For the Throne: Everything you need to know as winter approaches

Winter is extending into the heart of spring for Game of Thrones fanatics this year. After what feels like a decade of waiting, HBO has finally revealed that the eighth and final season of the critically acclaimed TV series Game of Thrones will air Sunday night, April 14th. Let’s dissect everything you need to know about the final season before going back and binge-watching the first seven seasons again. (We know who we are)

Changes in number of episodes and their length

Outside of the most recent season that aired just seven episodes, the previous six seasons all had ten episodes that were an hour in length. For this upcoming season, you better buckle up and get comfortable, each episode will literally feel like a movie of it’s own.

HBO programming president Casey Bloys confirmed the final season will consist of six episodes that will each be less than two hours, but will air longer than the regular hour long length they’ve previously had.

Game of Thrones put about as much time and effort into a six episode season as any show could’ve. Filming for this epic ending of the series began all the way back in October of 2017 and finally wrapped up this past July. What?! These episode alterations alone get me pumped up for this season.

Daenerys arrives in Winterfell!

HBO rang in the new year a few weeks back by putting out a minute long video showing short clips of their new content coming in 2019. Of course, the end of the minute long clip featured a Game of Thrones snippet.

In just five seconds of footage this reveal got all fanatics of the show buzzing. It shows the Mother of Dragons herself, approaching Sansa Stark for their first meeting with new lover Jon Snow (awkward) and trusted advisor Jorah Mormont trailing behind. As Daenerys approaches Sansa says “Winterfell is yours, your grace.”

There’s plenty to hash out here between the people involved in this new allegiance. Most notably, when will Jon Snow figure out he’s actually born Aegon Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen are his actual parents? That’s going to be the juiciest and strangest reveal of Season 8.

You’d think it would effectively dash the storybook-like ending of Jon and Dany taking the iron throne together once he figures out she’s basically his aunt, right? Maybe not, it is Game of Thrones after all. But that’d have to be the assumption. How is their relationship and partnership in fighting against the army of the dead and the obstacle that is Cersei Lannister impacted by this shocking news? It’ll be fun to see.

There will be bloodshed

If you’ve been keeping up with Game of Thrones, you didn’t need to hear that from me to know the series will end how the start, and all of the middle did, with violence. There are oddsmakers currently placing bets predicting who is going to claim the iron throne and rule Westeros come season’s end. But a better poll may be who, if anyone, is going to survive?

It’s very dark I know, but I its very reasonable to believe many of the characters who have not already been killed seasons 1-7 are at serious risk in Season 8. Throwback to when all of us were ready for Prince Oberyn to be our new favorite character. How’d that turn out? No one is safe in this show, ever.

Let’s start with the current ruler of Westeros and her brother/lover Jaime. The two are at odds right now, after Jaime pleaded for Cersei to accept an allegiance with the aforementioned Daenerys and her hand, and Cersei’s brother Tyrion in the season 7 finale, both whom Cersei despises, in an effort to stop the Night King and his army of the dead.

Behaving as Cersei typically does, after speaking with Tyrion privately she agrees to put her differences aside and fight alongside them in the “Great War”, only to turn right around and revoke her agreement as soon as Tyrion and company leave her presence.

Now Jaime has a big choice to make. Stay loyal to his family and lover Cersei (Who by the way is pregnant), or reveal to Tyrion that she actually won’t lend her army to assist them, and instead is keeping them behind to take on who remains after great battle in the north. Whatever the outcome, I believe Jaime and Cersei butting heads for a while now can easily go overboard and result in one, or both of their demises.

Then there’s the Stark sisters Sansa and Arya. Another trailer for the new season recently surfaced, showing the two sisters and Jon Snow walking through the crypts of Winterfell. The three of them stare at statues of themselves. As they’re walking you hear a quote from Lyanna Stark telling her brother Ned Stark “You have to protect him,” referring to Jon Snow, as she dies right after giving birth to him.

I’m going full on skepticism here, but if you look closely among the statues of the three, Jon’s the only one with a statue where he’s elderly, while Arya and Sansa’s statues are made in their current age. Could Lyanna’s whispers and the statues indicate Sansa and or Arya will have to sacrifice their life for Jon’s? The trailer could just be throwing everyone for a loop, but I think it’s certainly a possibility.

While wondering and guessing about main characters in the Stark and Lannister families fate, we are certain about bloodshed in Season 8 from this perspective. A couple months back Entertainment Weekly revealed the battle in Season 8 between the living and the dead took 55 days to shoot.

Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, said the Season 8 battle made the Battle of Bastards “look like a theme park.” To wrap context around this, The Battle of the Bastards, which took place at the end of season 6, is considered the great episode in TV history by some.

For me, it’s when Jon Snow became one of my favorite TV characters ever. His perseverance and triumph in that episode en route to taking down the horrible Ramsay Bolton was the most satisfying moment of the whole series. That battle was so epic, I can’t imagine how Season 8’s battle scene could match let alone top it.

Game of Thrones is firmly in the conversation for one of my favorite shows ever, as I know it is for many. After AMC’s incredible series Breaking Bad there’s really no show I could definitely put ahead of it. With one season left to go, anticipation is at an all time high. If Season 8 delivers and ends in a satisfactory manner, it could very well make “GOT” the “GOAT” of TV series’. Get ready, winter is coming.

-Simon Brady

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