Game of Thrones Season 8 EW cover story: the long-planned short final season, opening scene, large battles, and more!

Game of Thrones Season 8 Illustration by Francesco Francavilla for EW

Game of Thrones Season 8 Illustration by Francesco Francavilla for EW

Entertainment Weekly always has the exclusive first look at the next season of Game of Thrones, and this time it’s no different—in fact, they went a step further and for the first time ever posted their entire Season 8 cover story online the same day as the physical issue’s release. Hibberd’s report is extensive, with stories from the tear-jerking read-through, a description of the opening scene, the largest battle scene ever filmed for television being even larger than we thought, and more, including the revelation that this shortened final season has been the plan for longer than you may think!

EW‘s James Hibberd wastes no time in revealing that the plans for a shortened final season have been in the making for years: back in 2012, during the season three set visit, the showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss revealed to Hibberd that they were keenly aware of that was coming and their budget, as large as it was, would not cut it:

“We have a very generous budget from HBO, but we know what’s coming down the line and, ultimately, it’s not generous enough,” Benioff said. And, believe it or not, back then, all the way back in 2012, is when they decided to produce six hour-long episodes for the final season, making most of each of them, though at the time the plan was to release them on theaters in pairs, as three films: “It’s what we’re working towards in a perfect world,” Weiss said. “We end up with an epic fantasy story but with the level of familiarity and investment in the characters that are normally impossible in a two-hour movie.”

Obviously, that plan didn’t pan out, as HBO wasn’t that keen on premiering the final season of their cash cow on theaters, but the spirit of the plan survived, and, as EW puts it, the showrunners did eventually “strike a deal with the network to spend two years on a shortened season 8 that would cost more than $15 million an episode.” So it’s easy to believe this will be a mammoth of a final season, in scope, budget, and even attention to the minutest of details: reportedly, for the first time ever, they had the luxury to take their time, filming “several” days for scenes which might once have taken “a day.”

Winterfell white raven

The final season will open where many of us suspected: at Winterfell. The premiere will deal with the arrival of Daenerys in a way that calls back to King Robert’s arrival in the series premiere. As you may imagine, this will be an episode full of reunions and tense first meetings between characters. Sansa, for example, is said to not be “thrilled that Jon bent the knee to his fancy new Targaryen girlfriend, at least not at first.”

This pesky human drama will be interrupted by the White Walker attack on Winterfell that we reported on for months here at Watchers. This mid-season battle episode, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (who helmed Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards before it), took 55 night shoots at the much-expanded Winterfell set, but what Hibberd unveils here is that this was only part of the sequence. After the 55 nights of filming outdoors scenes, Sapochnik continued shooting the battle at Titanic Studios for weeks. According to Peter Dinklage, this battle “makes the Battle of the Bastards look like a theme park.”

If you aren’t into Game of Thrones for bombastic action and all of this is already making you feel a bit fatigued, don’t worry, as Benioff agrees with you: “Having the largest battle doesn’t sound very exciting — it actually sounds pretty boring. Part of our [and] Miguel’s challenge is how to keep that compelling… we’ve been building toward this since the very beginning, it’s the living against the dead, and you can’t do that in a 12-minute sequence.” To accomplish this, the battle will move amongst locations and characters throughout Winterfell, following their different perspectives as part of the larger battle.

Finally, a scene from the series finale is also described, or rather frustratingly alluded to, in which Hibberd notes “there are characters” he “did not expect.” As mysterious as that may be, I’m sure that’s speculation fodder for many of us. Who could return that most of us didn’t expect? Daario Naharis? Jaqen H’ghar? Someone even weirder?

For more, including anecdotes from the read-through and filming by the main cast, read the cover story at EW! There’s a lot there, so you really should read it in its entirety!

127 responses

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    1. Well that’s a teasing article if ever there was one! Now bring me that trailer…

      A word about spoilers: The cast is used to keeping story secrets, yet they’ve never sounded so anxious about it. “There are moments where you don’t trust yourself to have this in your brain,” says Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry. “You’re in possession of something millions of people want to know. It’s such a bizarre feeling. And between now and when it comes out, I’m gonna be drunk at some point.”

      😀

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    2. Wow we were very pressed for Season 8 news and now it’s all coming in so fast. This was a great cover story, and a great article write up, Luka!

      It’s cool that even though we got tidbits of larger story elements we still have little clue of what’s going to happen in the smaller scale of things.

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    3. Edward: It’s cool that even though we got tidbits of larger story elements we still have little clue of what’s going to happen in the smaller scale of things.

      I love that so much 🙂

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    4. Yeah this was an awesome tease. And those anecdotes about Sapochnik shooting the most epic battle ever put on film… sign me up!

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    5. The big(gest) battle sounds incredible. I thought it sounded huge before, but fifty-five night shoots for exterior alone PLUS “weeks” for interior!? It will make BotB look like a theme park!?

      I have to admit I felt a little emotional just reading the article. I expect to be a total mess watching the season…

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    6. D&D said in 2012 that it’s a lie that the show is only about characters and that they would need 3 movies to end the story in epic way, like GRRM wants. But HBO gave them enough money.

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    7. ‘(“Don’t even take a photo of your boots on the ground of the set,” one actor recalls being told).’

      Isn’t that exactly what Maisie did with her “Last woman standing” post. Technically in her trainers but still! 😂

      It’s also fitting to receive advice from the Star Wars execs to avoid leaks since they also filmed in Dubrovnik. I believe I remember hearing that the Force Awakens was originally advertising for extras there as a Turkish soap opera!!

