Winter is coming, for the last time ever - here’s our absolutely exhaustive guide to what to expect
Let’s get down to business, shall we? Game of Thrones is coming back real soon for its final ever season.
How’s it going to end? Who’s going to end up on the Iron Throne? And – most importantly – are we gonna see more of the bad-ass, pint-sized Lady Mormont?
Here’s every scrap of info we have so far about the Season 8.
When is it airing?
While HBO kept it under wraps for a long time, Maisie Williams let the cat out of the bag at the beginning of the year, saying: “We wrap in December and we air our first episode in April .”
HBO have finally confirmed that the show is definitely returning in April 2019. They did so with a stirring montage that reminds us how satisfying Joffrey’s comeuppance was.
Has filming finished?
Filming officially began on 23 October, 2017, and wrapped in July 2018.
Who’s written it?
Like season seven, the storyline has overtaken the novels written by George RR Martin. But the Thrones supremo has given writers/showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss the outlines of his upcoming books The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.
Benioff and Weiss will also direct the final episode.
How many episodes will there be?
We’re getting a shorter season this time of just six episodes. But fear not: they’re expected to be much longer than in previous seasons. Taking part in a Reddit AMA, Game of Thrones director David Nutter revealed was fairly candid when quizzed on the subject saying: “Season 8 episodes will all I think be longer than 60 minutes. They’ll be dancing around the bigger numbers, I know that for sure.”
What do we know about the filming?
Secrecy in the Game of Thrones camp was at an all time high to prevent any and all leaks, according to Sansa actress Sophie Turner.
Speaking to Vulture at New York Comic Con, the 22-year-old said: “The secrecy is crazy.
“We have a whole different name for it when we’re shooting it. I think this season it was like The Tree of Life or something.”
Revealing that the actors had to change their names on scripts, she went on to explain how the producers used a “drone killer” to shoot down any unauthorised robotic craft trying to catch a glimpse of the filming.
“I don’t know how it does it. It creates like this field around and the drones just drop,” she said. “Also, we shoot fake scenes. We got into costume in Croatia because we know the paparazzi lurk around there, so we would spend like half a day doing nothing.”
How is it going to start?
The Game of Thrones writers are taking us back to where it all began for the opening episode of Season 8: to the all-important Stark home of Winterfell.
You’ll remember that Season 1 Episode 1 began with a soldier of the Night’s Watch abandoning his post after a terrifying encounter with a White Walker, before being dragged to the Northern stronghold to face his punishment. And it wasn’t long before the royal party of King Robert Baratheon, Cersei and Joffrey arrived in Winterfell to secure Ned Stark’s support as the Hand of the King.
So now, excellently mirroring this very first episode, we’re heading back to Winterfell for the next season’s opening, according to the first final season plot details that have been revealed.
“Season 8 opens at Winterfell with an episode that contains plenty of callbacks to the show’s pilot,” according to Entertainment Weekly, which has been given some lovely details about the final season.
“Instead of King Robert’s procession arriving, it’s Daenerys and her army. What follows is a thrilling and tense intermingling of characters — some of whom have never previously met, many who have messy histories — as they all prepare to face the inevitable invasion of the Army of the Dead.”
“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 added.
“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.”
What kind of twists and reveals can we expect throughout Game of Throne’s final season?
Game of Thrones has never been scared to keep viewers on there toes and there’s no reason to believe the final season is going to be any different. Key plot reveals, deaths and twists have all been been alluded to by multiple cast members over the last year, driving fans to speculate that we could have an upset on our hands that’s of a similar scale to the now infamous Red Wedding from Season 3.
A speculative fever that’s been fed further by Game of Thrones director David Nutter, speaking in a Reddit AMA he said: “As far as season 8 compared to the Red Wedding I just have to tell you — hang onto your seat cause it’s going to be special.”
He later went on to also add the inevitable showdown with the White Walker army may be the least of the characters worries in the final season: “The White Walker army will not be the only issue our characters have to face in season 8, they have to also face each other.”
