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Game of Thrones strives for ‘plausible impossibilities’ when it comes to timeline

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Director Alan Taylor knows people are confused

Game of Thrones season 7, episode 2 Helen Sloan/HBO

If it seemed like ravens flew at unimaginable speeds and dragons appeared out of nowhere in last week’s episode, you’re not wrong.

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 7.]

Characters and mythical creatures seemed to just appear out of thin air in the last episode and, according to director Alan Taylor, it had to be done. It’s called “plausible impossibilities.” Taylor told Variety it’s a trick that is often used in television or film. Heading into the episode, the team was aware part of the timeline was going to get “fudged up,” according to Taylor, so they took some liberties with the logistics in hopes that the story’s momentum would make up for it.

Here’s how Taylor described their thought process heading into the episode:

“We’ve got Gendry running back, ravens flying a certain distance, dragons having to fly back a certain distance…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.”

The director said it’s a sign of the show’s success that people invest as much time and effort into understanding what’s going on. Some viewers have taken to drawing maps of the distance traveled, noting that it has picked up speed in the most recent season. Others have tweeted their views on the show’s newfound ability to teleport characters from one side of Westeros to the other in just a snap.

As we said in a previous story, it’s understandable that the team would have to speed up the show’s storyline in these last few seasons. The seasons are shorter and there’s more ground to cover — both literally and figuratively. If showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were staying honest to the pacing they had set up for themselves previously, it would have taken Jon Snow an episode in itself to get from Winterfell to Dragonstone and another episode to get from Dragonstone to the Wall.

Game of Thrones’ pace is only going to get quicker as the season heads into its finale, but as many have pointed out in forums and on Twitter, that’s not a bad thing if the action and story also pick up speed.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.