Littlefinger and Sansa in Winterfell

There are few TV shows as massively popular as HBO's fantasy drama Game of Thrones. The story of Winterfell has accrued a huge following for its first six seasons, so production has to go to great length to keep the series' plot points and narrative under wraps. This includes limited access to scripts, a lack of set visits, and very few trailers and footage ahead of the premiere. Last season, Game of Thrones avoided Jon Snow-related spoilers is by not allowing reviewers and press to have access to screeners. And now it appears that this measure will continue through the end of the series.

This news comes to us from EW, who is reporting HBO's decision to continue withholding early episodes from the press. Now if outlets want to review Season 7's premiere episode, they'll have to tune in on Sunday night like the rest of the fans. What follows will be a race against the clock, as reviewers type with fury in hopes of publishing ASAP.

The decision to reserve the first few episodes of Game of Thrones is likely due to the debacle that occurred back in Season 5. This season suffered a major leak, as the first four episodes were uploaded online ahead of the season premiere. These were likely press screeners, and now many shows watermark their screeners to avoid this type of leak.

And with Game of Thrones gearing up for its two final (shorter) seasons, the stakes are at an all time high. You can feel each episode creeping toward the season finale, as characters have been killed off and crossed over at delightfully increasing rates. Season 6's finale saw both of these events occur in the show's most dramatic episode yet. Cersei burned away all of her King's Landing enemies in a massive explosion and ascended the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, Dany finally began sailing to Westeros, with her massive armies and dragons assembled.

The upcoming seventh season will likely contain even more of these payoffs, as Cersei's enemies ascend on King's Landing. And despite all of the infighting in Westeros, the survivors of their civil conflict must eventually come together for the true war to come. Winter is here, and the Night's King is approaching The Wall with his army of dead soldiers. If any of the show's events are going to matter, they'll have to actually survive.

That being said, Season 7 is looking like an absolutely wild ride. Check out the chaotic trailer below,

I seriously can't wait.

Game of Thrones will return for its penultimate season on July 16, 2017. In the meantime check out our summer premiere list, and don't miss a single new episode of your favorite show.

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