HBO is not TV. It's HBO. Which means HBO does not play by TV's rules. Instead, it plays by HBO's rules, which are nothing like TV's rules. HBO doesn't have to squeeze an "hour-long" episode in 42 minutes. That's TV. An HBO show cans run however damn long it pleases. Because it's not TV -- it's HBO.
Case in point: after establishing Game of Thrones as a 55-minute-ish series, scaling it back in Season 2 to a 52-minute average, then daring to go a full 60 minutes in Season 3, creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff will once again push the runtime limits with a 69-minute Season 6 finale. 69 minutes! Nice.
Along with the scheduling announcements, HBO also revealed the titles of the final two episodes, further stoking the speculation fires. Episode 9 -- a slot traditionally saved for the series' most epic action sequences -- is called "Battle of the Bastards." Really, the season's been building to this moment: a showdown between Jon Snow's cobbled-together forces and Ramsay Bolton's deadly army. Here's hoping Sansa's the one sticking it to the sadistic clown by the end of the episode (which will run 60 minutes).
Weiss and Benioff will then wrap up Season 6 with "The Winds of Winter," a reference to George R.R. Martin's sixth, yet-to-be-published Thrones tome. Why does the writing duo need nine extra minutes, a bump that'll make the episode the longest in the series' history? Well, we're still waiting for Bran to learn what went down in the Tower of Joy, Daenerys to fly back to Meereen and meet up with Tyrion, Theon and Yara to meet them both with a fleet of new ships, Jon to figure out his next move, Arya to finally ditch the Faceless once and for all, the possible "Cleganebowl" duel in King's Landing, whatever the heck Benjen Coldhands does, and quite possibly, a MAJOR death. Yeah, we made a prediction. We'll see.
"The Winds of Winter" airs June 26. Not on TV! HBO.
Check out all the latest Game of Thrones Season 6 photos that tease the next episode.