HBO has been doing more promotion for Game of Thrones season 7 lately, with two “In Production” teasers, a poster, and finally a proper teaser trailer all coming out in the past week. And on top of that, we now have a season 7 premiere date: July 16, 2017. What do we think of all this news? What does it portend? The Small Council is in session.
DAN: There was a lot to unpack this week. I will say I enjoyed the teaser trailer for season 7 more than the teaser trailer for season 6, the one where we saw characters’ heads propped up in the Hall of Faces. This one, with the house sigils made of stone crumbling as Jon Snow intones ominously about the Great War, seemed more effortful. And then, at the end, as the statues crumble, we pull out and see all the statutes arranged in one of those creepy circles the White Walkers are so fond of forming. Is the symbolism obvious? Sure. But it still sends a chill down the spine.
As for the premiere date, it’s a bit later than I expected, but I think I was always getting my hopes too high. The show is going to land smack dab in the middle of the summer, rather than at the start. It’ll be snowing in Westeros while the sun beats down outside. I look forward to embracing the dissonance.
I do wish HBO had found a cleaner way to deliver this information to the public. If you’re unaware, HBO set up a Facebook Live stream featuring a big block of ice and a bunch of blow torches. The premiere date was written on a plaque inside the ice block. Hundreds of thousands of people watched as the ice melted, slowly, slowly, over the course of an hour-and-fifteen minutes. Cast members occasionally popped up to encourage fans to write “Fire” in the comments, the better to help the process along, but…that’s a lot of time to watch ice melt.
ANI: Unlike Dan, I would like to state for the record that I *called* this date, and I called it WEEKS ago, the moment Liam Cunningham accidentally confirmed July was the start month. Once that was confirmed, all one had to do was open a calendar, put the finale on the Sunday before Labor Day weekend here in the US and count backwards from 7 to one. That lands on July 16th, which is conveniently right after after all the major summer holidays are past (July 4th, July 14th). The old True Detective Slot. I CALLED IT.
Seriously, I sat and watched ice melt on the internet for the better part of 90 minutes just to confirm what anyone with the ability to count to seven on a calendar could have figured out. THANKS HBO. Best response I got to telling someone I did that: “Was this climate change performance art?” Well, if you buy into the theory that Game of Thrones is a climate change parable about how our leaders are obsessed with stupid power games while sudden shifts in weather threaten to wipe out humanity, I suppose it was. Personally, I thought of it as watching the failure of our education system to teach the earth sciences, and watching HBO executives get a lesson in physics in real time, live on Facebook.
But enough about the ice! What about that teaser that was delayed by said ice? As Dan pointed out, it is very much the corollary to last year’s first teaser — no footage, just quotes spoken from earlier seasons, repurposed over generic images — last year, the Hall of Faces; this year, CGI 3D house symbols. The former actually probably took more work, in terms of the prop shop having to create the faces from life molds, whereas this is just lots of electron assembly. But, funnily enough, it somehow did feel like less of a letdown — probably because (unlike last year) HBO didn’t hype it until the last minute. Instead, they hyped the date announcement, and the teaser came as a surprise. Therefore there was nothing to be let down about (other than the reality of how long it takes to melt a damn block of ice). The teaser got to feel like bonus cookies.
— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) March 9, 2017
COREY: Ever since Ani suggested July 16th, I latched onto that date; it just made too much sense. So kudos to her for getting it right from the get go.
As far as the teaser, I agree with Dan that it’s a bit better than the one for season 6. Season 6’s Hall of Faces promos promised us yet another typical Game of Thrones season, which is to say lots of betrayals, deaths, and shocking moments. Season 7’s crumbling house sigils implies that we’re in for something wildly different. For years, we’ve watched the great houses of Westeros squabble and war with one another, all the while waiting as the White Walkers amass north of the Wall. The teaser implies that we are finally going to see that threat come to the forefront. That’s likely going to be deadly for all involved.
The dire tone of Jon’s warning should have fans very worried. It’s nice to think we’ll get something totally different this year, beyond superficial changes like the later start date and the shortened season. In that sense, this teaser worked much better than ones in seasons past, even if that whole ice melting reveal via faulty flame throwers thing didn’t work so well.
RICHARD: I was out all afternoon yesterday so I missed 99% of the ice-melting torture, outside of bits of WiC Live on Facebook. Eventually, I watched the trailer. It doesn’t give away anything away, but it’s gorgeous, and it does what a teaser is supposed to do in terms of atmosphere: it’s dark, cold and foreboding, and the collapse of the colorless black sigils into the White Walker pinwheel and blue eyeball strike the perfect chord of deadness.
As Corey mentions above, it all portends big things, an utter collapse of the geopolitical structure of Westeros that, despite a lot of deaths and a succession of rulers in King’s Landing, has remained fairly stable for six seasons. I mean this in the sense that the Baratheon/Lannister monarchy has always remained in place, if tenuously, and even though the Stark family lost and regained power in the North (with sigils in flux over Winterfell in the opening credits), we’ve not seen the titanic shift of power that came after Robert’s Rebellion.
But now, that stability is coming to an end, with new alliances clashing and everything crumbling under the weight of the White Walker invasion. Will The Wall hold? Without Hodor or Wun Wun to hold the Black Gate, it’s doubtful. That humongous slab of ice is coming down this summer. It’s gonna get real bad, real fast.
