Game of Thrones is a show that rarely follows the standard flow of a season. Unlike most dramas, which save their punches for the finale, GoT drops their game changers in the penultimate episodes. From Season 1, Episode 9's "Baelor" onward, the first few years always placed their major moments and battles for the second to last episode, leaving the finale for clean up and resetting. With Season 7 being only seven episodes, fans wondered if this might go out the window, but new hints suggests Game Of Thrones' White Walker battle game-changer may, in fact, be right where we expect: Season 7 Episode 6.
The hints of where the battle fans are calling "Hardhome Part 2" will fall this year came when GoT's cinematographer Robert McLachlan told The RadioTimes that episode 6 would be "exceptional."
I'm really looking forward to that one because it's quite different to the rest. It was filmed after my shoots – it was done mostly in the winter time. They filmed in dismal conditions in a quarry in Northern Ireland. I think they got some nice scenic stuff in Iceland as well.
Glimpses of scenes like this in the trailers, for those who weren't monitoring filming news, were done up in Iceland this year, during the January-February stretch. And this certainly looks like a White Walker battle to us.
(Also, note that the cliff they're standing on... looks like it's shaped like an arrowhead. The Hound's vision in the flames apparently consulted with scripts from later in the season.)
But will this battle be a game-changer like, say Season 3, Episode 9 "The Rains of Castamere"? In these last two seasons, Game of Thrones has started to get away from leaning so heavily on the second to last episode for their major power punch. Season 5 found "Hardhome" relegated to the back 20 minutes of episode 8, while Cersei's budget cutting move of taking out of most of the secondary cast in King's Landing in Season 6 occupied the first 20 minutes or so of the finale.
But with this major set piece being so heavily hyped in the trailers, and again by The Hound's vision in the premiere, it seems like the show is setting us up for this to be the biggest battle of the year, despite the fact that we've already had a major sea skirmish, and are heading towards a Daenerys-Cersei confrontation in the coming weeks as well.
As they head towards the end of the series, it's a good bet that Game of Thrones will roll back to it's original format and bring the biggest moments for the penultimate episode this season.