Take a deep breath and relax, Game of Thrones fans. Our long frozen winter is ending. And with spring comes a new flood of Thrones news, thanks to a giant block of ice, SXSW and some GoT showrunners in a sharing-is-caring mood.
This month, we finally learned that season 7 will be premiering on July 16th. The premiere news was accompanied by the first teaser of the year, featuring the crumbling sigils of Westeros’ Great Houses, and a handful of ominous words from Jon Snow about the Great War.
Hot on the heels of the premiere news, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss headed to SXSW in Austin, Texas to take part in a panel with Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner. At the event, the showrunners revealed several new pieces of information about Game of Thrones, including the writers lineup for season 8, and a cameo for season 7.
Today, in our newest discussion, the Watchers on the Wall react to the news out of SXSW, and make a few deathly predictions for season 7.
So, it’s been announced at SXSW that English singer Ed Sheeran is going to be on season 7 of Game of Thrones, which is exciting for some people. New ginger in town and all.
But more importantly we received some information about the future for season 8. Benioff and Weiss confirmed at the panel that next year will only have six episodes, even shorter than season 7’s shortened season. They also revealed the writing lineup: Dave Hill is writing episode 1, Bryan Cogman episode 2, and Benioff and Weiss will finish out the rest of the series, writing the last four episodes together.
What are your reactions to the season 8 writer and episodes confirmation? Are you bothered by having only six episodes in season 8, or does that number feel right? Do you think it’s the right choice to stick with these four writers for the endgame, or should they have recruited George R.R. Martin for one last episode-writing gig, or brought in some fresh blood to keep them on their toes?
And is anyone excited by Ed Sheeran? I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever actually listened to any of his music.
I am utterly apathetic about Ed Sheeran. I’ve got nothing against him. I just do not care.
I’m sad that the final season will have fewer episodes than season 7 because, well, that means GoT will end one hour sooner than I thought it would. However, I respect that the showrunners are tailoring their episode count to fit the story rather than the other way around. I think we’ve all watched TV shows that spread themselves too thin in order to reach 13 episodes or 23 episodes or whatever. I am glad that GoT is taking pains to avoid that pitfall.
As for the choice of writers, it’s probably best to leave the GoT endgame to the GoT veterans. By the time we get to the final 6 episodes, the time for “fresh blood” will have passed. There will be a very specific story that needs to be told and very little room, I imagine, for new ideas and creative differences. Admittedly, it would have been nice for GRRM to write an episode but…oh well. I get the impression that Martin isn’t exactly peachy about the direction the show’s taken so many letting GoT and ASOIAF diverge until the very end is for the best.
If season seven ends with all the pieces laid on the table, the last season’s job is merely to wrap it all up, so six episodes feel appropriate, more like a five-to-six hour movie than a traditional season.
In terms of the writers, I think it’s too late to do anything but what they did. A more varied stable of writers should’ve been brought in earlier on, but right now it just makes sense to depend on those who have been there for the whole journey (well, and Hill since season five.) I wouldn’t feel so strongly about this if the last two seasons weren’t shortened, but they are. Most of the previous sixty episodes were written by Benioff, Weiss and Cogman, so it would be strange for any of these precious last dozen episodes to be written by a newcomer. Consistency matters, and this late in the game I think it matters more than bringing in new people. It’s too late now.
As for Martin, even he wasn’t too busy with finishing the series, I don’t think he would want to; he’s too detached from the intricacies of the TV universe. When Martin announced he wouldn’t return for the fifth season, he also touched on how difficult it was becoming to write for the increasingly diverging TV version of his world. Still, even if he was willing and able, I’d only like him to write a character-focused mid-season episode, not anything like the series finale. Whether you like David Benioff and D.B. Weiss or not (and I mostly do), I hope we can all agree the honor of finishing the series belongs to them. By the end, D&D will have shepherded the show for a decade. All these years, we have been watching the show D&D have produced, and most of the time experienced D&D’s writing. To wrap it all up with anyone else’s words wouldn’t be right, in my eyes.
In regards to the Ed Sheeran cameo, I swear I first misspelled his name as “Edd Shireen”, so it’s fair to say I’m more in touch with the world of Game of Thrones than with the music world. So I don’t care. But I’m also perfectly fine with it, and I have absolutely no idea why so many fans get upset every time a popstar is announced to have a role. “But he doesn’t know how to act!”, or “This is the show jumping the shark!” May I point these alarmists to the many cameos GoT has had since season three, all quite subtle. If you dislike Sheeran’s work, remember that often we weren’t even subjected to any singing from these musicians. I don’t think that unobtrusiveness is changing now.
