Game of Thrones is a massive show that has plots going on for a ton of different characters in plenty of different places. The Season 6 finale killed off and/or consolidated some of those characters into the same location, but there's still so much separation between some of them that it's hard to imagine that their timelines could possibly all sync up. According to Game of Thrones editor, writer, and producer Bryan Cogman, there's no point in giving ourselves headaches trying to figure it out. The timelines actually do not match up.
In the wake of the Season 6 finale, Bryan Cogman took to his Twitter and dropped this interesting timeline tidbit:
Oh, one thing since a few people have asked me. The timelines of the various story threads don't necessarily match up all the time. Oh, and in case people think I'm annoyed at the question, I'm not. I tied myself in knots season 1 trying to make it all line up. We realized right quick doing so would kill momentum. So there you go.
Well, that explains how Arya got from half-dead in Essos to the Riverlands to kill Walder Frey in the same amount of time it took for Cersei's trial to start in King's Landing.
The show has slowly been reducing how long it takes to travel from one place to another in recent seasons. In the first couple of years, the journey from the North to just about anywhere took days and episodes on the road. Knowing that teleportation hasn't been invented in the years since Arya's adventures certainly makes it easier to accept some of the accelerated plots.
Bryan Cogman is definitely a trustworthy source when it comes to explaining that syncing the timelines would kill momentum. He's written nine episodes of Game of Thrones over the years, contributing one episode in Seasons 1 - 3 and then two in Seasons 4 - 6. Additionally, he penned the book Inside HBO's Game of Thrones, which is a tome so full of show trivia that it practically belongs in the library at the Citadel. Cogman knows what he's talking about when it comes to Game of Thrones, and there's no reason not to take his word as law in this case.
Of course, he's lucky that he knew way back in the beginning that the timelines don't match up. Those of us who have been trying to craft mental flow charts to make sense of how Jon at the Wall matched Dany in Essos could have used the info a little bit earlier. I suppose this will make it believable if Gendry rows up to the King's Landing harbor in the Season 8 epilogue and reveals that he's actually only been on the water from Dragonstone for a couple of days.
Season 6 has just ended, so it'll be a while before we get to see if the timelines start to match up a bit more now that the characters are starting to band together. Check out our breakdown of what we know so far about Game of Thrones Season 7 for a peek ahead.