11:45am PT by Josh Wigler
Week in 'Game of Thrones': The Long Wait Between "Winds of Winter" and Season 7
"Winter is here."
Sansa Stark's words in the Game of Thrones season six finale, "The Winds of Winter," signaled not only the change of seasons in Westeros, but also the beginning of the end for the show at large. It marked a sense of urgency, that the time remaining in the series (a number estimated at 10-15 episodes, according to showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss) would be devoted to bringing the conflict for the Iron Throne and the war between man and White Walker to an intense, fast-paced close.
But there's nothing fast about the wait between now and new episodes of the HBO series. Read on about the show's expected late return, and more from the week in Game of Thrones.
The Winds of Waiting
Traditionally, Game of Thrones premieres in the spring, as early as March and no later than April. But the upcoming season looks likely to break from that tradition, based on comments from Benioff and Weiss about the shooting schedule.
"We don't have an air date yet," they said during a podcast interview this week. "We're starting a bit later because at the end of this season, 'Winter is here' — and that means that sunny weather doesn't really serve our purposes anymore. So we kind of pushed everything down the line, so we could get some grim, gray weather even in the sunnier places that we shoot."
With the episode order already expected to be shorter for season seven, the news of a possible delay in the premiere only makes the wait for more Thrones that much harder to weather.
Everything Oldtown is New
Returning to the season six finale, actor John Bradley spoke with THR this week to discuss his arc through the season — an admittedly short arc, given Samwell Tarly's appearance in no more than three episodes. Despite the brief appearances, Bradley said he felt this season gave him the most substantive material in all of his six seasons of Thrones.
"I really think this was quality over quantity this year," he said. "The narrative arc was as satisfying as any arc that Sam has had in a season. They worked hard to make up for the numerical lack of time by giving me material that would challenge me and move Sam's character on. He moves on so quickly over the course of those three episodes. When you look at it all together, it's probably not even half an hour. But if you start with Sam on the ship, and then he ends at the Citadel, that's basically him achieving everything he's ever wanted."
Bradley also spoke about Sam's arrival in Oldtown, describing the milestone as an achievement of everything he's ever set out to do, … but there's still work to be done.
"It's not that he wants to go to the Citadel to spend the rest of his life there and have a comfortable life. I think he genuinely feels he can make a difference, and he wants to, because he's a very good and proactive character. He knows he can't make a difference in the conventional way, or on the battlefield. But he can make a difference here."
The Dragon's Future
Jon Snow knows nothing about his true heritage, but expect that to change in season seven, whenever Bran returns from north of the Wall with the crucial information at hand. But even if Jon learns the truth about his parents, who will believe him? And what will that information mean for his future? We speculated about that very question this week, looking at the possible next steps for Jon as a member of House Targaryen.
The Family Tree
Beyond looking into Lord Snow's future, it's important to take stock of his past. Now that we know he's the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, Jon suddenly has a whole new world of relatives in his history … some of them much kinder than others.
For instance, there's the wicked Maegor the Cruel, the third Targaryen king, and one who was so viciously violent that a rebellion was formed to remove him from power. Maegor eventually died on the Iron Throne under mysterious circumstances, with no one sure if he was murdered of if he committed suicide.
Following Maegor's death, Jaehaerys Targaryen assumed the throne, and reigned over the Seven Kingdoms for more than 50 years. He was known as "Jaehaerys the Old," as well as "Jaehaerys the Wise," much kinder terms than his predecessor. A new theory posits that Jon Snow's birth name is Jaehaerys Targaryen, making him the third to boast that name, and giving him some reputable ancestors to live up to.
With season six over, it's time to adjust the numbers. The following collections of galleries and lists have been updated to reflect the events of the sixth season of Thrones:
1. Game of Thrones' Most Gruesome Deaths, updated through Lyanna Stark's death
2. Game of Thrones' Most Iconic Images, updated through Daenerys heading for Westeros
3. The Greatest Game of Thrones Battles and Brawls, updated through the Battle of the Bastards
4. Game of Thrones Season Six's Most Brutal Deaths, updated through the wildfire explosion
5. Game of Thrones Season Six's Greatest Quotes, updated through Lyanna's final words
Watch the video below for more season seven predictions:
Follow THR's Game of Thrones coverage for more deep dives, interviews and news.