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    8. I assume there’s no Cersei or Jaime in the pic simply because the article is more focused on the fight between the AOTD and Winterfell, which Cersei will not really be a part of at all. Yes, I know Jaime is on his way, but that’s the impression I got. Could be wrong of course.

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    9. The marketing machine is starting up, methinks! How long now until a poster/teaser with at least a release window?

      That illustration is pretty rad, by the way! Is it just me though, or is the drawing of Arya from season 3/4?

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    10. This really whets the appetite. Really makes me want to start my rewatch. Super excited. going to be a bittersweet experience. Start the theories, i want to hear all of you guys predictions.

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    11. BeardedOnion,

      I think you’re right. Sansa and Dany must have hashed out their difficulties over trays and trays of lemon cakes.

      (Poor Drogon: “Ouch! My back! Get your ass to Jenny Craig, will you mommy?”)

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    12. Who could return that most of us didn’t expect?

      Quaithe or Daario maybe. I think Jaqen will turn up again.

      Dark Sister:

      I believe I remember hearing that the Force Awakens was originally advertising for extras there as a Turkish soap opera!!

      That’s an insult to Turkish soap operas.

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    13. Ten Bears,

      Ooh, good one. Maybe certain long-gone people return as wights? Yeesh!

      And are you ready for ASNAWP action scenes – I am! 🗡️

      Dark Sister,

      Sorry for being salty, it’s not directed towards you, just the Disney/Lucasfilm crew. At this point I honestly think anything is better than Disney Star Wars. 😂

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    14. The interesting part to me about unexpected characters is that he was referring to the finale. My assumption has been that the NK will have been defeated before the final episode, which would mean to me that all of the animated dead would be inanimate again. That may be an inaccurate assumption, but if not then he would have to be speaking of living characters and not zombie versions. There is of course the possibility of Branvision scenes that include dead characters… Other than those two possibilities there aren’t really many living characters left (up to S8) that would be noteworthy as unexpected… I think they can be counted on one hand.

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    15. Mr Derp,
      I’m still kind of holding onto hope that Jaqen and Syrio are one and the same. That’s probably a bit silly at this point though and you’d think show!Jaqen would have told Arya.

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    16. Clob,

      Me too. There’s always the possibility that he’s still alive, I suppose. It would be interesting if it turned out that Jaqen and Syrio were one in the same, but I just don’t see what purpose he has left in the story. I don’t get what purpose there would be to bring him back either. Syrio has already served his purpose.

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    17. It’s like buses. You wait forever for one, and then three come at once, haha.

      Will now go and actually read the stories.

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    18. Hibberd notes “there are characters” he “did not expect.” Interesting…perhaps:

      Hodor, Summer, Karsi, Dolorous Edd, Ned Umber, and Alys Karstark as wights??

      Jaqen H’ghar to punish Arya for misusing the faces??

      Khal Drogo in a Dani death dream scene?

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    19. mau:
      November 1, 2018 at 1:44 pm

      D&D said in 2012 that it’s a lie that the show is only about characters and that they would need 3 movies to end the story in epic way, like GRRM wants. But HBO gave them enough money.

      I liked the IMAX showings they did , was hoping there would be more, maybe for season 8?

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    20. What about Qyburn? He is very interested in the mysterium “undead”.
      And Gregor? Meeting congeners?
      I wouldn’t expect them!

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    21. Dark Sister,

      I wish my instincts about Disney was as good as yours – at the time of the sale I actually thought Disney was a decent choice, given its track record. Never thought it would end up like this. I hope whatever D & D come up with in their SW movies work.

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    22. cos alpha,

      I guess I wouldn’t qualify them as “unexpected” since I wouldn’t be surprised if things aren’t completely settled in KL heading into the final episode. With the assumption that Cersei does finally eat it, I do think she’ll still live until almost the end while hiding out in the Red Keep along with her Hand and muscle.

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    23. Stannis the Lord Chosen will return, the prince that was promised.

      I’m wondering which character is returning in the final. I’m thinking about important characters that are absent right now and could be important in the final. And I think this is a character that we wouldn’t think of, so it rules out characters like Mel.

      Maybe Drogo? He was on set, and maybe there’s a scene with him and Dany. Hallucination of sort.

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    24. Dark Sister:
      ‘(“Don’t even take a photo of your boots on the ground of the set,” one actor recalls being told).’

      Isn’t that exactly what Maisie did with her “Last woman standing” post. Technically in her trainers but still! 😂

      Exactly. Those were her trainers. She took a photo of her trainers on the ground where all you saw were them with fake blood on them which told us that Maisie was around some fake blood since she was out of costume at that point. Not a spoiler.

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    25. Clob:

      I have to admit I felt a little emotional just reading the article.I expect to be a total mess watching the season…

      SAME. I actually got some tears in my eyes.

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    26. For characters we didn’t expect to see, how about in the battle Ghost is turned into an undead wolf. This ‘thing’ is charging towards Arya and she has nothing. From the side enters Nymeria with her pack to kill the undead wolf. You heard it here first!

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    27. Several actors are performing, and I’m stunned: There are characters in the finale that I did not expect. I gradually begin to piece together what has happened in Westeros over the previous five episodes and try not to look like I’m freaking out.

      Interesting…. So unexpected characters in the finale, and that led Hibberd to try and piece together what has happened in Westeros. If I am reading this correctly, then Essosi characters we would not perhaps normally expect to see in the finale in Westeros? A ton of Red Priests/Priestesses? Quaithe? Folk from Volantis, Lys, Braavos etc. sauntering around? Daario come to join in the fun with some Meereenese citizens in tow?

