In Depth

Game of Thrones season 8 finale ‘will not please everybody’

Ser Jorah actor Iain Glen says divisive script is ‘rather brilliant’

13 March
Game of Thrones season 8 to feature big character deaths

Game of Thrones fans have been warned to expect a number of big character deaths in the final season of the hit fantasy drama.

HBO executives who attended the script read have promised that the eighth season of the show's last episodes will not disappoint viewers, Variety reports. 

“It was amazing,” Francesca Orsi, the network’s SVP of drama, said during a panel discussion in Israel. “By the very end, everyone looked down and looked up and tears were in their eyes.” 

After reading through the six episodes, which are scheduled to air next year, creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were given a 15-minute standing ovation by cast and crew, she said. 

It was “a really powerful moment in our lives and our career,” Orsi said, adding: “None of the cast had received the scripts prior, and one by one they started to fall down to their deaths.”

Network executives also hinted at plans for a prequel series, Entertainment Weekly reports. HBO has five scripts in contention for at least one potential series order, the website says.

“It feels like corporate malfeasance to not continue it,” Orsi said. “That’s why it spawned three, four, five spinoffs – we’re going big.”

Game of Thrones season 8 will air on HBO and Sky Atlantic in 2019

27 February

Game of Thrones season 8: new promo poster and everything we know so far

The first promotional poster for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones has been revealed.

The poster, obtained by Collider reporter Steve Weintraub, doesn’t give much away, featuring only the show’s shortened title, “GoT”, on a black background above “2019 The Final Season” and the Stark, Targaryen, and Lannister sigils.

Although the next season won’t premiere until 2019, fans have been eagerly awaiting the release of information about the massively popular HBO drama series. The new poster, however, seems only to have intensified the agony.

Here is what we know so far about the upcoming season:

There will only be six episodes

At the end of season 6, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss told Variety that there were only 13 more episodes: seven episodes in season 7, and six in the final season.

But the episodes will be feature-length

Although there will be fewer episodes than in previous seasons, the final six are expected to be much longer.

Rather than running for the usual hour, each installment of season 8 could stretch to 80 minutes, said show sound designer, Paula Fairfield, during a panel at the Con of Thrones fan convention, in Nashville, Tenessee, in July.

Weeks later HBO’s programming president Casey Bloys told The Hollywood Reporter: “Two hours per episode seems like it would be excessive, but it’s a great show, so who knows?”

The budget for each episode is $15m

Variety reported in September that GoT was gearing up for its most expensive season yet, with a budget of $15m (£10.9m) per episode. When the show first debuted, in 2011, it had a per-episode budget of $6m.

5 January

Game of Thrones series eight will not air until 2019

Game of Thrones fans will have to wait until 2019 to see the eighth and final season of the hit fantasy drama.

The announcement from HBO “confirms fans’ worst fears”, says The Independent.

It is hoped that the delay will provide notoriously painstaking author George R.R. Martin time to complete the long-awaited sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga on which Game of Thrones is based.

The show’s production has been complicated since 2016, when the on-screen story caught up to the last completed book, A Dance With Dragons.

Martin, who has been working on the sixth tome - The Winds of Winter - since 2010, was forced to reveal elements of the unfinished book’s plot to showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss so they could continue making the programme.

The past two series have been based on Martin’s disclosures, bulked out with original content from the show’s writers. Martin plans to end the novel series with a seventh book, entitled A Dream of Spring, which will not appear until after the TV show’s finale.

Viewers reacted with dismay to the news that they face at least a year without a new episode:

However, for fans thirsty for a return to Westeros there is one small consolation. While HBO’s announcement offered no date for the show;’s 2019 return “previous rumours have alluded to it happening during the earlier part of the year”, says the Independent.

Game of Thrones Season 7 finale: clues and theories

23 August 2017

Game of Thrones will conclude this bank holiday weekend, bringing to a close the latest gripping chapter of the epic fantasy series. So does it still have surprises in store?

