When HBO’s programming president, Casey Bloys, sat down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he addressed critical reception to what has become the cabler’s most watched episode ever. With this came some sorry news for series fans. Although a Game of Thrones prequel is in the works, the same cannot be said of sequels.
Bloys quickly confirmed that two prequels are in development and one is scheduled to begin filming this June, but soon as he was asked about whether or not he has considered Game of Thrones sequels, specifically one focusing on fan-favorite Arya Stark as she travels west of Westeros, he immediately shut down any speculation. “Nope, nope, nope.” He started, making his stance as clear as could be before elaborating, “No. Part of it is, I do want this show — this Game of Thrones, Dan and David’s show — to be its own thing. I don’t want to take characters from this world that they did beautifully and put them off into another world with someone else creating it. I want to let it be the artistic piece they’ve got. That’s one of reasons why I’m not trying to do the same show over. George has massive, massive world; there are so many ways in. That’s why we’re trying to do things that feel distinct — and to not try and re-do the same show. That’s probably one of the reasons why, right now, a sequel or picking up any of the other characters doesn’t make sense for us.”
On topic of “Dan and David’s show,” Bloys addressed the divisive nature of its finale. “I think that [The Hollywood Reporter’s critic], Tim Goodman, did a pretty good job of summing up the situation, which is there’s no way for the guys to have landed this plane in a way that would have made everybody happy and they’re not out to make everybody happy. I think they did a beautiful job. You just have to accept that not everybody is going to agree with the choices. I’m paraphrasing Tim but basically for show this big, and this epic and this sprawling, they [creators/showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] have to make choices. What’s great about the show is it made people feel a lot of things — positive and negative. A lot of people had invested in characters and hoped for certain things and wanted to see certain twists. There’s probably a little bit of mourning going on that the show is over. I get it, I understand it: it’s a big show and people really invested a lot in it — and that says a lot about what the show did. People really cared about it.”
Much of the finale’s criticism centers on its pace. After eight seasons of build up, so many thought that the series was abruptly bookended. The past two seasons were comprised of only 15 episodes, making for a quick paced, and some might say rushed, conclusion to the worldwide phenomenon.
While Bloys could not comment on why the series ended with an abbreviated run, he did offer this: “The guys have known what they’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. They’ve had a plan in their mind. I’ve been on the record saying I’d take five more seasons. But they’ve had a plan that they wanted to do and this made sense to them. They made this decision a long time ago and they’re doing it exactly how they planned to do it.”
When pressed further on the potentially compressed nature of the finale, Bloys stood by the showrunners. “They made that decision a long time ago. But no, I’m not aware of any conversations that anybody thought it was crammed or anything like that.”
He then added that “shows have to come to an end. This was eight seasons, it’s a great epic and shows have to come to a close. It’s part of the TV lifecycle.”
Circling back to the subject of prequels, Bloys refused to reveal a specific timeline for the upcoming Game of Thrones original series. “We’re shooting the pilot in June,” he said, “you can do the math and figure out when it would be on the air. What I’m not doing is working backwards by saying, ‘This has to be on the air by this date.’ We want to do the best show possible. This is a pilot, so we’re doing it the old-fashioned way, which is shooting a pilot. My expectation is it will be great and we’ll move forward and it’ll move along on a regular TV time table. I don’t want to speculate any dates.”
When asked if he has any learning points from season eight, Bloys had this to say: “There’s no scenario where Jane saw the episode and said, ‘Oh, I better change this, that or the other thing.’ We’re trying to have a show that feels like its own show within the universe but we’re not trying to replicate the same show. It’s not the same characters, it’s not the same dynamics. It’s not like we’re taking the existing show and saying, ‘X, Y and Z worked, so let’s do that.’ It’s a different writer, creator and different feel and different world. There’s nothing we’re taking from this season and applying it to that by any means. … Some people felt that [it was rushed] and some people didn’t. There is nothing I’m going to take from this season and apply it to successor shows. That’s now how I look at it.”
As the interview neared its end, Bloys’s support for the current season was unwavering. “This is a huge, sprawling, massively popular show and it ended in exactly the right way and probably the only way it could — which is some of the fans being unhappy and some of the fans being thrilled. You can’t end such a giant show pleasing everybody and I don’t think that’s what Dan and David were trying to do.”
Moving forward, Bloys has many plans in the works for HBO. In 2019 alone, the network looks forward to multiple high profile releases including Watchmen, Euphoria, His Dark Materials, The Righteous Gemstones, Mrs. Fletcher, Succession, and Big Little Lies. In 2020, Westworld, the New Pope, My Brilliant Friend, and The Plot Against America are also scheduled for release.