There is a hush as Game of Thrones‘ seventh season nears. The battle for the Iron Throne has never been closer and yet seemed so remote. But because online discussion is a strange beast, we’re already discussing what might happen next year.
Vanity Fair reports the eighth and final season of the show may use feature-length episodes to wrap up the various storylines of Westeros and Essos. They cite a Twitter post from David Chen, who in turn attributes the idea to GoT sound designer Paula Fairfield. Speaking at last weekend’s Con of Thrones event, she revealed the season seven finale will run 82 minutes and that HBO and the producers are considering switching to that length for the final six episodes of the series.
Of course, that could be idle talk — there is no direct quote, after all. But Thrones has an incredible amount of leeway in its episode lengths, running anywhere from 50 to 70 minutes depending on how much story needs to be told. It’s also depicted some epic battle in its time, from the Battle of the Blackwater to last year’s siege of Winterfell. It also has a surprising number of threads to tie up as the White Walkers assemble at the Wall. For fans, having the runtimes to properly realize moments like the wished-for Cleaganebowl, the presumed destruction of the Wall and Yara siting the Salt Throne must be a welcome relief.
Okay, it’s a welcome relief for me.
But let’s say there’s a half-truth to Fairfield’s suggestion. Having the freedom to cut an episode into an 82-minute format must be tremendously helpful for the producers; even if, say, three episodes (including the season seven finale) end up at that length. And just because HBO gives one the option to make six 82-minute episodes doesn’t mean one has to do it. Ultimately, like a GoT episode running 55 minutes, the length happens because it best serves the objectives of the episode.
Meanwhile, I’m sure HBO would love to have three more seasons, a handful of spin-offs and anything else the producers can conjure up. The actual Dance of Dragons, maybe?
In the meantime, season seven of Game of Thrones debuts on July 16th. I know I’ll be watching, no matter how long the episode might be.