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‘Game of Thrones’ offered an ominous tease for the new season
It’s eerie and foreboding, but how much should we read into it?
Down in the crypts of Winterfell (where all of their ancestors have been laid to rest), Jon, Sansa, and Arya’s roads converged at the end of a long pathway, and they discover statues carved with their own faces on it. As the fires go out and the cold starts to seep in, Jon and Arya draw their swords to prepare for the fight coming toward them as Sansa looks on.
The new footage appears to have been shot specifically for the teaser (as opposed to an actual glimpse of season 8), so we’ll have to wait a while longer for the Stark siblings to properly reunite. But at least one thing will be certain: When they reconverge in Winterfell, almost certain doom will arrive on their doorsteps.
Echoes of the past
The conversations that have taken place in the crypts during the past seven seasons—and the statue in which they choose to have them—often have a bigger resonance than simply being a mood-setter. At the beginning of the series, Ned and Robert visited Lyanna Stark’s statue as the audience learned what had happened to her during Robert’s Rebellion; we even see the feather that Robert once placed on Lyanna’s hand fall to the ground. Season 5 saw Sansa and Littlefinger gave us a refresher next to Lyanna’s statue, which we now know to be a lie. In season 7, Ned Stark’s statue witnessed several conversations as the Starks started to act like a wolf pack and take back Winterfell from within.
And in this teaser, Jon and Sansa pass by three particularly resonant statues: Lyanna, Catelyn Stark, and Ned. As Jon walks by his mother’s statue, we hear Lyanna ask Ned for a big favor on her deathbed, which we first saw in the season 6 finale, “The Winds of Winter.”
“You have to protect him,” Lyanna said.
Sansa then passes Catelyn’s statue, and although Catelyn has been dead since season 3 (sorry, Lady Stoneheart holdouts), this marks the first time we’re seeing her statue and makes her the first non-Stark that we know of who got a statue in the crypts. (The honor is usually reserved for Stark kings and lords, but Ned broke tradition by having one made for Lyanna.) Catelyn’s echo comes from season 3 in the episode, “Dark Wings, Dark Words,” where she reveals that she prayed for the gods to make Jon Snow (then a sick baby) better but couldn’t hold up her promise to love him like he was one of her own.
“It’s all because I couldn’t love a motherless child,” Catelyn told Talisa Stark.
And when Jon walks by Ned, we hear a clip from the last conversation they ever had in the show’s second episode, “The Kingsroad.” It’s when Ned promises to tell Jon about his mother the next time they meet.
“You are a Stark,” Ned told him. “You might not have my name, but you have my blood.”
The echoes that run through the crypts of Winterfell zero in on some of the bigger conflicts that will likely arise in season 8. Once it’s out in the open, Jon’s heritage may be a big factor for those in the know; his Targaryen ties might even be used against him, especially if his plans align with Daenerys Targaryen’s. But he’s also a Stark, even if he never had a claim to the name first as the bastard we thought he was but now as a legitimate Targaryen.
And now that Ned is longer able to do so, Sansa and Arya could step up to protect him further, just as he’d do for them. Three parts of a unit working together for one common goal. How Targaryen of them.
How much should we read into the statues?
At the end of the crypt’s pathway, Jon, Sansa, and Arya all come across statues of themselves, but that’s not the norm. Statues are carved by sculptors in Winterfell after someone dies, not before. Sansa and Arya’s statues—which both look like them but as if there’s something off about them—look as though they’re based off how they look now, but you could argue that Jon’s makes him look even older.
Does this mean that Jon might survive the great war while Sansa and Arya aren’t as lucky? Don’t be so sure. For one, we have no idea how many of those statues (if any of them) will make an appearance in season 8. The lighting might also make Jon’s statue look much older than he is; looks-wise, it’s very close to how he styles his hair and beard now.
As Arya pointed out during her reunion with Sansa in “The Spoils of War,” the sculptors don’t always get it right.
Arya: It doesn’t look like him. Should’ve been carved by someone who knew his face.
Sansa: Everyone who knew his face is dead.
Arya: We’re not.
You can also argue that whoever carved the statue of Jon could’ve been influenced by Jon’s experiences. It’s easy to forget that after everything Jon has been through over the series, he’s still just a young man, not middle-aged.
Where is Bran in all of this?
In the teaser, we have three Stark children, but one of them is noticeably missing. Bran isn’t shown here at all.
Some fans would argue otherwise. For those who support the Bran is the Night King theory (which doesn’t have much basis in evidence from the show), they might point to the fog and ice coming from the distance as proof that Bran is in the trailer.
However, there’s a far easier explanation for it: Since the middle of season 6, Bran Stark ceased being Bran Stark. He had to become the Three-Eyed Raven after the Night King and his army attacked the weirwood tree far beyond the Wall. He has Bran’s memories and remembers what it was like to be Bran, but those wishes and dreams are trivial compared to the bigger fight Winterfell is preparing for. He more or less introduces himself as the Three-Eyed Raven now; or at the very least, he uses it as a catch-all explanation of who he is or what happened to him beyond the Wall.
Physically, he might be there, but he’s a far different person than the last time any of them saw him—and he’s about to drop a rude awakening on all of them.
Game of Thrones returns April 14.
Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and the resident Game of Thrones expert at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has brought her knowledge to conventions like Con of Thrones. She is based in New Jersey.