This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7, episode 7, titled “The Dragon and the Wolf.”
Game of Thrones ended its Season 7 finale with a bang — quite literally, as a large chunk of the Wall that has held the White Walkers at bay for thousands of years came tumbling down, potentially taking the resilient Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarrion down with it.
(Then again, history has proven that if you don’t see a killing blow on this show, chances are your favorite character will probably make a miraculous reappearance.)
The destruction of Eastwatch has catastrophic consequences for Westeros, as the final moments of the finale see the Night King leading his Army of the Dead through the ruins of the Wall and into the Seven Kingdoms from atop a reanimated Viserion.
In HBO’s weekly “Inside the Episode” video, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss explain how they approached the final scene, and what it means for Season 8, which is set to be the show’s last.
“We try to contrast the various season endings so that they don’t feel too similar,” Benioff says. “So last season we had a pretty triumphant ending with Dany finally sailing west towards Westeros. This one is definitely much more horrific. For many years now we’ve known this would be the ending of the penultimate season.”
“The Wall’s kept these things out for 8000 years; there’s no real reason why it can’t keep doing that unless something puts a hole in the Wall,” Weiss explains. “There’s one thing on the board from the beginning that is now big enough to do that, and that’s a dragon. It just started to suggest itself as a logical way forward.”
Now that the White Walkers have invaded Westeros, things will escalate quickly in Season 8, according to the showrunners — especially since there are only six episodes planned for the show’s final season.
“It needed to be a thing you go out of the season on; the first four or five years of the show it was the expanding universe, and as we get near the end of the show, the universe contracts,” Benioff notes. “Characters are going to a place that they never have before, quite literally in some cases, but also just in a larger sense where they’re facing the conflicts they know will decide their fates.”
Daenerys Targaryen is one such character who is literally going to a place she’s never visited before — Winterfell, where Bran Stark and Sam Tarly are waiting to tell Jon Snow that he’s actually Aegon Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne and, oh yeah, Dany’s nephew.
Considering that the finale ended with Dany and Jon having sex, oblivious to their secret family connection, Jon’s impending reunion with Bran and Sam is going to be pretty awkward… but since Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven and proooobably saw this all coming, you’d have thought he might’ve given his brother-cousin a heads up a little sooner.
But with Jaime abandoning Cersei to uphold his oath to assist in the war against the White Walkers, and Euron currently sailing to Essos to retrieve the Golden Company to beef up Cersei’s army, it’s clear that Littlefinger won’t be the only casualty before Game of Thrones comes to an end.
After all, as Jaime noticed as he rode out of King’s Landing (possibly for the very last time) amid the falling snow, “winter is here,” and, as Weiss promises, “it’s all hitting the fan from all directions.”