“I know death. He’s got many faces. I look forward to seeing this one.”
That’s what Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) says in the new trailer for the final season of Game of Thrones, but as footage shows her running through Winterfell in a panic, she may regret that statement.
After months — nay, years — of teasing, we finally have a serious look at the wars to come in Westeros. Watch it, and read below to see every tidbit of info we can squeeze out.
So, what do we get out of this glimpse into Season 8?
Preparing for war
We’ve got plenty of shots devoted to the arrival of Targaryen forces at Winterfell. Per Entertainment Weekly, the arrival of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her army is meant to mirror the series premiere, when Robert Baratheon and co. visited. With that in mind, many of these images are likely from early in the season premiere. We see the Unsullied marching through Winter Town, right outside Winterfell, with Dany and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in tow.
But what would the Mother of Dragons be without her children? Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) gets to see Drogon and Rhaegal up close as they fly over the castle.
Dragons and Unsulled aren’t the only visitors to Winterfell. We can also say with confidence Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) completes his journey from King’s Landing. “I promised to fight for the living. I intend to keep that promise.”
And surprise! Who else is here (at the .31 mark in the video)? None other than Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), last seen nearly dying at Eastwatch when the Night King and his undead dragon brought down the Wall. They’ve been entirely absent from HBO's marketing until now, so it’s good to know they survived.
Also seen working the forges in Winterfell: Gendry (Joe Dempsie), erstwhile traveling companion to Arya — which means we're getting another highly anticipated reunion!
But there’s another war besides that against the dead. The trailer also shows Greyjoy ships carrying gold-clad troops. These would be members of the Golden Company, a sellsword company (mercenaries) out of Essos that Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) has secretly hired to fight Daenerys and Jon Snow. Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) was sent to ferry them to Westeros.
But look at the shot closer: There are just three ships at first, then it cuts to a larger armada. This is likely an editing trick; the three ships on their own perhaps belong to Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) and his men, on their way to rescue his sister Yara (Gemma Whelan) from Euron.
Some of our heroes need to prepare for more than just battle. None more so than Jon, who at some point will have the bombshell of his parentage/claim to the Iron Throne dropped on him. We see him in the Winterfell crypts with lover/aunt/potential-throne-rival Dany, looking at what may be the statue of his secret mother, Lyanna.
But how will Dany take the news? How will Tyrion (Peter Dinklage)? One can’t imagine well. Both are shown brooding at a various points.
On a lighter note, since we know Jon’s father was Rhaegar Targaryen, does that mean we’ll get to see Jon become a (deep breath) dragon rider? Too early to tell for sure, but c’mon, yes! These shots of Jon and Dany spending quality time with the scaly kiddos in the middle of nowhere alludes heavily to some flying action on the horizon.
The Mad Queen
And then, through all of this, is Cersei Lannister, contemplating murderously. We don’t see her as often or with much context here, but there are some good shots — like this, for example, with Qyburn (Anton Lesser) looking concerned. What could possibly be happening here? They’re outside like when they greeted the Greyjoys in Season 7’s premiere, so they’re probably awaiting the Golden Company. My money is that she's meeting their leader, Harry Strickland, in the throne room in another shot.
But more intriguing: What’s happening here? The following quote is related to the Army of the Dead, but Jon says it right before the trailer cuts directly to Cersei: “Our enemy doesn’t tire, doesn’t stop, doesn’t feel.” We then see her in private, appearing almost weary or resigned to something, drinking wine.
Remember: We left Cersei in Season 7 pregnant, with her refusing to drink. If she’s drinking now, does that mean the prophecy of Maggy the Frog remains true and that tragedy struck her unborn child?
The battle for the North
The bulk of the trailer, however, focuses on one singular event: a massive battle outside the spiritual heart of Thrones, Winterfell. Just yesterday, EW published a cover story (mostly spoiler-free) delving into what’s “expected to be the longest consecutive battle sequence ever committed to film.”
There’s a lot to take in. We see Davos (Liam Cunningham) walking the parapets of Winterfell while Varys (Conleth Hill) seeks shelter, a shot reminiscent of the Battle of Helm's Deep in Lord of the Rings, which Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik studied.
There's also Ser Jorah Moremont (Ian Glen), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) before for battle. Later either Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) or Jorah is fighting on the walls while Jaime yells for Jon. Important to note here: There is a large fire at Winterfell. Take that as you will.
There are more assorted battle shots — Jon and troops running, calvary charging, Arya in battle (!) — but the real beauty that ends the trailer is this sequence of the armies of the living arrayed outside Winterfell, waiting, as out in the distance a dead horse strides forward. Make no mistake: This battle, likely in the third episode this season, will be epic.
Just look at these dragons soaring over the northern wilderness. It’s easy to forget sometimes that Thrones is one of the most beautiful shows on television.
Ned Stark — I mean Jon — in the Godswood, another callback to his surrogate father. Seven seasons after losing his head, Ned still hangs over everything in Thrones.
Game of Thrones returns Sunday, April 14 on HBO.