For six seasons, Game of Thrones fans have waited (and waited) for winter to come to the show, Whitewalkers be damned. Even fans of George R. R. Martin's books were anticipating the seasonal shift after the HBO epic caught up with the author's published works and started going off on its own. But the showrunners insist that winter is the least of everyone's worries, because the real danger is the war that's erupting across Westeros — and it's already arrived.
"For a long time, we've been talking about 'the wars to come.' That war is pretty much here. So it’s really trying to find a way to make the storytelling work without feeling like we’re rushing it," showrunner David Benioff told Entertainment Weekly. "You want to give characters their due, and pretty much all the characters left are important characters, even the ones who might have started out as relatively minor characters have become significant in their own right."
Fellow showrunner Dan Weiss added that the show's breakneck pace, which seems to get quicker with each passing episode, adds to the tension faced by the show's characters. That same sense of urgency that fans have is palpable in the writers' room, too, he notes, saying that the buildup from six years is all coming together for a monumental clash.
"Things are coming to a head and the war is here," Weiss told EW. "It's this urgency from within the story that drives the pace rather than any external decision."
Both Benioff and Weiss explained that having the characters gather together — with Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen in one spot and Sansa Stark connecting with Jon Snow in another — brings its own tension, so fans can expect actual battles alongside more subtle power struggles within each faction. Fans may enjoy the character convergence, but it's a treat for the writers, too. Weiss explained that during this season's production, cast members finally got to interact both in front of and behind the cameras.
"It's so much fun because these guys don’t get to spend too much time together except when they pass like ships in the night passing to and from storylines," Weiss said. "So having them on set together is a real privilege for us because we get to spend more time with them."
Fans are ready to spend time with them, too. With the season premiere (and the show's inevitable finale) inching closer, loyal viewers are soaking up every bit of news they can get, war or not.