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‘Game of Thrones’ Won’t Return Until 2019

If that’s what it takes to make the show’s final season live up to the hype, so be it

Still of a crowd in ‘Game of Thrones’ HBO

Snow has blanketed most of the East Coast, but winter won’t be coming until next year. The final six episodes of Game of Thrones will air in 2019, HBO confirmed Thursday.

Season 8 will be written by series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, as well as veteran Thrones writers Bryan Cogman and Dave Hill. The episodes will be directed by Benioff, Weiss, David Nutter, and Miguel Sapochnik. That’s good news news, because three of the best episodes in the show’s history — “Hardhome,” “Battle of the Bastards,” and “The Winds of Winter” — were directed by Sapochnik. Each episode of the final season has been rumored to have feature-length runtimes, which means the story’s conclusion will be less a new season of television than a Game of Thrones movie with five sequels, all coming out in 2019.

The runtime may be necessary, considering how much ground the show will have to cover in just six episodes. Last season was heavily criticized for maddening plot choices that seemed to make more sense for the showrunners than the characters. (How can characters move across Westeros in a couple of hours? Why did nobody ask Jon Snow about ditching the Night’s Watch? Why did the Night King attack a pasengerless dragon when he could have downed the one that was carrying all of his enemies?) So, with some lengthy explainers and battle scenes surely still to come, more runtime will come in handy. Plus, there’s no better feeling than being blown away by a Game of Thrones episode and then realizing there are still 20 minutes to go.

The episodes will be long, and the wait will be too. At least we have all of 2018 to catch up on Binge Mode.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.