Winter has come and the final season of one of history’s greatest ever TV shows is almost upon us. Way back in 2011, when Barack Obama ruled America and we had old mate John Key here in Aotearoa, an adult fantasy series kicked off. It had a lot of ambition, but it’s gone on to become more successful than almost anyone would’ve imagined—it’s often wildly depraved, excessively violent, known colloquially as ‘the tits and dragons show’ and it popularised ‘sexposition’. But somehow, it’s become the biggest TV show on the planet.
As the climactic eighth season is about to kick off (streaming on NEON in New Zealand), I’ve been rewatching old seasons, listening to the soundtracks and generally fizzing harder and harder as April 15 approaches. But what’s coming in season 8?
There are no spoilers here. We don’t have any actual idea of what’s coming up in the final season, these are just guesses—so don’t get mad if they’re right and actually spoil, and don’t mock if they’re way off.
In no particular order, here are the most exciting things about Game of Thrones season 8—along with a few I’m not so crazy about seeing.
Super looking forward to: Cleganebowl
There’s no 2019 face-off more exciting than Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane versus his brother Gregor ‘The Mountain’. Not Scott Adkins versus Iko Uwais in Triple Threat, not Kylo Ren versus Rey part two, not Thanos versus the Avengers part whatever, not nothing.
The rivalry between these two exceptionally mighty, breathtakingly brutal warriors is one of the absolute coolest things to ever come from George R.R. Martin putting pen to paper. Their battle was hinted at in the season 7 finale and it’s got to top The Mountain versus The Viper, as well as The Hound versus Brienne. It’s got to be the greatest one-on-one in fantasy entertainment history, basically.
Super NOT looking forward to: Any more scenes with Gilly and Sam
Upon rewatching this entire series again recently, the only bits I had to fast-forward were the ones with this hapless couple. The two least appealing characters in the show were thrown together as a couple, only to amplify each other’s insufferableness.
When they say things like “The thing about Gilly is” and “You’re, like, a wizard”, it really does make the blood boil. Also, the Night’s Watch is a deeply cool concept—but its gnarly, mean vibe is somewhat diminished by mostly useless weakling Sam’s having survived it all these years. Come on, you know he shouldn’t have. It’s just plain silly the shit he’s gotten through on The Wall, let alone the shit beyond it.
Super looking forward to: Full-scale warfare between the army of dead and the forces of living
Two of the most beloved Game of Thrones episodes so far have been ‘Hardhome’ and ‘Battle of the Bastards’. Miguel Sapochnik directed both and coming up in season 8, he directs a couple more—including one that features what Entertainment Weekly promises is “the longest consecutive battle scene ever committed to film”.
The Great Battle of Winterfell will pay off eight years of meticulous table-setting and hype-building. We’re going to see a shitload of human characters we love and loathe with a range of different combat styles, dragons, zombie dragons, zombie giants, wights, White Walkers, direwolves and more wage war on each other. It really is a wonderful time to be alive.
Super NOT looking forward to: Greyworm emoting while not emoting
The Unsullied are a choice army. Freed eunuch fighting slaves, they don’t feel pain and have cool looking armour, helmets and spears. But it’s sure not cool when they speak.
Greyworm having a romantic subplot with Missendei is one of the more unfortunate things about Game of Thrones. When he’s standing around looking tough-as or slaying slave masters, it’s all good. When he’s talking about feelings he doesn’t really have in that painful fake accent, it’s rubbish. This couple’s sex scene in season 7 was lovely—more of that would be all good, especially as it means Missendei putting his mouth to a far better use than speech.
Super looking forward to: Cersei’s death
The supreme wickedness of this villain is truly something to behold. She’s absolutely brilliant and just how extreme her ruthlessness is has allowed the Lannister family to live on way longer than they should have. But she’s become reckless and even stated in season 7, “We fight and die, or we submit and die. I know my choice.”
Considering the incredible brutality she’s unleashed on her enemies in the show so far, her own death should be deliciously nasty and gratifying. Fingers crossed it involves dragon fire. But for narrative oomph, it’ll probably be Jaime that does it, and for his redemption arc to be complete he’ll have to die in the process, too.
Super NOT looking forward to: Bran being an unlikable weirdo again
Ever since he fully tripped out and became ol’ Three-Eyed Raven, Bran’s been way less fun. He emotes even less than Greyworm, all but ruining season 7’s glorious Stark reunion at Winterfell. Yes, Bran, you can see everything from any time, all the time, but be less weird, please. Maybe even smile a little, would you, love?
His immense mental powers are sure to come in handy in the battle against the White Walkers, but watching him use them will probably be about as fun as watching that stupid thing where Shia LaBeouf filmed his own face watching movies for 100 hours or whatever.
Super looking forward to: Seeing how The Song of Ice and Fire actually ends
The penultimate episode of season 1 saw Ned’s head cruelly sliced off, despite his being the show’s main star. That taught us to expect the unexpected and prepare to see our favourite characters die, making this series all the more exciting.
Sure, it’s gotten a little more predictable since then (nobody actually thought Jon Snow was dead, right?), but the stakes are still enormous and it’s definitely not certain how things are going to go. Who sits on the Iron Throne at the end of it all, if the Iron Throne even exists, is painfully intriguing. Who will live? Who will die? There’s probably just as much heartbreak as there is glory on the way.
Will the showrunners stick the landing, or drop the ball right at the end? Soon, we’ll all know. In the words of Arthur Dayne and Aegon Targaryen: I wish you good fortunes in the wars to come.
Super NOT looking forward to: Seeing The Song of Ice and Fire actually end
Too bad, it’s going to.