Eight years ago, the opening scene of HBO’s Game of Thrones included imagery of a White Walker killing someone beyond the Wall. Now, in the show’s final season, the Wall has finally fallen and the army of the undead has arrived at Winterfell, where they’ll face off against dozens of recognizable characters in this Sunday night’s episode.
HBO has released a batch of new Battle of Winterfell photos, and we have a theory about what might be causing that look on Jon Snow’s face.
Here are the new photos, a few of which essentially seem like screenshots from the preview trailer for this episode:
HBO isn’t about to spoil anything major that happens in the episode by releasing any revealing photos, so most of these are pretty standard. Jon and Dany probably take a quick dragon ride out to an overlook and survey the lay of the land, Brienne gives a battle scream to her soldiers from the left flank, Tyrion and Varys have a heart to heart in the crypts, and Arya probably casually drops the news to Sansa that she and Gendry hooked up, causing that fantastic Sansa reaction face.
But it’s that last image of Jon Snow – er, excuse me, Aegon Targaryen – that’s really worth concentrating on. Jon led a whole meeting in last week’s episode preparing everyone for what they’re about to fight, so what could possibly cause him to make that face on the battlefield? The Night King running a sword through Bran’s face, just seconds before Jon could get there to stop him? Sure. Dany struck by an arrow, falling off Drogon’s back as she plummets to the ground? Maybe!
But what if…
What if it’s time for the ice spiders as big as hounds? When Bran was a child, his nurse/nanny, nicknamed Old Nan, used to tell him stories of The Long Night, a period of seemingly unending winter in which the White Walkers conquered Westeros, riding around on the backs of huge, icy spiders. A few months ago, A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin shared the first look at these creatures on an upcoming calendar, and I theorized that he specifically released that image before the final Game of Thrones season as a way to beat the show to the punch in revealing something he’s been hinting at since the first book in the series.
It’s unclear if Jon heard the same stories from Old Nan when he was growing up at Winterfell, but look at his face again: that looks like the face of a man who’s just realized that a section of the army of the dead is riding straight for him on the backs of massive, creepy-ass spiders. Am I right? We’ll find out when the next episode of Game of Thrones airs this Sunday night, April 28, 2019.
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