HBO has finally admitted it: The final season of "Game of Thrones" will debut in 2019, at least one calendar year from the moment you read this.
The hints were there. Liam Cunningham (Ser Davos) told TV Guide in October that "We're filming right up until the summer," he said, months after the summer of 2017 had ended. He added, "When you think about it, up until last season we'd have six months to do ten episodes, so we're [doing] way more than that for six episodes. So that obviously will translate into longer episodes."
That same month, Iain Glen, the actor who plays Ser Jorah Mormont, told a Comic-Con crowd in Stockholm, "I think this last season will take much longer to shoot." And there was the not-so-subtle Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) who told Variety in early December that the eighth and final season "comes out in 2019."
So, really, everyone said it, besides HBO, who waited until only now to announce that winter isn't coming this year (East Coast bomb cyclones notwithstanding).
Aside from confirming that 2018 will be filled with excruciating downtime for "Thrones" fans, the network also released some details about those who will be lensing the final season. According to Deadline, "series creators David Benioff & D.B. Weiss are among the directors for the new season along with David Nutter and Miguel Sapochnik."
Sapochnik has directed four past episodes, including some of the most epic, season 5's "Hardhome" and Season 6’s "Battle of the Bastards" (an episode which won him an Emmy for Best Directing) included. Nutter is best known for directing season 5's finale and Emmy-winning "Mother's Mercy," featuring the Cersei's notorious walk of atonement ("Shame . . . shame . . shame . . .").
Cast members have also been teasing the cinematic intricacy, thrill and scope of the final season. Turner told Variety, "This season, there’s a new threat and all of a sudden [Sansa] finds herself somewhat back in the deep end. And without Littlefinger, it’s a test for her of whether she can get through it. It’s a big challenge for her, without this master manipulator having her back. This season is more a passionate fight for her than a political, manipulative kind of fight." Oh, Sansa, never safe for long.
HBO programming president Casey Bloys told Entertainment Weekly this summer, "The show has proven that TV is every bit as impressive and in many cases more so, than film. What they’re doing is monumental. When you see these battles in season 7, and what I imagine season 8 will be, it’s a big, big show. We’ve done a lot of great shows, but this one combines the complex characters we love with a huge cinematic scope. I think this is the first show to prove that can be done — and we’re the first people to pay for it."
And we will be paying for it as well, in time spent waiting — over 12 months of it, give or take a financial quarter.