I would maybe be bothered if I had expected more episodes, but we’ve known for a while the last two seasons would go 7 and then 6. So ehh.
Also, from the time that we all recognized this series was a hit, I expected seven seasons (like the 7 books, 7 gods, yadda). So for me, season 8 is just “an extra long but split-in-half season 7”.
I would have loved for them to have hassled George into contributing one final script, but I imagine by this time he would need as much a refresher into THEIR world as any new writer. I’m fine with the writing lineup. As far as new blood – no. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I’m tepid about musicians as guests. I would rather they contribute music. Just slapping their face on top of a Westerosi tunic is sort of… so what? I guess I was amused that Snow Patrol Guy introduced us to “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” and that people got to fling things at Sigur Rós. So it really depends how he’s used. A hanging corpse would be amusing.
That said, Ed Sheeran is excellent, musically. Music didn’t stop at Steely Dan, Sue. [Editor’s Note: Sue doesn’t listen to Steely Dan. She is too obsessed with show tunes.]
I respect the hell out of him. Young dude went from busking in London to almost overnight success on the strength of his music alone (and let’s face it, his face wouldn’t have sold any songs to anyone other than maybe his mom).
Here are some notables:
Intro to his “face” (based on an apparently common case of confused identity LOLOLOL):
My old fave, “The A Team”:
This one goes out to Trey, ‘caus girl, they grow up FAST….
And lastly, if you’ve ever read The Fault in Our Stars, you know how well this fits:
It’s bittersweet that we have so few episodes left but from where we are now, it seems reasonable – like Axey said, it’s more of an extended season over the course of two.
To be honest, I never really notice the musical guests since they’re usually extras anyway so Sheeran is another “meh” in my books, though it was sweet of them to get him involved since Maisie is a fan.
The writers are pretty much what I expected for the final few, the ones with the most experience, so I’m more eager to see the director lineup.
Lastly, I would’ve loved GRRM to write one last episode but we all know he’s busy writing something else!
I think the number of episodes seems about right. If that’s the amount of episodes it takes to tell the story, then so be it. I’d rather a shorter season with good, concise story telling rather than, I dunno a sub-plot about Dolorous Edd losing his hat or something, just to pad out the remaining episodes. Actually, on second thoughts that totally sounds like something I’d watch.
I think it’s great that Benioff and Weiss are finishing off the show with four episodes together, it’s their show after all, and they’re getting to finish it on their own terms. Not something a lot of showrunners get the chance to do. As for George, I’m glad he’s not writing an episode for the last season, I think it would seem a bit weird now that we’ve overtaken the books. In any case George will get to the write the finale his way when he finishes the books. The show is its own entity and the books are another; it was nice that they intertwined but I’ve made me peace with one finishing separately from the other.
I can’t stand Ed Sheeran. But the show has had musical cameos from bands that I love (Mastodon, Sigur Rós) and I’ve enjoyed the ones from bands I dislike, so I don’t have any grounds to gripe! Although personally I think it would be nice if they gave cameos to musicians who have been inspired by ASOIAF for years, like Blind Guardian, Hammerfall or Seven Kingdoms. Oh, and not forgetting the incredible Corvus Corax, who were featured as musicians in the pilot episode, never to see the light of day. If Benioff and Weiss could find a way of recycling that in the final season, that would be great.
I retract my earlier statement! Sigur Rós’ cameo and their rendition of “The Rains of Castamere” was really well done. I’d almost forgotten about their appearance.
Agree with Geoffery on Corvus Corax! I would love to see the show come full circle and sneak a little bit of that into season 8.
We all had lots of time to get used to the planned number of episodes. Still, I don’t like the last season being only 6 episodes long – it really doesn’t make for a neat number. 7 + 7 in the final seasons would seem much better, what with the symbolism. Now we’re ending up with 73 episodes in total. Meh. (I would even take 6 + 6 over the current deal, blasphemous as that is.) But as I said, it’s not breaking news, and I learned to live with it.
I agree with the decision on the writers. It wouldn’t make sense to mix it up in the very last season, that’s too late. They missed the chance to include and keep some additional regular writers, especially women, earlier on. The proven hand should now bring the show to a close. Similarly, recruiting GRRM again wouldn’t benefit anyone. He’s busy, would find it hard to write the fully diverged storylines. It would probably take too much time from both George and the production; I’d much rather have a final season AND a book than any other deal. I think (hope?), though, that they might find some way to finally include a cameo from GRRM before it all ends.
I’m not a big follower of the music scene – but all the bands and musicians they included in the past had enough name-recognition to resonate with me. Ed Sheeran fits the bill and the pattern of bringing someone to the show each year; besides, it makes Maisie happy, so it’s all positive!
