On Tuesday, HBO finally released the much-anticipated trailer for Game of Thrones Season Eight. After a lengthy hiatus, the premiere of the show’s final season is just a little more than a month away. Jam-packed with tantalizing shots from Season Eight, the trailer offers something for everyone– fan-favorite characters, fight scenes, and of course, dragons.
Halfway through the new trailer, Sansa Stark watches Daenerys Targaryen’s two remaining dragons soar past the walls of her family home. Her expression reflects the same queasy admiration that audiences have seen mirrored time and time again in various characters’ faces. Unlike those of her siblings, much of Sansa’s storyline has been firmly grounded in gritty human concerns rather than fantastical ones. At the same time, her life has often been one of isolation. But for an instant, even as Sansa stands alone on the walls of Winterfell, she shares a unanimous moment of overwhelmed awe with everyone else in the castle, and by extension, almost everyone in Westeros. Whether you like dragons or not, they demand your attention and even your respect.
In its own way, HBO sought to create this same unique, uniting experience when it released the Season Eight trailer. For a moment around the world, in offices and on sidewalks, in beds, and on subways, ostensibly at least, hearts collectively thrilled. And why not? Thrones is no longer just another “show.” It has earned the right to bill itself as a heart-stopping phenomenon with a wingspan of influence as wide as that of any dragons.
Quite reasonably, Sansa appears to have fairly mixed feelings upon first catching sight of Daenerys’ dragons. To those who see their striking silhouettes shrieking through the skies of Westeros, dragons inspire awe in their potential for magic and mastery of nations. At the same time, they inspire fear because they are unpredictable and enormously powerful. Game of Thrones’ final season has our rapt attention, but for many audience members, its success is no sure thing. As we learned from poor Viserion’s fate last season, no one wants to see a dragon flop. Let’s hope Season Eight soars on wings of thoughtful execution before nesting down comfortably at an ending worthy of the show’s beginnings.
Check out the trailer:
Whew! That was an intense two minutes. So what are some of our main takeaways?
Arya Is Still Telling Death “Not Today”
The trailer’s tense start is reminiscent of an earlier teaser for Season Eight set in Winterfell’s crypts. It’s never a good sign when hardened assassin and Faceless Man (well, sort of) Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is running away from something. Generally, Game of Thrones fans really don’t seem to have much of a tolerance for characters who, for whatever perfectly logical reason, opt not to fight whoever the villain du jour is. But I predict the masses will give her a pass here because whatever it is down in those icy Winterfell crypts seems rather spooky. Is it a White Walker or two, as the teaser back in January seemed to suggest? Old Stark kings, resurrected as wights? Something worse? We’ll have to wait and see. Or not. It’s pretty dark down there. Good thing Arya is an old hand at fighting in the shadows.
We have not seen the majority of the show’s cast of characters fight the undead before. Most of them only saw a wight for the first time last season. Season Eight is about to shake things up and something tells me it is not just Arya’s confidence that will be shaken.
The White Walker Defense is Well Underway
The last time we saw Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), they were on a boat. Now, it appears that they have made it safely to the North. This information isn’t exactly surprising given that it’s common knowledge by now that the final season will begin with Daenerys’ arrival at Winterfell. We’ve even seen clips of her introduction to Sansa. Nevertheless, it is certainly noteworthy to see Daenerys– long confined to warm and foreign lands– getting a tour of Jon’s old stomping grounds.
It will be interesting to learn how Daenerys and Jon’s romantic relationship has evolved since we saw them last. More interesting still will be watching how their relationship changes after the revelation that Jon is Daenerys’ nephew. Entertainment Weekly’s recently released character portraits don’t shy away from depicting the pair as very much in love which almost makes me certain that their romance will be short-lived.
Regardless, the dragons look like they are enjoying colder climes and something tells me Jon wants to ride one. Poor Ghost seems to have been usurped when it comes to supernatural sidekicks. If only direwolves could fly!
Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) also seems to be adjusting to life in the cold and morally unflinching North. Jaime has a bit of a reputation for breaking promises (and backs). Nevertheless, he declares that he intends to keep his promise to “fight for the living.” It looks like he’s been welcomed into Winterfell despite his past of treachery and shoving small children. Either Jon and his siblings are very forgiving people, or they just need more expendable fighters for the coming battle against hordes of wights and White Walkers.
Cersei is Still Scheming (and Drinking) Away
Even with winter well on its way, and Jaime having abandoned her, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) appears to have lots of plans for keeping her ill-gotten throne to herself. When not drinking sorrowful glasses of wine, we see her holding court in the throne room, and chatting with her ne’er-do-well maester. While the Greyjoys are notably absent in-person, we do see some hints of Euron (Pilou Asbæk) and the Golden Company– a mercenary unit that the roguish pirate king has agreed to wrangle for Cersei. While we’re on the topic of Greyjoys, there’s no sight of Euron’s hostage niece or indefatigable nephew. We do see a comely little trio of Greyjoy ships, though, which probably belongs to the rescue-ready Theon (Alfie Allen).
Those Pesky Undead Are Sure Hard to Slay
Season Eight is being promoted as a season with lots of fight sequences. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of slashing and parrying and waiting around to slash and parry some more in this trailer. While we don’t get much of a glimpse of the foe, it seems safe to say that in large part, our heroes (if you fight a wight, you’re a hero, right?) will be directing their efforts towards the large and unsightly army of corpses shambling their way.
In these assorted clips of carnage, you can catch lots of familiar faces, especially if you try very hard not to blink. I’ve never been one for Thrones’ extended fight scenes, but I do appreciate the moments of characterization that war affords. For example, we see Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) sharing a kiss in the calm before what is sure to be an icy and perhaps deadly storm. I am happy to report that it appears absolutely no one in Westeros seems to have put romance on hold for the apocalypse.
Overall, this is a very workman-like trailer. It gives fans the dragons and duels and dour faces that they have been demanding for so long. At the same time, while past Thrones trailers have never failed to effortlessly inspire ecstasy in me, this one falls a little short.
Perhaps the surprisingly uninspired score is to blame. Previously, trailers for Thrones have often had a distinctive backing soundtrack that played an important part in evoking emotion and anticipation (for example, the trailer for Season Four, as accompanied by Chelsea Wolfe’s “Feral Love,” still gives me chills). Perhaps it is just the long hiatus between Season Seven and Season Eight that is to blame for my lack of unbridled enthusiasm. It will be interesting to see if the delay between seasons has any effect on episode viewership or season ratings. Perhaps it is merely that winter has lingered too long in my part of the world and turned me into a curmudgeon. That’s probably it.
Good thing April is almost here, with its promises of sunshine, Spring, and of course, the conclusion of an epic entry into the history of contemporary television.
Game of Thrones Season Eight will premiere on April 14th at 9 PM.
Now that you’ve seen the Season Eight trailer, let’s talk about it! Share your thoughts in the comment section below.