Last week's opening instalment, the first to have aired on HBO since August 2017, may have been low on deaths, but this didn’t save the life of 10-year-old Ned Umber who met his maker at the hands of the White Walkers.
He was discovered by Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and was nailed to a wall surrounded by severed body parts that were arranged in a spiral shape around him.
“It’s a message from the Night King,” Beric announced, leaving fans to wonder: what message is he sending?
The first glimpse of such a symbol was spotted in the very first scene of the series where we see a group of wildlings’ bodies that are placed in a pattern very similar to the one seen here.
Jump forward a few seasons and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is among a group of individuals who find the severed body parts of horses arranged in another version of the pattern. Later in the series, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) sees the symbol when he’s being told about the Night King by the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow).
Now, a particular theory doing the rounds, highlighted by Digital Spy, is that the symbols hint at a large connection with the Targaryens.
Cast your mind back to season seven’s fourth episode, “The Spoils of War”, where Jon shows Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) carvings in the caves beneath Dragonstone. We learn they were placed there by the Children of the Forest to symbolise their union with the First Men, with whom they teamed up in a bid to defeat the White Walkers.
Speaking to TIME about these symbols, co-showrunner David Benioff said: “One of the things we learn from these cave paintings is that the White Walkers didn’t come up with those images, they derived them from their creators, the Children of the Forest. These are patterns that have mystical significance for the Children of the Forest.”
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The theory, though, highlights a similarity between the symbol and... the sigil of House Targaryen.
With this in mind, could the Night King actually be a Targaryen? If he is, this would make him the true heir to the Iron Throne and the forthcoming battle with the White Walkers wouldn’t be too far removed from the overarching game of thrones than viewers first thought.
Plus, he has essentially become the third dragon rider now he’s claimed Viserion as one of his own. According to Twitter user @DavidScottHicks, a behind-the-scenes clip of the season eight premiere saw one of the show’s creators say: ”Only a Targaryen can ride a dragon.”
Elsewhere, last week's reunion-heavy episode featured a hilarious reference to last season’s controversial Ed Sheeran cameo, as well as the moment that saw Snow learn of his true Tagaryen heritage.
You can find our extensive ranking of every episode – from worst to best – here and a countdown of every character below.
The show will be available on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK.
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