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    28. I’ve been staving off the agony of the long, long wait for Season 8 (and an offseason in which we’ve had fewer filming leaks than ever – due credit to the producers’ increased security measures) mostly by focusing on other things, limiting my visits to this wonderful website to around one per day, and doing my best not to read every scrap of a report that other outlets were tossing out about the final season. It’s worked well, but I expected that my resolve would crumble as soon as we got the first real official and substantial piece of promotional material from HBO. After reading this excellent and intriguing article, I think that particular Rubicon has been crossed. My obsession is about to kick back into full gear.

      Season 8 is now approximately 6 months away, and I’m hyped as hell!

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    29. Some of you are reading too much into the unexpected characters bit. It probably just means he thought they would have died before the finale, or wouldn’t be where they are for various reasons.

      Like Theon still being alive… and/or Cersei.

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    30. Well we already know that the Waif, the Arryn kid and Jaqen were filming inSeville for what was later to be revealed as scenes from the last episode, so not great surprises there.

      Sounds like the battle of ice and fire will be fought both outside AND inside Winterell. This is gonna be amazing!

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    31. GeekFurious:
      Some of you are reading too much into the unexpected characters bit. It probably just means he thought they would have died before the finale, or wouldn’t be where they are for various reasons.

      Like Theon still being alive… and/or Cersei.

      That is a possibility I hadn’t considered when writing this, yeah.

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    32. Also.. am I the only one who think Kit looks really different on the EW cover page? His face looks bloated and his nose is much wider..

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    33. Benioff admitting that the ‘biggest battle’ could be a bore if not handled properly gives me more hope that I will not be disappointed by S8 than anything else I could have heard. All along, my great fear has been that intimate character interactions would be sacrificed to epic crowdpleaser spectacle in the final season. Knowing that the action during the battle at Winterfell will cut among various small groups of characters, some within the walls, is truly heartening news. I’m hoping that some of those interior scenes shot within the Painthall will reveal to us some of the secrets of the Crypts, as a group of survivors makes its escape via underground passages.

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    34. Clob: I noticed that as well.Just “The Five” plus Sansa.I won’t assume it means anything, but… *shrug*

      Indeed, Clob. But considering GRRM and D&D’s death-dealing proclivities, I wager that at least one of those six will die. I doubt HBO can kill fan favourites like Jon, Dany and Arya, but Tyrion was acting suspiciously last season and in Season 4 Jojen told Bran he would die. So I think those two are at risk.

      I miss Jaime and Cersei, but the focus is on the North and the AotD, with which they have less association. Plus the Starks and Dany and Jon + team will all be there at the arrival of Dany and Jon in Winterfell, which apparently kicks off the season. All but Dany were there for the King’s Arrival scene in 1.01. As to who Hibberd didn’t expect, IIRC, the battle filming preceded the Seville filming where lots of oddball characters showed up (possibly for a documentary or to troll us). So unlike us now, he was unprepared for Robin Arryn. I’m hoping Arianne is there as heiress to Dorne, though it seems Dorne;s gender-neutral primogeniture was dropped from the show…unfortunately.

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    35. “To accomplish this, the battle will move amongst locations and characters throughout Winterfell, following their different perspectives as part of the larger battle.”

      Sandor: “‘The f*ck you doing here?”

      Arya: “Saving your ass, of course,”

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    36. Characters Hibberd didn’t expect to see again, on an intricately constructed set depicting a place we haven’t visited before, in one of the very last scenes? Dare I hope that we’ll finally get to see the Isle of Faces, where the pact ending the first War for the Dawn was signed? It would be most appropriate to have the second one resolved there as well, with the intervention of some Children of the Forest living secretly south of the Wall. Everyone seems to have assumed, without corroboration, that Leaf’s colony at Weirnet Central was the last, so seeing actors in CotF makeup would likely have come as a surprise.

      The Isle of Faces was the site of a pivotal aerial battle during the first Dance of the Dragons, and also played an important role in the story of young Howland Reed’s involvement in Rhaegar and Lyanna’s courtship. It might even have been the site of their wedding. When the question of Jon/Aegon’s parentage becomes contentious, Bran might very well tell all the surviving main characters that they have to go there to clear things up.

      Whaddaya think, Watchers? Until someone comes up with a more persuasive hypothesis that passes the Occam’s Razor test (Wimsey, where art thou?), that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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    37. “there are characters” he “did not expect.”

      Syrio Forel
      John Smallberries
      Counselor Troi
      The Old Man from Scene Twenty-Four
      Derek Wildstar
      Qi’ra

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    38. Firannion,

      Whenever I think of a big on screen battle interspersed with character driven scenes which greatly enhance the action instead of becoming bored by it, “Zulu” comes to mind immediately. Dare I hope MS will utilize this template when directing his episode, and perhaps his will be a 90-100 minute long mega length episode.

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    39. GeekFurious:

      Some of you are reading too much into the unexpected characters bit. It probably just means he thought they would have died before the finale, or wouldn’t be where they are for various reasons.

      Like Theon still being alive… and/or Cersei.

      That’s how I read it too. And obviously Cersei is the first name to pop up in this context, but I hope not. Love what Lena is doing with the character, but as anything else, forgiveness must have limits.
      So the question is: who will be there that almost everyone is certain to be dead by then? Pffft, I’m getting the same answer 🙂

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    40. Glad to see promotion is kicking in to gear. Hopefully a teaser and/or poster is right around the corner. Or even better yet a release date!

