Season 7 of Game of Thrones will probably be shorter

With the sixth season of Game of Thrones sailing past the halfway mark, talk is starting to turn toward Season 7.

It shouldn't come as a shock, of course, that there will be a seventh year for Game of Thrones. But what may be surprising and even a little disconcerting is that the episode order for Season 7 may be decreased from 10 -- the standard number for all six seasons so far -- to seven.

According to Cinemablend, director Jack Bender -- who was behind the camera for the recent episodes "The Door" and "Blood of My Blood" -- said recently that he would love to come back next year and direct more segments. But he revealed that his own schedule (he's involved with a Direct TV adaptation of Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes) and that of Game of Thrones may prevent that:

"They’re only doing seven episodes, and they’ve got their regulars who have done it forever. I know that I had a wonderful experience doing the show and I know that (showrunners) Dan (Weiss) and David (Benioff) are thrilled with the shows, but I’ve got this series I’m mounting for the beginning of 2017 based on Stephen King’s trilogy of books...If available and they wanted me to, I would love to do that."

That jibes with something that Benioff himself recently told Variety:

“I think we’re down to our final 13 episodes after this season. We’re heading into the final lap. That’s the guess, though nothing is yet set in stone, but that’s what we’re looking at."

If that's the case and Bender is also correct, then viewers are looking at seven episodes for Season 7 and just six for Season 8. The question is, will that be enough to wrap up the story in a satisfying way? It seems apparent now that the series is going to chart its own course separate from the books, so does that mean Benioff and Weiss are confident in the amount of time they need to finish the saga their own way?

Those are mysteries that will no doubt be solved as the final seasons get underway. We're willing to bet that HBO won't be happy about the shorter seasons -- Game of Thrones has been the network's one dependably successful drama as of late -- but how do you think a shorter Season 7, and an even briefer final season, will affect Game of Thrones as it winds down?

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