Season 6 may have just wrapped up, but it is already time to start anticipating Game of Thrones Season 7. Though filming for the new season is set to begin soon, that doesn't mean we have to wait for new spoiler-y tidbits: According to Entertainment Weekly, HBO has announced the directors who will work on Game of Thrones Season 7. Fair warning, the list is shorter this year and missing a few fan favorites (including Jack Bender, who directed the now legendary "Hold the Door," and Miguel Sapochnik who is the man behind "Hardhome," "Battle of the Bastards," and "Winds of Winter") but it's still promising.
In a move that further confirms the shorter season rumors, Season 7 will feature just four directors. Generally, each Game of Thrones director helms two episodes per season, so Season 7 could have just eight episodes — or less, if one of the directors is only directing one outing. The four directors are Mark Mylod, Jeremy Podeswa, Matt Shakman, and the long awaited return of Alan Taylor whose directing style defined much of Game of Thrones' early seasons. Each of these four men were likely chosen for a particular strength, and their Game of Thrones background (or lack thereof) could be revealing.
The series is officially heading toward its endgame, making every episode count like never before. Season 6 was all about moving characters into place for the final battles while dispatching any lingering characters who no longer had a major role to play. With that in mind, it only makes sense that Mylod, Podeswa, Shakman, and Taylor will be helming major episodes, because from this point forward, every Game of Thrones episode is going to be an important one.
Mylod is an interesting choice, given he is the director who brought Arya home in "No One." The episode had an amazing chase sequence, but it — as well as the episode that came before it, "The Broken Man" — wwas notable for featuring off-screen deaths (the Waif and the Blackfish). Mylod's real strength appears to be crafting emotionally powerful scenes. Hopefully, Mylod will be the director who ultimately brings Arya and The Hound back together now that they are both roaming the Riverlands. Under his direction, their reunion would be undeniably poetic.
Next up is Podeswa who directed what is arguably the most controversial episode of Game of Thrones' entire run so far: "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken," the episode where Sansa is raped by Ramsay. However, Podeswa has another claim to fame in the world of Westeros, since he was also behind the camera when Jon Snow was resurrected. With four episodes to his name, Podeswa has consistently been on hand to direct major scenes involving Jon, Sansa, and Melisandre in Seasons 5 and 6. His return could point to big happenings with the Winterfell set as Jon and Sansa deal with their newfound power in the North.
The name fans will be most excited to see on the list is without a doubt Taylor's. Taylor has not directed an episode since Season 2, and has instead focused on his big screen directing career with features like Thor: The Dark World. He's back for Season 7 though, and he will no doubt bring the powerhouse directing style he delivered in "Baelor."
When Ned was beheaded in "Baelor," Game of Thrones became the show it is today. Having Taylor back on board has to mean there is another major turning point ahead. My guess? The collapse of The Wall. If anyone can convey the scope and magnitude of the moment the White Walkers find a way to break the magic of The Wall it is Taylor. His directing style is grandiose and iconic — in addition to directing "Baelor" and five other early Game of Thrones episodes, he also directed the Mad Men pilot. You can bet that whichever episodes he directs, they will be standouts of the season.
Finally, there is newcomer Shakman, who is best known for directing It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (a favorite of Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss). Shakman is a total wildcard, but it is important to note that while he has a huge body of comedic work, he also directed the Season 1 finale of Fargo and Mad Men's haunting "Mystery Date" episode. Shakman's style is diverse. He can handle comedy, drama, and surrealism with ease.
Given how often Game of Thrones hops from location to location, Shakman's adaptability makes him an ideal candidate to cover multiple areas of Westeros at once. The one thing I would love to see Shakman direct is one of Bran's vision sequences. "Mystery Date" was Mad Men's most unsettling episode from a directing standpoint, and Shakman's ability to blur the line between dreams and reality could be put to excellent use in a season where Bran is destined to embrace being the Three-Eyed Raven and Cersei is no doubt going to descend into a dangerous madness.
Season 7 is a long way off, but these four directors are well-equipped to bring the next chapter of Game of Thrones to life.
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