      And unexpected characters? My money is on Cheese Boy.

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    41. Tyjon:

      Whenever I think of a big on screen battle interspersed with character driven scenes which greatly enhance the action instead of becoming bored by it, “Zulu” comes to mind immediately. Dare I hope MS will utilize this template when directing his episode, and perhaps his will be a 90-100 minute long mega length episode.

      Zulu is such a great film. My dad introduced it to me when I was around 10 and it always stuck with me. Agree about all the interspersed character moments. And I love the slow growing trust between Michael Caine and Stanley Baker’s character. I could imagine a similar relationship developing between Jon and Jaime as they work together leading a desperate last stand against the Army of the Dead.

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    42. I also took that unexpected characters part to mean that characters we all assume will die earlier in the season (like Jaime, Cersei, Mel) will be there right at the end rather than characters from seasons past showing up again. I do however, think that a few old characters are bound to resurface in this next season – personally I feel we’ll see Jaqen and Daario again (and possibly Kinvara). I like the theory that Daario will be a part of the Golden Company and will go up against Dany in battle. I feel leaving a former mercenary, whose only investment in Dany’s vision was because he was in love with her, in charge of Dragons Bay was a mistake and I think Dany will learn that this season.

      I like the poster, though both Dany and Sansa look a little strange. I want to see Jon rock the loose curls again. I think they suited him so much more than the manbun.

      I’m also pretty excited for that season opening. Can’t wait to see all of the reunions, good and bad. I’m especially intrigued to see how Tyrion and Sansa’s reunion goes as well as how both Stark sisters and Sandor react to each other. I’m a bit ambivalent to the ones most are looking forward to: i.e. Jon and Arya, as I feel the show hasn’t developed the close friendship they share in the books and that has been a bit of a let down. Their relationship in the books is very endearing, but beyond that first and only scene they shared, the show hasn’t done anything with it. They haven’t even really mentioned each other in passing. So I feel pretty “meh” about their relationship in the show and am not all too excited about their reunion. I am much more excited about Arya’s reunion with Sandor and Gendry than I am with her and Jon. She shared so much time and so many emotions with the former two. I hope they devote a lot of attention to those character moments. Seeing all the surviving Stark kids together at long last is going to tug at my heartstrings! I can’t wait!

      I’m so glad they are getting the promotion campaign going. Really want a teaser now and the date of the premiere.

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    43. The hype train has left the station! Hopefully this signals that a teaser, or more images, and/or a date will be forthcoming…what great gifts those would be…! The info in that article is hyper-exciting—especially the insane and wide-ranging battle sequence. Omg. I figured there was a good chance the season would premiere the way he said it will. And I knew Sansa would be displeased about Jon’s knee-bending (but have to get over it rather quickly.)

      GeekFurious:
      It probably just means he thought they would have died before the finale, or wouldn’t be where they are for various reasons.

      Yeah, that was my automatic assumption—that people you’d expect to die (earlier) are still around at the end. Hmmm. Of course it’s also entirely possible for it to refer to people deceased or presumed dead or potentially out of the story, back via flashback or dream/vision or wightification or just making a surprising return or whatever. Again, I would like to see Jaqen. And there’s always the possibility of Daario, Robyn, HOT PIE!, etc. And ooh yes, I want more Kinvara/red priesthood action. C’mon, Mel-Mel! Bring that posse!

      Ten Bears:
      BeardedOnion,

      I think you’re right.Sansa and Dany must have hashed out their difficulties over trays and trays of lemon cakes.

      (Poor Drogon: “Ouch! My back! Get your ass to Jenny Craig, will you mommy?”)

      Ahaha…! XDD

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    44. Did you have to say the info about the Winterfell battle without a spoiler warning?

      Read the EW article myself and didn’t see anything about where the battle was occurring. Been trying to avoid filming spoilers for the final season…

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    45. Clob:
      The interesting part to me about unexpected characters is that he was referring to the finale.My assumption has been that the NK will have been defeated before the final episode, which would mean to me that all of the animated dead would be inanimate again.That may be an inaccurate assumption, but if not then he would have to be speaking of living characters and not zombie versions.There is of course the possibility of Branvision scenes that include dead characters…Other than those two possibilities there aren’t really many living characters left (up to S8) that would be noteworthy as unexpected…I think they can be counted on one hand.

      I think Gendry is likely one of the unexpected characters to make it (as others have mentioned here). Sam is another. I think GRRM has been setting up Sam to land the ultimate blow since season 1. Sam, the admitted coward, kills a WW a Thenn, and then the NK using his family sword. Thinking back to his first fight training scenes at Castle Black, I can imagine that GRRM was thinking how ironic it would be for Sam to be the one. Gendry and Arya would make alot of sense ending up together (with Ned and Robert being best friends and all), but I can’t see Arya sticking around to rule. Perhaps they will have “distance relationship”, and Arya will stop back from time to time. The show did foreshadow them together with the “and you would be my lady” line….. I for one would be happy with them together and then Arya going off to the see the world, and stopping back to the castle from time to time for a port of booty call. I care alot less about Sansa’s reaction to Jon bending the knee to Dany. I don’t want to waste time on any Sansa schemes. I am much more interested in the Arya – Jon reunion, which sounds like it may happen in episode 1 !!! I can’t wait to see Arya’s face when she gets introduced to her dragon cousins and eventually gets to ride one. Dark Sister indeed.

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    46. Plz:
      Did you have to say the info about the Winterfell battle without a spoiler warning?

