'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Trailer Breakdown: All Men Must Die

Winterfell fills with dread as the White Walkers make their final approach.

Game Of Thrones Season Trailer Dany And Jon Riding

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After what seems like an eternity of rabbit-punching the refresh button on the HBO YouTube page, the Game of Thrones Season 8 trailer is finally upon us. I am both thrilled to finally have it before our eyes and a little sad. As the FSR overlord Neil Miller said in our Most Anticipated Shows of 2019 article, “Game of Thrones is no longer a tv show” but “a pop culture superstorm that blots out the sun, covers everything in icy/fiery darkness for 6 weeks, and steamrolls everything in its wake.” Now that the final season is here, everything else in our lives takes second place. Yes, even you Avengers: Endgame.

Season 7 left its audience trembling as the Wall came tumbling down under the catastrophic flame of the White Walker entranced Viserion. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss devilishly rubbed their hands together, delighting in the fact that they beat George R.R. Martin to the punch. Season 8 closes the book on A Song of Ice and Fire, and I think we all are suffering from a wide range of emotions. Let’s not get into it here, let’s just watch the damn thing, and then we can break it down point by point.

First screaming thought: Tormund Lives!! Second squinting thought: this is a pretty dang dark trailer. Ah, but what do you expect when the Night King strolls up to your front door. Things are bleak, and these visuals simply match the mood we’re feeling. This is the end. We better prepare ourselves.

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The first sounds we hear are of Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) out of breath. She’s beaten. Bloody. A serious wound hangs over her eyebrow. The last time we saw her, she was sticking it to Littlefinger, but now fear scars her face. This is a sight we’re not used to experiencing from the young warrior. She has encountered the many faces of death, what is the harm in meeting one more? All men must die.

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Arya charges down the corridor. Where is she? Winterfell, my guess. In flight from White Walkers? Possibly. I can’t imagine her running hellbent for leather from any man or woman we’ve encountered so far. Maybe The Mountain could strike such fear. While we see her with a dragonglass blade later on in the trailer, the weapon seen in her left hand here appears to be metallic and most likely the catspaw blade she plunged into Littlefinger. Honestly, though, just witnessing Arya in flight sends shivers down your spine.  She’s not afraid of anyone. To see the terror on her face is troubling, and brings deep concern. HBO, if she goes down, we riot. Can’t happen.

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Davos (Liam Cunningham) patrols the walls of Winterfell. As usual, looking pretty grim, and in the process of preparing for the worse. Just as it has been for the rest of us, it’s been a long wait between seasons for Davos.

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Deep in the bowels of Winterfell, Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) cowers. Above the White Walkers rage, and our master schemer is reduced to a pathetic puddle of a man. In this scenario, Varys has nothing to offer. Only selfish prayer. No one will fight to save him here. He can only wait.

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Yes, this is the Arya we all want. She’s seen the many faces of death, and she looks forward to meeting a new iteration so that she can ram a chunk of dragonglass in its wretched brow. The Night King is just another cretin to face the tip of her dagger. Bring it.

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The fleet of Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) sails across the seas. Towards the end of last season, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) sent him, in a last-ditch effort, to retrieve the mercenary squad known as The Golden Company. He has succeeded.

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Looking over The Golden Company is Harry Strickland (Marc Rissmann), the soldier commander. These tough nuts are meant to give Cersei a bit of an edge, but they’re most likely just faceless cannon fodder. I doubt the final season will get much into their backstory, so, if you’ve got some free time, they’re a fun fan wiki blackhole to fall into.

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Tormund lives! Plus Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) and Beric Dondarrion (David Michael Scott) and his flaming sword! Nice to see. I’d watch an entire series just about these three contradictory heroes. The Lord of Light holds a special destiny for them.

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Cersei is seriously decked out in armor, and looking proud despite the hell she’s gone through and put others through to get to this moment. Her only friends on the planet are The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) and Qyburn (Anton Lesser). What are they looking down upon? Probably The Golden Company coming into the harbor. She’s feeling good for now. That sensation won’t remain around for long.

