Be aware there are spoilers for Game of Thrones through ‘Winds of Winter’.
Winter is here, but we’re going to have to wait a while to see what that means. As you probably know, and maybe have mourned a little, Game of Thrones will return for its seventh season with a truncated seven-episode order…but not until the summer. Fortunately, the cast and creators of HBO’s crown jewel drama were on hand for a Comic-Con Hall H panel to break down their thoughts on the just-concluded sixth season, ponder what might come next, and of course, mourn our dear Hodor.
It’s Always Sunny star (and Game of Thrones mega-fan) Rob MacElhenney) moderated the panel, which saw series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss joined by castmembers Liam Cunningham, John Bradley, Nathalie Emmanuel, Conleth Hill, Sophie Turner, Iwan Rheon, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Faye Marsay and Kristian Nairn were also in attendance, along with ‘Battle of the Bastards’ and ‘Winds of Winter’ director Miguel Sapochnik. You can watch the Season 6 blooper reel and Season 7 pre-production trailer here, and check out the panel highlights below.
Kristian Nairn wasn’t Expecting Such an Intense Fan Response to ‘Hold the Door’
When Nairn hit the stage, he received a major dose of love from the crowd, who offered up a sonorous, ongoing chant of “Hodor, Hodor!” Nairn, who was a bit moved by the reception, discussed his experience with the fan reaction. “It has been overwhelming. I did not expect it to be so crazy. I’m really, really flattered as well. It’s blown my mind. I was in LA a few days ago at a hotel, and all their door stops said ‘Hodor’ on them. I went, ‘Really?’ It’s been incredible. The scene was incredibly written and directed. I knew I was going to be killed, but I didn’t expect the outpouring of emotions.” By the way, Nairn says if Hodor could say one thing to Bran, it would be “No”. “Hodor, take me there.” “No.” “Hodor, hold the door.” “No.”
Miguel Sapochnik Won’t Direct Any Season 7 Episodes, But He’s Hoping to Return for the Final Season
Director Miguel Sapochnik, who previously helmed the underloved Repo Men, had his first introduction to Game of Thrones in the uneventful, slightly forgettable Season 5 episode ‘The Gift’ (basically, the one where Sam and Gilly finally did the deed), before staking a real name for himself with the iconic Knight’s King showdown, ‘Hardhome’. With Season 6, he delivered a double whammy, directing the stunning ‘Battle of the Bastards’ and the climactic season finale ‘Winds of Winter’. Unfortunately, Sapochnik isn’t on the announced list of Season 7 directors, but he “would very much hope” to return for the eighth and final season.
The ‘Battle of the Bastards’ Was Originally Going to Be Very Different
The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones’ sixth season saw our two disparate bastards of the north pitted against each other in a visceral battle to the death. It cost us Rickon, Wun Wun, and almost saw the “know nothing” Jon Snow killed off once again as he nearly drowned in a pit of bodies, but the standout sequence almost played out very differently. Sapochnik explained that originally, ‘Battle of the Bastards’ was based on the battle of Agincourt (you may know it from Henry V), which saw the English defeat the French in The Hundred Years’ War thanks, in part, to a stampede of horses.
The problem? Horses aren’t really interested in charging at people multiple times. Sapochnik explained that by the second or third time, the horses just won’t charge, and that is obviously a problem for a major production like Game of Thrones, which requires take after take. The solution? “The decision was, we weren’t going to run horses at people. Instead, we were going to run people at people.” That choice resulted in the deadly pile of bodies we saw nearly take down Jon Snow in ‘Battle of the Bastards’. Inspired by the Roman battle of Cannae, which saw heavily armored knights entrapped by the growing piles of corpses around them. A decision that not only lent the episode some of it’s most breathtaking moments, but also happened to spare production a pretty penny thanks to the fewer amount of horses they used.
Bran Knows He Needs to Spread the Gospel of L + R = J
As the fledgling Three Eyed Raved, Bran knows a lot of things, but most importantly, he finally knows the answer to the heritage question that burned a hole in book fans’ brains for years — Jon Snow is not Ned’s son, but a lost son of the Targaryen king Rhaegar and Ned’s sister, Lyanna…and, to be honest, most of us had figured that out, so what’s really interesting is what might come next. After all, as a legit Targaryen, Jon has just as much a claim to the throne as Dany (just without the proven leadership record and “Bran knows he’s been shown this information for a reason, he might not know exactly why, but it’s obviously imperative he knows this and will spread the word.” He added with a laugh, “I presume he’ll somehow tell Jon, but I’m not sure how he’ll respond when Bran shows up and says, ‘I’m a Tree Wizard and your dad isn’t your dad.”
Sansa Doesn’t Think Jon Snow Is Fit to Rule the Kingdom
At long last, another Stark is King in the North! Well, a Stark and a Targaryen. But not everyone thinks he should necessarily be in power, including his sister…well, his cousin and/or sister, in any case. Turner explained that Sansa believes the ‘Battle of the Bastards’ was a dual effort, and one they should both reap the rewards of with a shared status as queen and king of the North. She explained, “I don’t think she believes Jon is capable of running Winterfell and the north; she doesn’t think he has the intellect, the knowledge, the experience that she has, and I concur,” she said to cheers. “He has wonderful morals, those Stark morals, so inevitably he’ll make the good decision, but whether it’s going to benefit anyone is another story.” And as it happens, Turner enjoyed Ramsay’s death just as much as we did, pinpointing it as her favorite scene of the year, but she’s not sure what effect it will have on Sansa. “I have no idea if she’s going to become a real leader or if she’s going to become completely sadistic, but we’ll soon find out…”
Not Even the Cast Can Agree on Who Should Win the Iron Throne (But Nobody Thinks It Should Be a Lannister)
Towards the end of the panel, each actor picked who they hoped (or in some cases, predicted) would claim the Iron Throne by the series end, and they all had pretty diverse answers. Some of the highlights: Cunningham joked that he pictured a White Walker dangling his legs over the edges of the Iron Throne with a Cuban Cigar hanging out of his mouth. Bradley and Emmanuelle stayed loyal, picking Jon Snow and Daenerys, respectively. Turner picked Littlefinger, to a round of boos from the audience. Rheon said he thinks they should tear it down and go for a democracy, and Nairn gave what will probably prove the most astute answer, syaing he doesn’t think the Iron Throne will be that important in the end. Nobody, not one, picked a Lannister. Poor, Tyrion.