Game of Thrones took viewers to the Crypt of Winterfell in its very first episode, when King Robert Baratheon insisted on visiting the tomb of Lyanna Stark minutes after arriving at the Starks’ castle. Since then, the crypt has been a place for the Stark children to hide, reflect, mourn, and reunite. It’s importance took on an all new meaning after the latest season eight teaser showed Jon, Arya, and Sansa walking through it and facing death—their own, and in the form of the White Walkers. But the final resting place of the Starks was a fascinating place long before HBO used it for an unsettling promo.
We’ve seen the Starks lose their ancestral castle to the Boltons, but a far greater threat has loomed over the direwolves’ ancestral home since Game of Thrones‘ first scene. And the closer we get to the show’s final season the more we think a far worse fate awaits the North’s capital. All signs point to Winterfell completely falling to the White Walkers.
EPISODE LENGTH AND A MASSIVE BATTLE
The final season will only be six episodes long, the show’s shortest by far of any season. (Last season was seven episodes, all others were ten.) However, according to the show’s sound designer Paula Fairfield, each of the final six episodes might be “feature length.” If true we’d expect them all to have a running time of at least 80 minutes, with some possibly much longer. The longest episode in show history was the season seven finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” which ran 79 minutes 43 seconds, and HBO must be spending a reported record-setting 15 million per episode for a reason.
When we first heard this way back in July of 2017, it alone pointed to a dire(wolf) outcome for Winterfell. It shouldn’t take long for the White Walkers to reach the castle (especially with a dragon on their side), so would the show needlessly stretch their arrival there until the end of the season? If they did, what else would be going on to fill out these long episodes? Cersei is alone in King’s Landing, while all the other major players are in the North or heading there. Something has to give quickly for things to actually happen.
Last April we learned the show shot one battle for a record-setting 55 days, and all the evidence points to it having happened at or near Winterfell. Since the White Walker showdown at Winterfell almost certainly has to happen early in the season, there are two possible outcomes. If the White Walkers fail to take it they’d have to retreat and the living could chase them. However, if they take Winterfell it would move the action of the show south towards Cersei, where there is more potential for the amount of plot needed to fill out movie-length episodes.
CHILLY TEASERS WITH A COLD CONNECTION
The only new footage from season eight has been of brief shots of Jon, Daenerys, and Sansa meeting at Winterfell, and we’ve only seen those as part of other promos for multiple HBO shows. The official show teasers have been atmospheric in nature, focused on imagery, symbolism, and setting an uneasy tone for the season. Neither have had any actual show footage, but both show Winterfell being completely consumed by ice.
The first teaser hasa map of Westeros, with the cold of the White Walkers moving south after covering both a direwolf and Winterfell in ice.
The new teaser (which we completely broke down) features the crypt of Winterfell also being covered in the ice of the White Walkers, as the cold creeps closer to Jon, Sansa, and Arya.
These teasers might be nothing more than symbolism of a coming threat, but Winterfell’s fate feels far more ominous since the main connect between both teasers features the White Walkers taking over. Combined with how much sense it makes for the season to progress South and these teasers almost feel like spoilers.
WINTERFELL’S HISTORY AND NAME
Our recent History of Thrones looked at the legendary past of Winterfell, a castle thought to have been built on the very spot where mankind defeated the White Walkers during the first Long Night. That could be where the castle got its name from, as in Winter (the White Walkers) fell (loss) right there.
But some also think the name Winterfell has always been a harbinger of the White Walkers return. The Stark family words are “Winter is Coming,” and that has never just meant snow. The Night King and his army of the dead will fall on the Stark’s home soon.
Winterfell might have a triple meaning though, and the last one is far more terrible. Before Aegon the Conqueror, the Starks ruled the North as the Kings of Winter. If the White Walkers do take the castle, it will be where the Kings of Winter fell.
With everything we know about the season – from episode length, to where the major players are located on the map, to a massive battle, to teasers, and theories – it feels more and more like the Stark family home will soon be ruled by the Night King.
When Winter comes, Winterfell will fall.
What can we say? April 19th we await thee!
By The Nerdist