Game of Thrones finds a new faster pace… but NOT because of the shorter season 7?

GoT-Sn7_FirstLook_15

Ever since it was announced the seventh and eighth seasons of Game of Thrones would close out the series with seven and six episodes respectively, there has been a mix of excitement and concern in the fandom about what this could mean. On the one hand, it means there will be more of a budget for each episode, which will surely reflect on our screens… Yet, on the other hand, this change could also make the story feel rushed.

Indeed, those of us who have closely followed the production of season seven are convinced a change in pacing is coming. There is no doubt about that. But is it because of these shorter seasons? That has been the assumption, but apparently that may not be the case after all, according to two main cast members and the writers for the show.

EW’s James Hibberd continued today with his inside scoops into the production, this time interviewing the cast and the writers about this very issue of pacing.

“I’m like, ‘Already? Now?! What?!’,” Nikolaj Coster-Waldau told Hibberd, mimicking his reaction to reading the scripts for this season. “I feel like I’d been lulled into a different pace. Everything happened quicker than I’m used to.” If there is any doubt about the Kingslayer’s words, the following should make for a shocking realization: “A lot of things that normally take a season now take one episode.” That is a big change!

“A lot of stuff collides and happens much much quicker than you’re used to seeing on Thrones,” concurred Kit Harington. “It’s so different than what everybody is used to. It’s quite exciting.” Why the change? According to the actor who plays Jon Snow, season seven “is really different than any other season because it’s accelerating toward the end.”

Game of Thrones TK Season 7, Episode TK Kit Harington as Jon Snow

Kit Harington as Jon Snow in season 7

The understanding that we are firmly heading to the end of this story appears to be key. It’s not that they suddenly decided to speed up the pace of this narrative for the sake of it, or because there are fewer episodes in which to cram the plot. According to showrunner and writer D.B. Weiss, if things are moving faster is “because in the world of these characters the war that they’ve been waiting for is upon them [and that gives] them a sense of urgency that makes [the characters] move faster.” Co-showrunner David Benioff followed on from his writing companion’s words: “For a long time we’ve been talking about ‘the wars to come.’ Well, that war is pretty much here. So it’s really about trying to find a way to make the storytelling work without feeling like we’re rushing it — you still want to give characters their due, and pretty much all the characters that are now left are all important characters. Even the ones who might have started out as relatively minor characters have become significant in their own right.”

Or, as co-executive producer and writer Bryan Cogman put it: “There are White Walkers and dragons and once they start to come together the story has to go where it goes.”

The end of Game of Thrones approaches, and that may be quite sad for many of us. But, if the story we have been watching for seven years now has a planned ending, I’d rather watch that than something I love being stretched out into something unrecognizable. Each act of a story has a different rhythm, and Game of Thrones is no different just because it’s so sprawling: as middle chapters of George R.R. Martin‘s septology, A Feast For Crows and A Dance of Dragons were slower books, which was also reflected in season five. But now is the time for the third act! The fact that there will be a quicker pace with more action and a convergent plot focused on fewer key characters doesn’t mean the story is being dumbed down or rushed — it means it’s heading to a climax.

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    1. Very excited (or as Shaun of the Dead puts it ‘dead excited’) to find out what the ending is going to be and what will happen to all of the characters that we’ve come to love/hate.

      Even with all the spoilers out there, I really have no idea who will live, die, etc…It’s very exciting that the ending is still such a mystery.

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    2. Holy shit….. I know I’ve been moaning for a trailer a lot on twitter , but this… this has firmly lifted the hype….

      Seriously get hyped people this sounds like it’s going to be epic…
      it also sounds like the wait for season 8 is going to be both quite sombre and even worse a wait than usual…

      Can’t wait..

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    3. I think season 6 was rushed and

      I hope season 7 is not as rushed as season 6.

      I predict HBO will premier the Game of Thrones season 7 trailer Sunday June 18th 2017

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    4. Season 6 moved at a rabbits reproductive pace. I…was actually hoping season 7 would be no faster than 6. PLEASE don’t let it be an action film crammed into 7 episodes. Please.

      Holding out hope.

      PS: Save the Direwolves!

