Explaining That “Thrones” Time Compression

The recent sixth episode of the seventh season of “Game of Thrones” boasted some spectacular battles and major moments, but in the wake of its screening on Sunday there’s been a lot of talk about the episode’s shortcomings and how it crystallised a problem that has been plaguing the show this season – time compression.

SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SEASON 7, EPISODE 6

HBO’s fantasy drama has famously taken its time in the past and shown how the vast world these characters inhabit takes time to traverse. That’s kind of gone out the window this season as key characters are coming together at a speed at which breaks credibility.

In particular, it was this episode which sees Gendry running back to Eastwatch, sending a raven to Daenerys, and Daenerys arriving to save the day with her dragons all seemingly taking place within hours to a day or so while the others were trapped in the middle of a lake.

Alan Taylor, who directed the episode, has explained how the production team approached the timeline during filming. He tells Variety:

“We were aware that timing was getting a little hazy. We’ve got Gendry running back, ravens flying a certain distance, dragons having to fly back a certain distanceā€¦In terms of the emotional experience, [Jon and company] sort of spent one dark night on the island in terms of storytelling moments.

We tried to hedge it a little bit with the eternal twilight up there north of The Wall. I think there was some effort to fudge the timeline a little bit by not declaring exactly how long we were there.

I think that worked for some people, for other people it didn’t. They seemed to be very concerned about how fast a raven can fly but there’s a thing called plausible impossibilities, which is what you try to achieve, rather than impossible plausibilities. So I think we were straining plausibility a little bit, but I hope the story’s momentum carries over some of that stuff.”

It’s cool that the show is so important to so many people that it’s being scrutinized so thoroughly. If the show was struggling, I’d be worried about those concerns, but the show seems to be doing pretty well so it’s OK to have people with those concerns.”

The current seventh season wraps this coming Sunday while the six-episode final season is slated to begin production soon.