adapt – the books don’t exist yet. What the showrunners work with is the outline of the remaining narrative as a whole, and they will divide it into seasons as they see fit. GRRM may well choose a different strategy when dividing the same material into books.
Using most of the material from books four and five last season made sense. As any show, they aimed to keep the main characters on screen and have them play out well-rounded season-long character arcs (rather than ditching half the characters for a season, or telling just half the story of all the characters).
While I am glad we’re getting the extra season, I only hope that they can hold up the quality over those extra years. I can’t (off the top of my head, although I’m sure someone will come along and enlighten me) think of a decent show that maintained a high standard of content over eight or more years. I’d rather a few seasons of an excellent show than multiple seasons of an average one. Of course, what they’ll do next remains to be seen, but, personally, I’d rather the show spin off in a different direction to the books so as not to spoil the endings, and I think the extra season will allow them to develop all-new plots and storylines which will be interesting and entertaining to watch. In hindsight, I do wish they’d paced the earlier seasons more slowly, not just so more plots from the books could have been incorporated, but so that characters such as the Freys, the Greyjoys, and the brotherhood without banners that were introduced weren’t unceremoniously dumped in favour of continuing the story arcs of the more popular main characters. If they bring them back for season six and onward, it’s going to seem a bit jarring!
I kind of like the prospect of other characters like the Freys, Greyjoys, brotherhood without banners, and Boltons getting more focus from season six onwards. It will be a little jarring, but I prefer that to a thinner-spread or slower-paced show. I think the problem with most shows that decline in quality over time is that they run out of things for the characters to do, so they start making up stupid shit.
The benefit of Game of Thrones‘s… eh, high turnover rate is that it keeps things fresh. GOT has always had a cast of thousands, but I’d say from seasons one to three, it was the Lannister and Stark Show. It isn’t anymore, and I’m A-OK with the show turning into the Greyjoy and Bolton Show (or whatever) so long as it ends up amounting to some meaningful conclusion.
I think I’m satisfied with eight seasons. I remember thinking seven might not be long enough to finish it when it was initially announced. I do hope they make season eight longer and maybe even do it in two parts (eight per year – like Breaking Bad did 16 eps total for its final season) just to savor what’s left.
While I’m still hoping for a movie (long shot, I know. Safe to say we’ll probably get more IMAX features, however), I’m enjoying the pacing for what and where it is. I just finished watching season five again, back-to-back so it stays fresh, and I have to say I like it more than when it first aired.
I can safely say I trust David Benioff and Dan Weiss, Bryan Cogman, and the rest of the cast/crew to faithfully finish the rest of the series.
With all sincerity, I’ve doubted the “seven season” plan for quite some time. Part of it was denial and the fact that I didn’t want to believe it. The other part stemmed from the reality that there remains an abundance of loose ends for someone to tie up, assuming, of course, that all ends will, indeed, be tied prior to conclusion (no lectures necessary regarding assumptions in GOT). And let’s be honest: season five untied more than it mended.
Yes, it’s a lofty goal, but I expect nothing less. If Gendry’s story simply ends with him heading gently down the stream, I’m going to shove an oar through the big screen while bellowing politically incorrect verbiage throughout the corridors of House Oz.
But my doubts on the seven plan were really cemented from my perspective at the conclusion of season five when Dany was encircled by the raging horde. Using past Dany travels as a gauge, this has to mean another season (or at least half of a season) of Essos meandering, which I am fine with, so long as the story is not dragging for the sake of allowing other story arcs to catch up.
This essentially means that if the seven-season plan had stuck, the well-advertised “Great Dany Invasion of Westeros” would have to be told in its entirety during the process of one final season, among other ongoing, presumably time-consuming, storylines. And while anything is possible, it seemed highly unlikely that the writers would rush what has been built up to be a monumental occurrence.
Trite as it may sound, I honestly don’t know how I feel yet. Ask me when the whole thing’s said and done. I thought they were on schedule for a solid seven seasons, though this past one didn’t have as many proper character arcs as seasons past have had. Cliffhanger city!
So, initially? I’m skeptical of a money grab (and of course I should be – it’s a fucking business, after all), especially since David and Dan always seemed to have been aiming for seven.
But, hey – if eight seasons allows them to tell a better story? Then I’m down.
(Ask me in three years if they did it successfully.)
Calendars are marked. “A Murder of (Ex) Crows: Three Years Later…” =)