The final season of Game of Thrones is still just a dot on the horizon, like a dragon off in the distance, flapping its wings and carrying a blonde monarch or evil ice general on its back. But eventually it will be upon us, like that same dragon, shooting orange or blue fire out of its mouth and laying waste to everything in its path. In this analogy, “everything in its path” refers to both “other shows on television” and “your Sunday night plans, in general.” It’s okay. You probably weren’t doing anything anyway.
The dicey aspect of this delay is that the show and HBO want to try to keep the things that happen in that final season under wraps until the things actually happen on the screen, between 9 and 10 PM, on the night the episodes premiere. Which, for most shows, is a pretty reasonable endeavor. The Leftovers released screeners for every final season episode but the actual finale weeks in advance and there was barely a peep. Game of Thrones, on the other hand, has had plots spoiled by leaked screeners and air travel records and castmembers’ hairstyles. Fans of this show would have probably cracked Watergate in six days. Maybe a full week if they took a day to discuss GIFs of Nixon.
And that was before the most recent season, which was rather famously the subject of a hack that resulted in a multimillion-dollar ransom demand. It’s all a little nuts, really. And it starting to make the people at the show go kind of crazy.
For example, earlier this week, Liam Cunningham, my beloved Davos himself, smuggler and amateur pharmacist (fermented crab is basically medicine), said this in an interview: “I got six of [the scripts], I’ve got them all. I can’t open them because of all the security, and I can’t walk it out.” See, the scripts are apparently all-digital and can only be accessed inside the show’s Belfast studio. Imagine forgetting a line of dialogue and having to fly to Belfast to read it again. Just for like five seconds, then flying home. Get a good mental picture of it. Yes, I know this is not how it works, probably. I’m having fun. Leave me alone.
Speaking of things that are fun to picture, it all might even be more secretive than that. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the golden-fingered Jaime Lannister, was on a Scandinavian talk show recently, and according to the Associated Press, relayed this tidbit:
According to Coster-Waldau, security for this final “Game of Thrones” season is the tightest yet. Actors in each scene are equipped with earpieces and are fed their dialogue to deliver, line by line.
“We’re not even going to get the script,” he said.
So, three things worth noting here.
THING NUMBER ONE: This is probably not super ideal. Assuming it’s true and not just a joke that whizzed over people’s heads, the takeaway between the two stories seems to be that actors will get to look at the scripts in the studio and then will get the lines refreshed for them via earpiece before each scene. That wouldn’t leave much time for the actors to live with the material and really soak it in. Maybe there’s more to the plan than they’re letting on at this point. I hope so. It seems like a tight set of shackles to put on your cast heading into the most anticipated season of television in who knows how long.
THING NUMBER TWO: It would be funny if they just scrapped the idea of scripts altogether and went full-on Larry David for the final season. Outlines and improv, the whole way through, like the show was called Game of Enthusiasm. Wait, no. Curb Your Thrones. That’s better. Ignore the first one.
THING NUMBER THREE: The secrecy makes sense in context because the show is a multibillion-dollar property and has a diehard group of fans that probably deserve to enjoy an ending without having it ruined for them six months early via online leak or even grainy paparazzi picture of a script snapped via long-range lens through the window of a Belfast hotel, but still, like, think about this, devoid of context. The show about dragons and ice zombies has adopted military-style tactics to keep its incest-related plot lines classified. We’re almost at the point where a script about a group of people trying to steal the scripts would be more interesting than the scripts themselves. Tom Cruise dropping into the script vault from the ceiling and such. Pierce Brosnan walking in the front door in a bowler hat while Rene Russo watches the security footage and cracks a smile. Mark Wahlberg and Jason Statham screaming around the studio in Mini Coopers.
I’d watch that movie. If nothing else, it’ll help pass the time until season eight premieres.