‘Game of Thrones’ Director Alan Taylor Breaks Down Timeline in ‘Beyond the Wall’

'Game of Thrones' Director Breaks Down

SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen Season 7 Episode 6 of “Game of Thrones,” titled “Beyond the Wall”

While the “Game of Thrones” episode “Beyond the Wall” had many talking about the insane fight sequences between humans, zombies, and dragons, others were more concerned with gaps in the timeline of the storytelling.

After the episode aired, fans vented frustrations online that Gendry running back to Eastwatch, sending a raven to Daenerys, and Daenerys arriving to save the day with her dragons all happened far too quickly. Alan Taylor, who directed “Beyond the Wall,” explained how the production team approached the timeline during filming.

“We were aware that timing was getting a little hazy,” Taylor told Variety. “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. So I think we were straining plausibility a little bit, but I hope the story’s momentum carries over some of that stuff.”

“It’s cool that the show is so important to so many people that it’s being scrutinized so thoroughly,” he continued. “If the show was struggling, I’d be worried about those concerns, but the show seems to be doing pretty well so it’s OK to have people with those concerns.”


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This week’s episode also saw an escalation of hostility between Arya and Sansa, who were finally reunited this season after being split up at the end of Season 1. According to Taylor, he witnessed firsthand how much series stars Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner have changed with the characters over the years.

“That was a revelation to me because I was there in Season 1 and 2 when they were kids,” he said. “They were great at doing what they were doing, but they’ve evolved so much as actresses as well as characters. We’re pushing into deeper and darker things, and they’ve really grown to be able to do that. In some of the scenes between them, where it’s really a power play between two matched opponents, you feel the ground shift one way and then shift the other way. The tension between them, they handle it so beautifully. And it’s still Maisie and Sophie, so when you say ‘Cut,’ they start laughing and dancing and listening to music on their phones.”

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  1. Max Conrad says:

    It’s very simple. Each GOT episode costs 10 million dollars. Add a time warp and save big bucks.

  2. Matel says:

    I am OBSESSED with this show!!! I absolutely LOVE IT! It’s my top show above any and all movies or TV shows, even THE WALKING DEAD! This takes the cake for me! And pshhh, getting to see my SUPER CRUSH John Snow come back to life and conquer the way he had mmm mmm, he’s delicious lol! I knew when he died, my gut told me this wasn’t the “real” end for him and man oh man am I greatfully pleased to be right! My other favorite is, of course, Denarius Store Born, she’s hot, represents and protects the women and slaves and rules magnificently. I have the HUGE feeling, her and John are gonna be a thang! I knew when she met him she’d fall for him and it looks like I was right about that too! I’m a super fan for the show, couldn’t complain about a single thing if I tried! Very well produced and actors are all so so good! Thank you SO MUCH for deciding to make this movie, it’s made my whole year as far as TV goes!

  3. Ashlyn says:

    The fact that this director said in another interview that he read a criticism about the raven’s ridiculous super speed in an article and it just made him laugh goes to show how much they respect the fans of the show. And why should they? They’ve made their millions. I’ve always loved and defended Game of Thrones but even I couldn’t defend the utter shit I saw last episode. And I’ve realised fans blindly defending bad writing and making excuses for blatant plot holes isn’t helping anyone. The showrunners probably think they’re writing geniuses when all these morons have done is take a writers masterful work and adapt it. As soon as they were out of material they were exposed for the true con artists they are. I’m sorry GRRM. It must be hard to watch your life’s work and legacy get pissed on. But hey at least you’re mega rich and famous if that’s any consolation.

  4. Yorick says:

    As a director, Taylor is obviously substandard and his comments are basically disparaging a whole raft of fans who are passionate about the show. It’s those fans that convince others to watch the show. The timeline nonsense in this episode was completely uncalled for and would have just been sorted by better writing, so I have to be charitable and say it wasn’t all his fault, he does have to work with what he gets. The chains thing was a typical example. At Hardhome the Night King turned thousands just by lifting his arms. The writers should have just left the chains, NK could have then just stood on the side of the lake and raised his arms. I can see a blue pulsing light beneath the ice and then the undead Dragon launches up through the ice. It would have been way more spectacular as well

  5. So, how much time passed on the ice? Well, according to Outdoor Canada, at -10 degrees Celsius, it would take about 24 hours for the lake to re-freeze to roughly 2 inches thick, which is what it looks like when the ice cracks again. So, could Gendry run back to Eastwatch, and have a raven sent down to Dragonstone, and then have Daenerys fly back with her dragons in 24 hours? I’d say that’s well within the realm of plausibility. Especially since ravens seem to be a rather quick form of communication. It takes me longer to respond to a text message than it takes for these ravens to arrive…


  6. adynamofan says:

    Do people not remember that in the very first episode of season 1 there was timeline jumping? The episode opens with the Nights Watchmen beyond the wall being attacked by the white walkers and then later in the episode the one that escaped is all the way down by Winterfell where he gets beheaded by Ned Stark. Also early in the episode we see Jamie and Cersei in the great Sept talking about Jon Arryn and then later in the episode they’re all the way up in Winterfell when Robert Baratheon comes to get Ned Stark. This timeline jumping has happened from the very beginning but people don’t seem to have very good memories.