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    5. If anyone thought the jetpack complainers were bad before, just wait until Season 7 airs. They’re going to be out in full force this season. Hopefully I’m wrong. They’re insufferable.

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    6. Mr Derp,

      The jetpack thing isn’t an issue if the show accounts for how much time has passed off-screen. If a character travels 3000 miles in one episode, it can simply mean that however much time that would take has passed. But for that to work, the show needs to make sure the same amount of time has passed in all stories that are intersecting at that time.

      If the show doesn’t do that, then there is an inconsistency. For instance, when Dany lands in Westeros, it should logically be months after Cersei’s coronation, given that at the end of S6 she has Varys with her, as well as the Tyrell and Martell forces. It would take weeks for Olenna to travel from Highgarden to Dorne, and months for Varys to go from Dorne to Meereen and back again with Dany.

      If Dany lands in S7 and someone says it’s been a few days since Cersei’s coronation, then that is an inconsistency since it would mean Olenna managed to get to Dorne in mere days after hearing of Margaery’s death and that her fleet (as well as Varys) travels at the speed of light.

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    7. firstone,

      I didn’t really feel Season 6 was rushed, but if you felt that way you may be in for a bad surprise with Season 7, which I expect to be much faster paced.

      I don’t think it’ll need to be rushed though, given how streamlined the story is now.

      My main concern is certain characters not being able to shine as much when they are surrounded by 5 other major characters instead of being the focus of their own narrative.

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    8. Markus Stark,

      I hear what you are saying, and don’t necessarily disagree with it, but just because you see two different scenes in the same episode doesn’t mean that they are happening at the same time.

      For example, Daenerys could’ve started sailing for Westeros before Cersei’s coronation happened, couldn’t she? Just because we saw Cersei’s scene first doesnt necessarily mean it happened first chronologically.

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    9. Mr Derp,

      I seriously, seriously, doubt you’re wrong. I’d suggest a fan reaction drinking game for season 7, but I don’t think anyone could survive that.

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    10. Mr Derp,

      You’re right, scenes don’t necessarily happen chronologically, but the final scene of season 6 was sailing out of Meereen, and Varys was there, with the Tyrells and Martells, which means after Olenna goes to Dorne to meet Ellaria and Varys. That meeting in Dorne obviously happens after Margaery’s death, probably right around the time of Cersei’s coronation, unless they waited months to crown her (which they didn’t, since when Jaime makes it back the city is still smoking and he seemingly hasn’t heard about what happened yet, which he would have if months had passed).

      In any case, I’ve learned to accept that speedy travel is necessary and not a big deal, but I also understand people who just want the passage of time to make sense when two stories intersect.

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    11. I don’t mind the jetpack. I like cracking jokes about it. It’s possible for one character to be in the Riverlands in one episode and then in KL in the next one. If the scenes are well-written (with attention to the characters, motivations and cohesiveness, and the timeline is explained properly), then it shouldn’t matter that one character reached his destination in record time..

      But the accelerated speed of events in an issue, as it means less time to develop characters and relationships, all in favor of big shocking moments and set pieces. That I don’t like. Some of my favorite characters on the show suffered because of this in season 6.

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    12. Markus Stark,

      A sensible approach that I can respect.

      Game of Thrones producer and writer Bryan Cogman offered an explanation for some of the time-jumping to Entertainment Weekly:

      “The timelines between the various storylines don’t necessarily line up within a given episode. For instance, the ‘Northern Tour’ Jon and Sansa embark on would probably take a couple weeks, but Arya’s storyline over the past few episodes only spans a few days. We realized a while ago that if we tied ourselves in knots trying to make all the ‘story days’ line up between all the characters the momentum would suffer.”

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    13. Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but I just noticed that there appears to be a person with a burlap sack over their head in Jon’s picture, which would seem to confirm the leaked information of his ‘journey’.

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    14. Besides, in order to make some of the jetpack complainers happy, we’d have to spend lots of time just watching certain characters travel. Does the average fan want to see Littlefinger in a carriage traveling on the Kingsroad for 4 episodes?