Despite a season beset with hacks and leaks, the HBO series managed to keep fans on the edge of their seats with shocking revelations, impressive battle sequences and major plot twists. Some suspect that the show's creators were saving the best until last.

This week HBO revealed that the final episode will span an almost movie-length 80-minutes, making it the longest episode of the series so far. The episode is titled The Dragon and The Wolf, which has led many commentators to speculate that it will focus on the burgeoning romance between Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. Others suggest it could hint at something bigger.

Here are some key theories being discussed: 

The Dragonpit

A trailer for the final episode shows key characters, including representatives of the Lannister, Targaryen and Stark houses, meeting at the Dragonpit, a ruin in Kings Landing where the Targaryens used to keep their dragons. Cersei Lannister, Missandei, Jon Snow, Theon Greyjoy, Ser Davos, Tyrion Lannister, Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister are all in attendance.

They are there to discuss the threat of the Night King, with Jon Snow reminding the assembled representatives that there is "only one war that matters, and it's here". The trailer has prompted some, including James Hibberd on Entertainment Weekly to suggest that the title The Dragon and the Wolf might be a reference to this meeting.

Jon and Dany

Others believe the title refers to the long-tipped affair between Jon (The White Wolf) Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys (Mother of Dragons) Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). After all, says Jordan Lauf on Bustle, "the two have developed a blossoming romance", with Jon recently bending the knee to Dany to firm up their alliance.

As two of the most powerful players in the game, it would make sense if the finale focused on Dany and Jon, adds the critic, "especially since they are heading into a meeting with Cersei as a united front".

It's a Trap

There's another nasty possibility, suggests Lauf. Maybe the meeting in the Dragonpit is a carefully laid trap set by Cersei to catch Daenerys and Jon Snow unaware. The title could refer to both the wolf and the dragon because Cersei will find a way to snare both the Mother of Dragons and the White Wolf in the old dragon baiting pit, thus eliminating both her enemies in a single chess move and ensuring that the Lannisters, represented by a lion, triumph. After blowing up Sept of Baelor, who knows what she'll be capable of?   

Jon's Parentage

Joanna Robinson on Vanity Fair tackles yet another fan theory that the title refers to another set of wolves and dragons, Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.

The original wolf-dragon couple are likely to be Jon Snow's parents if Bran Stark's visions are anything to go by. This has prompted some to suspect that Jon the Bastard finds out the identity of his parents and, if Gilly's discovery is also true, he'll learn that his parents were married.

Jon Snow

Following this line of logic, the title could also be referring to Jon alone, given that technically he's a combination of Stark wolf blood and Targaryen dragon blood. Therefore the title may simply be a reference to the idea that Jon combines elements of both animals and both houses, which may give him the unique ability to unite the warring parties. Jon has shown himself to be a fan of alliances, so maybe the latest revelation will give him the added authority he needs to build a coalition against the forces of the Night King.

Likely Deaths

Other speculation about the conclusion centres around the character most likely to die in the final episode. Katharine Trendacosta on Gizmodo tips Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarrion as likely candidates, suggesting there is about a 95 per cent chance of either or both dying. Trendacosta explains that the army, with its new dragon, is definitely headed for the Wall in this finale.

The critic adds that Beric killed Thoros in the previous episode, reminding us that Beric has been continually brought back to life by Thoros, so without him, Beric can no longer be resurrected.

Littlefinger

Trendacosta also suggests that Littlefinger could and should be doomed, and gives him a 90 per cent chance of dying. If Littlefinger doesn't die in the finale, "then story structure has lost all meaning", says the critic.

She explains that the only reason for the "interminable storyline" about Arya and Sansa manipulating each other is to "bring them together in the end over the corpse of Littlefinger". Trendacosta also believes that Littlefinger has lost his relevance, serving only as Sansa's demon, whom she must eliminate to break free. A scene in the trailer showing Sansa walking alone and brooding in the snow at Winterfell may indeed show her contemplating this very thing.

The Game of Thrones conclusion airs on Sky Atlantic, on Monday 28 August at 2am, and again at 9pm.