      Read the EW article myself and didn’t see anything about where the battle was occurring. Been trying to avoid filming spoilers for the final season…

      Then you weren’t reading carefully:

      To help pull [the battle] off, the production hugely expanded its set for the Stark ancestral home of Winterfell, adding a towering castle exterior, a larger courtyard, and more interconnected rooms and ramparts.

      The only detail I mention that isn’t in the original report is that the battle takes place in the mid-season, which is, just in case, why the article is tagged with “spoilers.”

      Firannion,

      The set is new, not necessarily the location it’s depicting. I think he means the ruined interior set briefly glimpsed during filming, which appeared to be part of the Red Keep.

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    47. Ooooh ooooh proper news on S8 *grins*. I’m with the people who think he means that some characters unexpectedly survive until the end, rather than suddenly reappear. Although it does say there’s a similarity with the first episode, so maybe John Arryn rises from the dead to confirm the shenanigans he uncovered. Or Bran pushes Jaime out of a window, coming full circle 😉

      Also agreeing on the most unlikely person to make it that far being Cersei, although the Night King would be really unexpected as lots of people think he has to die to end the fighting against the living. Perhaps it’s just that the final death toll of people we know is fairly low. The show is famous for unexpected deaths so it would be a real change if that didn’t happen, as the ending is the place you’d expect it to. Or could it be the infamous bittersweet ending is that things just end in stalemate and the cycle is set up to begin again? The end is in sight *squeees in anticipation*. I was going to say “and a million theories will be laid to rest”, but I doubt it. No matter what happens, if people don’t like it they can, and probably will, claim it wouldn’t happen that way in the books. So I’ll rephrase that, the end of the show version of the story is in sight *squeeeeee* 😀

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    48. Apollo: Well we already know that the Waif, the Arryn kid and Jaqen were filming inSeville for what was later to be revealed as scenes from the last episode, so not great surprises there.

      There was a lot of wacko theorizing but I don’t recall there ever being confirmation that Tom or Faye did any filming for an episode of the show. We did hear that there was A wrap party and some stuff about possibly filming for a b.t.s vid and/or a documentary piece. I won’t say it’s not possible since another FM could wear the waif’s face (none of that waif is Arya garbage), but again, I don’t believe we “know” anything of the sort.

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    49. GeekFurious:
      Some of you are reading too much into the unexpected characters bit. It probably just means he thought they would have died before the finale, or wouldn’t be where they are for various reasons.

      Like Theon still being alive… and/or Cersei.

      Yeah, I started thinking about it from that perspective last night as well. That could very well be what he was meaning. Hell, we’ve all discussed several times over the past year which characters we expect to die during the season. Some of them we’d probably put close to 100% and be surprised to find out they’re in the finale; Jaime, Beric, Tormund, Edd, Melisandre, etc.

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    50. Clob: here is of course the possibility of Branvision scenes that include dead characters… Other than those two possibilities there aren’t really many living characters left (up to S8) that would be noteworthy as unexpected… I think they can be counted on one hand.

      One of the handful could be Elaria. Presumably, she’s still alive in the dungeons. Cersei was determined to make her watch her daughter’s bones turn to dust. So, she’s still down there. Right now, it seems as if Dorne’s leadership has been wiped out…except, technically, Elaria. Who would think that the safest place to be is a dungeon? There’s that idea of descending into hell to pay for sins, followed by resurrection. It’d be wild if when the Night King raises the dead, that her daughter’s body turns into a wight..if that’s possible…but I digress.

      Another one is Edmure. That would be two representatives from two regions, Dorne and the Riverlands, accounted for? Why’d they all be at Winterfell, though? Maybe they understand that it’s key to protecting the realm from walkers, and they’re fortifying it?

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    51. Anon,
      There ya go. Those would be some surprises. Speaking of Ellaria being kept alive in the dungeons, we also know that Cersei was going to torture Septa Unella for as long as possible too… There isn’t really a neeed for either of those two to show up again but it’s not impossible.

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    52. Babeko:
      It must be Ellaria Snake and Edmure Tully LOL

      I agree. They are both alive! It’s not really a stretch for them to return. It’s far more likely for them to return than for someone good and dead to come back. Plus, they are the sole, living representatives of two main regions of Westeros.

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    53. Anon,

      Very possible, but I kind of hope we don’t have to see either one of them again. They would both make terrible rulers/representatives and are fairly useless to the remaining story.

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    54. This is a shot in the dark but I think the character to “come back” is Drogo.

      Here me out. I am part of the camp that thinks Dany will die at the end. She will be “reunited” with Drogo when “her womb quickens and she bares a living child” so when she dies in childbirth they are going to kinda show Dany running to Drogo and Rhago in GOT heaven so that her ending is Less sad.

      Just a thought

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    55. I am a Dany stan, but a statement she made in an interview makes me believe that she may become like her father, the mad king. she says she isnt sure if people are going to like what she becomes.

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    56. King of Ashes,

      A lot of people think she’ll become the mad queen. I don’t. The mad queen theories always pick up steam in the offseason, but fizzle out during the seasons when we see that she’s different from her father.

      The show has definitely been teasing that she’ll become like her father for a while now, but I think we’ve seen over the past 7 seasons that she really isn’t like her father at all. I personally think it’s all misdirection to build up suspense and drama, but of course, ymmv.

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    57. Mr Derp:
      Anon,

      Very possible, but I kind of hope we don’t have to see either one of them again.They would both make terrible rulers/representatives and are fairly useless to the remaining story.

