In the new teaser released Sunday, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his sisters-slash-cousins Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) are shown walking through the Stark family crypt to pay a silent visit to those they've lost — there's Ned, Catelyn and even Lyanna Stark, Jon's biological mother. When they reach a dead end, though, there's a surprise for each of them. There are three statues — gasp! — of themselves waiting in the wing.
The obvious read on this revelation is that the Starks are in big trouble. The feather that Robert Baratheon once put in Lyanna's hands freezes, which foretells winter's long-awaited arrival, and, folks, the night will be full of terrors. But we pretty much knew that already. The Night King has now crested the Wall, and what's the first stop in Westeros from there? You got it: Winterfell. Arms, up Starks (and, erm, Targaryens).
But there's more to it than that.
For starters, some fans have pointed out that while Arya and Sansa's statues appear to present them as they are now, Jon's shows him with a much older visage. That could just be a coincidence, of course (perhaps it's just Catelyn's side has the good aging genes) or a creative consequence of committing beard to concrete. But if it isn't... well, that can't be good news for the Stark girls.
Arya's still young in her statue, likewise Sansa but Jon Snow looks really old in his.— Taofeek Oseni (@HEAD_MASTA) January 14, 2019
Bran doesn't have a statue and is nowhere to be found
Are we even ready for this? #GameOfThrones pic.twitter.com/rabT4ACdiw
Meanwhile, the other five-alarm fire found in the footage exists in what's not there.
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is also currently in Winterfell, as far as we know, and even though he's no longer ~Bran Stark~ thanks to his Three-Eyed Raven transformation, he proved that Stark blood still runs through his veins by helping out his sisters with the pesky Littlefinger situation last season. So, his absence from this family reunion video certainly strikes as odd... or does it?
Game of Thrones has seemingly gone out of its way to address some of the most prominent fan theories in the recent seasons. Remember when Daenerys told Jon not to call her Dany, and it was about as fourth-wall breaking a line as there ever was on the show? Or when fans' long-gestating theory about Jon's true parentage was finally addressed on-screen, and it looked just like everyone predicted it would?
One theory that continues to linger in the fan realm is the idea that Bran is going to be become (and already has become) the Night King. The idea is that during one of his Three-Eyed Raven wargs, he'll accidentally jump back to the moment when the Children of the Forest created the Night King and inhabit the ice zombie's body.
No doubt, showing this would be a great way to pump interest in the prequel taking place around that time period, but the theory does hold water — in ice form, of course — irrespective of that. Bran has previously demonstrated an ability to affect the past, like when he accidentally drove Hodor mad by fusing the past with the present, and the Night King's sensitivity to his presence has also been pointed, like when the fro-zo immediately picked him out of a raven line-up in the sky. Plus, Bran's powers are still very much under construction, so who knows if he could also develop the ability to control the minds and bodies of dead things — the thousands of years that will have passed since the Night King's creation would certainly give him plenty of time to hone that skill, if it exists.
So, does this teaser give even more weight to the prediction that Bran is/was/will be the Night King? Is the arrival of the freeze simply Bran in his new form coming to pay his fam a visit?
Some fans certainly think so. Social media has been flooded with reactions that peg that as exactly what this new teaser is telling us.
Game of Thrones started with Bran Stark and Bran Stark will end Game of Thrones... with his new pals, the Night King and his generals and the wights having the coolest party ever.— aly (@weirwoodthrone) January 14, 2019
OKAY SO. I have been slowly allowing the Bran = Night King theory seep into my brain as time passes. And this trailer...— diet_glitter (@thelastglitter) January 14, 2019
There's one living Stark who's not apparently "invited" into the Winterfell Crypt. But then, it seems that maybe he shows up, but he brings cold with him. https://t.co/pWY8naQUsL
As exciting as this is, the first thing I noticed was the absence of Bran.— Walt (@UberKryptonian) January 14, 2019
The only people in the crypt are the remaining Starks, Jon, Sansa, and Arya. So where's Bran? That's when the cold rushes in, the Night King. https://t.co/aJzuKuivMA
If so, the question we have to think about now is whether he'll go so far as to raise his late folks from the dead to fight, too. That'd be one way to finally bring Lady Stoneheart into the picture, no?
Game of Thrones returns to HBO for its eighth and final season on Sunday, April 14.