A week ago, everything changed in an instant.
Two heroes fell in love. Two heroes fell from above. One monster's manipulative machinations finally came to an end, while another's finally soared to devastating heights, at the expense of a stalwart structure's stunning collapse. Highs and lows, as they say, literally and figuratively, as creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss brought the seventh season of Game of Thrones to a close last Sunday night — and now, the end of all things for Westeros is firmly in sight.
So... now what?
"The Dragon and the Wolf" marked the beginning of the end for Game of Thrones, albeit an end we won't see anytime soon. According to THR's own reporting, the final season of Thrones, which will contain only six episodes, might not see the light of day until 2019. If you thought the year-plus wait between seasons six and seven were difficult, wait until you get a load of 2018.
We're left with more than a year to ponder the potential political ramifications of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) becoming physically and romantically intimate, all while Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) lurked so creepily close to the action. We're left with more than a year to consider the possibilities of the Night King's next move, which one assumes will involve a direct assault against Winterfell, though your mileage may vary on his exact intentions for the iconic Northern stronghold. (More and more, we're buying into the theory that the Night King once hailed from Winterfell, and is looking toward a homecoming.) We're left with more than a year to ponder if the fallen Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) will rise again through the face-changing sorcery at Arya Stark's (Maisie Williams) disposal — and even if he does return, which characters might join him in the ever deepening grave next season?
All of these questions, and more — and it's only been a week.
Every season of Game of Thrones flies by in an instant, almost as fast as Daenerys was able to fly from Dragonstone to Beyond the Wall. (Too soon? Still a touchy subject for some, I'm sure.) Season seven felt especially fast, again for reasons beyond the individual characters' increasingly impressive travel times. Ten episodes already felt like a limited window of time to enjoy such a sprawling story packed with so many complicated characters and rich themes about power and the overwhelming specter of bad decisions from long ago. Condensing those journeys and thematics into a seven-episode sprint only enhanced that feeling of a special thing burning big and bright, only to disappear in the blink of an eye — not unlike what it felt like to watch the great beast Viserion drop out of the sky.
But speaking of blinks of an eye, and speaking of Viserion dropping out of the sky, it's worth recalling how quickly the dragon rose again. Within the space of an episode, one of the most majestic creatures in all of Game of Thrones lore died and lived once more, a testament to the speed with which this show's story is moving, as well as the speed with which this offseason will move.
While Thrones is away, other shows will come out to play. The HBO faithful will return to the wild lands of Westworld before too long. For those who just can't kick their fantasy fix, Outlander is just around the corner. Indeed, in that regard, we're now looking at the final offseason between Game of Thrones seasons ever, spinoffs and successor shows notwithstanding; there's no better time to finally read George R.R. Martin's novels on which Thrones is based, and no better time to start digging into a rewatch of the entire series, to get as sharp on Westeros lore as humanly possible before the last six episodes start to unfold. In that regard, we will be launching our own weekly Game of Thrones rewatch podcast project, Winter Was Here, as soon as Sept. 12. Mark your calendars accordingly.
One week after the Game of Thrones finale, there's still that feeling of yearning to spend more time in Winterfell, more time in Westeros at large, more time considering the ramifications of White Walkers finally making landfall in the Seven Kingdoms. With time, that feeling will subside. And besides, it's worth savoring this sense of longing in the long wait before the final season of Game of Thrones. It will pale in comparison to the sense of longing in the week following the series finale. When will that week arrive? Only Weiss, Benioff and your barber know for sure. But just like winter, that week is coming — and just like winter, it will be here before you know it.
How do you plan to spend the offseason? Make sure you don't miss out on our Game of Thrones rewatch podcast by subscribing to our feed and staying tuned to all of our coverage at THR.com/GameOfThrones. Keep an eye out for more Thrones news, interviews and deep dives in the days, weeks and months ahead.