Game of Thrones is not holding back heading into the final five episodes of the series. In the season-eight premiere “Winterfell,” we got a lot of answers to a lot of major questions, and we now know where pretty much everyone stands heading into The Great War/The Longest Night/The Most Hyped Battle In The History Of TV. But before we get answers to the “Westerosi Avengers: Endgame” question, we’ve got 15 other little ones Bran and Co. will hopefully answer when we return to the realm next Sunday.
What is the Last Hearth?
In the series’ new opening credits, we’re introduced to an area we’ve not yet seen on the show: the Last Hearth, the northernmost castle in the realm that isn’t a part of The Wall, and home of Stark bannermen House Umber. South of The Wall but north of Winterfell, the location isn’t all that significant, save for the part where its young lord was used to send a grisly message to the land of the living. Which leads us to our next question …
What’s with all the circles?
Since the beginning of the series, circle imagery has cast a long shadow: from that first cold open in the pilot with the arrangement of dead bodies, to the others beyond The Wall and in Bran’s visions, down to the carvings in the dragonglass caves from the Children of the Forest. And now we’ve got the image of a wee baby Umber surrounded by a bunch of burned-up arms that matches imagery we’ve seen throughout the series — from the moment the Night King was born to the Battle of the Bastards and beyond — even on the walls of the dragonglass caves on Dragonstone.
So: why now? There are many potential answers, but it’s clear that the answer lies in what’s driving the Night King onward. So …
What in the seven hells does the Night King actually want? And where is he going?
Clearly, the Night King has an agenda beyond simply burning it all to the ground. Why else would he be leaving all these messages? So what is it he’s after? The answer may lie in the cave drawings from season seven.
Notice that little circle next to the three people in the front? That is very likely the Isle of Faces, an island in the middle of the God’s Eye lake where the Children of the Forest and the First Men signed the pact that would end The Long Night. Book readers and TV viewers alike are very much in the dark about what it all means. So what does the Night King want? Maybe to end the cycle, or—as Dany put it—break the wheel?
Was the Prince That Was Promised, a.k.a Azor Ahai, meant to take over for the Night King? Was the OG Night King, in fact, a Stark-Targaryen like Jon Snow? Some fans on Reddit seem to think so, and it’s certainly a compellingly devastating option … especially if it means that to win the game of thrones, Jon Snow must end up dead on an ice throne to protect the land of the living (but hey, maybe that’s just me). But it’s just one of many motivations that could be argued after the season-eight premiere, so expect whatever the Night King wants or needs to be unexpected, and maybe even humanizing.
How will Jon tell Dany the truth?
Welp, Jon Snow finally knows something: that he is Aegon Targaryen, rightful king of the Seven Kingdoms. And he seems … very thrown by it — even more so than by the fact that he’s been banging and nuzzling on his pledged-to queen and lover/aunt. So: how is Jon going to break it to her? He’s going to have to, right? After all, he’s an honorable man and he’s not one to lie. But is there ever going to be a convenient time to tell your lover/aunt that hey, actually, you’re the rightful heir to the Throne? No. Besides, he’s probably not going to be down for the smooching now, and something tells me Dany’s going to want him to explain why.
Is their being related going to not be a big deal?
At this point, it’s probably their smallest problem.
Is Cersei really pregnant?
Guys. Guys. C’mon guys. Please. Cersei has learned how. To. Play. This. Game. Of course she is faking this pregnancy in order to keep her brothers on her side. She drank the wine! She is obviously playing everyone. Maybe the better question is, why is Sansa the only smart person on this show now?
Is Game of Thrones turning into Harry Potter?
That dragon sequence was a straight-up Flight of the Hippogriff moment if ever I saw one. The Boy Who Lived To Die And Live Again To Ride Some Dragons And Also Get Judged For Kissing His Aunt.
Are Arya and Gendry going to kiss? And are we weird for wanting this?
I mean, I for one am convinced Arya is going to die before the show is over (no, I am not okay with it), but will she get even a moment of happiness with Gendry? Or was his repetition of the line he used the last time he saw her — about her being his lady (!!) — just another twist in this show’s knife to the heart?
What did Arya ask Gendry to make her?
She already has Valyrian steel (the old blade from Bran), which we know kills White Walkers. So what else could she need? Gendry is a blacksmith capable of working with dragonglass, and the piece of paper she gave him said dragonglass, but what could that do that her Valyrian steel dagger couldn’t? It’s more likely something else entirely — perhaps a two-sided spear, which Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair confirmed with the weapons master. But why would Arya want something like that? It looked as if it can be split into two parts, so perhaps it’s to benefit the fighting style she picked up while training with the Faceless Men. After all, she’s got a lot of people still left on her list.
Is that the same crossbow that Tyrion used to kill Tywin and Joffrey used to kill Ros, et al.?
Sure is! According to a friend who attended the premiere, a producer on the series explained there was actually a line about it that was taken out.
Why aren’t the Golden Company’s elephants here?
Obviously, it’s got to be CGI costs. This show can only handle so many ridiculous beasts in battle and it’s chosen the direwolves, but at least Cersei was the voice of reason stand-in for all of us who were REALLY looking forward to the elephants.
Will Sam and Dany ever get along?
Hoo golly, that was an awkward meeting/realization, wasn’t it? Poor Sam! On the one hand, he cured Ser Jorah, but on the other hand he’s a Tarly and Dany burned his brother and father alive. To be fair, Dickon and Randyll were real jerks, but Sam would never want anyone to kill his family, no matter how mean they were to him!
What will the co-mingling of Stark and Targaryen blood mean?
There’s magic in them there bloods, as the show has repeatedly explained. King’s blood, Targaryen blood, Stark blood, horse blood — blood magic has a very strong and curious hold on the goings-on of Westeros, be it bestowed by the gods or not. Could Jon Snow — the combination of both ice and fire, Targaryen and Stark blood — be the most magical entity of them all?
Who are the three heads of the dragon?
Teasers for the season might suggest Jon, Arya, and Sansa. Many fans predict Dany, Jon, and Tyrion. One particularly eagle-eyed Reddit user links frequent Valyrian lost-in-translations to predict it will be Jon, Dany, and Jaime, all three of whom have experienced scenarios you could say represent them being reborn among salt and smoke, like the prophecy states.
Where the heck is Brienne?!
We’re just concerned, is all. We want to see those Jaime/Brienne and Brienne/Tormund reunions! [Edit: Readers have pointed out that Brienne does appear briefly in the background of a couple of scenes, though she does not speak, which changes this question to: Why doesn’t Brienne talk this episode? We can only assume she’s saving up her words for when she realizes Jaime’s arrived at Winterfell.]