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If anyone knows what it's like to get heated feedback from a loyal fanbase, it's HBO and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, so you know it's with the most trepidation that bad news gets delivered, even when it's via an emotionally detached press release. It was expected that Season 7 of the conversation-robbing epic would debut later in 2017 than its usual early-spring slot, and that particularly heinous suspicion has been confirmed by the network.
So when will Game of Thrones put us back in front of those characters still living? Summer 2017 is currently the most specific HBO is willing to go with the premiere timeframe for Season 7. Does that mean June 25, a little more than two months after fans usually get their first taste? Or should we all hope for the worst by assuming we won't get to witness Cersei's villainous ascent/descent until September 18? I'd really prefer to be optimistic here, but this isn't exactly a show that inspires hope.
The reason for the delay, for those unaware, is that Winter is coming, but for reals this time, and the show's production schedule is changing to accommodate for more weather-centric filming in Northern Ireland, as well as in Spain and Iceland. The production for Season 7 will begin later this summer, over a year before it is set to air, which goes to show you just how much of a process this show's cast and crew go through to deliver each episode's hour-or-so of political maneuvering, violent vengeance and dragons.
Of course, there will be less episodes going into Season 7 than all of the previous seasons. We're only getting seven episodes next year, and Season 8 will likely be the same, give or take an episode. One would think a shorter production schedule might balance any possible delays, but we all know that Game of Thrones brings out its best moments for second-to-last episodes, so I have to assume that the second-to-last season will pummel fans with huge and exciting sequences. Maybe not as big as the Battle of the Bastards, but big nonetheless.
While we're left with only speculation to rely on, we can at least take comfort in knowing no one involved with the show is interested in haphazardly slapping together the series' penultimate season just for the sake of sating Twitter-embracing viewers. If we're waiting this long for the actual Winter, then it should be more than worth the hassle, especially now that we're down to a lot of the game's finalists. Place your best, people. Just remember them, since it'll be another year before we'll see how it all plays out.