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Game of Thrones developed a pretty solid formula over its first six years on the air. Each season has had ten installments featuring a bloodbath toward the end, and almost every season has had five directors on board to helm episodes. Three of the five directors during Season 6 were even Thrones alums who were back for more. Season 7 will be a different story. The episode count has been cut from 10 to seven, and now the director count has been cut to four.
The four directors who will handle Game of Thrones episodes in Season 7 will be Alan Taylor, Jeremy Podeswa, Mark Mylod, and Matt Shakman, according to EW. This news comes shortly after showrunner David Benioff revealed that he and his co-showrunner Dan Weiss were planning on ending Game of Thrones after Season 8 with a final count of 73 episodes. With what will presumably be seven episodes in Season 7, we will probably only be in for six episodes in Season 8. Luckily, the choice of directors for Season 7 should have the skill to fit as much action into seven episodes as would usually be stretched into ten.
Alan Taylor, Jeremy Podeswa, and Mark Mylod are all veterans of Game of Thrones. Alan Taylor has four early episodes to his name, including the one the featured Ned Stark's heartbreaking death in Season 1 and both the premiere and finale for Season 2. He moved to the big screen for Thor: The Dark World and Terminator: Genisys. Jeremy Podeswa has worked more recently on Game of Thrones with four episodes over the past couple years. He was notably responsible for showing Sansa's controversial rape scene in Season 5's "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" and Jon Snow's resurrection in Season 6's "Home." He was nominated for an Emmy for "Unbowed." Mark Mylod has also directed four episodes, two of which have involved a spotlight on Essos with "Sons of the Harpy" in Season 5 and "No One" in Season 6.
Of the four directors, only Matt Shakman has never contributed to Game of Thrones. Shakman has worked extensively on other projects on the small screen, however. He's helmed nearly forty episodes of the FX comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and he's tackled episodes of shows ranging from Mad Men to The Good Wife. He doesn't exactly have a ton of experience with fantasy series, and jumping into Thrones for the first time in Season 7 means that he could be at quite a disadvantage compared to his fellow directors. Still, he wouldn't have gotten the gig if he didn't have the chops to handle an episode of Game of Thrones, so he could be perfect for what new twists are to come next season.
Unfortunately, we still have quite a wait ahead of us before we get to see how Matt Shakman does compared to Alan Taylor, Jeremy Podeswa, and Mark Mylod. Considering how much shorter Season 7 should be than seasons past, we have to hope that the cut to only four directors will work for the next chapters of the saga of Game of Thrones. For a look at what else we know so far about Season 7, check out our summary.