      Maybe they could fill in the time with a spin-off show on the Travel Channel or maybe the Cooking Channel…”Littlfinger’s Yelp reviews of the restaurants of Westeros…All Men Must Dine”

      I’d totally watch it!

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    15. Mr Derp,

      I’d rather not see Littlefinger at all, thank you very much. The jetpack should swallow him whole and deposit him at the bottom of Blackwater Bay, never to be seen again.

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    16. Flayed Potatoes,

      Lol, nice…

      Although, Littlefinger is a tough nut to crack. If he was deposited in the bottom of Blackwater Bay, he’d probably still come back to life. We’d see the cliche ‘hand reaching out of the water’ scene and then that sidemouth talking fool would be back before we can say ‘sexposition’.

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    17. Its a shorter season, of course its going to go faster, but that doesn’t mean character development will suffer. We know the characters very well. What is telling is how these characters react or not react to events. That will take the place of development perhaps.

      The fact that there will be a quicker pace with more action and a convergent plot focused on fewer key characters doesn’t mean the story is being dumbed down or rushed — it means it’s heading to a climax.

      I agree, and I also want to see a conclusion of a show that makes sense,not one that has gone on and on with no end or purpose in sight.

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    18. Sounds good to me, I have no problem with a faster pace as long as it feels natural.
      Besides i’m getting tired of all these slow paced shows, though they are very good. Game of Thrones will be a breath of fresh air this July when Better call saul and Fargo has ended.
      I have faith in the Producers and writers of Game of Thrones, after 6 seasons of excellent Television, I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table in july.

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    19. Flayed Potatoes,
      Thing is, most of the characters have been developed already. And a lot of the relationships. Sure, a lot are still to come (Dany-Jon, for instance), but in general, we know how these people behave.

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    20. “A lot of things that normally take a season now take one episode.” That sounds ominous to me. Could mean saying goodbye to any semblance of character development or narrative continuity. I want to see a well-told, relatable human story, not a montage edit of big action set pieces intended merely to speed up the audience’s pulse rate!

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    21. Wait, were people still thinking they were going to have scenes with chatacters talking into a room about nothing that added to the plot in the last two seasons like really ? D and D are doing what GRRM should have been doing,as in move the story along . We had 6 seasons of these type of scenes,it’s time for the story to reach it’s final act .

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    22. To those complaining about ‘jetpack complainers’: A director/editor need not show every step of a journey to convey that a journey has taken place. An extra minute of traveling shots, rather than an extra four episodes, would have been all that was needed to make it clear that a character didn’t disapparate from one city on one end of the continent and then suddenly apparate in another. They should have made more use of the sort of overhead shot of the Fellowship of the Ring trekking through the crags of New Zealand that made the LotR films so cinematically magnificent. Not much screentime, but lots of visual impact!

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    23. Firannion:
      “A lot of things that normally take a season now take one episode.”That sounds ominous to me.Could mean saying goodbye to any semblance of character development or narrative continuity.I want to see a well-told, relatable human story, not a montage edit of big action set pieces intended merely to speed up the audience’s pulse rate!

      I don’t think he’s referring to that at all. It’s just that all that character development and all that action will be most of what we see, and ‘travel’ will no longer be an issue. No more long travelogues, no more Arya and the Hound trekking around the Riverlands for a whole season, that kind of thing 😉

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    24. Firannion,

      No,i’m just not a fan of travelogue,i hated it in the books,i thought it was the worst thing about it,they were tedious,they added nothing to the plot imo,some may argue that it adds worldbuilding,i don’t care about fake places that i’m never going to visit,sorry !

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    25. Firannion,

      Good point. That could potentially have helped, though LOTR had actual footage of New Zealand, whereas GoT would probably have to CGI it. Could still look pretty awesome though.

      Btw, couldn’t Frodo and Sam have just taken the eagles all the way to Mordor and saved themselves a lot of time and trouble? I know I know, it about the journey, not the means of getting there, but still. It’s a bit of a hole in the story.

      Anyway, divergence over. Back to GoT lol

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    26. I totally expect the pace to be faster. There’s only so much you can do with an outline after 4000+ pgs of earlier source material. The side plots and minor character arcs have been streamlined or discarded and there are no more great conversations and limited plot points from which to adapt. They’ll focus on the adapted endgame and hopefully give the author something to expand upon when he gets around to it. Not my anticipated scenario back in 2010/2011 but I’ve enjoyed the adapted/amalgamated/reworked ride so far.

