HBO has continued its sluggish, excruciating tendency of milking every last bit of excitement for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. And you know what? It’s working. With the release of the first teaser, which discloses more than you might assume we’ve got some questions regarding what it all means, and what lies ahead.
The last season of Game of Thrones premieres on April 14 and HBO released a teaser that looks to have been shot just for promotional reasons.
It shows Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, and Arya Stark walking through the crypts of Winterfell, facing the ghosts of their past (statues of deceased relatives) while also looking to their own future. And that future is death. After all, in the game of thrones, you succeed or you expire—and they’re in the greatest game of all now.
The teaser follows the promotions from prior seasons—teasers that implied at what was to come. For instance, season six had the Hall of Faces, whereas season 7 showed Jon, Daenerys Targaryen, and Cersei Lannister taking the “Long Walk” to the Iron Throne.
Being Game of Thrones, both of these teasers intentionally misled us on what was to come in their particular seasons, so everything we read into the “Crypts of Winterfell” teaser has to be taken with a little bit of salt. That said, let’s dive in.
What’s up with the feather?
Immediately, the feather draws the most interest from the Game of Thrones teaser. At first look, you might feel it represents Bran Stark, as he’s the Three-Eyed Raven, but the feather in fact symbolizes something else completely—it goes all the way back to the beginning of the series.
In the pilot episode, we saw Robert Baratheon put the feather in the hands of Lyanna Stark’s statue, telling Ned Stark that he would often bring her exotic, tropical birds because they were her favourite.
Sansa Stark later found it in season 5, provoking Petyr Baelish to inform her more about Lyanna’s rapport with Rhaegar Targaryen. Sansa dismissed it as kidnapping and assault. But little did we know, the feather holds a secret.
As we all know, Lyanna and Rhaegar secretly married, meaning Jon is secretly a Targaryen. This might have been revealed in season 6, but the secret dates back all the way to the beginning. To that feather. After Robert laid the feather on Lyanna’s grave, he talked about wanting to kill all the Targaryens for taking away his beloved.
Ned answers they’re all gone, only for Robert to reply: “Not all of them.” At the time that meant Daenerys: But we’d come to discover it precisely also included Jon. Although that was a secret both Lyanna and Ned took to their graves.
In that sense, the feather symbolizes a concealed truth that the series has kept close since the full story began. And as the feather fell from Lyanna’s hands in the teaser, in full observation of Jon as he passed, it showed how the secret is finally about to be exposed.
Is Jon Snow’s statue older?
After Jon, Sansa, and Arya walk past the statues of previous Starks, they encounter the most awful statues of all: their own. Though, one of them looks sort of weird. As some people have pointed out online, Jon’s statue doesn’t reasonably look like himself. The beard is dissimilar, and the face looks a bit fuller.
Could this denote that Jon’s statue is older than Arya and Sansa’s, representing that he will live whereas the others will die? We saw Game of Thrones do this exact thing in season 6 with the Hall of Faces teaser, which showed a bunch of “dead” characters who haven’t really died yet. In addition, as has been pointed out on Game of Thrones, the statues’ craftsmen aren’t just the finest at their job.
For instance, it’s pointed out in one of the episodes how Ned Stark’s statue looks nothing like him. It is exactly probable that the statue is representing an older Jon, but it’s more possible that the statues aren’t an accurate resemblance.
Arya’s statue has a sword in her hand, while Jon’s doesn’t. Given how Arya Stark will die this season, most possibly in battle, this is absolutely adding some fuel to that fire.
Another massive question coming out of the season eight teaser: Where the hell is Bran? He is a Stark sibling after all. He really isn’t there. Or is he? There are two major probable clarifications for Bran Stark’s nonappearance. The first is the idea that he’s not in fact a Stark anymore.
Having completely embraced his identity as the Three-Eyed Raven, he has moved beyond the concerns of humanity and no longer sees himself as Lord of Winterfell (that role has fallen to Sansa). In addition, the shot of Jon, Sansa, and Arya getting ready to confront the undead army would look way less cool with Bran standing nearby looking abrupt and indifferent.
The other elucidation is slightly more out there. A fan theory has been building for a while that Bran Stark is in fact the Night King. That somehow, thanks to his ability to travel into the past and possess people there, he will ultimately come back to the place where the Night King was formed and by accident get trapped inside his body. In an endeavor to save Westeros, he will become the very thing attempting to demolish it.
Bran’s complete absence is visible—there isn’t even a raven to indicate he is joining the battle. If Jon, Sansa, and Arya were turning not to face off against an ambiguous rival, but someone they loved, it would hit really close to home. Fitting, given the teaser takes place inside the Winterfell crypt, bringing everything back to the Starks, ending the series much as it started.
Another prominent absence is Daenerys. To a great extent of the series has been about her ascend to power, which we’ve seen terminate in Jon swearing his loyalty to her. And yet, in this first full look at the final season, she is nowhere to be found. Or is she? Surprisingly, Daenerys does have a presence in the season eight teaser: In Sansa Stark’s hair.
If you look at the back of Sansa’s hair, it’s styled in the same way to how Daenerys has been wearing it in latest seasons. This isn’t an accident. For much of the series, Sansa has implemented the fashions of other influential women as an approach to represent adherence or defense—plus rebelliousness, when the prospect has required it.
By implementing Daenerys’s hairstyle, Sansa is showing that she has associated herself with the leader, at least to the level that is expected or necessary. This doesn’t mean there won’t be clash between them, either now or later, but it does illustrate that Sansa sees value in a union with the Queen of Dragons.
Can the Night’s King resurrect everyone in that crypt?
We watched the wintery fog coil around Jon, Sansa, and Arya’s ankles. We know that there will be a big battle at Winterfell, most likely concerning the White Walkers. And we also know the wights can be just about any level of breakdown, so long as the body is still unharmed.
Does this mean that the Night King can go into the crypt and resurrect the bodies of everyone inside? That would be very incredible—and horrible.
Can you envision Rickon and others coming back from the grave to haunt the ones they love? Lyanna rising again to try and kill the very son she died to protect? Hell, we could finally get Lady Stoneheart. Just not in the way we wanted. It’s something to consider, at least.
Game of Thrones returns on April 14.