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Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) march their unsullied army into Winterfell. They’re a united front for now, but sooner or later Sam (John Bradley) will have to spill the beans regarding their incestuous connection. If I’m not ready for that, they certainly are not. One of this season’s many questions is where it will leave Daenerys and Jon emotionally – and yeah – physically.

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The dragons Drogon and Rhaegal fly over Winterfell. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) stares skyward in wonder. The last time these magical creatures flew over the North was hundreds of years ago. This quick shot represents a colossal change in the status quo, and it is not lost on Sansa.

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Gendry (Joe Dempsie) working as a smith again. Once Jon learns of his new heritage, he’s also going to learn that Gendry’s dad is actually responsible for his father’s death. That revelation might be a minor one compared to the one involving Daenerys, but it’s just another example of the psychological hell Jon will face in season eight. Prepare your ears for lots of screaming matches.

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The trailer takes a moment to relish a smooch between Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson). As death hangs above everyone’s head, we’re going to need a few reminders as to why everyone is fighting in the first place. Human connection between the most unlikeliest of places is everything where fiction is concerned. Their enemy doesn’t stop; it doesn’t feel. The White Walkers are soulless creatures, whereas humans are defined by their emotions. Enjoy them when they rear themselves.

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Now we see Cersei in a totally different headspace. Her eyes are welling with tears, and she’s got a tight grip on a glass of wine. Hmmmm. Isn’t she pregnant? Yeah, that kid can’t stick around. I’m guessing a miscarriage happens early on in the final season. Although, is that a tiny smile right before the cut? Pleasure and pain often mix together where Lannisters are concerned.

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Drogon and Rhaegal swoop over a forest (The Haunted Forest???) and then descend through a canyon that looks to exist beyond The Wall. We cut to Arya staring up into the sky. While there is certainly a scene-change between these two cuts, it’s likely that she is looking at Daenerys’s children. Her look equals shock, but also one of promise. She could slay a brute or two with a pair of dragons backing her.

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We hear Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) proclaim, “I promised to fight for the living.” Jon stands before a weirwood tree. The old religions have meant very little to Jon in the series so far, but his newfound connection to the Targaryens may change all that. Has the time come to pledge himself to forces he previously dismissed?

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A quick cut to The Hound (Rory McCann). The fire that once scarred him brings no fear today. He’s surpassed it. The time has come for him to confront The Mountain. Revenge. Burn that big bastard to ash.

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Jaime in Winterfell finishes his thought, “I intend to keep that promise.” He has come to warn Jon and Daenerys of The Golden Company. That confrontation will need to be wrapped up pretty quickly so that they can all face The White Walkers together. Or not.

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Jon and Daenerys approach Drogon and Rhaegal, who have finished feasting on a whole heard of animals based on the pile of bones beneath their claws. Jon has yet to mount a dragon. He’s got to do that right? Just picture it: Jon atop Rhaegal squaring off against the Night King riding Viserion. Spray it on an 80s van mural stat.

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Another character looking up. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) spots a dragon. Ah, that’s old news to him. His expression is much more melancholic; the stressed cynic doubtful that these fabulous beasts can save them from their impending doom.

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Gulp. Jora Mormont (Iain Glen) looks at the legion that has gathered to face off against the White Walkers. They are a mighty army with brave warriors like Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick (Daniel Portman) on their line, but they’ve never faced anything like these demons before. I’ve put my money on Jora in the past and lost, but I want him to come out of this fight victorious. However, he’s not wearing the face of a confident man.

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Ah, but who can blame his weak expression. The trailer ends with a pair of undead hooves coming into frame. Eight seasons in the making, Winter is Here. We know that this battle begins in the third episode of the season. We are all ready for it. Now, the big question this trailer doesn’t even bother to address is who will ultimately end on the Iron Throne. We got to get through these White Walkers first, and then we can start worrying about the royal victor.


Game of Thrones: The Final Season begins on April 14th on HBO.

Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.