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    27. Can’t please them all XD
      Trailer to cap off the end of the week ?
      I wonder if we will get something tomorrow as well.

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    28. Also,some people are acting like all we are going to get is non stop battles and no dialogue between the characters whatsover,like are you for real ? Of course we are still going to see plenty of character interactions and character developement,we aren’t going to see pointless scenes like the scenes with Tyrion with Grey Worm and Missandei,for example,only those that move the plot along .

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    29. Apparently HBO has released another poster,this time with Night King’s face on it,still no trailer unfortunately .

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    30. Hm. Well, we’ll see. Personally, I think there were key missing scenes and conversations in season 6 that would have enhanced and clarified motivation, thinking and actions by main characters (ahem, the north storyline). If you have too many missing key ‘moments’ between characters, the story starts feeling sterile.

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    31. I don’t understand everyone complaining over continuing character development. We’ve already witnessed everyone’s character arcs.

      Jon has gone from a bastard son to Lord Commander to the King in the North.
      Arya has developed from a wild child into a skilled assassin.
      Bran has gone from being a crippled boy to becoming the Three Eyed Raven.
      Dany went from being a slave to being a ruler and conqueror.
      The Hound has changed, Jamie has changed, etc. How much more can these characters develop?

      I’m sure there will still be SOME form of adapting to the White Walker threat, but we are in the end game. We’re driving towards the conclusion. What we need now are some final revelations. I expect there to be some new character interactions and reunions, but in no way do I expect that to be the focus of these last 13 episodes. At some point, winter must come, and the final war must be the focus.

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    32. lucy,
      And I’m the exact opposite of you! I understood what happened and why it happened, so additional scenes would just unnecessarily slow down the plot for me.

      Just goes to show that there are different tastes.

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    33. The showrunners seem to be taking the George Lucas motto “Faster and more intense” to heart for the final seasons.

      I’m OK with it – at this point, I’d like to know the ultimate ending as soon as possible.

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    34. Yaga: Just goes to show that there are different tastes.

      Yaga,

      Bingo

      Every decision that is made regarding GoT will both lose fans and add fans. It’s impossible to please everybody. Everyone has a different idea of what makes GoT great.

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    35. Markus Stark: If the show doesn’t do that, then there is an inconsistency. For instance, when Dany lands in Westeros, it should logically be months after Cersei’s coronation, given that at the end of S6 she has Varys with her, as well as the Tyrell and Martell forces. It would take weeks for Olenna to travel from Highgarden to Dorne, and months for Varys to go from Dorne to Meereen and back again with Dany.

      Lets ignore for a moment that scenes and times on the show aren’t always chronological as others mention and just focus on travel time…

      For some reason I feel like digging into this right now – just for fun. We’re not really suppose to think about it too much. 😛

      A lot of people tend to overestimate distances and underestimate travel speed when it comes to ship travel in this story. I don’t know your exact thinking but it sounds like you’re using “months” and “weeks” in a manner that reads like you’re thinking maybe 5-6 months and like 6-7 weeks of travel for instance.

      There is documentation that notes that 18th century sailing ships in good weather could travel from NYC to the UK in 30 days or less. That is a distance of over 3,000 miles. The ships could average about 5 knots (5-6 mph for a distance of about 100-120 miles per day).

      ASoIaF fans have used the books and maps to calculate distances that aren’t exactly stated. For example, the distance estimated from Gulltown to Pentos is around 800 miles. That would make Dragonstone to Pentos roughly 500 miles. If we assume the good ships of this fantasy world sail at the same speed as our 18th century vessels then it would take less than a week to cross the Narrow Sea between those two points. That makes sense as the books said it’s an easy sail across when the weather is good.

      Dragonstone to Volantis is about 2,000 miles, which lets say is halfway to Meereen… so, 4,000 miles from Meereen to Dragonstone. Sunspear to Meereen would be roughly 3,300 miles. So, all things fair and good, we could say the ships from Sunspear could have gotten to Daenerys in one month and she could sail to Dragonstone from there in six weeks.