      Ellaria seemed like a happy, carefree, sensual woman as long as she had her guy, Oberyn. She was even cordial to the Lannisters at Joffrey’s wedding. Then Oberyn was killed by the Mountain and the next time I saw Ellaria, she’d turned into a viper. No doubt, Oberyn wanted to avenge his sister, but I don’t think Ellaria was ride-or-die with revenge…until Oberyn was killed. She is a woman suffering from grief. Maybe her time in the belly of Cersei’s whale will transform her again. The show isn’t about perfect people. It’s about people who struggle and overcome weaknesses… or not.

      Edmure has two good qualities of a leader that I can see. He took a responsibility that belonged to Robb, by oath, and basically sacrificed himself to save their military campaign. And he betrayed his crazy uncle to save his infant son. That’s a man with his eye firmly on the future, and not the past. I think those are leadership qualities.

      Make of that what you will.

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    58. Clob,

      I agree at the time we all assumed it was “whack”, and that the actors were placed there as decoys. The article seems to indicate this may not be as unlikely as we assumed.

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    59. Anon,

      I will respectfully disagree.

      Anon: Edmure has two good qualities of a leader that I can see. He took a responsibility that belonged to Robb, by oath, and basically sacrificed himself to save their military campaign.

      I don’t recall Edmure sacrificing anything other than the lives of more than 200 of his own men in order to disobey Robb’s orders for the sake of glory.

      Yes, he decided to cave in and marry a Frey girl to help alleviate Rob’s blunder, but he kind of owed it to him after the blunder that was Stone Mill.

      Anon: And he betrayed his crazy uncle to save his infant son.

      This is actually a perfect reason NOT to trust him. It’s hard to blame him here, but he put his own son ahead of his people. I would say Edmure thought about his OWN future with his son, not that of his people as a whole. His “crazy uncle” was the one who was right. Edmure sold his own people out to save his son. Like I said, it’s hard to blame him for that, but you also can’t say it makes him capable of making tough decisions for the benefit of his people.

      Perhaps Edmure will learn from his past and become a better candidate for representation of Riverrun in the future, but so far I don’t think he has.

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    60. It’s fair to say this article has me seriously hyped even if we are at least four months away from seeing it on screen! Huge credit to Watchers on the Wall who also reported S8 will start with the army approaching Winterfell and commoners looking on. It’s also pretty obvious that Sansa will not be pleased with Jon given the set-up in S7 but likely that will all be put to one side (at least temporarily) as the threat soon arrives at their door.

      I absolutely love how the battle of Winterfell sounds like it will play out, following multiple characters for one hour of solid battle as they desperately fight for their lives is going to be seriously gripping stuff. We will almost certainly lose some characters in this battle but I am becoming more and more convinced that this will be where the Nights King is defeated now and the last two episodes will then focus on the human resolutions which will inevitably need to follow (what to do with Cersei, Jon/Dany incest, Jon being the ‘rightful heir’) all of that needs to come in a bittersweet way and Bryan Cogman pretty much confirms we will get the ending GRRM envisioned although Hibberd does say D&D were only given the broad strokes within his article.

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    61. Joan Forest Mage,

      It’s interesting you mentioned BenJen…I was confused about him. He was saved the same way as the Night King was created so even if the ‘walkers’ tried to kill him, wouldn’t that be impossible? I’m not even sure what he was – a necromancer? Half human/half white walker?

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    62. The Blackfysh will return and out-scowl the ol Night King. 😀

      Every time I see “Hibberd”, I automatically picture Dr. Hibbert from The Simpsons standing around set and laughing at inappropriate moments. 😆

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    63. Enharmony1625:
      The marketing machine is starting up, methinks! How long now until a poster/teaser with at least a release window?

      That illustration is pretty rad, by the way! Is it just me though, or is the drawing of Arya from season 3/4?

      I’d be surprised if we don’t get a teaser and details on the premiere date in the next few weeks. The HBO exec did say we would get the trailer this year so a teaser in advance of that is probable this month, doubt we will get more than a few second clip though and probably no real footage.

        Quote  Reply

    64. Clob:
      Mr Derp,
      Don’t forget he also raped and emotionally destroyed Jaime…Oh wait… wrong show and wrong Jamie…

      Oh, snap!

      Thankfully, Jaime got his revenge in season 3.

      Outlander season 4 premiers this Sunday btw.

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    65. Clob:
      My assumption has been that the NK will have been defeated before the final episode, which would mean to me that all of the animated dead would be inanimate again.

      Can you imagine the cleanup? The north would be uninhabitable with all the disease from the corpses.

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    66. Viz: Can you imagine the cleanup? The north would be uninhabitable with all the disease from the corpses.

      I hope that happens off-screen!

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    67. Sunfyre: Tyjon:

      Whenever I think of a big on screen battle interspersed with character driven scenes which greatly enhance the action instead of becoming bored by it, “Zulu” comes to mind immediately. Dare I hope MS will utilize this template when directing his episode, and perhaps his will be a 90-100 minute long mega length episode.

      Zulu is such a great film. My dad introduced it to me when I was around 10 and it always stuck with me. Agree about all the interspersed character moments. And I love the slow growing trust between Michael Caine and Stanley Baker’s character. I could imagine a similar relationship developing between Jon and Jaime as they work together leading a desperate last stand against the Army of the Dead.

      Wow, I haven’t seen Zulu since I was a kid – should probably watch it again. I remember being particularly impressed with the ending: the Zulus deciding on their own not to obliterate what remains of the small British force, despite having an overwhelming advantage, but rather saluting their bravery and heading home. I thought the audience was meant to come away with the impression that we ‘civilized’ white people could learn a thing or two from this culture.

