“Game of Thrones” will finally air the Big One on June 19, according to HBO.com, which posted titles of the last and second to last episodes late Wednesday.
And those would be: “The Battle of the Bastards” (June 19), and “The Winds of Winter” (June 26). Both episodes will also run on the long side, at 60 and 69 minutes, respectively.
This was all first reported on EW.com, which noted the spoiler titles, and also cautioned that any Internet-spawned episode descriptions were likely false. HBO has yet to release those, while HBO.com offered but one important clue: They will both be directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who has directed two prior “GoT” episodes (and may be best known as the director of “Repo Men.”)
Why is this all so important and why should you care: Because “Battle of the Bastards” has consumed fandom for well over a year, and was also the first solid evidence that Jon Snow lived. I, and most others, have stayed away from “Battle” until now because the fan interest has in fact been so intense -- last winter, someone parked themselves on a hill above the battle scene in Saintfield, Northern Ireland, and with photo lens, got a picture of Kit Harington on the field below. (The picture -- proof that Jon Snow Lived -- was posted on numerous sites, including the popular Winteriscoming.net, infuriated showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff and doubtless led in part to their decision not to pre-screen early episodes for critics this season).
Nevertheless, even without proof of Snow’s immortality, the Battle has assumed legendary stature, and (naturally) legendary amounts of speculation, too. Among some thoughts: Poor battered killed-unkilled Jon Snow will once again shuffle his mortal coil. Other named characters are almost certainly expected to die during this episode.
The battle -- between armies led by Snow and Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) -- is also epic even by “GoT” standards, with thousands of extras deployed, and an attention to the minutia that consumed weeks of production.
The season finale title, of course, refers to the sixth book of “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, and which could be published before the seventh season arrives next year. The sixth season has been the first without the books as a guide. The 7th season may well have a blueprint in place once again.
If so, the June 26 title -- “The Winds of Winter” -- may represent a significant piece of foreshadowing. The winds of winter are coming, and so -- thanks be the Old Gods of the Forest -- is the book.
Meanwhile, do check out the trailer for Sunday’s episode, “No One.” To believe the fandom effulgence, this episode, too, will be momentous.