Small Council: Game of Thrones season 8 won’t air until 2019. What now?

Between Game of Thrones’ absence from HBO’s “Coming Soon in 2018” video (below) and Sophie Turner straight-up saying that season 8 won’t air until 2019, we have a while to wait before we can see the final six episodes of the show. How do we feel about this? How do we fill the time? Do you wish it was coming sooner? Later? The Small Council is in session.

DAN: For any other show, I’d say this was a problem — taking a year off, that is. But for Game of Thrones, I think it’s kind of a miracle it hasn’t happened already. A new show like Westworld, the first season of which featured the kind of technological and stylistic ambition Game of Thrones took years to ramp up to, is taking a break between its first and second seasons. And that makes sense, given how elaborate it is.

But Game of Thrones managed to crank out seven straight seasons of TV before it finally hit a suite of episodes it couldn’t film and edit and air in 12 months’ time. That’s to be commended, and it makes you wonder what fireworks they’re planning that it couldn’t all be completed before 2019.

And of course, HBO can afford to do this because people will wait — Game of Thrones is popular enough that a year off won’t impact viewership overmuch, if at all.

But that makes me worried for the super-sized shows taking cues from Game of Thrones, like Westworld and Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show. Thrones has taught TV studios that there’s big money to be made in bringing movie-quality production values to television, but if you’re going to make your show look and sound and feel as impressive as possible, delays are inevitable. Game of Thrones can get away with it because it has a large built-in audience, but what about the next studio that bets the farm on a splashy series? Beware the bubble.

As for how Game of Thrones fans can bridge the gap between now and 2019, there’s plenty out there worth watching. The real question is: might The Winds of Winter come out sometime next year? Because if there were ever a time fans will need it, it’s then.

SARAH: I know that I’m one among a small number here, but I don’t mind waiting until 2019 for new episodes. Season 7 took it out of me, man. I went into it completely spoiled and it tainted the entire experience from start to finish – with the exception of small, surprising little scenes, like the Hound’s sorrow over the death of Sally with the Good Rabbit Stew, or Bran and Meera’s painful goodbye. Then “Beyond the Wall” was a poorly-constructed-pile of nonsense, and the finale only just scraped it back with that amazing meeting in King’s Landing and Littlefinger’s death.

Months on, I’m still a little fatigued by the whole thing.

Still, I love the show like nothing else and remain heartily invested in the fates of my favorite characters. I’m expecting the season 7 Blu-Ray in my Christmas stocking and I’m really looking forward to a re-watch of all 67 episodes. We’ve got plenty of time between now and 2019, and I think that time would be best spent coming up with some fresh theories for the final season. That said, I still think Daenerys is going to turn villain and will stick by that assertion until I’m proven wrong.

What truly worries me about the gap is that there appears to be a great deal of time in which people could happen upon spoilers and release them to the public, especially since this is the last season, and the last chance we’ve got for Game of Thrones to truly astound and surprise. I’ve already heard whisperings about drunken production staff giving things away in pubs, etc., and while I don’t believe that this happened, it only takes one slip-up for the floodgates to open. For now, though, I’m cautiously optimistic. Filming has been underway for several weeks, and so far, I haven’t heard a peep. Keep it up, HBO.

COREY: On the one hand, I’m disappointed that we have so long to wait until 2019 season 8 comes out. That’s a very long time to wait, even if I’ve done it before with Mad Men, which went two years between seasons at one point. It’s even harder to bear considering it’s the show’s final season. With the table set for what I imagine is a pretty shocking conclusion, it’s hard knowing we’ll have to wait so long to finally see how things end up in Westeros.

On the other hand, I am all for HBO taking the time to get things right. The last thing I want after investing so much time and energy in the show is for the final season to feel rushed. I want no Tyrion getting knocked out before the Battle of the Green Fork. I want no offscreen deaths like the Blackfish. I want to see and behold every minor detail of the final season.

In fact, I’d even go so far to say that the minor details matter as much as the major ones. I want to see how Varys’ story concludes as much as Tyrion’s. Grey Worm’s as much as Jon Snow. This is a show with a sprawling cast, and I don’t want any of them getting the short stick as far as screen time goes. I might be hoping for the moon, but I don’t want to have questions about the fates of our favorite characters.

So I guess, ultimately I side with HBO on this one. Sad as it might be to have no Thrones in 2018, I’m willing to wait in order for the show to stick the landing. We wouldn’t want to end up like Lost fans, would we?

SEBASTIAN: I can really only agree with most of what you guys have already said. I do not mind waiting. Not at all. My problem with season 7 was that I already felt like it came too soon. I had done an episode-by-episode review of season 6 on YouTube and, well, it was a crazy ride. Season 6 really had lower lows and higher highs than season 5 but ended with the highest of highs which made me optimistic for season 7.

To me, it felt like the showrunners had tied up all the loose ends and were ready to go for an overall better season 7 with a lot of stuff out of the way that they did not know what to do with anymore.

When season 7 rolled around, I had a hard time getting into the right mood. I think that was partly because of me, but also partly because of all the spoiler business getting worse every season. It’s just tiring dealing with that amount of spoilers. The experience is not really the same anymore. I hope a delayed season 8 will allow me to get into the right mood this time around and will give the showrunners the time they need to end this show at the top of their game.

And let’s make no mistake here: This is going to be the end. This is going to be the grand finale of a journey of nearly a decade. And, of course, it will give us at least a general idea of what to expect in the books, whenever we are going to hold the final one of those in our hands.

That’s huge. Why would anybody want to rush this? Will one year of delay really make a difference in the grand scheme of things? I would much rather have a better season 8 in 2019 that I will probably still rewatch in 2049 than a worse version in 2018.

This season will make or break the legacy of Game of Thrones, I think. We only need to remind ourselves what happened to Lost with its botched ending, as has been pointed out. Ending a story of this scope right is no small task, especially after having departed from GRRM’s vision as much as this show has in several respects.

RAZOR: Do I wish season 8 was premiering in 2018? Sure. But there are plenty of fantastic television and novels to keep my mind preoccupied until that day comes in 2019.

For one, I’m an avid Star Wars nerd (shameless plug for my Star Wars site Dork Side of the Force), and with Star Wars: The Last Jedi hitting theaters worldwide this weekend, and with Solo: A Star Wars Story coming in May of 2018, my dance card is going to be quite full.

Other than that, I’m filling my off time with some fantastic Netflix shows like The Last Kingdom, as well as the books the show is based on — The Saxon Stories. We’re living in the Golden Age of Television, and Game of Thrones — as amazing as it might be — isn’t the only great series out there.

If you’re into heroes, Hulu has a great show called Marvel’s Runaways, Netflix just finished The Punisher (and has five other Marvel hero shows to choose from), and History’s Vikings and Knightfall are currently airing their new seasons.

It may be a long wait until Game of Thrones season 8, but if The Winds of Winter comes out before then, that wait will be made inconsequential, for the most part. There’s a lot to look forward to, in 2018. Just be patient.

What are you watching or reading while you wait for Game of Thrones season 8? Let us know about it in the comments below.

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