  7. Aaron Mahlon Woolsey says:

    It wasn’t just this episode… Jorah Mormont made it from Oldtown, across a continent as an exiled fugitive, and on a boat to Dragonstone in no time. Jon Snow somehow evaded all notice commuting to Dragonstone and back to the wall while the rest of the field was in stasis mode? Meanwhile the army of the dead has taken about a decade to march from Hardhome to the wall? Jaime and Bronn fall into the deepest part of a lake, which was just a leaping shove away from the shore of said lake? Some drop-off there…then they magically swim, with armor on to the clear opposite side of the same lake?

    The battle on the island would have made more sense if Benjen Stark had arrived at the beginning, given Gendry his horse to get back to Eastwatch, and stayed behind as the rear guard while Jon Snow left with Dany and the crew on Drogon.

    I wish the script writers had thought more about the logic and timelines here first. And they should know that we won’t buy any more scripts where Jon Snow faces absolute mortal peril and survives.

    • Rey P says:

      Omg. Thank you Everyone! I really thought i was the only one whos noticed the garbage writing this season….. ive been surrounded by so many GoT fanboys who think the show is God and can never do no wrong. Well i ve noticed all the plot holes too…. i enjoy the show but that doesnt mean i think every episode is amazing. People are too distracted by the nonstop action and CGI fire breathing to notice the awful writing….the directors remarks pissed me off. what a pompous arrogant jerk

  8. Cassy D says:

    People should not B so Hip a critical of a Wonder Epic Show that may B ending 2 soon!! (; Jus B Happy that the Show is Entertaining 2 us as Views.. Stop being show Judgmental of every lil detail, We R watching TV!!

  9. David Spiciarich says:

    Thoroughly misleading headline seems like Click-bait. We all want to see a breakdown of the timeline, precisely because it’s so implausible. What you delivered was an excuse that basically admitted, yes, it’s implausible. I recommend pulling the scene from Austin Powers where Michael York explains time travel by suggesting “best not to think about it at all.”

  10. FanOfIntelligentMovies says:

    This interview by Alan Taylor explains why the episode doesn’t make any sense: Because director Alan Taylor just doesn’t care! “If the show was struggling I’d be worried about those concerns” he says. Another interview in the New York Times shows that he had not read the books when he directed earlier episodes (evidence: he thought Robb would become king). He doesn’t care! The gritty realism that made Game of Thrones so good, that made characters’ choices so important and impactful, that made the rare use of magic and dragons as amazing to the audience as to the characters–all that Alan Taylor just does not care about.
    The real lesson here: avoid movies and shows directed by Alan Taylor, who just doesn’t care about the things we science fiction and fantasy fans actually care about.

  11. Kurok Man says:

    Insulting moments from episode 7 to intelligent minds:

    1. We go by foot to grab an undead when we could fly in and grab one
    2. We almost freeze to death when people in our party can produce flame out of their sword, wait one of us did die like a Popsicle, and then we burn his body
    3. Bastard son of Robert ran back to the wall as if they were yards away
    4. A raven flies from the wall to dragon stone in minutes
    5. The dragon queen flies from dragon stone to past the wall in minutes and having no mask or protection her makeup and face are as fresh as morning dew
    6. Uncle Benje is hiding under a rock amidst thousands of undead and pops out unnoticed to save Jon
    7. Jon falls into freezing water, with three undead hanging on to him, now they are undead so the water will not kill them, they let go and he swims back up, did I mention freezing water? then he gets on a horse and rides to the wall only yards away, does not freeze to death and does not have freeze burns.
    8. Jon is teleported by the Enterprise from the wall to the boat wearing frozen clothing, but he is warm on the inside like a tootsie roll.
    9. The undead army has a secret castle with a forge where they made huge chains years ago knowing they would need it to pull the dragon out of the frozen lake, or they made the chains in minutes like everything else in the show.

    This show is so insulting to thinking minds it is unbelievable!!!

  12. VforValmont says:

    How he tries to be the smartest saying that “the show is so important to so many people that it’s being scrutinized so thoroughly”. No, piece of garbage, this is notnitpicking. These timeline errors pop up just overviewing the chapter, they’re Transformers level. If they were small issues, I don’t think he would be here explaining what they tried to do.
    Now that we got his attention, we’d also like to know how characters practiced their choreography to get those ex machina on cue during the whole chapter.

  13. Indy says:

    The episode was terrible. Alan Taylor you are a bad director.