It’s proper to watch the teaser-trailer in shivering darkness, I realize, because that’s all Game of Thrones promises to deliver in Season 7.
KATIE: The teaser’s cinematography reminds us of how we’ve seen these noble houses bicker and battle and destroy each other. But Jon Snow’s closing words are a reminder that there’s something else that wishes to destroy them all, something that’s been lurking in the shadows of the series all along. The time for political machinations is more or less over, or at least must be put to rest until the White Walkers are defeated. It’s not about the war amongst the living anymore, but the oncoming war against them that must take precedence.
Season 7’s most important battle may very well be the North’s efforts to convince the other kingdoms of this ensuing danger. The teaser takes great care to use voiceovers that suggest as much, snippets of past crimes and ongoing feuds that may distract from the bigger picture. Most of the remaining players in the game are so preoccupied with their quests for power and revenge that they may not wish to relinquish it for the sake of the realm, not when they haven’t seen the White Walkers for themselves, anyway. Animosity between the houses is coming to a head (again), with a Lannister as queen and a Stark bastard defying that claim by accepting his bannermen’s declaration of “King in the North.” If that doesn’t touch enough nerves, there’s a Targaryen on her way to claim what she believes to be hers.
Jon may be easy to sway from power; after all, things tend to fall in his lap and then he just has to wing it — impressively, but wing it he does. Not to mention, Jon has long ago put blood feuds behind him in order to fight for the living. Will Cersei and Daenerys — two characters whose arcs have concentrated on their lust for power and recognition — be willing to put their personal battles on hold? Or will they think it’s all another trick, just another political maneuver, another act of vengeance meant to undermine them?
I could go on all day about the details. There are still many bones to pick among the noble Houses. But Jon’s final lines are telling. The wildings, the Northerners and the Knights of the Vale have already banded around Jon to face the coming threat. Now it’s about convincing everyone else that the White Walkers are no myth, and that every battle that has torn these families asunder must be set aside for the time being.
SARAH: Like Richard, I missed the entire reveal because I was otherwise engaged, but I commend HBO for expertly frustrating millions of people in one fell swoop. I’m also the only person in this group for whom the release date is July 17, as I live all the way over here in the UK, so I’m looking forward to seven weeks of leaping out of bed every Monday at 2am. Also, am I the only one who mistakenly believed that I was seeing Dragonstone for the first few seconds of the teaser?
The teaser, which was the most aesthetic piece of promotional material I’ve ever seen, just confirms what I suspected when I saw the promotional poster that was released a few days ago: that the overall message of season 7 will be ‘ice beats fire’ rather than ‘ice meets fire,’ and that this message might continue to shape the tone of the upcoming trailers and any promotional material HBO sees fit to show us. While the poster showed us a cold wall of ice, punctuated by the odd streak of flame, this teaser invites us to watch as the bickering powers of Westeros crumble at the feet of the White Walkers. As is only right, because it’s winter in Westeros. Did anyone expect a season full of nothing but touching reunions, new connections and warm, fuzzy feelings in our bellies? They were never going to give us the simple ending, where Dany’s dragons and Jon’s bravery combine to send the Night King packing. This is the penultimate season; it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. I think the teaser did a damn good job of reinforcing the truth of what season 7 will bring: terror, uncertainty and devastation.
Jon Snow is used to being told that he knows nothing, but he enters the seventh season knowing more than the Queen in the South or the Mother of Dragons. Both Cersei and Daenerys are in need of a harsh lesson if they have any notion of ruling in Westeros. Cersei, whose bitter, blackened soul has given itself to absolute power, must learn that she cannot make an enemy of the whole world if she wants to thrive. Daenerys, who is fixated on a throne that she believes herself entitled to, must realize that she is not the most important player on the board, and that dragons can’t solve every problem. Something utterly devastating must pass to make them realize what Jon Snow already knows: what’s truly important.
GINA: What fun. It’s an ever-turning battle of the sigils, and it looks phenomenal. This teaser was a huge batch of symbolism, continuity, memories of seasons past, and a hopeful look towards the Game of Thrones future. I’m pumped, yet cautious for this new chapter to unfold.
For a teaser that shows us nothing but giant stone likenesses of the Houses we’ve come to know and love, it tells us a ton while letting us relive some of the more harrowing parts of the story. Why wouldn’t you want to hear Catelyn Stark’s cry of despair upon seeing her son Robb stabbed through the heart? Or remembering King Joffrey sentencing Ned Stark to death? We have to relive all these things because they’re part of a bigger story, one that could be wiped away in an instant if our protagonists aren’t careful.
Everything we’ve seen up to this point will shatter and crumble like these giant stone statues if the Night King gets his way. At the end of the teaser, we pull back to find that we’re sort of looking at things from his point of view (or at least one of the blue-eyed wights). If the world doesn’t band together to fight what Jon Snow calls “the Great War,” then all hope is certainly lost. It was slightly unsettling to not hear that Daenerys will “break the wheel,” but perhaps that means she’s on to bigger and better things that involve a mutual resolution. That’s my hope, anyway, since she’s the one I want to see on the Iron Throne the most.
Here’s to the long nights we’ll have to endure as we wait for July 16th.