The past is already written. The ink is dry. But even the future is finite for Game of Thrones. We’re solidly ahead of George R.R. Martin’s writing now; deep into parts of his next novel The Winds of Winter. In fact, Season 6 has felt like a sprint compared to the lumbering plot threads of years past. That sprint is building to a crescendo that will bring the Song of Ice and Fire to its conclusion.

Perhaps sooner than we thought.

Earlier this week, Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair spoke with director Jack Bender about his time on Game of Thrones. Known for his expertise of executing the wibbly-wobbly-ness time travel, (he directed “The Constant” episode of Lost) Bender was brought in to direct Bran’s misadventures in greenseeing. Both “The Door” and “Blood of my Blood” were directed by Bender, and fantastic results speak for themselves.

So obviously fans want to know if he’ll return for Season 7, right? There’s only one problem: there aren’t enough episodes to go around.

They’re only doing seven [episodes], and they’ve got their regulars who have done it forever. […]I haven’t been asked yet and I also don’t know what their schedule is going to be. But under the best of circumstances, schedule and everything, I had a great experience doing the show. If available and they wanted me to, I would love to do that.

Hold up. Only seven episodes? But why? Way back in 2014, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss stated the show would go for seven or eight seasons. If next year is the swan song for Game of Thrones, why cut it short? The only reason I can think of is budget.

Whether or not HBO renews their hit show for an eighth season doesn’t matter. Next year promises to be one of the heaviest VFX challenges to date. Dany is amassing her army to cross the Narrow Sea. The other two dragons will find their riders. The Night’s King will march South. The Children of the Forest will most likely come to the aid of men. The realms of Westeros will engage in giant battles with enemies from all sides. The Shrouded Lord, the Night’s Queen, and R’hllor might even make appearances. None of those sequences are cheap.

Perhaps the only way to fit it all in is to par down the number of episodes. Or perhaps they just don’t want to stretch the story too thin. Or perhaps they’re hoping Martin will catch up enough to give them more details about how the Game of Thrones ends. One thing is for sure: we’re all going to wish we had to give up more of our 2017 Sunday nights.

Mom. Wife. Geek. Gamer. Feminist. Writer. Sarcastic. Succinct. Donna has been writing snark for the Internet in one form or another for almost a decade. She has a lot of opinions, mostly on science-fiction, fantasy, feminism, and Sailor Moon. Follow her on Twitter (@MildlyAmused) for more of all these things.