The episode count for season 8 of HBO’s biggest hit has been in debate since the show’s shorter final seasons were announced last year. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss were on the fence about shrinking the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones to six episodes, and fans speculated that it could end up at seven, just like the this next season. But hopes were dashed this weekend at the GoT South by Southwest panel.
THE SHOWRUNNERS ANNOUNCED TO THE AUDIENCE AT THE PANEL
The showrunners announced to the audience at the panel (moderated by stars Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner) that the count would indeed cap at six episodes, meaning we have only 13 precious hours of this show left. Diehard fans of the show, already miffed the show’s final two seasons weren’t going to be ten episodes each, no doubt weren’t happy with this news. But there are several reasons to smile at lower episode counts, one of which Kit Harrington pointed out last week to Huffington Post:
THEY SPENT AN INCREASING AMOUNT OF MONEY ON LESS EPISODES
They spent an increasing amount of money on less episodes, so it’s gonna be much bigger in scale, the CGI … we’re trying new things, experimenting with new camera techniques. I think we’re trying to break boundaries and push past boundaries in these final two seasons.
Less episodes = more budget for remaining episodes. It looks like “Battle of the Bastards” and “Winds of Winter” have set the bar higher than any of us could’ve predicted. At SXSW, Benioff and Weiss also revealed that there were three teams of visual effects artists working on the truncated season, and that combined with a higher budget has us hoping we’re going to see at least ONE direwolf riding a dragon.
In cheerier news, longtime fan Ed Sheeran has gone and nabbed himself a cameo.
Ed Sheeran is good friends with Kit Harington and Maisie Williams, but he’s usually on tour while the series shoots. With the seventh season dramatically pushed back this year, his schedule finally matched up with shooting. No word on what the musician will end up doing, but there’s a good chance he’ll follow in the footsteps of Coldplay, Sigur Ros and Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol) and have some kind of musical occupation. Or maybe he’ll join Mastadon and wind up playing an anonymous, bearded Wildling.