It’s not much to go on but if we were about to take a punt on things we’d say things are about to get very bloody and very dramatic.
What about the final battle sequence?
According to assistant director Jonathan Quinlan, the showdown between the good folk of Westeros and the White Walkers will be unlike anything we’ve seen before. In a now-deleted Instagram post he shared a pic of a producers’ note to the cast, thanking them for all their hard work filming the scene. A scene which took an unfathomably long time - 55 whole nights in total. What a slog.
The full text reads:
This is for the Night Dragons.
For enduring 55 straight nights. For enduring the cold, the snow, the rain, the mud, the sheep shit of Toome, and the winds of Magheramorne. When tens of millions of people around the world watch this episode a year from now, they won’t know how hard you worked.
They won’t care how tired you were or how tough it was to do your job in sub-freezing temperatures. They’ll just understand they’re watching something that’s never been done before. And that’s because of you.
Is anyone new joining the cast?
One exciting name joining Season 8 is German actor Marc Rissmann, who is taking on the role of Harry Strickland.
In the books, Strickland is the leader of the Golden Company, the army of mercenaries from Essos which Euron Greyjoy sails off to bring back for Cersei at the end of season 7, according to iNews.
Do we know who might survive – and who’s going to die?
Peter Dinklage has spoken about his final season as Tyrion – and hinted that his character might not make it until the end.
When asked about where Tyrion is left at the end of the series, Dinklage told Vulture: “I feel very, very — I’m trying to find the right word. I think he was given a very good conclusion. No matter what that is — death can be a great way out.”
The character has featured in all seven seasons of the show, and last appeared in season seven finale ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’.
Speaking in the interview Glen first said: “I am one of the lucky ones who made it through!” which will obviously be interpreted differently by different people.
“Game of Thrones will stick with us all forever and we were very lucky to have been a part of the show,” Glen added.
“The final scripts are really special. [They] read like the six best scripts.”
And we’ve also got some clues about Wildling Tormund Giantsbane (played by Kristofer Hivju) and Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), from the Brotherhood Without Banners.
Last season, both of them were precariously positioned on the top of the Wall as undead ice dragon Viserion did his best to destroy it and the last we saw of them, they were fleeing for their lives.
But a newly-released season seven script appears to suggest that the pair might have made it out alive.
The script for the finale episode ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ was submitted for consideration in the race for the 2018 Emmys and was posted online to the Emmy website. These PDF uploads don’t usually attract too much attention but considering how much Thrones fans are frothing at the mouth for even the smallest clues, it appears we’ve turned up a little nugget of info.
Here’s the relevant section of the script:
Tormund and Beric lead their wildling comrades to the stairs carved in the ice – Eastwatch has a massive zig-zag stairway, not an elevator like Castle Black. They run for their lives and disappear from view.
We see a few Wildling stragglers who didn’t make it down in time fall hundreds of feet to their death.
So what can we infer from these passages? The fact that only “a few Wildling stragglers” were killed heavily suggests that most of those on the Wall, including Tormund and Beric, make it out alive, which is great news.
And another strong hint comes from fan site Winter is Coming which claims to have spotted actor Kristofer Hivju in Belfast filming for season eight. So unless he’s filming a flashback sequence, we can quite confidently assume that he’ll be popping up again in the final season.
Is Ghost coming back?
He’s been a loyal companion of Jon Snow since the beginning and it’s been confirmed that Ghost will be making a prominent return in Season 8.
“Oh, you’ll see him again. He has a fair amount of screen time in Season 8,” VFX supervisor Joe Bauer told Huffington Post.
“Ghost does show up, and he does some… he’s very present and does some pretty cool things in Season 8.”
Bauer also explained how they bring the direwolves to life on screen.
“The direwolves are tough because you don’t want to get them wrong, so we end up always shooting real wolves and doing a scaling trick with them, but the real wolves only behave in certain ways,” Bauer said.
(Images: HBO / Getty)