With just forty-four days until Game of Thrones premieres, HBO has yet to release a trailer for Season Eight. Nevertheless, we did finally get to see some lovely new character posters for the final season yesterday. Hopefully, the trailer will be hot on their heels!
Since its premiere in 2011, Game of Thrones has marked the start of each new season with promotional portraits of popular (and living) characters.
Character posters offer more than just another way for HBO to get the word out about new seasons. They visually reinforce and delineate larger themes that unfold in the show.
Season One’s enormous success has been defined in many ways by the imagery of Ned Stark sitting wearily upon the titular throne. His reluctance to “play the game” and his ultimate, untimely death introduced audiences to Westeros’ immersive world of rampant immorality and high rates of mortality, catalyzing almost a decade of popularity.
Years later, it is not Daenerys with her newly hatched dragons or the Starks with their wolves that are emblazoned on Season One merchandise and DVD covers– it is Ned, looking as woeful as anyone on a throne could look. With the release of twenty new character posters, HBO turns to this motif again to mark Thrones‘ final season. Depicting a variety of characters perched austerely upon the Iron Throne, the show references its overarching promotional campaign for Season Eight, #ForTheThrone, and pays tribute to its beginnings. Like Ned, most characters are clutching some sort of weapon and looking appropriately stoic. Nevertheless, the unifying motifs of a shadowed throneroom and a prickly seat still allow plenty of opportunity for each character’s unique personality to sparkle.
While the posters are indiscriminate in dispensing the slightly askew halo’s that the “o” in GOT provides, it is the holier-than-thou Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen who get top-billing. By all rights one or both of them has the best shot of ending up with the throne, and they look like they know it. No saint, Jaime Lannister has gotten into some trouble for sitting on the throne before. His golden hand gleams as he glares in his new Northern and rather drab ensemble. Melisandre appears to be up to–no surprise!– something deeply nefarious. Cersei, to whom this seat truly belongs, does too for that matter. Bran reclines, glazed-eyed and enlightened, while Euron tries too hard to look spooky. Sansa is poised, Arya is self-possessed. In contrast, Samwell Tarly looks rather flustered by all this hypothetical responsibility. Missandei and Greyworm look right at home, Davos and Jorah seem as if they need a long nap. Rounding things out, the Night King himself is seated frigidly on the Iron Throne. His pose is rather similar to that of the Iron Islands’ latest bumbling king and builder of fleets, but at least his spookiness feels authentic.
It’s great to finally see minor characters featured so visibly in Thrones‘ promotional materials.
Survival is on a lot of Game of Thrones fans’ minds these days, as April 14 slowly comes closer. Will Westeros survive the threat of an icy apocalypse, not to mention still more political upheaval? Will the Iron Throne survive the ensuing chaos? Will our favorite characters, some of whom we have cheered on from the start as they fought their way towards the finish-line, survive one last finale? The odds of survival, much less monarchical success, aren’t looking good for much of the diminished cast of Game of Thrones. That being said, the odds of HBO selling me a shiny new poster are suddenly very high.
There’s really something rather compelling about these posters. For the majority of the characters still remaining in the show, obtaining the Iron Throne and rule of Westeros has never been a real or achievable goal. Moreover, as we have learned in past seasons, once the throne is won, the power that it affords is far more tenuous and less rewarding than one might suppose. Nevertheless, it is bittersweet in the best way to see characters equalized in a world of inequality and honored in a world of cruelty and spite.
Suddenly, one is newly exhilarated for Season Eight’s premiere. Even as the character posters hint at the potential for one final scramble for power, they also suggest that the throne has become a meaningless seat in a world that is crumbling at the hands of winter. Game of Thrones Season Eight offers the chance for characters to prove themselves once and for all– not by sitting down in a chair, but by demonstrating true leadership in the face of fear and uncertainty.
You can check out all twenty images in the slideshow below: