- “Game of Thrones” is returning for its eighth and final season Sunday, April 14.
- There is still no trailer yet, but thanks to teasers and set reports we know the general outline for the season.
- There will be six total episodes, with one featuring a major battle at Winterfell with the Night King.
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” returns for its eighth and final season on April 14, and fans have been eagerly awaiting a full trailer. Thanks to some teasers, set reports, and cast interviews, INSIDER has been able to piece together a clearer look at what to expect from the final six episodes.
Here’s what we know about the eighth season so far.
The final sets of episodes are all being helmed by veteran “Game of Thrones” directors.
There are six total episodes in the eighth season, directed by four different men. For this important series of episodes, HBO brought back directors who had helmed some of the show’s most iconic hours of television.
First, David Nutter is directing three episodes.
David Nutter is directing half of the episodes for season eight, including one described by Entertainment Weekly as a “calm-before-the-storm entry that might surprise viewers with its play-like intimacy.”
Nutter previously directed the Red Wedding episode from season three,”The Rains of Castamere,” and the finale of season five, “Mother’s Mercy.”
Miguel Sapochnik is taking on two episodes, including one with the longest battle ever filmed in TV or movie history.
Miguel Sapochnik is in charge of the season’s major battle episode, and the one other (the storyline of which is unknown). He previously directed three of the series’ most acclaimed episodes: “Hardhome,” “Battle of the Bastards,” and season six finale “The Winds of Winter.”
The final season’s big battle is reportedly taking place in the third episode of the season.
The two “Game of Thrones” showrunners are co-directing the series finale.
The series’ co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are directing the finale together. They previously co-directed season three’s “Walk of Punishment” and season four’s opening, “Two Swords.”
Three of the episodes will be nearly an hour and a half long, while the rest are closer to the typical 60 minute mark.
Reports over the last couple of years said the final episodes were potentially going to be “feature length.”
As spotted by “Game of Thrones” news site Watchers on the Wall, the episode lengths have now been revealed through HBO’s online schedule. The air dates and lengths are currently as follows:
- Sunday 4/14 – Episode one (54 minutes)
- Sunday 4/21 – Episode two (58 minutes)
- Sunday 4/28 – Episode three (60 minutes)
- Sunday 5/5 – Episode four (1 hour, 18 minutes)
- Sunday 5/12 – Episode five (1 hour, 20 minutes)
- Sunday 5/19 – Episode six (1 hour, 20 minutes)
The first new footage released for the final season showed Jon and Sansa hugging at Winterfell.
In a video preview of shows airing on HBO in 2019, the network included a three-second clip of Jon and Sansa reuniting at the Stark family home. The hug was more solemn than their reunion at Castle Black.
Jon and Sansa’s hug will take place during the premiere when Jon returns home, according to Entertainment Weekly. EW also confirmed that Sansa’s serious reaction is due to her disapproval of Jon teaming with Daenerys and bringing her army to Winterfell.
Jon and Daenerys arriving to Winterfell in the first episode of the season will mirror the pilot episode.
HBO released additional footage of the arrival during the Golden Globes. In the video, Sansa greets them and tells Dany, “Winterfell is yours, Your Grace. This is a callback to the first episode of “Game of Thrones,” when Ned Stark told King Robert that Winterfell was his when the royal party arrived at the castle.
More characters will share scenes together for the first time, while other reunions are basically guaranteed.
Actress Hannah Murray, who plays Gilly, told INSIDER that she “got to work with some people [she] hadn’t had the chance to work with before” while filming season eight. Considering she and Sam arrived at the Stark home at the end of the seventh season, it stands to reason that Gilly will meet Daenerys and the surviving Stark family members.
We can also expect Jon to reunite with several key characters, including Arya Stark and Sam Tarly.
Ghost is back after being absent during all of season seven.
Visual effects supervisor Joe Bauer told HuffPost that Jon’s direwolf will get more screen time.
“Oh, you’ll see him again,” Bauer said. “He has a fair amount of screen time in season eight. He does show up.”
Arya’s wolf Nymeria briefly appeared on season seven, so with Ghost returning, it’s also possible to see her come back. The Starks have a special mystical connection to the direwolves in George R.R. Martin’s books, so there’s a chance it will be explored on-screen for the final season.
Season eight will feature the biggest battle ever shot for the series, and it will take place at Winterfell.
Entertainment Weekly reported that the cast and crew filmed for 11 weeks outside and in a studio for the show’s biggest battle. For comparison, season six’s Battle of the Bastards took 25 days to film.
The battle will take place in and around Winterfell. The two main forces will be Jon’s Northern army and Dany’s Unsullied and Dothraki against the Night King and his army of the dead.
According to EW’s James Hibberd, multiple “beloved heroes” will die in this battle.
Beric and Tormund may be alive.
When the Wall came down at the end of the seventh season, Beric and Tormund’s fate was left hanging in the balance. But upon closer inspection, it looks like Beric and Tormund could’ve run to safety on the part of the Wall that stayed standing.
Additionally, HBO submitted the finale episode for consideration in the 2018 Emmys, so the full script was available to read online. Though there is no confirmation on Beric and Tormund surviving, one key part from the script describes them running.
“Tormund and Beric lead their wildling comrades to the stairs carved in the ice – Eastwatch has a massive zig-zag stairway, not an elevator like Castle Black,” it reads. “They run for their lives and disappear from view.”
Surprise characters will return for the finale.
James Hibberd from Entertainment Weekly was on the set of the finale and wrote that he saw “characters in the finale that I did not expect.”
Characters who we think have a shot at re-entering the series include Jaqen H’ghar, Daario, and Archmaester Ebrose. But this also could mean Hibberd saw characters he was surprised to have survived, like Cersei Lannister (often predicted by fans to be toast).
New characters will be introduced.
According to fan site Watchers on the Wall, actor Marc Rissmann (“The Last Kingdom”) was cast as Harry Strickland, leader of the Golden Company. The site reported that his agency and Spotlight CV confirmed the news, though the credits have since been removed. The casting would make sense. Euron Greyjoy was sent to gather the Golden Company for Cersei during the seventh season.
Watchers on the Wall also reported that a Northern girl and a boy aged 8-12 were being cast in September 2017.
Mashable also reported that actress Danielle Galligan was reportedly cast as “Sarra” on “Game of Thrones.” The site captured the credit in a screenshot before it was removed. The role could reference Sarra Frey, one of the granddaughters of Walder Frey, who was offered to Robb as a marriage option.
Jon Snow’s parentage will be a major feature storyline.
Though the video didn’t actually include any footage from the series, it addressed themes for the upcoming season. The teaser included a reference to Jon’s true Targaryen parentage as he walks past Lyanna Stark’s crypt. Jon doesn’t know his past yet, but he most likely will on season eight.
“The end of the world might be coming soon, but at least he’s in love with somebody and knows who he is – and then comes a sledgehammer,” Harington told EW.
That “sledgehammer” is likely a reference to the revelation of his birth parents.
Based on an interview, it looks like Sam will be the one to tell Jon about his Targaryen heritage.
“[Sam] knows Jon would rather hear this from Sam than anybody else,” actor John Bradley West told EW.
Gilly was the one who discovered Rhaegar Targaryen’s annulment of his marriage to Elia Martell and subsequent union with another woman. Then Sam and Bran Stark pieced together the rest on the seventh season finale.
The finale of the entire series will air on May 19.
With the six episodes airing consecutively starting on Sunday, April 14, fans will know the ending to HBO’s greatest hit series by the evening of May 19.
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