      But what I remember most strongly is the stirring John Barry score (probably because my parents or one of my brothers bought the soundtrack on LP), which incorporated indigenous Zulu music decades before Paul Simon did Graceland.

      Googling it now, I am sorry to learn that the plot is riddled with historical inaccuracies – but also pleasantly surprised to discover that the actor who played the Zulu king is the movie was Mangosuthu Buthelezi, his grandson, who went on to become the head of the Inkatha Freedom Party and help negotiate the transition away from apartheid. He became part of the Government of National Unity, serving as Minister of Home Affairs under Mandela.

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    68. Jon Snowed: t’s also pretty obvious that Sansa will not be pleased with Jon given the set-up in S7 but likely that will all be put to one side (at least temporarily) as the threat soon arrives at their door.

      I am curious to learn what role Tyrion may play in shaping Sansa’s view of Dany, given 1) his own growing unease with Dany’s scorched-earth policy and 2) the awkwardness that is bound to accompany Tyrion and Sansa meeting again. (I hope that she will offer some sort of apology for letting him take the rap for Joffrey’s murder – not that she was in any position to have helped him out at that point, but she should at least feel bad about it, considering that he was unfailingly kind to her while they were ‘married.’)

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    69. Mr Derp,

      The show didn’t do right by Edmure’s character, did it? He’s not nearly such a twerp in the books. While not a brilliant battle commander, he shows excellent leadership in terms of ensuring that the smallfolk of the Riverlands are evacuated to strongholds like Riverrun when war begins to ravage the countryside, and that they are provisioned to outlast a siege. Maybe Sansa is supposed to have inherited that talent from her Tully side.

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    70. Mr Derp:
      Pigeon,

      “Dislocated shoulder, bump on the noggin.My diagnosis…BAD BABYSITTING!”

      LOL!!! Oh man…his commentary would be fantastic. “Hmm…scientific testing has determined the presence of pure evil…” *magnifying glass up to Night King’s face*

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    71. Luka Nieto: The set is new, not necessarily the location it’s depicting. I think he means the ruined interior set briefly glimpsed during filming, which appeared to be part of the Red Keep.

      I suppose we do need to have a scene in a wrecked Throne Room with the roof smashed in and snow drifting in, as in Dany’s vision – but we’ve seen that before, haven’t we? So not a new set per se.

      Even if I don’t get my long-cherished wish to visit the Isle of Faces fulfilled, I do think that there may be surviving Children of the Forest with a role to play in an end to hostilities between the living and the dead.

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    72. Just remember Drogo was not a ‘good’ character in any sense, he raped Dany and pillaged villagers (the lamb folk). So I’m not sure that ending is happy one.

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    73. Che: I also took that unexpected characters part to mean that characters we all assume will die earlier in the season (like Jaime, Cersei, Mel) will be there right at the end rather than characters from seasons past showing up again. I do however, think that a few old characters are bound to resurface in this next season – personally I feel we’ll see Jaqen and Daario again (and possibly Kinvara). I like the theory that Daario will be a part of the Golden Company and will go up against Dany in battle. I feel leaving a former mercenary, whose only investment in Dany’s vision was because he was in love with her, in charge of Dragons Bay was a mistake and I think Dany will learn that this season.

      Yeah me too.
      I am not so sure that Tycho Nestoris won’t be there thinking that Mark Gatiss may have been doing a bit of trolling.
      Yeah is all that stuff Kinvara implied with Varys going to be cleared up?
      If Mel goes to Volantis , took aim at that last season, may see Kinvara there… hope all that R’hllor stuff is cleared up … my sense of things is that Essos plays a role in the end game … that could imply Jaqen and Darrio … otherwise narrative seems hanging.
      Hope each of the 6 episodes is 90 min. long or longer!

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    74. Tessa rose Davidson:
      This is a shot in the dark but I think the character to “come back” is Drogo.

      Here me out. I am part of the camp that thinks Dany will die at the end. She will be “reunited” with Drogo when “her womb quickens and she bares a living child” so when she dies in childbirth they are going to kinda show Dany running to Drogo and Rhago in GOT heaven so that her ending is Less sad.

      Just a thought

      (ಥ﹏ಥ) (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)

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    75. Viz: Can you imagine the cleanup? The north would be uninhabitable with all the disease from the corpses.

      Makes you wonder where all the dead from the Battle of the Bastards went? You know, the bodies stacked like cordwood and poor Wun Wun’s huge body laying inside the broken gates of WF? S8 casualties, OTOH, can be cremated so long at there is a living dragon to perform the task.

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    76. I would be surprised if we don’t see both Mel and Varys die in the final season. I would guess that Mel will die fighting the white walkers and Varys potentially in the sacking of Kings Landing given their story lines.

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    77. Hey y’all, I love reading each and every comment, everyone is so hyped without even a proper teaser yet. GoT is very sneaky and I bet a lot of people will be throwing lots of stuff at the TV as the last scene unfolds. Most of us have been expecting Jon, Dany on the throne, but several things could go wrong.

      I’ve said this before, Jon could be held prisoner by Cersei at KL, taken while everyone’s distracted fighting WW. Daenerys might not make it beyond episode 5 and along with Jon, Cersei is taking contenders down with her that’s for sure.

      Gendry, someone truly inconspicuous, under the radar this whole time could end up ruling by default(the showrunners saw to that, made sure he was out of the running only to suspiciously bring him back near the end), and Tyrion oh Tyrion, someone who DID say “I never bet against my family.” Dany should have known better, he played her like a fool in S7.

