The premiere of Game of Thrones season eight featured a terrifying scene that revealed the death of a supporting character.
Save for a few faceless Greyjoy guards, the opener was far more invested in reuniting disparate characters than killing them off in gruesome ways (going by the trailer for episode two, we’re sure that’s coming very soon).
One character who doesn’t fare so well, though, is Ned Umber (Harry Grasby). For those who don’t remember, he’s the 10-year old who becomes Lord of House Umber after his family die fighting Jon Snow in the Battle of the Bastards.
House Umber is a settlement based at the Last Hearth. After his predecessors betray the Starks after fighting for the Boltons, Ned pledged fealty to the family once again in season seven after Jon Snow (Kit Harington) returned to Winterfell.
At the beginning of the episode, Lord Ned says he’ll head back to Last Hearth to get more horses ahead of the battle against the Night King. However, at the end of the episode, Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) find him impaled to a wall surrounded by sawn off limbs.
Dondarrion comments that this is the Night King's "symbol" and it's been seen throughout the series, dating right back to the opening scene of the pilot episode. The true meaning of this symbol is unknown, but showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss once commented that the fact the White Walkers are leaving patterns behind means they're working from a far more intelligent mindset than viewers first thought.
It's also generated a huge theory that could unlock the true identity of the Night King.
Umber’s death is foretold in the brand new opening title sequence, which shows Last Hearth turning to ice. It’s the first obstacle in the path of the White Walkers as they march towards Winterfell, so Umber’s death means the battle is inching ever close.
The final season of Game of Thrones continues every Sunday.
We've compiled the 13 Eater eggs, callbacks and book references you might have missed from the season eight premiere – find them here.
You can find our extensive ranking of every episode – from worst to best – below.
The show will be available on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK.
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