The second episode of Game of Thrones season 8 is all about getting ready for battle. Important conversations are had and sentimental reunions are shared, all while the dead march closer to Winterfell.
[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2.]
Finally, at the end of the episode, the White Walkers arrive — and with a nice little callback to a previous episode, in the form of the Night’s Watch horns that warn of the army of the dead.
According to the laws of the Night’s Watch, there’s a simple code for blowing the horns. One blast from a horn signals a Night’s Watch rider returning; two blasts, wildlings; and three, White Walkers.
While there hasn’t been any mention of it, it seems that Winterfell has adopted this system. Which makes a lot of sense considering that many of the men served under Jon, a former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, a lifetime ago. It’s only fitting that he would institute one of the Night’s Watch’s oldest systems at his new castle.
In fact, this idea is even referenced early in the episode. When Dolorous Edd (the acting commander of the Night’s Watch), Tormund Giantsbane, and Beric Dondarrion arrive at the castle, we get a clear single blast of the horn. Riders returning.
However, when we hear this horn again at the end of the episode, it’s not just one blast. Instead, Jon and Dany’s important conversation in the crypts is interrupted by three sharp blasts. And with that traditional Night’s Watch signal, Jon knows immediately: The dead have arrived.
Unfortunately for us, that’s where the episode ends, with a brief glimpse of the White Walkers. But, notably, no Night’s King. In the next episode, the season’s third, it appears that we’re finally going to see how the battle of life versus dead goes and who survives.