      Or something else entirely, I would love for Dany to go “Dracarys” on Tyrion’s ass if he did betray her, that is assuming she makes it out alive of that S8E5 bloodbath.

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    78. Please, just give me Jon, Jorah, Drogon and The Hound kicking a$$ together the whole way through the six episodes and I’ll have no problem with what happens in the last hour of the show.

      Skip all the crap with Sansa’s pouty face, secretly hiding armies that cost thousands of soldier’s and wildlings’ lives, quarreling with Arya. That garbage just about ruined Season 7, along with Deadpan Bran. Skip all of that.

      Get some Valyrian steel into the hands of Jorah and the Hound and let them go nuts. I can’t wait to see that.

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    79. Mr Derp,

      Ser Pounce feeding the Hound chicken, Drogon and Ghost falling in love like Dragon and Donkey in Shrek haha, Varys might still be there, Mel did say that he’s going to die in Westeros but didn’t say when so Varys might die of old age which is exactly what I want for him. He’s always been for the good of the realm unless he’s with Tyrion on trial and they both get a deadly serving of dracarys.

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    80. Jon Snowed: I would be surprised if we don’t see both Mel and Varys die in the final season. I would guess that Mel will die fighting the white walkers and Varys potentially in the sacking of Kings Landing given their story lines.

      Yeah, me too (sadly.) I expect her death to be great, and I hope his is too…I love them both. Maybe Mel WAS just messing with Varys, and he WILL die in Westeros–at an old age, after having served the realm and helped to bring about the era of peace and prosperity he’s always wanted to see. Not sure of the odds that she’d do that, but, it’d be nice? Heheh.
      And I don’t even wanna think about Tyrion betraying Dany, honestly. ><

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    81. Finally, a scene from the series finale is also described, or rather frustratingly alluded to, in which Hibberd notes “there are characters” he “did not expect.” As mysterious as that may be, I’m sure that’s speculation fodder for many of us. Who could return that most of us didn’t expect? Daario Naharis? Jaqen H’ghar? Someone even weirder?

      If it’s about the finale scene, maybe he meant he wasn’t expecting those particular characters to survive.

      And if it’s the Dragonpit scene he’s ref. to, I wasn’t expecting some of those characters (that I’ve heard were there) to survive either.

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    82. Shelle,

      It’s something that’s out there but there are many possible outcomes, they are filming several scenes to distract leakers, fans on the “real” ending of GoT. Tyrion has been mostly loyal so far and death by dragon fire is a very painful way to go, he saw that firsthand when Dany BBQ’d the Tarlys. I just love the idea of Dany ending the series, her and the show’s last words onscreen to be “Dracarys.”

      And if the rumours are true then she definitely has cause to do such a thing, she was betrayed, people died because of that betrayal (Olenna, Sand Snakes), Greyworm almost did plus she lost Highgarden, Dorne. Her tense S7E6 conversation with Tyrion about losing Dorne and Highgarden would be so important looking back, if this rumour is legit. Also if Jon dies in KL because of Tyrion’s betrayal that would make it so much easier for Arya, Sansa, Dany to condemn him to death.

      Also with Dany, she’s not turning into a Mad Queen, though her critics would love for her to be one.

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    83. Joey:
      Please, just give me Jon, Jorah, Drogon and The Hound kicking a$$ together the whole way through the six episodes and I’ll have no problem with what happens in the last hour of the show.

      Skip all the crap with Sansa’s pouty face, secretly hiding armies that cost thousands of soldier’s and wildlings’ lives, quarreling with Arya. That garbage just about ruined Season 7, along with Deadpan Bran. Skip all of that.

      Get some Valyrian steel into the hands of Jorah and the Hound and let them go nuts. I can’t wait to see that.

      I’d pay good money to see that.

        Quote  Reply

    84. Sorry but Tyrion getting burnt alive by Dany just isn’t happening and I’m fairly sure both Hibberd and Watchers on the Wall have made clear there haven’t been any credible leaks so please don’t post fan fic in here in case it becomes semi-legitimised and especially if any legit spoilers do get out over the coming months.

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    85. Enharmony1625: he marketing machine is starting up, methinks! How long now until a poster/teaser with at least a release window?

      That illustration is pretty rad, by the way! Is it just me though, or is the drawing of Arya from season 3/4?

      Nah! She’s with longer hair here.

        Quote  Reply

    86. River:
      Shelle,

      Also with Dany, she’s not turning into a Mad Queen, though her critics would love for her to be one.

      True…I think there’s only one Mad Queen (ain’t that enough?), and it isn’t Dany…
      I’ve read three potentially real spoilers so far, and while the first two aligned with my expectations, the “Tyrion betrays Daenerys and is put on trial/executed” didn’t, so…for now I’m believing the 2/3, even though the third would be a shocking twist.

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    87. meejer stryker,

      “Feature length” can be misleading since it technically just means at least 40 minutes or more.

      I wouldn’t expect every episode to be more than the normal length for GoT, however, I personally expect the finale to be longer, and perhaps another episode or two here and there could be longer. But I wouldn’t get my hopes up and assume every episode will be longer than the norm.

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    88. Jon Snowed,

      GoT it haha but seriously I apologise if my post might be spoilery, as Shelle also mentioned it’s kind of far-fetched at this point. I’ve just been so deep into theories, I was kind of curious to see if anybody here was thinking the same about that alleged Tyrion arc in the final season.

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