Game of Thrones writer on what makes Season 6 the 'biggest season' yet

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Apr 20, 2016, 6:01 PM EDT

Much like George R.R. Martin’s novels that inspired the series, HBO’s Game of Thrones has steadily grown into one of the most epic things on television. Well, it’s getting even bigger.

Writer and producer Bryan Cogman chatted with Entertainment Weekly about the new season, and touched on how the approach to storytelling itself has evolved by the years, as they build more and more of this fantasy world. Put simply: They have so many characters, places and relationships established that Season 6 represents an opportunity to really play even more in that sandbox they have managed to build.

Here’s an excerpt from how Cogman breaks down the new season:

“This many seasons in, you have the chance as a storyteller to draw on the past in a way we haven’t been able to do before. There are a lot of thematic and explicit callbacks to season 1, and the seasons that preceded this one, and even to events that preceded them — in terms of the mythology. There’s also a trend that began in season 5 and continues even more so in this season of worlds colliding, with characters meeting in hopefully very unexpected ways. Seasons 2–4 were about the expansion of this world; seasons 5 and 6 are about contracting. Characters who were rivals, and in some cases enemies, are being forced to work together, which makes for a lot of juicy dramatic tension. And then there’s the obvious answer in terms of the size of the show. We say this every year, but it’s true – this is the biggest season of Game of Thrones. It took me by surprise, just how big it is – and I helped write it! This is also the first season in awhile where we did read-throughs with the cast.

Not letting everyone get overwhelmed by the size of it and keeping your eye on the prize – the clarity of the characters and their motivations. You can obsess about a sequence or a line of action, but if you lose sight of the story then none of it matters. So I think about keeping everything grounded and remembering what we want to achieve and to set up for the future. The good news is we’ve been doing this for a long time now and everybody knows what they’re doing. Everybody involved knows how to tell this story at this point. There is no show like this on the planet. And anybody who tells you there is hasn’t worked on this show.”

Season 6 of Game of Thrones premieres Sunday on HBO.

(Via Entertainment Weekly)