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Jon and Daenerys unite in first pic from Game of Thrones' eighth and final season

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Nov 1, 2018

Fire meets Ice. Fire melts Ice. A man stops singing? The first official set photo from Game of Thrones' eighth and final season has surfaced, gracing the cover of the latest edition of Entertainment Weekly.

And by the looks of it, eager fans can expect major sparks between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen as HBO's Emmy-winning fantasy series, based on George R.R. Martin's epic cycle of novels A Song of Ice and Fire, finally draws to a close.

But who will sit on the Iron throne when all is said and done is another matter, and one not easily resolved as showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss finish up post-production on the remaining six episodes, scheduled to premiere in 2019.

When we left them at the end of Season 7, the King in the North and Mother of Dragons joined forces to face the invading horde of White Walkers, led by the Night King, who, riding an undead Viserion, destroyed the Wall to begin their southward march into the heart of Westeros.

Of course, as we know, Jon and Dany, played by Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke, respectively, became more than just allies, and the final season will surely see the lovers grappling with the big revelation uncovered by Bran as the Three-Eyed Raven: that the two are nephew and aunt, as Jon's really Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark (after the two secretly married) and the true heir to the Iron Throne.

Given the huge stakes involved, it's no surprise Game of Thrones' makers are taking their sweet time. Production on the final season stretched to 10 months and includes another year of post to tackle the challenging visual effects. But getting it absolutely perfect is imperative, as Season 8 is anticipated to showcase what's being touted as the biggest battle in TV history, which took an unprecedented 55 nights to shoot. But all to the good, says the man who would (reluctantly) be king.

"It’s relentless; scenes that would have been a one-day shoot five years ago are now a five-day shoot," Harington told EW. “"They want to get it right, they want to shoot everything every single way, so they have options."

And the whole process has been so secretive that HBO has taken to deploying "drone killers" to take out any drones that might have been flying above the set to spy on the action; at least that was the word from Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) during her New York Comic Con appearance earlier this month.

Since wrapping their roles, all of Game of Thrones' principal actors ended up getting GOT-inspired tattoos to mark their time on the show (Turner got House Stark's dire wolf sigil with the word "the pack survives," while Clarke inked a tat of her beloved three dragons on her wrist).

For Arya Stark's Maisie Williams, saying goodbye to a character she's played since childhood was difficult, but she described her final scene as "beautiful and perfect." While Tyrion Lannister's Peter Dinklage described his last day on set as "beautifully bittersweet."

Even Sean Bean, who played Ned Stark way back in the first season, got in on the game. The actor told The Hollywood Reporter recently he may be popping up in a reunion special Conan O'Brien is putting together to air when Game of Thrones takes its final bow. Of course, as we all know, Ned infamously lost his head, leaving viewers to watch as the younger Starks have had to fend for themselves these last seven years.

Now that they're all grown up and everything's finally coming to a head, HBO is also moving forward with its highly anticipated prequel spinoff, reportedly dubbed The Long Night, and tapped Naomi Watts and Valley Girl actor Josh Whitehouse to star. But it will be some time before we see what comes of that, as first we have Westeros to save.

While no official airdate has been announced yet, Game of Thrones' final season is slated to bow in the first half of 2019.

We can't wait!

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