Winter is coming, but until then, we’re left with reports and juicy rumors about the battle for the Iron Throne. Here’s how to watch and what to expect.
BY GAEL FASHINGBAUER COOPER
Daenerys is so close to landing that Iron Throne. Or is she?
Winter is supposedly coming, but for Game of Thrones fans, the wait can seem eternal. But fans can now make a countdown calendar, because HBO announced in January that the show will return for its final season on April 14.
HBO also released a short teaser showing Jon Snow reunited with sisters Arya and Sansa Stark, as the three walk through the crypts of family home Winterfell and hear mysterious messages from their parents. (Yes, including Jon’s mother, Lyanna Stark, sister of Ned.)
The teaser is just that, a teaser — that scene won’t actually appear in the new episodes, Entertainment Weekly reports.
Season 7 ended in August 2017 with dragons and White Walkers and, uh, a little unwitting incest. And fans who are impatiently waiting for resolution can’t even console themselves with a new George R.R. Martin book in the saga, because ha ha ha boo hoo hoo.
But the book, like winter, is coming. Just before Thanksgiving 2018, Martin told The Wall Street Journal he was at a remote mountain cabin where he goes to “hunker down” and write, and that he’s “hard at work” on Winds of Winter. He wouldn’t give spoilers, but he said he had a master plan, despite the TV show events.
“I’m still going to finish it the way I always wanted to finish it, the way it’s been in my head for 25 years now,” Martin said.
Martin also spoke up about Winds of Winter in August 2018. Then, he noted that some people have died on screen who won’t die in the books. (Margaery? Hodor? Shireen? We can dream. Despite what Martin said, he’s not adverse to killing major characters on the page too and blames J.R.R. Tolkien’s Gandalf, of all people.
That final episode is going to pull out all the stops, too, according to Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Missandei. In August 2018, she told the Hindustan Times the season would finally wrap up some intriguing storylines.
“This season is going to be incredibly satisfying for people,” Emmanuel said. “It is going to be incredibly exciting and heartbreaking. I feel like people will have their mind blown when they watch the final one.”
But those of us who have to live in the world of tax deadlines and performance reviews sure could use a fantasy escape back to the land of castles and wildfire and Tyrion’s one-liners. So while we wait, and say bye like Daenerys Targaryen herself, here’s a guide to the eventual final season of HBO’s blockbuster fantasy hit.
Latest info on final season.
Fans might be surprised at who survives till the end
While watching the absolute last episode being filmed, Hibberd wrote,
“I look around at a meticulously constructed set that I’ve never seen on the show before. Several actors are performing, and I’m stunned: There are characters in the finale that I did not expect.”
Winterfell is coming
What goes around, comes around. Hibberd says the final season begins at the Stark stronghold of Winterfell, and contains plenty of parallels to the show’s pilot.
“Instead of King Robert’s procession arriving, it’s Daenerys and her army, he writes. From there, characters meet and mingle and prepare to fight the Army of the Dead.
And speaking of Winterfell…
The Winterfell set had a massive expansion for the last season. There’s now a “towering castle exterior, a larger courtyard, and more interconnected rooms and ramparts,” EW reports.
Building to the massive battle
We’ve already heard that there will be a massive battle (presumably, humans vs. dead) that took 55 days to shoot, and takes place at three different locations. Hibberd’s report says that “wildly understates” the actual events, that the 55 days were only for outdoor scenes shot at Winterfell, and that the battle was shot for weeks more at indoor studio sets.
There’s one tiny actual tease dropped Sansa (Sophie Turner) isn’t happy that Jon (Kit Harington) bent the knee to Daenerys, which shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who knows the proud Stark heritage. But it sounds like she changes her mind about Dany eventually. (Which is good, because they’re actually family.)
— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) November 13, 2018
Don’t believe those leaked scripts
While noting that a supposed leaked script turned up on Reddit, Hibberd warned that real Game of Thrones scripts don’t say Game of Thrones on them, and production documents use code names to refer to the actors. (Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys, was referred to as “Eldiss.”)
90 days, 23 hours, 55 min, 27 seconds pic.twitter.com/ZxaPAmwf36
— HBO (@HBO) January 14, 2019
Release date, episodes and timing
So what’s left to watch? The final season is season 8, and HBO has confirmed it’s coming on April 14, 2019, and will consist of six episodes. Only six, but they’ll be super-sized. In 2017, the show’s sound designer said they’d be as long as movies, but late in 2018, director David Nutter said on Reddit that each one will be over an hour.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, as well as David Nutter and Miguel Sapochnik, will direct episodes, and Benioff, Weiss, Bryan Cogman and Dave Hill will write the scripts. As fans well know, the TV show has veered off from Martin’s books due to necessity, as a new book hasn’t come out since 2011.
We’ll update this story as new information is revealed, be sure to check out the plot section for new details, or rumors. Hold the door, spoilers incoming!