‘Game of Thrones’: Potential Problems With Season 7

We’re still buzzing over Game of Thrones‘s Season 6 finale, capping off the best run of episodes we’ve ever seen from the show. Fans finally got their day in sun, after five years of watching heroes perish and villains triumph. Sadly, we’re also approaching the end of the series altogether. With just 13 episodes divided up over two seasons left, we’re going to have to come to terms with saying goodbye soon.

This in turn poses a host of issues for the final run of Game of Thrones. Can it come to a satisfying conclusion? Should it come to satisfying conclusion? Will it run up against roadblocks as the story winds down? There are plenty of doubts we have concerning Season 7’s potential pitfalls, and these are the most significant of them.

1. The show is now weather-dependent

Gilly - Game of Thrones

Winter has officially arrived in Westeros | Source: HBO

Winter been promised to us by Game of Thrones since the first episode of Season 1, and now, six years later, it’s finally arrived. For the most part, this has little effect on the scenes shot on location in regions like Iceland. But not every locale is so lucky in its cold weather, most prominently Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik is most known as the backdrop for King’s Landing, and comes with its own pitfalls concerning its winter months. Because the average low for their “cold” months sits around 39 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it makes it difficult to accurately shoot a Westerosi version of the season.

This has already led to production delays for Season 7, with showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss admitting that they’ve “pushed everything down the line so we could get some grim, gray weather.” Trusting Mother Nature is always a difficult game no matter what you’re doing. Things multiply tenfold when you’re trying to set your show against a viciously cold and snowy winter that’s far from guaranteed to appear on location.

2. The impending release of The Winds of Winter

George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire

George R.R. Martin | Source: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Many point to Season 6 going off-book as the reason behind its relative success. For the first time ever, Game of Thrones outstripped its source novels, thanks in large part to George R.R. Martin’s infamously deliberate writing speed. As of now Book 6, titled The Winds of Winter, still doesn’t have a release date, although rumors point to January 2017 as a likely target. If that happens, fans will have a full 5 to 6 months to absorb the new novel, compare it to Season 6, and contextualize the show within the context of the books once again.

That all sounds great, right? Well, sort of. The respective timelines of the books and show are all sorts of skewed now. What that means: The Winds of Winter could potentially spoil twists that occur in Season 7. Yes, it would be just like the first five seasons of the show, but after experiencing a completely spoiler-free sixth season, it’s tough to imagine going back to the old way of doing things.

3. Can Game of Thrones pull off a shorter season?

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones | Source: HBO

If it ever feels like each Game of Thrones season flies by, well, that’s because it does. Ten episodes is short by any stretch, especially when your typical American network series runs upwards of 20-plus installments each season. And while it’s tough telling a complex story with multiple characters in just 10-hour chunks, Game of Thrones has managed to make it work. The potential problem it encounters though is when that season gets even shorter, paring down Season 7 to seven episodes, followed by six in Season 8. It leaves little room for flexibility, and for a show defined by its complexity, this could end up hamstringing it more than helping it.

4. Bringing the show in for a smooth landing is not going to be easy

Daenerys Targaryen - Game of Thrones Season 6

Here come the Targaryens | Source: HBO

Endings are never easy. We’ve seen great shows like Dexter and The Sopranos completely bungle their finales, while Breaking Bad completely stuck the landing. It’s already a tough order bringing an iconic and popular series to a satisfying end, and that goes double for Game of Thrones. The show has a proven track record of caring little for happy endings, which is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to figuring out the eventual series finale.

Season 6 was the best season of the show because it finally gave fans what they’ve been asking after for years now. Even so, fan service has never been the Game of Thrones way, and that makes the potential ending a bit of a land-mine for HBO. If they go with a happy, Lord of the Rings-esque ending, they risk compromising the spirit of the series. But if the White Walkers overrun Westeros and kill everyone, nobody goes home satisfied. The series has a massive Catch-22 ahead of it, and there’s a lot riding on the showrunners to figure that problem out soon.

5. Story-wise, there’s still a lot left to suss out

Euron Greyjoy - Game of Thrones, Season 6

Remember this guy? Yeah, he has big plans too | Source: HBO

So, with 13 episodes left in the entire series, what’s left from a story perspective? Jon Snow is the new King in the North and a secret Targaryen, Sansa and Littlefinger look like they have their own plan in the works, Cersei is now sitting on the Iron Throne, Daenerys is riding an invasion force into Westeros, Euron Greyjoy is building a fleet of 1000 ships for his own army, Arya is back on a revenge-quest, Sandor Clegane is joining up with Beric Dondarrion, oh, and White Walkers are about to bring hundreds of thousands of zombies to the Wall to kill everyone.

There are a host of floating plot threads left to figure out, and not a whole lot of time to work with to accomplish that goal. And all this? It’s coming after a season that killed of a third of the primary cast. The showrunners and writers have a daunting task ahead of them to say the very least. Game of Thrones is quickly burning through its runway story-wise, and it might take a miracle to close every loop when the show comes to an end.

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