It’s been a long, long wait, but winter is finally here for fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones. The first full trailer for the hotly anticipated final season dropped today, featuring plenty of dragons, our favorite surviving characters, and lots of dark, ominous overtones as the living prepare to battle the Night King’s undead army.
(Warning: Spoilers for prior seasons below.)
Based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones long ago outstripped the novels in terms of plot, although the author had some input in shaping the TV series’ narrative arc. We’ve seen plenty of sex, blood, and horrifying death over the course of seven seasons, and now it’s time for the end game. This being George R.R. Martin, there’s no guarantee of a happy ending.
When we last left off, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) had improbably outlasted all rivals (including her own children) and ascended to the Iron Throne, with the help of her own Doctor Frankenstein, Qyburn (Anton Lesser). Her younger brother, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), had joined forces with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), who also won the loyalty of Stark family bastard Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Dany came to Westeros to battle Cersei for the Iron Throne but is convinced to call a truce by Jon, who proves that the White Walkers (led by the Night King) and their undead zombies, the wights, (a) exist, and (b) are preparing to conquer Westeros and wipe out the living once and for all.
The Stark family has regained its ancestral home, Winterfell, with Sansa (Sophie Turner) in charge in Jon’s absence, aided by her sister-turned-faceless-assassin Arya (Maisie Williams). Their only surviving brother, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), is now a powerful seer called the Three-Eyed Raven, although his exact role in the end game is still a bit unclear. We know from earlier teasers that Dany and Jon come to Winterfell, and Sansa reluctantly cedes Winterfell to her, since Jon had “bent the knee” and declared his loyalty to the Mother of Dragons.
Dany also lost one of her dragons to the Night King, got it on with Jon Snow, and is unaware that he is, in fact, a legitimate Targaryen by birth. (The incest here is less relevant than what this means for her claim to the throne.) In the final scene, the Night King takes down the great wall of ice that has protected Westeros for centuries. So things are looking very bad for the human race indeed.
The new trailer opens with an anguished Arya, alone in the dark, providing an ominous (what else?) voiceover: “I know death. He’s got many faces. I look forward to seeing this one.” There’s a lot of ominous brooding, in fact, and who can blame them, given the near-impossible odds they face? But we also get sumptuous glimpses of a fleet of ships sailing to battle along with Dany’s two remaining dragons soaring above Winterfell and the icy terrain of the North.
One by one, we see the faces of our favorite surviving characters: Tyrion, Jon and Dany, Jorah Mormont, Brienne, Davos, Sam, Bran, Sansa, and Jaime Lannister, who swears, “I promised to fight for the living and I intend to keep that promise.” And is that Gendry we see, the blacksmith bastard son of the late King Robert Baratheon, whose murder incited all the civil war in the first place? They’re all preparing for the Battle of Winterfell, rumored to be the most massive staged battle sequence of the series.
Of course, while everyone else is focused on the big picture, Cersei is smirking in satisfaction back in King’s Landing. She’s convinced that the White Walkers will take care of her remaining rivals once and for all, not stopping to consider whether there will still be a kingdom left for her to rule.
The final season of Game of Thrones debuts on HBO April 14, 2019.
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