Game of Thrones season 7, episode 6: Key questions

21 August

Warning: contains spoilers up to season seven episode six

Game of Thrones upped its fantasy quotient this week with a spectacular battle between fire-breathing dragons and ice- covered zombies.

The episode left viewers with plenty to ponder. Here are some of the key questions raised:

Is the House of Stark falling apart?

Thanks to the machinations of Littlefinger, things have been tense between Sansa and Arya, but this week the situation became even worse. Arya threatened Sansa following the discovery of Littlefinger's planted letter. Arya has been less than enthusiastic about Jon Snow's plans. And Jon may have put the Starks at risk by bowing to the Targaryens. Meanwhile, Bran has given up his Stark name in favour of the title Three Eyed Raven. Does this mean the newly-reunited house of Stark is at risk of disintegration?

Who was in Arya's bag of faces?

When Sansa tried to retrieve the fateful letter planted by Littlefinger in Arya's room, she discovered Arya's creepy bag of faces. These are the disguises Arya learnt to use in the assassin training school, the House of Black and White. Sansa pulled out one face that appeared to belong to Walder Frey, whom Arya had killed in season six. But who did the other face belong to? Was it one of the other Freys that Arya killed, asks Shannon Liao on The Verge? Or could it belong to Ser Meryn Trant? Arya killed him in the season 5 finale by stabbing him in both eyes and this face seems undamaged, so that's unlikely. The unknown face looks peaceful, almost cherubic, notes Liao. But regardless of its identity, Arya will no doubt be using it on her "murderous mission to destroy her enemies".

Is a Jon Snow and Daenerys romance doomed?

Joanna Robinson in Vanity Fair says this episode dispelled any doubt that Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen are being positioned as "the next (and maybe last) great love story" on Game of Thrones. "Shirtless handholding?" says the critic. "Even Tyrion can tell that it's on."

But even as the story foreshadowed their romance, Robinson argued that it also "buries a few potential landmines for their future happiness". Tyrion points out that the queen faces a key challenge when it comes to empire building: "she cannot have children of her own". Daenerys also restates this to Jon. But there's another obstacle to their happiness. Last week Gilly discovered information about Jon Snow's parentage, which could be a "potential incest bomb" waiting to go off, says Robinson.

What can zombie dragons do?

The killing of Dany's dragon Viserion made Game of Thrones compelling again, says Alex Abad-Santos of Vox. Not only was the death of Dany's dragon emotional, says the critic, but it also made things interesting. Recent episodes have positioned Dany as unbeatable with her disciplined army, her Dothraki cavalry and her dragons as her deadliest weapon, but it also started to make things seem one-sided. With the death of Viserion we saw Dany's vulnerable side, not just emotionally but strategically. The dragons are like her children and she may not be willing to risk them so easily again, which could give Cersei an advantage. And when The Night King (Vladimir Furdik) revived Viserion in undead form, we realised that the dragon could also be used against Dany too and "it makes Dany's story and this series finally feel like they have some actual stakes", says Abad-Santos.

Will Tormund and Brienne get together?

While many fans noted the buddy movie tone between Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and the Hound (Rory McCann) this episode, the question of Tormund's infatuation with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) lingered. The Hound is still smarting from his bruising encounter with Brienne, but Tormund remains smitten. Fans have been cheering for a Tormund-Brienne hook-up since the mighty wildling first set besotted eyes upon the statuesque female knight, but she has kept her distance. This week, Tormund told his fellow warriors: "I want to make babies with her." Brienne is currently in Winterfell, of course, but with Sansa demanding Brienne represent their house at a meeting in King's Landing, will she need back-up from Tormund?

Will Tyrion remain loyal to Dany?

Daenerys lashed out at Tyrion again this week. He tried to fix her eyes on the prize while she became caught up in more immediate problems. But now that Dany has Jon Snow at her beck and call, will she grow tired of snarky wise guy Tyrion? And, if so, will Tyrion decide that his wits are better used elsewhere? Would he even consider a pragmatic shift of alliances back to his Lannister roots, or is Cersei the stumbling block to this potentially touching family reunion?

