19 things fans can expect from the coming epic 'Game of Thrones' battle at Winterfell

Helen Sloan/HBOA child-wight and Sansa Stark on ‘Game of Thrones.’
  • 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.”

Thanks to teaser videos, released photos, and set interviews, we know a fair amount about what may come during Sunday’s bloodbath.

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.

Alex Van Mecl/HBOSansa and Arya on the coming battle episode.

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.

HBOJon Snow at the Battle of the Bastards.

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.

HBOJon Snow facing the cavalry on ‘Battle of the Bastards.’

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.

Alex Van Mecl/HBOA photo from the coming episode.

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.

HBOTyrion and Jaime standing on the ramparts of Winterfell.

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.

HBOThe battle plan for Winterfell’s fight against the Army of the Dead.

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.

Read more:
15 details you might have missed on the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’

The Dothraki horselords, along with Ser Jorah, are fighting front and center.

HBOA scene from the trailer for episode three.

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).

Read more:
The difference between White Walkers and wights on ‘Game of Thrones’

Inside the castle walls, House Mormont (led by Lady Lyanna) will apparently protect the main holdfast.

Helen Sloan/HBOLady Lyanna Mormont on episode two, ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.’

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.

Alex Van Mecl/HBOVarys and Tyrion in the crypts.

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.

HBOThe bulk of the wights we’ve seen on ‘Game of Thrones’ still have some skin left.

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.

HBOArya Stark fighting.

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.

Read more:
Every detail you might have missed in the ‘Game of Thrones’ season 8 trailer

Many fans believe this shot of Arya running is in the crypts, but to us it looks like a regular Winterfell hallway.

HBOArya running for her life.

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.

HBOThe Night King is trying to get to Bran, as revealed on Sunday’s episode.

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.

Alex Van Mecl/HBOSansa looks upset in this shot from the coming episode.

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.

Helen Sloan/HBOJohn Bradley West as Samwell Tarly on ‘Game of Thrones’ season eight.

“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.

HBORegular fire cannot kill White Walkers.

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.

HBOA peek at Jon fighting on the coming episode.

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.

HBOTheon shooting fiery arrows at what we assume are wights.

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.

Read more:
The coming ‘Game of Thrones’ battle is going to have an incredible callback to one of Theon Greyjoy’s first ever scenes

We only got one small peek at Daenerys riding Drogon in the trailer.

HBOThis very dark shot appears to be Dany and Drogon.

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.

Alex Van Mecl/HBOOne of the photos released by HBO for the coming episode.

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!”

HBOOld Nan and Bran on season one, episode three, ‘Lord Snow.’

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.

You can watch the trailer for the Battle of Winterfell episode here.

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