Just before the two-episode premiere of True Detective season three, HBO finally let fans know that the final season of Game of Thrones will drop on April 14. The premiere date reveal also came with a teaser for season 8 that’s steeped in mystery and misdirection.
Last year’s first real Game of Thrones teaser was a quick and disorienting mashup of scenes from each of the season’s episodes as each character walked toward their fate. This time around, however, things are going in a very different direction. With the official season 8 teaser, HBO seems to have simply gone of the route of using footage shot specifically for the tease, and likely won’t be in the actual season at all. Still, what we see should play an important role in the story to come.
Before we get into the theories and lore let’s look at the footage we were given: The teaser opens with Jon walking through the crypts of Winterfell. As he passes by the tomb of Lyanna Stark, a feather falls from her statue’s hand. He’s then greeted by Arya and Sansa as the three Stark children walk through the tomb. As they reach the end where their own statues and future tombs are — at least in the teaser — suddenly, the lights dim, the torches are extinguished, and a blue frosty-looking mist begins to pour in.
So, is any of that really going to happen in the show? The answer is probably not. At least, not the whole thing, but something like it probably will. The teaser itself is directed specifically by David Nutter, the same director as season 8’s first episode, but it feels a little too much like a teaser to see how it could fit into the episode. For instance, at the beginning of the teaser a feather falls as Jon walks through, a feather that eagle eyed viewers might remember was originally placed by King Robert on Lyanna’s tomb in the show’s first episode.
That wasn’t the only time we’ve seen that feather; Sansa also found it during the fourth episode of season 5, when Littlefinger tells her the story of Lyanna and Rhaegar meeting at the tournament at Harrenhal, which began Robert’s rebellion. During that conversation, Sansa picked up the feather and wandered off with it in her hand, meaning that it really shouldn’t be in the crypts for season 8.
Finally, there’s the looming danger at the end of the teaser. As the blue mist rolls in — a clear allusion to the White Walkers that will surely present the season’s largest threat — the three Starks turn to meet it, ready to fight. It’s the perfect image to end a teaser with, and positions the importance of lore-heavy reveals in direct parallel to the battle of life and death that’s still looming. But, it’s difficult to imagine that these moments will be so neatly connected in the real season.
With that in mind, our characters are almost certain to pay a visit to Winterfell’s crypts this season, so that part is probably true. For those who haven’t spent most of Game of Thrones’ two year long hiatus refreshing themselves on the lore, it’s worth taking a moment to remind ourselves why the crypt is important. As the ancestral burying place of the Stark family, the Winterfell crypt is the final resting place of Jon’s mother, Lyanna Stark (who he doesn’t know was his mother). While viewers were treated to Bran’s vision as an explanation of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen’s marriage the other characters are going to need a little convincing and it’s likely they’ll set off to the crypts, and Lyanna’s tomb, in search of some hard evidence.
Thanks to a chapter from A Dance With Dragons, the series’ fifth book, we know that after the battle at the Tower of Joy, Eddard Stark went to great lengths to see that his sister’s body was returned to the crypts of Winterfell. If the three Stark children venture to the crypts and examine the tomb, it’s likely they’ll find some sign of Rhaegar’s affection — possibly his signature silver-stringed harp — which Daenerys can verify, thus proving Bran’s visions correct and Jon’s true identity as the legitimate child of a Stark mother and Targaryen father.
With these discrepancies in mind, along with the fact that the crypts likely hold an important secret for our characters, the easiest way to read the teaser footage is probably just like that: teaser footage. Not literal scenes of the season, but simply an altered version of what’s to come designed to get fans excited. And it has certainly done its job. With another three months still to go before season 8 officially begins on April 14, we’ve still got plenty of time for more trailers, whether they’re real snippets of footage or a little more symbolic.