  14. teachertraveler1965 says:

    I am a fan of the books and the series. There has been a lot of “whinging” (my new favorite word) over the years about changes from book to series and time line issues. I’ve read lots of recaps and the comments. Lots of fan theories make the implausible slightly more plausible. I’m just suspending my disbelief so I can watch and enjoy what will be the final episodes of a fantastic series (with faults of course). Losing Viserion last night was rough. Even though I knew it made little sense with the chains and all, I still didn’t like to see that dragon turned. The acting, the sets, the costumes, the music have all resonated with me. I have laughed, had my jaw dropped, shed a few tears…etc. The friend who introduced me to the books was so excited when she heard about the series. We postulated and predicted for a year before it hit the airwaves. We are both satisfied so far. I don’t like to be spoon fed the happy ending with most series or movies, but I would like GoT to have some type of whatever counts for a happy ending in Westeros and beyond.

  15. Ruth says:

    I’m surprised that viewers of a show like GoT expect logic or worry about a timeline which may be hard to accept. Personally I’m still astonished that I became a fan of a fantasy show for the first time in my life and, at my advanced age, continue to enjoy one of the best shows ever made.

    I do understand the questions concerning the storyline and timeline because I thought the same whilst watching the last episode. However I put them aside – after all, we are watching a programme with dragons, an army of the dead, magic and a few heroes walking north to fight a war they cannot win. Logic doesn’t really come into it!

  16. Tim says:

    There is no “breakdown” of the timeline in this article. Totally useless and misleading article.

  17. Jeff says:

    It was a dumb move on the writing staff’s part. Of course people were going to question the distance, it made zero sense. They could have EASILY solved these problems by just having Dany come with them to the wall and wait back at the keep like Davos. Then Gendy running back for help wouldn’t have been a big deal. You wouldn’t be crossing an entire continent in the span of a few hours. She ended up at the wall anyway so it’s not like they needed her at Dragonstone. It was just a really weird choice.

  18. It’s like deja vu all over again.

    “What? A swallow carrying a coconut?”
    “It could grip it by the husk!”
    “It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.”

  19. Deshawn Anderson says:

    Why I stopped watching GoT after season 2. Three words… too damn slow. Glad to hear things are picking up a bit. Will watch again when the whole thing is in the can so I can FF thru the boring crap.

  20. Confirming that everyone feels the weird timeline and it totally breaks the immersion. Sorry, Alan, you can’t “hope” the dramatic blunder out of existence. Also hello, ranged weapons? If you can throw a spear at a dragon, you can throw then at the guys on the island too. Also WTF with Uncle Benjen’s deus ex machina?

    To sum up: this episode is the most disappointing of the whole series.

    With the ridiculous fanservice like Davos’s quip about Gendry rowing, this show is lining up for the shark jump.

  21. Ronnie says:

    I think Alan Taylor is wrong about this. I think everyone notices the time in-series. I feel like it is a bit lazy and harkens back to older times when audiences didn’t have to understand and didn’t look below the surface of things. It’s feels like rushed writing in the hopes no one will notice. The travel issue is one thing but pulling chains out of the magic hat and having Benjen Stark show up and die to give Jon his horse without at least a quick feasible explanation is not what the fans of this show have come to expect. This is not a superhero movie. It has been a drama entrenched in fantasy elements. It feels to me at this point the writers are under too much pressure to play the story out to fit within the remaining episodes. I personally would have preferred a slower episode with relationship building between the heroes north of the wall, Arya and Sansa, Danerys and Jon among others. Suspending disbelief for the sake of fantasy is one thing, and it’s what we love to do. Suspending disbelief to fill in the gaps of continuity and flow of the material is a bad thing to have to do with something as big as Game Of Thrones. Remember, people are going to look back on this show for many years and if the pay off at the end becomes ridiculous, it will lessen the story overall and its impact in the future of the show and its offshoots.
    I feel Lord of the Rings suffered at the end with all the in-jokes. It made the final battle seem less dire and more fun. It let go of the dramatic elements and gave in to more comical (was still a good movie 😁). At the end of this season of GOT, are we going to feel as invested in the emotions of the remaining characters the way we did for the stark family when season 2 started? It took time and exposition for us to get there. I hope the writers don’t half hand our way to the final stretch. That would be a shame.

  22. Jc Stein says:

    I want to know why Cersi’s hair has hardly grown an inch since it was hacked off, if so much time has went by???

    • Mike says:

      Are you joking? That what bothering you? Have you ever heard of cutting your hair? It’s this amazing thing. You see yiu can keep it short if you want because you can cut it. You don’t think they can cut hair in Westeros? She kept it short. Why is that confusing you?

    • navtej singh says:

      maybe she doesn’t want them to grow

    • James says:

      Perhaps it takes a longer time for a woman’s hair to grow than it is for man. And she must have liked it enough to have hired people from the local salon to have it maintained as it is.

  23. AC says:

    Seriously how difficult would it have been to show Dany having a dream/vision of the search party trapped on the island maybe even with the help of Bran, then already be in route to save the day when the action starts and bypass the whole Gendry, Raven, Dragon time confusion?

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