- Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Game of Thrones,” including production details and speculation of future events.
- Episode three of “Game of Thrones” season eight will be 82 minutes, making it the longest episode in series history.
- Keep reading for a look at all the narrative details you can expect to see on Sunday.
HBO’s coming battle on “Game of Thrones” is expected to be an enormous, record-breaking episode of television. The cast and crew spent weeks and weeks shooting the sequence, and were exhausted and worn-down after not seeing the sun for “almost three months.”
Keep reading for a look at the 19 things you should know about the Battle of Winterfell.
Let’s start with the basics. Season eight, episode three (title unknown) will be 82 minutes long.
With that runtime, the Battle of Winterfell episode will be the longest in “Game of Thrones” history. The last episode to hold that record was the seventh season finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” which was 79 minutes.
According to a report from Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibberd, this episode will also contain “the longest consecutive battle sequence” ever seen on TV or in movies.
The episode was directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who memorably helmed “The Battle of the Bastards” and two other highly rated episodes.
Sapochnik made waves among “Game of Thrones” fans when he directed the bombshell season five episode “Hardhome,” on which Jon Snow faced the Night King for the first time.
Then, in addition to the “Battle of the Bastards” episode, he directed that season’s indelible finale, “The Winds of Winter” (the episode on which Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor).
This is just the first of two episodes directed by Sapochnik this season.
The coming Battle of Winterfell will be almost like a part one in a three-episode run on “Game of Thrones.”
“What I really like about [episodes] three, four, and five is they’re a complete piece with a beginning middle and end,” Sapochnik said in an EW interview.
Sapochnik is directing episodes three and five, while David Nutter (who did the first two episodes of this season) will helm the fourth.
Now let’s take a closer look at Daenerys and Jon’s battle strategy.
In both the teaser trailer and released photos for the Battle of Winterfell episode, Daenerys and Jon are shown on what looks like a cliff overlooking Winterfell.
Since the troops are still in line, this is pre-fight. Maybe Daenerys and Jon each rode a dragon to do a scouting run before the battle starts?
The walls of Winterfell have been covered in dragonglass spikes.
Based on all the activity seen around the castle, it looks like dragonglass has been placed practically everywhere.
Other trickery can be expected, like the fire moat alluded to during the War Room meeting we saw on Sunday’s “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” episode.
Here’s the battle strategy we saw on episode two.
Ser Brienne of Tarth is taking command of the left flank, where Jaime Lannister and the knights of the Vale will fight for her along with some Stark soldiers. More Stark forces make up the right flank, too.
The Dothraki horselords, along with Ser Jorah, are fighting front and center.
The Unsullied will be behind the Dothraki, with trebuchets between them ready to launch fireballs into the Army of the Dead (this is handy, since fire kills wights).
Inside the castle walls, House Mormont (led by Lady Lyanna) will apparently protect the main holdfast.
As seen on that battle plan, the House Mormont soldiers will be inside the Castle Walls, defending the inner gate.
There’s a blank black tile near the House Mormont sigil, marking a mysterious set of people. Perhaps this indicates the Winterfell Crypts, where the women and children (along with Tyrion and Varys) will hide.
Speaking of those crypts, we should be worried for everyone inside — but not because of the undead rising from their graves.
A popular theory going around is that the buried Starks inside Winterfell’s crypts will be reanimated by the Night King or a White Walker.
But this doesn’t make sense for a few key reasons. For starters, those graves are sturdily built and sealed with heavy stone. The season seven finale showed how a wooden box could keep a wight trapped, so it’s unlikely a sealed stone grave would allow one out.
Most of the dead Starks buried down there are likely far too decomposed to become the regular wights the show uses most of the time, anyways.
We haven’t seen very many pure-skeleton wights since season four, and even then it looked a bit goofy.
But that doesn’t mean folks in the crypts are completely safe. Last Sunday’s episode made too many references to how “the crypts are the best place to be” for it to be a truly protected haven.
The Army of the Dead will likely breach the walls of Winterfell, risking everyone’s lives inside.
In the season eight trailer, we saw several shots of Arya Stark both fighting inside a fiery courtyard scene and then running away in terror from something in a hallway.
Many fans believe this shot of Arya running is in the crypts, but to us it looks like a regular Winterfell hallway.
The lighting and walls in these shots appear to be just a part of the upper Winterfell castle, not the regular candle-lit crypts of Winterfell.
That doesn’t make her terror any less worrying, though. What has cool-headed Arya so frightened?
It’s very likely we’ll see some of our favourite characters die, and then immediately be resurrected by the Night King and White Walkers.
Maybe Arya is being chased by a familiar-faced wight, or perhaps the sight of a hoard of undead zombies is simply enough to shake Arya into frightened territory.
Multiple “heroes” will die, according to a set visit report.
When EW’s James Hibberd published a report from his visit to set, he wrote that “beloved heroes lay dead outside the castle gates” of Winterfell at the end of filming.
The note of plural “heroes” should have you prepared for your favourites to fall.
We also know Sam will fight a group of wights.
“Sam wields a sword at undead wight attackers played by stuntmen,” Hibberd reported.
Even though he gave his family’s Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane, to Ser Jorah, Sam will apparently still find himself at the center of action on Sunday’s episode.
Let’s pause to remember who has Valyrian steel — the substance which kills both White Walkers and wights.
Jon Snow has Longclaw, and now Jorah has Heartsbane. Arya Stark has a Valyrian steel dagger, known as the “Catspaw” blade.
And then Brienne and Jaime have twin Valyrian steel swords made from the metal that used to be Ned Stark’s greatsword Ice. The blades are named Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail, respectively.
We also saw in the trailer that Jon will end up in what looks like the godswood.
Though we think Jon will spend some time dragon-riding, it looks like he winds up in the godswood on foot.
That’s where Bran and Theon will be, so perhaps things go badly if it means Jon needs to come help.
Theon and Sansa had a touching moment on Sunday’s “Game of Thrones” episode, which leaves us doubtful he’ll survive much longer. His story arc seems complete, and sacrificing his life to save Bran’s would be a fitting swan song.
We only got one small peek at Daenerys riding Drogon in the trailer.
He’s roaring and not spitting fire, but hopefully Daenerys will be able to “dracarys” a significant number of wights into ash.
The coming attack will be intimidating enough to leave Jaime looking petrified.
In the trailer, we see Brienne scream “stand your ground!” after this shot, so whatever is coming it seems as if our army of the living will need to summon all the bravery they can muster.
Last but not least, we’re hoping Old Nan’s tale of the Long Night comes full circle and we see ice spiders “big as hounds!”
Back on the first season, Old Nan told young Bran Stark the story of the Long Night.
“In that darkness, the White Walkers came for the first time,” she said. “They swept through cities and kingdoms, riding their dead horses, hunting with their pale spiders big as hounds!”
The ice spiders were mentioned again by a wildling on season five’s “Hardhome” episode. We would love if the thing scaring Jaime in that last scene was a pack of ice spiders, but that might be just a pipe dream.
- Read more:
- Why ‘Game of Thrones’ has become so dark you can barely see the characters sometimes
- 15 details you might have missed on the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’
- See all 6 new ‘Game of Thrones’ photos from the Battle of Winterfell
- This ‘Game of Thrones’ fan theory could mean our heroes won’t be facing the Night King on the next episode
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.