Chloe Ruffennach | email@example.com | Culture Staff Writer
Perhaps there is no object more iconic in modern television than the jagged, ominous Iron Throne. Elements like this have embedded “Game of Thrones” into popular culture, and this societal phenomenon has resulted in pop-up bars, recognizable quotes and even some of the first known memes. In a way, the television show has grown with its viewers, which makes its impending end in May all the more saddening.
“Game of Thrones” has developed significantly since its debut in 2011. The show’s visuals alone displays its evolution, though it is undeniable that the writing has dipped in quality since the first season. It is obvious that this is the result of George RR Martin, the man who penned the book series the show is based on, stepping aside and letting directors David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have full control of the show’s direction. As the two directors hurried towards the end of the series, they rushed plotlines. However, they took a one-year hiatus to carefully craft the final season, creating a dry spell that left avid fans eagerly waiting for the series finale.
The release of the show’s two-minute trailer on March 5 provided the first extended glimpse into season eight. It was brief, dark and didn’t give away much about the story. In fact, many, including Youtuber Emergency Awesome, have speculated that the trailer only shows footage up to episode three of the six-episode season.
The fan-favorite character Jon Snow appears very somber in this trailer. While brooding, not unusual for the character, there is a significant scene where Snow is seen visiting the crypts while looking particularly emotional as Daenerys Targaryen appears by his side. Fans like Youtuber Alt Shift X have speculated that Jon’s teary, downcast eyes are the result of him learning about his true parentage from Bran or Sam. Therefore, he is visiting the potential burial site of his biological mother. This would make Daenerys’s appearance in this scene even more ironic, given that she would be arriving to comfort him as he grows distraught at the revelation that he was committing incest when he slept with her.
All of this likely comes after Sansa Stark hands the North over to Daenerys. This scene was originally in a teaser clip from an HBO trailer released well before the official two-minute trailer dropped. The transfer of the North to Daenerys is disappointing, though it was likely prompted by Jon. While Sansa’s expression is hard to read, it can be speculated that she is unhappy about relinquishing the Stark’s newly regained power to a foreign stranger who has yet to properly earn the title of Queen.
Arya Stark, the fearless assassin and youngest Stark sister, has one of the most peculiar scenes in the trailer. She is seen running in terror from something that the viewer is unable to see. Theorists online have been particularly keen on picking apart this sequence and wondering who she is running from. Some suggestions include the ice dragon, a hoard of White Walkers or, even more frightening, her dead family members from the Winterfell crypts who have been revived by the White Walkers. This would be especially horrific, as this theory would imply that fans would be reunited with the beloved character of Ned Stark, though not in the way they wanted or expected.
Cersei Lannister is notably absent from the clips of the battle for Winterfell. It seems that every other recognizable character aside from Euron, the Mountain, Qyburn and Cersei have scenes in this battle. This leads to the question of what Cersei is doing during her time away from the war. Even Jaime Lannister, who is typically inseparable from his beloved sister, has decided to go against her wishes and join the fight against the dead.
In another clip from the trailer we see a brief glimpse at what appears to be the Golden Company. These sellswords are significantly more prominent in Martin’s books, which means that their speedy arrival into the final season has to carry some weight. As Cersei hires the Golden Company, the lingering question is: What will she use them for? Will she attack Daenerys and Jon, weakening the army against the dead? Or will she hold onto these sellswords for later use when the White Walkers travel South and invade Kings Landing? Cersei’s plots are typically vague and unclear until they are executed, meaning that the audience will likely be unsure of her motivations until the plan is completed. Regardless of what Cersei is planning with this impressive new army, fans are eager to see their fabled skills put to use.
It is quite clear throughout the trailer that there will be a climactic battle for Winterfell, most likely within the first few episodes. This battle will almost certainly kill off several lesser characters and narrow down the field to the main players for the final battle for Westeros. As a result, it would seem that characters like Bronn, Tormund, Podrick and Beric will meet their end within the walls of Winterfell.
However, in true Game of Thrones fashion, there will likely be few beloved characters left at the end of the series. Even main characters like Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion have the possibility of dying. Everyone is fair game in this final season and April 14 will mark the beginning of an intense, mournful, bloody and exciting six weeks.