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Game of Thrones trailer breakdown: It's all about Episode 3's epic battle

By James Grebey
Game of Thrones Season 8 teaser

Winter is almost, finally, here, which is great news for Game of Thrones fans but terrible news for the inhabitants of Westeros. On Tuesday, HBO released the first full trailer for the upcoming eighth and final season of the hit show, set to premiere in a little over a month, on April 14.

The trailer is moody, setting the stage for the final battle between the living and the dead, between fire and ice. Or at least, that's what it looks like. However, it's almost certain that almost every scene from the trailer is from the first three episodes of the six-episode season. This is hardly new for Game of Thrones, or any TV show trailer, really. Most trailers tend to be pretty top-heavy, so as not to inadvertently give away twists from earlier episodes by including telling shots from later episodes.

It's especially clear that this Game of Thrones trailer is focused on the first three episodes because all the action appears to be teasing the defense of Winterfell against the undead forces of the Night King. That battle, recently teased in an Entertainment Weekly story to be "the longest consecutive battle sequence ever committed to film," is confirmed to take place in Episode 3.

With that in mind, let's break down the Game of Thrones Season 8 trailer, especially as it pertains to the Battle of Winterfell. As to what lies in store for the second half of the season — or what's happening in the south of Westeros — we have less to go on, but there are hints nonetheless.

"I know death … he's got many faces. I look forward to seeing this one."

Arya, Game of Thrones Trailer

The trailer opens with Arya Stark, looking scared, running through the halls of what's presumably Winterfell. In the EW article, Arya's actress Maisie Williams noted that Arya has sat out every major Game of Thrones battle despite having been training for combat this whole time. Arya's quote, that she looks forward to seeing the Night King, suggests a confidence that her scared running belies.

Varys, Game of Thrones trailer

The opening series of clips also features a shot of Davos walking along the walls of Winterfell (perhaps holding off his pre-battle shits, as mentioned before the Battle of the Bastards), and a glimpse of Varys huddling in the Winterfell crypts with some civilians. Given how he's looking up at the ceiling, it seems that there's fighting going on above. The outer walls of Winterfell must not have held off the army of the dead. Either that, or the Knight King's ice dragon just flew over them.

"Everything you did brought you where you are now … where you belong … home."

Bran Stark

There's a shot of Bran Stark and Samwell Tarly, who in the final episode of Season 7 learned that Jon Snow is actually a Targaryen, making him Daenerys' nephew and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. That secret will have to be revealed, and it will complicate Jon and Daenerys' relationship — both as a Queen and her subject, and as lovers.

Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones trailer

Bran, as the Three-Eyed-Raven, seems to be suggesting that fate has brought Jon to where he is, but he might as well be talking about Cersei Lannister, who also appears in this section of the trailer.

Golden company, Game of Thrones trailer

We don't get too many revealing shots of what's going on with Cersei down south in King's Landing, but we see a glimpse of some Ironborn ships, filled with soldiers clad in gold armor. These are the Golden Company, the powerful mercenary group from Essos that Euron Greyjoy went to hire at the end of Season 7. They'll constitute the bulk of the Lannisters' fighting force in Season 8, but it's unclear if they'll make it up North to do battle with any White Walkers. Perhaps they're players for later in Season 8.

Game of Thrones trailer

Also, hey! Beric Dondarrion and Tormund Giantsbane survived the ice dragon's attack on Eastwatch-by-the-Sea at the end of last season, as we all kind of suspected. They've apparently made it to Castle Black to hook up with the acting Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Dolorous Edd. Presumably they ran there, because running vast distances over ice and snow in the North doesn't take much time, as Gendry proved last season.

"They're coming. Our enemy doesn't tire. Doesn't stop. Doesn't feel."

Daenerys and Jon Snow, Game of Thrones trailer

Meanwhile, back up in the North, we hear what's presumably Jon telling his allies what to expect when they fight the Night King's undead army. There's a shot of Jon and Daenerys riding into Winterfell along with the Unsullied army and her two dragons. This is confirmed to take place in the season premiere. Earlier stories about the season have revealed that Sansa is not especially pleased that Jon has pledged loyalty to another queen and brought her to Winterfell, but perhaps she'll be glad to have dragons on her side when the White Walkers attack.


From there, there's a montage of various secondary characters preparing for battle. We see shots of Gendry, Jorah Mormont, Grey Worm, and Missandei. Odds are good that not all of them will survive the battle, which EW reported will feature "the largest number of GoT major characters together since the show's debut episode in 2011."

Jaime Lannister, Game of Thrones trailer

"I promised to fight for the living. I intend to keep that promise."

Then there's a shot of Jaime Lannister fighting in what could be Winterfell. It's hard to tell, given the fire, but it seems as though there is snow on the ground. Jaime abandoned Cersei and headed up north at the end of Season 7 when she revealed her plans to betray Jon and Daenerys' alliance. The trailer seems to indicate that he makes it up north to explain why he's joining their side in time to fight in the big battle, as it looks like he's standing in a Winterfell tower when he delivers the line.

Cersei Lannister 2, Game of Thrones trailer

Jaime's fight is followed by a long, eerily quiet shot of Cersei sitting in the throne room down in King's Landing. It appears that Euron is standing before her. Cersei's eyes appear watery and she seems troubled, though it's unclear why. She makes a big show out of almost drinking her glass of wine — perhaps this has something to do with the baby she claims she's pregnant with? Do Westerosi mothers worry about drinking while pregnant?


Next, we are treated to a montage featuring moody pre-battle scenes, some fighting, and shots of dragons soaring overhead, including a look at Arya's amazed expression at seeing such a mythical creature. We see Tyrion for the first time, and he looks worried, as is usual in the later seasons.

Daenerys and Jon Snow and dragons, Game of Thrones trailer

One shot is especially interesting — it's Jon and Daenerys walking up to the two surviving dragons. Is this a hint that Jon is going to learn how to ride Rhaegal, the dragon named after his father?

Missing media item.

Things get quiet at the very end of the trailer, as we see what looks like the final calm before the storm ahead of the Battle of Winterfell. Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne stare out from behind the battlements of Winterfell, along with Ser Jorah, as the hooves of the Night King come into view.

The series of shots — and really the trailer as a whole — are an ominous teaser for the final season, but especially that Episode 3 battle. "Look," the trailer is saying. "Here's this huge, deadly battle that's going to happen. And here are all the characters that you've grown to love during the past seven seasons. Which of them are going to die?"

Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres on April 14. The third episode, which is what this trailer is really teasing, will premiere on April 28.