Like most hardcore fans, this holiday season, I received the Game of Thrones Season 7 Blu-ray box set. It's a collection filled with goodies from the "History and Lore" shorts to the all-important commentary tracks that fans can listen to as they rewatch the series. But eagle-eared fans have noted that tucked away within the ramblings of those talking about the details of creating the show, there's a Game Of Thrones Season 8 spoiler or two. Let's consider what was heard, and consider what spoilers HBO might have accidentally sold to millions of unsuspecting fans this Christmas.
Every year brings new sets to Westeros. Season 7 alone introduced us to Highgarden, home of the Tyrells; Casterly Rock, the family seat of the Lannisters; and Eastwatch, a currently abandoned fortress along the Wall.
It also showed us new rooms in places we've already been, the most startling of which was Cersei's "Map Room" — an open courtyard where she had the entire map of Westeros painted to help her plan her conquest of the Seven Kingdoms. (Take that, Daenerys' Chamber of the Painted Table!) The map was such an artistic triumph, the show even gave a cameo to the set designer who created it, having him appear as the Westerosi painter that Cersei hired to create it.
When the Map Room was revealed in the season premiere, I assumed the fact that Cersei had it painted in a courtroom with an open sky was supposed to be representative of her denial of the reality of winter, and that the elements would snow and rain upon her map at some point, representing both her lack of forethought and her defeat in the coming war. But it turns out there's more to it than that. Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 follow.
When Winter Is Coming listened to the commentary track in Episode 4, the map scene was narrated by producer Chris Newman, visual effects supervisor Joe Bauer, and visual effects producer Steve Kullback. During their discussion, they reveal that though the courtyard is lit to mimic the sun shining down on the map, it's actually a set inside Titanic's Paint Hall because no one would actually paint such a valuable and beautiful piece of artwork where it would be exposed to the elements.
That brought up the fact that Cersei had it painted in an outdoor location, and that showrunners Benioff and Weiss wanted to make sure the audience at home could tell the map was in an open courtyard. But why?
Here's what they say:
- Steve Kullback: "Dan and David asked us to make it an exterior location in an upcoming episode, but I can’t tell you why. But that’ll pay off, too."
- Chris Newman: "The courtyard always was thought of as being an exterior courtyard, even before she had the map painted, hence the sunlight."
- Joe Bauer: "It used to be at least a story taller, but there was a need to see the sky in this coverage."
- Kullback: "Forthcoming coverage."
Here, I thought it would be necessary because we would perhaps see the map covered in snow, whited out when King's Landing is under siege from the Night King, and all is lost. But the "need to see the sky from this coverage" line suggests that we shouldn't be considering what falls on the map, but what flies over it.
We've already had the show tease the image of dragons flying over King's Landing, since Bran's vision in Season 4:
Up until now, fans have always assumed this was Drogon, with Dany on his back. But it's not three dragons, or even two. It's a single, lone dragon, the way the Night King would arrive.
And we know what the Night King brings with him when he arrives. His entrance is always preceded by a winter storm.
Perhaps finally we have an explanation for this vision of Dany's back all the way in Season 2. It's not ash, it's snow. King's Landing has fallen. It's up to her, and to Jon Snow, to take it back.
Game of Thrones Season 8 will premiere on HBO sometime in 2019.