Season 8 of Game of Thrones is the beginning of the end, with only six episodes left in this sweeping series. Having given viewers some of the most impressive special effects, beautiful backdrops, and beloved characters ever seen on screen, Game of Thrones has created intense anticipation and speculation regarding the series end. Many of the complex storylines which took place throughout Westeros and Essos have come together, yet the resolution of overarching narratives has yet to be revealed.
Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. Part of what drew readers to the books is what keeps television fans engaged—rich world-building. Flawed characters with complex stories exist within a cultural panorama. Many of these characters die along the way. Those who survive grow and change through their experience and interactions with others while traversing the extensive landscape. At times it’s been hard to keep track of all the people, places, and things in Game of Thrones, though time, attrition, and intersecting storylines has helped make it more manageable. Here is some of what viewers can anticipate in Season 8 of Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones has a lot to say about family, whether it’s parents sacrificing [for] their children, siblings vying for power or recognition, or displays of love between family members. There’s also a fair amount of outright murder that goes on among families in Game of Thrones—patricide, fraticide, fillicide, and infanticide. The connections between family members in Game of Thrones have also led to incest. Marriage between a brother and a sister has a well-established history among Targaryens. Their goal was to exert greater control over dragons, though interbreeding led to insanity among some of the Targaryens.
- Tywin Lannister married his cousin, and his children, Cersei and Jaime, have had an illicit romance since childhood. Jaime has finally left his sister, though she remains pregnant with their child.
- In the final episode of Season 7, it was finally revealed what many book readers suspected—Jon Snow is a Targaryen. He is also the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. That makes the romantic relationship between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen a family affair. Bran Stark and Samwell Tarly both know that Jon is actually Aegon Targaryen, and plan to reveal the information to him. Expect there to be fallout in terms of Daenerys and Jon’s romantic relationship and the line of succession.
- On a happier note, it appears that Sansa and Arya Stark have set aside their differences and plan to work together. What is less clear is how Sansa’s ambition will be impacted by the arrival of the Dragon Queen.
The war between the living and the dead is well on the way, but it’s not just the White Walkers that Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow will have to deal with.
- The Night King, riding an undead dragon, was able to breach the Wall at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. The army of the dead are marching on the North (or “the South,” as Tormund Giantsbane prefers to call it). Winter has most certainly arrived for Westeros.
- Cersei Lannister has no intention of keeping her promise of having her army join the fight against the White Walkers. Instead she is consolidating her power by bringing a company of 20,000 sellswords, across the Narrow Sea to join her army.
- Euron Greyjoy still holds his niece Yara captive. Theon Greyjoy leads the last of Yara’s men to attempt to rescue his sister.
- The Iron Bank of Braavos has been funding the Iron Throne since Robert Baratheon was king. The Iron Bank also supported Stannis Baratheon in his failed attempt to gain the throne. It was with gold from the Iron Bank that Cersei Lannister was able to pay for the Golden Company mercenaries. Cersei tells Jaime, “We have the Iron Bank. You should’ve listened more when Father spoke about the importance of gold. Oh, I know it’s boring for you. You just wanted to hunt and ride and fight. But I listened. I learned.” With all their investment in Westeros, the Iron Bank will continue to play an important role in the war.
After periods of separation due to war, duty, betrayal, and self-exploration there have been many opportunities for characters to reunite. Some have been touching (Sansa Stark and Jon Snow), while others have been humorous (Tyrion Lannister and Lord Varys). When characters have seen each other again after a period of absence, the moment can also be filled with sadness (Jon Snow and Rickon Stark) or retribution (Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton). There are still a few reconnections we hope to watch in Season 8.
- Arya Stark and Jon Snow. As Sansa told Arya, “I hope he comes back soon. I remember how happy he was to see me. When he sees you his heart will probably stop.” Jon is currently heading towards Winterfell to make a defense against the White Walkers. If he arrives before the dead make their way to Winterfell, he should get the chance to reunite with his younger sister. Though sometimes the writers withhold what they know we want the most, so we can only hope for this. In the HBO trailer for all their 2019 shows released during the Golden Globes, there was a clip of Daenerys Targaryen and Sansa meeting for the first time, though Arya was was notably absent.
- When Bran Stark and Jaime Lannisterlast interacted, it involved Jaime pushing Bran out a window in Season 1. This action was one of the contributing factors to the war between House Stark and House Baratheon, though the behind-the-scenes machinations of Petyr Baelish played a much greater role. Jaime is on his way to Winterfell to assist in the battle against the dead, despite his sister’s intention to break her promise. Will Jaime seek forgiveness? Bran has become increasingly disconnected from emotional entanglements since becoming the Three-Eyed Raven. Will Bran be angry, grateful, or indifferent to the role his injury played in his journey?
- There are those excited at the prospect of Jaime Lannister reconnecting with Brienne of Tarth when he arrives at Winterfell. Sure, that’s kinda interesting, but we’re hoping that Tormund Giantsbane has survived the Night King’s attack on Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. There’s nothing like a Brienne and Tormund meetup to bring a much-needed rom-com vibe to Game of Thrones.
Season 8 will answer the many questions we still have after seven seasons. Expect some unexpected reveals, as layered complexity is the bread and butter of Game of Thrones. The extra time spent writing and filming the final season is certain to create a memorable end to this fantastic series. We look forward to beginning our final journey with Game of Thrones.