Game of Thrones: What to Expect in Season Eight

Image Courtesy of HBO

Image Courtesy of HBO

By Ryan Coleman

With the date of the Season Eight premiere released along with a second teaser trailer, Game of Thrones fans everywhere are beginning to stir at the excitement of this grand finale. April 14th is the date on everybody’s calendar marking the beginning of the end for this historic series. With 67 days until the premiere and only six episodes to go, theories and predictions are up for debate and people have a lot of different expectations for this season. This begs the question: What should we expect?

Warning, spoilers ahead up until the end of Season Seven.

What to Expect:

Something Insane:

George RR Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire author and Northwestern Medill alum, shared three “holy shit” moments with the show writers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, according to that he included in his books from start to finish. Think you can guess the three? The first one is Shireen Baratheon getting burned at the stake by her own father as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light. The second, Hodor holding the door, is perhaps one of the saddest moments yet in Game of Thrones. And the third? We do not know yet. George RR has yet to finish The Winds of Winter, the next anticipated book in the Game of Thrones series, but shared his third “holy shit” moment with the show creators that will be included at the very end of the show. So, what could it be? First of all, the fact that The Red Wedding, Jon’s death and resurrection, and the Night King raising the army of the dead is not on here is crazy in itself. How do those events not qualify as “holy shit” moments?

What the two moments of a small sample size have in common is that they are both absurd events happening to lesser characters that no one saw coming which resulted in their respective deaths. To clarify, Shireen and Hodor were liked but not A-list like Tyrion, Jon, or Danny are. But how could you have predicted Bran doing some voodoo time travel stuff causing Hodor’s origin as he also dies? And did anyone really believe that Stannis would crucify his own daughter after she prompted the only emotion he has ever shown? The end of Season Eight is building up to something big and while the third moment may not be exactly like the other two, it should cause a reaction that breaks the internet. What it might actually be? Who’s to tell. Maybe we learn that Varys is Targaryen or that Bran is the Night King and Jon has to kill him (my personal favorite) or Arya has actually been The Waif this whole time and the real Arya died back in Season six. Odds are the third moment will not follow the pattern of the first two. Benioff did say that “[It’s] from the very end” so I’m expecting it to come in the season finale. Maybe the moment is just The Night King sitting on the Iron Throne before the screen goes to black. The greatest part about it being a holy shit moment is that it should be a shock to everyone when it happens.  

A CGI and Cinematic Masterpiece:

The last Game of Thrones episode to air was back in August 27th, 2017. The entire year of 2018 was one without Thrones and they even paused a bit in the process of making Season Eight so the cast could go to Kit Harington’s (Jon Snow) and Rose Leslie’s (Ygritte) wedding. My point? They are taking their time. The production process is long and complicated and they are making sure that every single second is done correctly. They basically pushed back the premiere date as far as they could, as April 21st is the last day for a show to premiere and be qualified for this round of Emmy’s.

But it isn’t just that they have taken their time with the entire process, but that season eight of Game of Thrones has an enormous budget. Season One had a per episode cost of $6 million, Season Two was at about $7 million. Season Eight is roughly costing HBO around $15 million an episode to produce, totalling $90 million dollars. This figure is close to the cost of Season Six—but with four less episodes. For the finale of Game of Thrones, they are laying all their cards on the table and holding nothing back. The dragons are fully grown and on different sides now after the Night King took one for himself last season. These beasts should be dazzling to watch and the battle between them is something I am quite excited to see.

At Least One Epic Battle:     

While George RR Martin has talked about his distaste for a Lord of the Rings battle to end all battles, it’s hard to say that the showrunners won’t have at least one amazing battle scene in this final season. Especially with the White Walkers barreling down south at full force and the potential for some dragon against dragon action, foes are bound to clash in a battle between life and death, fire and ice.

The director of the third and fifth episode of the final six is Miguel Sapochnik. He is the director responsible for “Battle of the Bastards,” “Hardhome,” and “The Winds of Winter.” BotB and Hardhome were arguably some of the most cinematically masterful battles in television history that captured a total of nine Emmys between the two. Not to mention, these three episodes are three of the four episodes that are rated 9.9/10 on IMDb from the entire Game of Thrones series. James Hibberd, a columnist for Entertainment, wrote how the set of Winterfell got some additions including a tower castle exterior, a larger courtyard, and more interconnected rooms and ramparts. Also keep in mind that the fifth episode would be the penultimate episode of the series and historically that is when the biggest battles occur. With Sapochnik at the helm, at least one episode, if not both, are bound to include a truly awe inspiring battle.


GRRM has said multiple times that while he won’t reveal how Game of Thrones ends, it will be a “bittersweet” ending. And while the show does not entirely follow the books, actors on the show, such as Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), have also confirmed that this is the way the show will end. While this is pretty vague and could have a lot of different meanings, there are some things that are off the table.

If we assume that the ending is bittersweet then there are some endings that are just implausible. For example, The Night King destroying everything in his path and ending up on the throne (an ending I am actually kind of a fan of) seems improbable. What would be bittersweet about all the good guys dying and the bad guys winning? On the other hand, The Night King dying, Cersei getting her demise and having GOT end with all the good guys skipping and singing is unlikely too. The ending will likely wrap up neatly with a combination of good and bad. Maybe something along the lines of Jon Snow living but taking the role of The Night King, having to lead the White Walkers back north of the wall. Or maybe Danny dies in childbirth but Jon survives and the last shot is him rocking the baby asleep with him on the Iron Throne. That sounds bittersweet, right?

Jon Snow Discovers His Real Heritage.

The end of Season Seven confirmed Jon is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. It is obvious that Jon is going to find out his heritage, it is just a question of what happens once he does. Bran is currently at Winterfell and that is exactly where Jon is headed. It is possible he learns in the first episode but that it does not have as big of a response as expected.

Jon is someone who has never particularly wanted power. I would be surprised if he thinks that he should be destined for the throne and go against Danny because he has never expressed interest in ruling. Especially given that the show has only six episodes left, it’s hard to imagine the showrunners sacrificing time to a conflict between Danny and Jon. There is a likely possibility that Jon keeps the information to himself, still seeing Ned Stark as his father because he was the man who raised him from birth. There is an off chance Danny gets suspicious, thinking that he is a threat—but now she is in Winterfell, surrounded by Starks, and there is no way she kills him. Could you even imagine a Season Eight without Jon?!

Who sits on the Iron Throne?

HBO has been tweeting footage from previous seasons with #ForTheThrone included as their hashtag. The title of the show is Game of Thrones. There is a fantasy Thrones as well as different odds from Vegas on who will end up on the throne. This whole series has led up to someone sitting on the Iron Throne. The biggest question is who. There is a chance that nobody ends up on the throne, or that Jon Snow wins in the end and breaks up the Seven Kingdoms and nobody ends up on the chair, but that doesn’t seem very likely.

Currently Jon leads the way with the greatest odds to sit on the Iron Throne with Bran and Danny following behind according to Oddshark. Gendry is also a potential option with him being the son of Robert Baratheon. Some others on that list include Arya, Varys, and the Night King. Whoever ends up on the throne, the build up and tension is there, but it’s anyone's game as to who ends up ruling the Seven Kingdoms, if there even is a Seven Kingdoms. Maybe the third holy shit moment is that it’s actually all just a Westworld-style theme park and everyone is a host. Who knows? Only time will tell.

Steven Norwalk