One of my favorite aspects of this show is watching it with fellow fans and having an experience that would last 10ish weeks, so hearing that there will only be six episodes for the final season makes me kind of sad. It’ll be over too fast!
If they deliver on the upcoming season with fewer episodes then, well, I guess they’re trying to wrap the show up the way that works best for them.
I’m so glad acting titan Ed Sheeran has brought his peerless thespian talents to Game of Thrones, I mean finally. How many casting posts have we had where people clamor for Ed Sheeran??? I agree with EVERYONE that he was robbed for the part of Daario.
As others said, I was bummed back when I first heard about the shortened final seasons. So while this confirmation is disappointing, it’s not surprising. Hopefully the episodes will be longish and I’m sure they will be jam-packed with revelations and big moments, so they should at the very least feel satisfying.
The writers they have are fine. Yeah, it would have been great to have gotten some fresh writing blood in there over the years, but at this point, it’s too late.
Ed Sheeran is meh. I’m not a fan or a hater of him, and overall the musician cameos are harmless, so whatever. They do make for a nice bit of trivia, I guess.
I agree it’s best that Benioff and Weiss handle the endgame. I know some people were hoping that Martin would make a return but I think that would confuse matters, and I’d rather not have Martin’s focus pulled from writing the novels anyway.
Now, looking ahead to this next season, things promise to get very intense, and with only seven episodes, it’ll get that way quickly. Season six was a bit of a bloodbath, with the finale particularly wiping out a chunk of the cast. Will season seven top it? And will Cersei be able to maintain her control of the kingdom, when she has so few allies?
This next section does not contain spoilers, only speculation. Two of us Watchers, Luka Nieto and I, have abstained from the second half of this roundtable since we’ve both been monitoring spoilers extensively for season 7. Our predictions are influenced by filming knowledge, and so it’s best if we sit this one out! But the rest of the Watchers on the Wall have avoided major spoilers and potential leaks and so they may as well be Unsullied.
So, here are the questions I put to you Watchers:
1. How long will Cersei’s rule last- a few episodes, the whole season, the rest of the show? And how will Jaime handle the newest shakeup in their relationship- will he leave Cersei or is he tied to his twin until the bitter end?
2. Who do you believe will be the first major character death in season 7?
3. The Death List: Who do you think won’t make it out of season 7 at all?
1. The whole season, and she’ll lose it at the end of season 7. I predict her death too (despite some of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau‘s recent comments to the contrary). I think Cersei and Jaime came in together… and they’ll go out together.
2. Melisandre. Arya’s gonna meet her and put Needle through her eye, probably in episode one.
3. Cersei, Jaime, Melisandre, Theon, Sansa, Thoros, Beric, one of the dragons
1. I’ve gotta think that Cersei’s going to hang on for most of season 7, simply because there’s no other major antagonist in the show since the High Sparrow went “Boom” and the Boltons became dog chow (I’m assuming the White Walkers are being saved for season 8). As for Jaime, it would be anti-climactic if that menacing look he gave her at her coronation didn’t have some sort of pay off. The Valonqar Prophecy doesn’t need to be established in the show for Jaime turning against Cersei to have impact.
2. I expect somebody in Daenerys’ inner circle will be the first to go. After her triumphant final scene last season, we’re going to need a reminder that conquering Westeros isn’t going to be easy. The most effective (and affecting) way to do this would be to off one of her confidants. My money’s on Missandei. May the gods give me strength.
3. Missandei, Grey Worm, Cersei, Euron, Brienne, one of the dragons & one or both of the Greyjoy siblings
Fortunately, I’m terrible at predictions. So, by typing this, I’ve ensured the survival of everyone I’ve listed!
1. I think Cersei will be in charge for at least half of Season Seven, if not longer, so we’ll really get to see the impact of her reign. As for Jaime, I certainly think he’ll stick around to begin with but his loyalties will begin to be tested before too long. Whether that means him offing Cersei or simply switching sides I’ll reserve judgment. But I hope the show keeps it stewing for at least a few episodes.
2. Can it be a Sand Snake? Can it please be all of the Sand Snakes? Although my money is on either Melisandre or one of Team Dany (preferable Daario because he’s the worst).
3. Euron, Theon (but not Yara since she’s clearly going to marry Daenerys), at least one Sand Snake, Melisandre, Brienne, Cersei, Jorah (dude’s a ticking greyscale time-bomb) and Gilly (going to get mugged down an Oldtown alley while Sam is busy in the library).
1. I think Cersei’s reign will form one of the main narrative arcs of the season, through all seven episodes. Dramatically, it would make sense to complete this arc; while I expect Cersei to survive, her position will be notably different by the end of the run. They have to finally start playing on the rift between Jaime and Cersei, I will be disappointed if we simply read too much into the look Jaime gave her in the finale.
