*Spoilers below for the Game of Thrones season finale, so keep away if you haven't yet watched the extended episode. *
While previous Game of Thrones seasons lasted ten episodes, last night's finale was only Season 7's seventh installment. But it didn't skimp on the big moments, as we got to watch one character's long-time-coming demise, as well as the new and awkward next step in Jon and Dany's relationship. But it was that ending that introduced a new era of danger for any characters south of The Wall, as the Night King used the resurrected dragon Viserion to blast a massive, icy hole through the legendary barrier. Here's what David Benioff had to say about ending the finale like that.
We try to contrast the various season endings so that they don't feel too similar. Last season we had a pretty triumphant ending with Dany finally sailing westward to Westeros. This one is definitely much more horrific. For many years now, we've known this would be the ending to the penultimate season.
Similar to how the penultimate episodes of Game of Thrones seasons are usually the most action-packed, this second-to-last batch of eps has been full of high-stakes moments, badass battles and game-changing reveals. And one can argue that the antagonistic turn for Daenerys' dragon Viserion -- an-dragon-istic? -- actually fit into all three of those categories. The ice-breathed beast is obviously the White Walkers' biggest weapon yet, and one that not even the long-standing Wall could hold up against. The showrunners could have easily cut the episode off before that breach occurred, making audiences wait to see whether the wall would hold up or not, and they also could have moved that moment earlier, capping the episode off with another memorable scene. But no, that wasn't in the cards.
David Benioff brought up Dany's trek to Westeros there, and having The Wall getting ice-blasted is definitely more frightening. At least, for those not wanting to become thaw-worthy victims of the Night King and his army. I think we can all be thankful that no one wanted to relive the specific kinds of cliffhanger-tethered frustrations that came with Season 5's ending for Jon Snow.
In Game of Thrones' latest "Inside the Episode" video, D.B. Weiss also spoke about why things went the way they did.
The Wall's kept these things out for 8,000 years, and there's no real reason that it can't keep doing that unless something puts a hole in the wall. There's one thing on the board from the beginning that is now big enough to do that, and that's a dragon. That just started to suggest itself as a logical way forward.
It's not a game of connect the dots that most people have to go through, but for David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, there was only one way to bring things together in a world that contains both a seemingly impenetrable wall and a family of dragons. It took a whole lot of dots to get from the idea's conception to its execution, but it was definitely worth it.
Game of Thrones fans are going to be waiting quite a while to get a "what happened next," as Season 8 likely won't be airing for at least another year, and there's a chance it'll arrive even later than that. In the meantime, share in our curiosity with the biggest post-finale questions we have, and check out our fall TV schedule to see the new and returning shows hitting the small screen in the near future.