HBO has continued its slow, agonizing trend of milking every last bit of hype 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 reveals more than you might think, we’ve got a few questions about what it all means, and what lies ahead.
The last season of Game of Thrones premieres on April 14. To celebrate the announcement, HBO released a teaser that looks to have been shot just for promotional purposes (meaning it won’t be in the series itself). It shows Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, and Arya Stark walking through the crypts of Winterfell, confronting the ghosts of their past (statues of dead relatives) while also looking to their own future. And that future is death. After all, in the game of thrones, you win or you die—and they’re in the greatest game of all now.
The teaser follows the promotions from previous seasons—symbolic teasers that hinted at what was to come. For example, season six had the Hall of Faces, while 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 deliberately misled us on what was to come in their respective seasons, so anything we read into the “Crypts of Winterfell” teaser has to be taken with a grain of salt. That said, let’s dive in.
What’s up with the feather?
Right away, the feather draws the most attention from the Game of Thrones teaser. At first glance, you might think it symbolises Bran Stark, as he’s the Three-Eyed Raven, but the feather actually represents something else entirely—it goes all the way back to the beginning of the series.
In the pilot episode, we saw Robert Baratheon place 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, prompting Petyr Baelish to tell her more about Lyanna’s relationship with Rhaegar Targaryen. Sansa dismissed it as kidnapping and assault. But little did we know, the feather contained 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 replies they’re all gone, only for Robert to response: “Not all of them.” At the time that meant Daenerys: But we’d come to find out it technically also include Jon. Though that was a secret both Lyanna and Ned took to their graves.
In that sense, the feather represents a hidden truth that the series has kept close since the whole story began. And as the feather fell from Lyanna’s hands in the teaser, in full view of Jon as he passed, it showed how the secret is finally about to be revealed.
Is Jon Snow’s statue older?
After Jon, Sansa, and Arya walk past the statues of previous Starks, they come across the most shocking statues of all: their own. However, one of them looks kind of peculiar. As several people have pointed out online, Jon’s statue doesn’t quite look like himself. The beard is different, and the face looks a little fuller. Could this mean that Jon’s statue is older than Arya and Sansa’s, indicating that he will live while the others will die?
My response to this is maybe, but probably not. 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 actually died yet. Plus, as has been pointed out on Game of Thrones, the statues’ craftsmen aren’t exactly the best at their job. For example, it’s pointed out in one of the episodes how Ned Stark’s statue looks nothing like him, the reason being that Ned’s body was never sent back to Winterfell. It is technically possible that the statue is representing an older Jon, but I think it’s more likely that the statues aren’t an exact likeness.
However, I do want to point out that Arya’s statue has a sword in her hand, while Jon’s doesn’t. Given how I believe Arya Stark will die this season, most likely in battle, this is definitely adding some fuel to that fire.
Another huge question coming out of the season eight teaser: Where the hell is Bran? He is a Stark sibling after all. I combed that trailer for any sign of the Three-Eyed Raven, and couldn’t find anything. He really isn’t there. Or is he?
There are two main possible explanations for Bran Stark’s absence. The first is the idea that he’s not really a Stark anymore. Having fully 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). Plus, the shot of Jon, Sansa, and Arya getting ready to face the undead army would look way less cool with Bran standing nearby looking surly and unconcerned.
The other explanation is slightly more out there. A fan theory has been building for a while that Bran Stark is actually the Night King. That somehow, thanks to his ability to travel into the past and possess people there, he will eventually return to the place where the Night King was created and accidentally get trapped inside his body. In an attempt to save Westeros, he will become the very thing trying to destroy it.
I tend to lean against this theory, but I do feel like this teaser is actually leaning into it somewhat. Bran’s complete absence is noticeable—there isn’t even a raven to signify he is joining the fight. If Jon, Sansa, and Arya were turning not to face off against an obscure enemy, 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 began.
Another noted absence is Daenerys. Much of the series has been about her rise to power, which we’ve seen culminate in Jon swearing his allegiance 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 very similarly to how Daenerys has been wearing it in recent seasons. This isn’t an accident. For much of the series, Sansa has adopted the fashions of other powerful women as a way to symbolise allegiance or protection—as well as defiance, when the opportunity has demanded it.
By adopting Daenerys’s hairstyle, Sansa is showing that she has aligned herself with the leader, at least to the extent that is expected or required. This doesn’t mean there won’t be conflict between them, either now or later, but it does show that Sansa sees value in an alliance with the Queen of Dragons.
Can the Night’s King resurrect everyone in that crypt?
OK, this was a random question that popped into my head at the end of the teaser, as 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 involving the White Walkers. And we also know the wights can be just about any level of decomposition, so long as the body is still intact.
Does this mean that the Night King can go into the crypt and resurrect the bodies of everyone inside? That would be absolutely fantastic—and disgusting. Can you imagine Robb, Rickon, etc. 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 think about, at least.
Game of Thrones returns on April 14.