Game of Thrones season 8 trailer: Final confrontation looks like a jaw-dropper
Sansa hasn’t looked so shocked since she learned Joffrey wasn’t marrying Margaery
Swooping dragons, smirking queens, warriors marching stony-faced towards what has been billed the most expensive screen battle ever staged. Rumours that HBO would release the first full-length trailer for Game of Thrones’s eighth and final season were finally confirmed as the network “dropped” a two-minute promo brimming with all our favourite Westeros heroes, villains and characters who still can’t decide to which category they belong (yes, we mean you, Jaime Lannister).
Judging from the online response it may take some time before the internet is finished scraping its jaw off the floor.
Does the 1min 48sec clip convey any huge molten spoilers? No, though there is a hint Jon Snow may join his queen/lover/auntie Daenerys Targaryen in perching atop a dragon and taking to the skies. As the teaser ends, we see Mother of Dragons Daenerys striding in the direction of her trusted steed Drogon.
Beside her is Jon Snow, King in the North and chief prosecutor of the war against the undead Night King. He is clearly making his way towards Rhaegal, Drogon’s leathery-winged sibling. Might he fulfil his destiny – as prophesied by his secret Targaryen blood – and join his queen/love/auntie (yes, it’s super complicated) high above Westeros?
That’s about all that is given away – aside from that, as suspected, Beric Dondarrion, the flaming-sword wielding religious warrior, and Wildling leader Thormund Giantsbane escaped when the Night King toppled the Wall at the end of series seven.
Otherwise, the trailer is really about building anticipation ahead of GoT’s return on April 14th (you will of course be staying up until 2am to watch the “live” simulcast from the US rather than being wussy and waiting for the 9pm airing the following evening).
And, by the Seven, it delivers. Daenerys’s dragons pirouette languidly above Winterfell (Sansa, in the battlements, hasn’t looked so shocked since she discovered Joffrey wouldn’t be marrying Margaery after all). We also reconnect with Jaime, who has fled the side of his lover, Queen Cersei, and pledged himself, for the time being, to the forces of good gathered at Winterfell to await the arrival of the invading Night King.
The final confrontation between Jon and Daenerys’s forces and those of their deathless foe promises to be a jaw-dropper for the ages. The clash was filmed over several weeks across Northern Ireland, one of the principal shooting locations for GoT since 2011, with a budget reportedly running into the millions.
For those of us playing Westeros Bingo, the trailer is, moreover, an opportunity to tick our check list of favourite characters. They’re all here: Jon and Daenerys, Mad Queen Cersei, adorable trained killer Arya, Ser Davos (Irish actor Liam Cunningham), Brienne of Tarth (and Podrick), Ser Jorah of Ye Olde Friendzone (she’ll never know what she missed Jorah), Bran, Qyburn, the Mountain AND the Hound (Cleganebowl anyone?). Plus, Cersei’s Golden Company of sell-sword mercenaries is en route from Essos – the blade by which she will backstab Jon and Daenerys (she had signed up to their alliance, but with fingers and toes crossed).
Also obvious is that this season is going to be epic with big shiny bells on. HBO is rumoured to have lavished north of $90 million on the six episodes – Hollywood production values for the conclusion of a series that has a serious claim to be one of the most impressive ever feats of on-screen storytelling.
GoT showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss have stated they’d rather not have put out any trailer at all. They can be proud of this one, which conveys the enormous stakes as Jon and Daenerys lead their armies out of Winterfell and into battle against the Night King, who is probably feeling quite smug having just toppled the Wall with his zombie dragon (which belonged to Daenerys until he killed it with a javelin).
And yet, barnstorming though it is, this trailer does have one or two telling absences. Where is Red Witch Melisandre, who has predicted that Jon Snow is the reincarnation of an immortal warrior destined to save Westeros? She is confirmed as returning this year – but is nowhere to be seen.
An even more prominent omission is the Night King himself. A skeletal horse materialises in the very final shot but apart from that we see nothing of the King and his minions. Are Benioff and Weiss merely holding back their big villain in order to stoke anticipation? Or might some other plan be afoot? Our questions will be answered on April 14th.
For now, all we have is this trailer - and the knowledge that, after nearly two years of anticipation, the Winds of Winter are finally set to sweep down upon us.