Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor discusses controversial “hazy” timeline on latest episode

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SPOILER ALERT!!! THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES SEASON 7 EPISODE 6 ‘BEYOND THE WALL’

To borrow a modern colloquialism, the seventh and penultimate season of Game of Thrones has been FIRE, YO! With us now fully in the final stretch of HBO’s sprawling fantasy epic, and with a reduced episode count per season, there’s just no filler whatsoever. Besides for the scene-setting first episode, it’s just been week after week of jaw-dropping twists, intense character intrigue and more gobsmacking big budget action than you can shake three fully grown fire breathing dragons at!

Last week Sunday’s sixth episode, ‘Beyond the Wall’, featured all of the above and then some – zombie polar bears?! – and had the show’s throngs of fans across the world losing their minds. But while many were going gaga, quite a few were also going “Huh?” thanks to some things just not lining up chronologically.

To recap: Jon Snow (white and the seven dwarves) and his band of not-so-merry men run into the army of the Night King far north of the Wall as they try to capture one of his undead minions alive to take back to the south as proof of the existence of White Walkers. As the fastest among them, Gendry is sent to run to the wall on foot so that he can send a raven to Daenerys on Dragonstone Island. Hearing the news of their peril, she then flies her dragons up north to rescue Jon and co.

And all of that happens in about the same time it takes Darryn to read the previous paragraph.

Based on what it looks like, the Snow Bros. only spend a night out in the cold surrounded by the Night King’s army who are only held back by the treacherously thin ice surrounding them. And this led to all kinds of online complaints and jibes about how ravens and dragons are apparently immune to the laws of time and space and can travel anywhere in Westeros in only a fraction of the time it should take.

Despite what some may think though, this was not a flub on the part of Game of Thrones’ showrunners though, but rather intentional. Director Alan Taylor (whose work in the first two seasons of Game of Thrones led to him directing blockbusters Thor: The Dark World and Terminator Genisys) spoke to Variety about the episode and explained that all came down to taking some creative license with the timeline so as to not slow down the drama.

We were aware that timing was getting a little hazy. We’ve got Gendry running back, ravens flying a certain distance, dragons having to fly back a certain distance. In terms of the emotional experience, [Jon and company] sort of spent one dark night on the island in terms of storytelling moments. We tried to hedge it a little bit with the eternal twilight up there north of The Wall. I think there was some effort to fudge the timeline a little bit by not declaring exactly how long we were there.

I think that worked for some people, for other people it didn’t. They seemed to be very concerned about how fast a raven can fly but there’s a thing called plausible impossibilities, which is whatyou try to achieve, rather than impossible plausibilities. So I think we were straining plausibility a little bit, but I hope the story’s momentum carries over some of that stuff.

Now some would say that getting caught up in the technicalities of how fast dragons can fly when it’s a show about, y’know, dragons, is really silly. But judging by the frenetic social media chatter after the episode, it was clear that this is exactly what many people did. And Taylor is perfectly fine with that because it means the fans are really invested in the show.

It’s cool that the show is so important to so many people that it’s being scrutinized so thoroughly. If the show was struggling, I’d be worried about those concerns, but the show seems to be doing pretty well so it’s OK to have people with those concerns.

Game of Thrones is “doing pretty well”. That’s Understatement of the Year material right there. The final episode of season 7, titled ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’, debuts this coming Sunday and it’s going to be a whopper. It was revealed earlier in the week that the finale’s full running time will be a massive 79 minutes. That may even be long enough to track a raven’s flight in real-time.

 

Last Updated: August 25, 2017

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