What's Cersei planning?

When Cersei is quiet it's time to start worrying. Given that we haven't heard much from the malevolent queen in this past episode, fans can assume she's been up to something. Tyrion suggests that his sister is probably setting a trap for Daenerys. But what will it be?

Game of Thrones season seven leakers arrested but hacks continue

14 August

Four people have been arrested in India for leaking an episode of Game of Thrones before it was due to air.

The group have been accused of publishing episode four from the seventh series without authorisation, reports the BBC. Three of the accused are employees of Prime Focus Technology, a Mumbai-based company that manages the series for the Indian streaming service Hotstar. The fourth is a former employee.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Akbar Pathan told Agence France Press that the accused will be held in custody while the authorities continue their investigation. They were charged with pirating and computer-related offences after Prime Focus filed a complaint.

Game of Thrones is one of the most pirated shows in history, but the leaks have done little to weaken its official audience numbers. Despite appearing online days before its air date, Deadline says that the fourth episode of season seven scored record audience figures.

The site says the Spoils of War has established "a new high for of the premium cable's blockbuster series". The "battle royal for control of the Seven Kingdoms, a scorched army and an injured dragon" were a "visual feast" that was rewarded with a record 10.2 million viewers tuning in.

The latest leak appears to be unrelated to a major hack that HBO has been tackling over the past few weeks. The Hollywood Reporter points out that HBO is simultaneously trying to contain the fallout from anonymous hackers who claim they have stolen 1.5 terabytes of data from the pay cable network.

The theft is said to involve a mix of video content, Game of Thrones scripts and emails, along with personal information, including the phone numbers, of Game of Thrones stars.

So far the hackers, who go by the name "Mr. Smith" have released episodes from the network's series Ballers, Room 104 and, most recently, the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, due to launch in October. HBO has so far refused to give into the hackers' demands.

The Guardian says the HBO leaks are limited when compared to the damage inflicted on Sony when North Korea-linked hackers stole "troves of data", including embarrassing emails and the personal details of employees.

The newspaper says the HBO hackers' biggest threat appears to be dumping videos of future shows online, superimposed with their logo "HBO Is Falling". They claim that HBO is their 17th target and that only three of their past targets have refused to pay.

Game of Thrones season 7: Key questions after episode 5

14 August

Warning: major spoilers up to episode five of season seven to follow

Eastwatch, the fifth episode in season seven of Game of Thrones, has dialled down the dragon-powered battle mayhem but isn't short of drama thanks to major revelations, surprise reunions and a seething sibling rivalry.

What does Cersei's pregnancy mean?

The first major surprise is that Cersei (Lena Headey) is apparently carrying the child of her brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Or is she? The two have long been involved in a destructive, incestuous relationship, which has become increasingly toxic and culminated in a controversial rape scene in season four.

No sooner had Cersei announced her pregnancy to Jaime than questions were raised. Romper points out that fans were immediately suspicious, suggesting that Cersei had lied about Jaime being the father to maintain control over him.

Cersei knows Jaime secretly met with Tyrion to discuss a truce with Daenerys, so the pregnancy could be her way of securing his loyalty, Vulture writes.

The announcement also raises questions about whether Cersei is pregnant at all. Remember the prophecy that said she would have three children and they would all die? That's already happened, so a pregnancy would mean a fourth un-prophesied child.

Will Daenerys have a child?

All this talk of babies brings us back to a question long pondered by fans: can Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) have children? So far, she's only produced dragons, which she calls her children, but the fire-breathing beasts don't make ideal heirs. If Daenerys is to take the Iron Throne, heirs will matter.

Joanna Robinson in Vanity Fair raises a popular fan theory – that Daenerys and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) will have a child together. Robinson points to a long-discussed and "fairly compelling theory" among book readers that the two destiny-laden characters will become romantically involved and produce offspring.

