After a lengthier than usual hiatus, the penultimate season of Game of Thrones is finally nearing. As if I wasn’t impatient enough already, a fantastic trailer dropped this past week. I would have had this post up earlier if I wasn’t at MegaCon all weekend, but I’m sick of apologizing to a non-existent audience. Enough gonzo rambling, today I’m going to break down all of the important elements of this trailer, and what they mean for the season to come.
I feel I should get the elephant in the room out of the way- the new season will only consist of seven episodes (as opposed to the usual 10). I have a feeling this will lead to a pace increase and harsh narrative tightening. This can work as both a positive and a negative for the series. We will definitely be seeing more frequent fan service action. However, I sincerely hope this focus doesn’t betray the core of what makes Game of Thrones such a masterpiece, the quiet character moments. After what is arguably the best season of the show, I do have faith that Dan and Dave can stay true to this core. However, I’m still cautiously expecting the worst and hoping for the best.
An important element of the trailer that shouldn’t be ignored is that Cersei is the narrator. This leads me to believe that she will be paramount to this season. It seems that she may even be the main focus character, with all of the other arcs splintering off of her conduit narrative. Since Cersei is a fantastic character, and Jaime is one my favorites in the show, this is definitely not an issue for me.
What does concern me, however, is the complete lack of Bran in this trailer. With his arc coming to an all-time high last season, I’m concerned this abandonment will remove some of the mystical tension that has been building up in the narrative. Based on what is shown to us in the trailer, it seems season 7 will take more of a human route, focusing mainly on the non-mystical characters and “game of thrones” aspect of the plot, designating season 8 as the home for “ice and fire” developments. This follows my prediction that the War for the Dawn, Azor Ahai, and White Walker plot threads will come to a head only after Daenerys finishes or fails her conquest. Don’t get me wrong, I do think we will definitely see sprinkles of mysticality this year, as made evident by multiple beyond the Wall shots and a single Melisandre shot. Regardless, I really do hope we see at least a bit of Bran this season; his arc is one of my favorite in the show.
Cersei spends an early chunk of the trailer monologuing about the enemies she has in all four cardinal directions. While north is clearly implying Jon and company, and east is obviously referring to Daenerys’ forces, south and west require some further speculation.
With the ominous shot of a pirate-like ship accompanying “enemies to the west,” it seems like the ironborn arc is not dead. I was sure that Euron was only introduced in the show as a conduit to get Theon and Yara to ally with Daenerys. I’m happy that he will be more of a threat, despite being introduced so late in the game. It’s unclear whether he will mainly oppose Cersei’s regime, or serve as an obstacle to Daenerys’ conquest. I’m leaning towards the latter, but open to the prior.
The south, while still speculative, is a bit more straightforward. From this shot, it seems they are implying that the Sand Snakes and Dorne will serve as a more prominent aspect of the narrative than before. This opposes my post season 6 finale idea that their arc would probably just be assimilated into Daenerys’. This opposition comes as a pleasant surprise- they simply weren’t developed enough as characters to be through with. We also see a brief shot of Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria Sand passionately kissing. This may be simple fanservice, but there’s also the possibility that this relationship will be integral to the narrative.
Circling back to Cersei, it is time to address one of my favorite characters, Jaime. The look on his face when standing next to Cersei in the throne room shows nothing but pure, unfiltered regret. He realises the monster that Cersei has become, and feels he is somehow responsible. This further ignites the flame under my theory that he will be the one to kill Cersei in an action that will parallel his assasination of the Mad King.
Speaking of parallels, Daenerys is definitively arriving in Westeros this season. Eerily mirroring Aegon’s Conquest, Daenerys has seemingly taken Dragonstone as her home base. This serves as a fantastic tribute to her ancestry; Dragonstone is the location the Targaryens made their headquarters after the Doom of Valyria. It was commandeered by Stannis after Robert’s Rebellion seemingly wiped out the Targaryen line, so it’s nice to see the island back under its namesake.
With Daenerys definitely in Westeros, it seems the vast majority, if not the entirety, of her conquest will take place this season. We even get shots of the Unsullied in direct combat with the Lannister army. While this may be depicting the taking of Casterly Rock, it seems more likely that these are glimpses into the actual taking of King’s Landing. The latter makes me a bit nervous; Daenerys’ arc is moving unprecedentedly fast. Regardless, I’m happy the trailer didn’t use any shots or imagery to imply the victor of this battle; knowing the writers, it really could go either way. However, I do stand by my theory that Jaime will kill Cersei and allow Daenerys’ forces to assume control of the castle. The Mad King parallels may even grow from there; it may be Cersei’s crazed command to burn the entire city with wildfire that triggers this assassination.
A potential liability in Daenerys’ success comes in the form of the Dothraki she has assimilated into her forces. Despite direct orders from their Khaleesi, it may be hard for a barbaric people to abandon their old ways in favor of formal warfare. Raping and pillaging might become an issue; despite being an integral element of Dothraki culture, it directly contrasts with Daenerys’ code of ethics. Will the Dothraki be able to break their old habits? Will this very regression be the key to Daenerys’ victory?
Moving up to the north, Littlefinger still hasn’t called it quits. With eerie imagery and dialogue, it seems like he is trying to manipulate Sansa behind Jon’s back. If Sansa is, once again, brainwashed by him, I will be very disappointed. In the show, Sansa is a character plagued by swift regression in the face of steady progression. With the show nearing its close, I pray that her character gets the permanent development she deserves. Regardless, this conflict seems like it will be a tedious, but important arc in the season to come.
Speaking of northern conflict, the Arya shots in this trailer hint that her past may be coming back to haunt her. Although not definitive, I theorize that the Faceless Men (particularly the agents they must have in Westeros) are still after Arya. This makes perfect narrative sense; it was way too easy for her to escape back in Braavos. The nature of this assassin cult also adds to this tension; they could be anyone. Since Arya is another character that I genuinely care about, I pray she doesn’t succumb to this horrid situation.
That’s pretty much it for this analysis. The trailer promises some essential fan service scenes, but is also plagued by some notable absences. Despite a probable focus on the non-mystical elements of the series in the upcoming season, I really hope we still get some drops of the mysticality to come. After all, season 8 is most likely going to cover the War for the Dawn. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones and/or A Song of Ice and Fire, you are in for a treat this July and August. I will be analytically reviewing all seven episodes of the upcoming season, so stay tuned.