We’re still a ways off from the final season of Game of Thrones, slated to air sometime in the early part of 2019, but some information about the show’s last six episodes is finally starting to come out. Specifically, we know how the final battle for Westeros against the White Walkers will begin: with the Mother of Dragons arriving in the North.
Entertainment Weekly released a long cover feature full of tidbits about the final season, and while HBO has been extremely protective of spoilers and secrets, showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff did give a few hints about what we can expect. Up first is the beginning of the final season, in which at least a few of the leaders of Westeros converge on Winterfell, the seat of House Stark and the fortress that’s the centerpiece of humanity’s defense against the Night King’s undead army.
The opening of Season 8 will mirror that of Season 1, with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) riding to Winterfell with her armies in preparation for the arrival of the Army of the Dead. It’s a deliberate call all the way back to the first episode in 2011, when King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) rode to Winterfell to ask his old friend, Ned Stark (Sean Bean), to return to King’s Landing as his Hand of the King. That request kicked off years of warfare and led to many tragic deaths, and given that this is Game of Thrones, it’s definitely not unreasonable to expect Daenerys’s arrival could result in the same.
“It’s about all of these disparate characters coming together to face a common enemy, dealing with their own past, and defining the person they want to be in the face of certain death,” co-executive producer Bryan Cogman told EW. “It’s an incredibly emotional, haunting, bittersweet final season, and I think it honors very much what George set out to do–which is flipping this kind of story on its head.”
Season 8 in general will be about characters we’ve been following throughout the show finally meeting each other, and the results of those interactions, and potential conflicts. Game of Thrones has always had the threat of the White Walkers looming in the distance, but the show is really about the characters and politics of Westeros and their endless battles for power. Those dynamics still exist in Season 8; for one thing, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), the Lady of Winterfell, is not super happy that her brother Jon Snow (Kit Harington) bent the knee to Daenerys last season.
Regardless of whether the humans work out their differences–there’s still the treacherous Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) down south in King’s Landing, likely plotting something awful–the dead are coming. EW’s report also discusses the massive battle that will inevitably take place in Winterfell, noting that one episode is going to be wall-to-wall action in Winterfell. According to Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister, the battle in Season 8 makes the massive Battle of the Bastards at Winterfell in Season 6 “look like a theme park.” In fact, the epic scale of Season 8 once led Benioff and Weiss to speculate about releasing it as three standalone movies instead of a season of TV.
Other than the broad strokes, the rest of what might happen in Season 8 is still largely unknown. There might be a few clues in the recently released Game of Thrones tie-in game, Reigns: Game of Thrones, but we’re stuck speculating until the show’s 2019 release. Game of Thrones won’t end there, though–the show’s first prequel, set thousands of years before the current series, is now casting.