In the books, this is foreshadowed by the symbol of a blue winter rose, which hasn't been used so far in the series. But just because the show doesn't use the symbolism, says Robinson, "doesn't mean what the book foreshadows won't come to fruition".

Is Sam Lord Tarly now?

It looks like it, now that his family have been dispatched. After incinerating most of the Lannister army last episode, Dany, Mother of Dragons, forced the leftovers to kneel before her. Most were compliant, with the exception of Sam's stubborn father Randyll Tarly and his brother Dickon.

After a blast from Drogon, the two were vaporised, making Samwell (John Bradley-West) the new Lord Tarly. Bad news for Randyll and Dickon, but good news for Sam, who had been disinherited by his father. Now he might one day be able to leave the Citadel and reclaim his rightful inheritance.

What does Gilly's revelation mean for Dany?

One of the big disclosures this episode was from Sam Tarly's wife, Gilly, who is really coming along with her reading skills. As she practised reading the book of records by the High Septon Maynard she found an interesting reference to a secret ceremony in Dorne involving Prince "Ragger".

Sam interrupts Gilly before she can reveal any more but it seems "Prince Ragger" is Rhaegar Targaryen, the likely father of Jon Snow, who may have secretly wed Jon's mother, Lyanna Stark.

If this is correct, it would yet again confirm the long held R+L=J theory and make Jon Snow the rightful heir to the Iron Throne over Daenerys, as Nerdist points out.

How will the Arya/Sansa rivalry play out?

They've only just been reunited, but already relations between the Stark sisters are unravelling. Sansa (Sophie Turner) takes a measured approach to her enemies which clashes with Arya's (Maisie Williams) 'kill them now' philosophy. This, coupled with Sansa's choice of living quarters, her seeming lack of enthusiasm for Jon's campaign and the discovery of the letter Cersei forced Sansa to write urging the North to surrender, sent Arya into a frenzy of suspicion.

The letter, of course, had been strategically placed by Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), who can see the advantage of stirring up mistrust between sisters. Will they overcome their differences and find a way of working together?

What will Gendry do?

This week saw the return of the long absent Gendry (Joe Dempsie), King Robert Baratheon's surviving heir who was last seen rowing away in season three. Now in Fleabottom, Gendry had returned to his trade of blacksmithing, but was soon bantering with Jon Snow. But surely Gendry's return is about more than a bromance for Jon?

The Daily Telegraph says that many fans believe Gendry's smithing skills will be needed to forge White Walker killing weapons when the big battle comes. Others speculate that Gendry will leave Fleabottom and head north for a reunion with Arya.

Is Bran spying on the Army of the Dead?

Someone in Winterfell, perhaps Bran himself, has sent Jon a raven telling him about Bran's vision of the Night King marching on Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Eastwatch is where Jon sent Tormund and the Wildling army earlier this season to boost his defenses. Erik Kain suggests that Bran may be using ravens to spy on the army of the dead and that the use of ravens as messenger birds stems from the Three-Eyed Raven's ancient magic. That would certainly give Jon some much-needed intelligence in his war on the undead.

Recommended

TV review: Man vs. Bee
Rowan Atkinson as Trevor
In Review

TV review: Man vs. Bee

Is the Shipping Forecast reaching the end of the road?
An icebreaker cuts through a sea of ice, Southern Ocean, Antarctica
In Depth

Is the Shipping Forecast reaching the end of the road?

Pistol review: Danny Boyle’s sanitised but watchable punk drama
Still from the TV show of the band in front of a bus
In Review

Pistol review: Danny Boyle’s sanitised but watchable punk drama

Borgen: Power & Glory – the return of Birgitte Nyborg
Johanne Louise Schmidt and Sidse Babett Knudsen in Borgen: Power & Glory
In Review

Borgen: Power & Glory – the return of Birgitte Nyborg

Popular articles

Are we heading for World War Three?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Are we heading for World War Three?

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?
Nato troops
Today’s big question

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?

What happened to Logan Mwangi?
Tributes left to Logan Mwangi
Today’s big question

What happened to Logan Mwangi?

The Week Footer Banner