      For Olenna’s travel I would assume she’d get to Sunspear by ship since land travel between there and Highgarden is mountainous. They could probably sail that in less than a couple weeks.

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    36. Mr Derp,

      Wouldn’t that have seemed suspicious to Sauron? I suppose they are quite noticeable when flying into Mordor. As soon as his eye falls on the eagles, he’ll notice that one of the riders has something precious. Besides, it wouldn’t have worked either, because in that case Gollum wouldn’t have been there to bite Frodo’s finger off (it’s the small evil that destroys the large evil)

      Another issue about the traveling, in the Fellowship it sufficed to show nine people moving together in between the actual important scenes. In GoT they would need to show 4 shots for each of the traveling parties, without being able to connect the important scenes.

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    37. I don’t think thar general audience ever thought that GoT was rushed. Some of them think that the show is too slow. And they are 95% of the audience.

      For super fans even 20h wouldn’t be enough.

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    38. Abbas,

      No more Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei making jokes is definitely something I can live with. I wouldn’t bet on it though, as D&D do love their running gags (like Tormund and Brienne, which for some reason people love even though it feels hopelessly goofy to me (not in a good way)).

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    39. Glad they’re just straight up admitting this show has stopped trying to tell a good story and is just trying to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Since that has been EXACTLY what I’ve said for 2 years.

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    40. Clob,

      Thanks for examples of the travel time, I think sometimes people really do exaggerate how long it actually takes to get somewhere. It probably doesn’t help that it took Jamie and Brienne a entire season to get to Kings Landing and as much as I loved Arya and The Hound they seemed to travel endlessly so people expect that length for all traveling time now.

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    41. Luka Nieto: Luk

      I agree. And it doesn’t bother me as long as it’s handled well. I have faith that D&D will handle it fine. But the Hound and Arya were a delicious interlude during the ‘middle act’ of the show. In any case, just about every story picks up pace towards the end. Audiences expect it.
      By the way, Luka, I have a favor to ask of you and the mods. We are on the cusp of a very busy period for the website, especially with Con of Thrones coming soon. But it would be nice if you guys could get the Forum up and running once more before 16 July. I imagine a lot of us will have all sorts of things we want to discuss with fellow Watchers.

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    42. Mr Derp,

      Nothing wrong with pointing out a knee jerk sudden change in pacing. A show can’t have one level of pacing for years and then jack it up into overdrive without throwing a few people for a loop.

      Ice Dragon Rider,

      The problem is that too much of it has happened too fast. Everyone in the north just trusts a bastard to be king without any onscreen explanation of the growth of his fame throughout the region. Especially after the early seasons focused so heavily on bastards being looked down upon in this society.

      It’s just their need to wrap these stories up. Like Dorne following the Sand Snakes who are all base born. No explanation as to why every other house in Dorne just rolls with it.

      The pacing was so slow and deliberate in the beginning, that the pacing now is a little too fast. I wish they had a more even pacing throughout, but I’m in the minority. I’m just glad to be getting some sort of closure to the story. That way if GRRM doesn’t deliver I’ll have an idea of how he would have ended it.

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    43. Stark Raven’ Rad: …..
      By the way, Luka, I have a favor to ask of you and the mods.We are on the cusp of a very busy period for the website, especially with Con of Thrones coming soon. But it would be nice if you guys could get the Forum up and running once more before 16 July. I imagine a lot of us will have all sorts of things we want to discuss with fellow Watchers.

      👍👍👍👌

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    44. Faster or slower, may the script be better than season 6 script, which was ridiculous. Literally nothing happened in Meereen between the release of the dragons and Dany’s return. Nothing happened in King’s Landing until the last episode, with the exception of Tommen outlawing trial by combat.

      May the writing improve.

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    45. As best I can recall, the only canonical distance given in this world, book or show, says The Wall is “a hundred leagues” long. That’s a suspiciously vague number; if The Wall is really just 78 leagues long, the world just got 22% smaller.

      I also recall something about GRRM saying he didn’t want “readers with rulers” telling him how big his world was.

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