2. I’m not willing to place bets of my own, but in response to the others: don’t hate on the Sand Snakes! No, just kidding, but since they are inconsequential on the show, their death would have no real impact. That’s why I don’t like the idea. In terms of the narrative, I like Petra’s reasoning that there will be a setback to Daenerys’ plans – much as I am going to lament it if anything happens to Missandei or Grey Worm.
3. Euron is going to meet the Stranger. I do dearly hope they build him up much more before that, though.
1. I think we’re going to get Cersei for all of Season 7. There’s going to be an interesting shift in her dynamic with Jaime as we can already see from the look he gave her in the finale (when she was on the Iron Throne). Hopefully some Mad King/Jaime parallels we can look forward to!
2. First major death is a tough one- maybe Littlefinger?
3. Whoever’s left at Castle Black at the moment, Littlefinger, and Dany’s team will take some hits. I’m hoping no Starks die this season but they do make a habit of it so we’ll have to see.
Let’s keep Brienne safe, too.
1. I agree with most everyone else in that Cersei will reign through the end of the season, more or less. I do think her and Jaime’s relationship will sour as the season goes on. I think her reign of terror will be absolute and will end in dramatic fashion. Probably her death at Jaime’s hand.
2. I’m with Axey on this one. I think Melisandre will die fairly early on. She’s served her narrative purpose (resurrecting Jon) and with no one except Davos tying her to her original storyline, and him already moved on to being heavily involved in the Night’s Watch storyline, she’s as good as gone.
3. Melisandre, Euron, Qyburn, and Cersei all seem pretty likely candidates.
I’m not so sure about Melisandre & Littlefinger going out early. Melisandre’s role at the Wall is certainly over (for the time being, at least) but she prophecized that she would meet Arya again. There are some very interesting directions that a Melisandre/Arya run in could take.
And Littlefinger needs to get offed by Sansa. I shall accept no other executioner. From where things stood at the end of season 6, though, Sansa seemed like she still had too much need of Littlefinger (however reluctantly) to kill him right off the bat in 7×01.
1. I have to think about how Cersei’s rule would end. Who are her remaining adversaries, what are their clout, and will they have opportunities? I think Dany’s an example; how soon into the season will she arrive to Westeros and how quickly will she work to unseat Cersei? Or will Arya find her first? At any rate, I think how long she lasts depends on how fast other people will get to her, which is a few episodes in my opinion.
If you come at the queen, you best not miss.
2. One can always hope that the Sand Snakes will die instantaneously in the first episode.
I kind of expect someone to die from the northern plot line. Melisandre is a flop but she might be kept around as a Margaret of Anjou-type/peanut gallery character. Davos is my bae, but that would be a death that wouldn’t completely disrupt the plot, and would piss a whole lot of people off, because Davos is the man.
3. Who will die?
At least one of the following: Dany, Jon, Cersei
Strong possibility off the top of my head: Jaime
Littlefinger is still fucking around, isn’t he? Fuck. That. Noise.
SANSA IS IMMORTAL AND THE QUEEN OF FLOWERS AND LEMON CAKES. WHAT IS SANSA WILL NEVER DIE BUT RISES AGAIN, FIERCER AND STRONGER.
1. Cersei will hold the crown until the end of Season 7, or damn near it. Considering the setup of the various plots and schemes of the other storylines involved, and the fact that we will only be served seven episodes this season, you have to believe that a major character who has just taken over the longest title in Westeros will get more time in the chair than one or two eps. Jaime will be supportive yet conflicted, especially after he recognizes that Cersei’s reign closely resembles that of Joffrey. Indeed, the fruit doth not fall far from the tree (or in this case, the tree that boreth said fruit). And near the conclusion of season 7, Jaime will make the toughest decision of his life forsaking his sister on the ground of moral decency (among other things) and will live to fight on in season 8.
2. I’m with Petra on this one. Either Missandei or Grey Worm will get the business shortly after arriving which will make it clear to Dany and company that they are no longer dealing with the Essos masters. As for Melisandre, I believe that Red Velvet has more to offer before she is offed.
3. Cersei, Missandei, Qyburn and the Mountain. One of the Greyjoys (not Euron). One of the Dragons. Two of the Snakes. And potentially Sansa (sorry Bex). Oh, and Littlefinger survives.
That wraps it up! What about the rest of you on the Wall? How do you feel about the news of the past couple weeks, and who is on your Death List for season 7?
*If you’re using filming info, please be considerate of your fellow fans and cover your post with spoiler coding. Thank you!*
Spring is here – let the season 7 fun begin!