Game of Thrones has had a hell of a month. First, it wrapped up its sixth season with two of the most universally hailed episodes of its entire run, revealing some major secrets and setting the stage for the story's climax. On the other side of the coin, fans were saddened to hear that there are only two seasons remaining, that those seasons will be shortened, and that we'll have to wait even longer than usual to see them.
Vibes both good and bad based on that news hung over the Game of Thrones panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, as moderator Rob McElhenny strolled to the podium to introduce producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with cast members Liam Cunningham, John Bradley, Nathalie Emmanuel, Conleth Hill, Sophie Turner, Iwan Rheon, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Faye Marsay and Kristian Nairn.
Fans were definitely ready to embrace the group, especially Nairn, who got the biggest cheer among everyone when he entered. But things quickly turned to nuts and bolts, and there were (good-spirited) boos at the mention of the Season 7 delay and relatively small number of episodes. Benioff and Weiss were quick to speak to the delays in terms of winter FINALLY coming to Westeros, which was a welcome sentiment in the hall. The producers also both spoke very respectfully of George R.R. Martin's vision, with Benioff saying, "We're still living out the spirit of George's imagination."
Unfortunately, with the desire not to spoil anything - and, if we're being honest, the fact that Season 7 is still VERY early in production - there wasn't much to be learned about what's to come from the tight-lipped panelists. About the closest thing we got was Sophie Turner's discussion of what might come in the relationshiop between Sansa and Jon: "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. He has wonderful morals, those Stark morals, [so she thinks] that inevitably he'll make the good decision, but whether it's going to benefit anyone is another story." There was also some talk from Turner and director Miguel Sapochnik about Sansa's reacdtion to Ramsay's death, and what it might mean for her character moving forward. "I have no idea if she's going to become a real leader or if she's going to become completely sadistic."
Beyond that, though, it was mostly time for jokes and reminiscence about the season gone by. Faye Marsay, who played thorn-in-Arya's-side The Waif, talked crossing sticks with Maisie Williams, while Conleth Hill (sporting a full head of hair, which was shocking to see on the man who plays Varys) talked about how working on Game of Thrones ruins him for other work. Perhaps the biggest laugh of the hour was Kristian Nairn's response to a fan question as to what Hodor would say to Bran if he could actually speak: "Hold your own door."
Things seemed to wrap up with a teaser video for Season 7 that basically amounted to shots of props and costumes being built, which left a bit of negative buzz in the room...but then we were all treated to the Season 6 blooper reel, heavy on Dinklage, and good feelings were restored to the Seven Kingdoms.
Check it out below: