Before we dig into what it might mean, though, let's pour one out for little Lord Umber (Harry Grasby), shall we? The kid was bravely trying to get his people out of Last Hearth before winter arrived, but even with the Starks' horses and carriages, he couldn't make it. Instead of just being absorbed into the swelling army of the dead, his men were butchered, and their parts were arranged around the boy's own zombified corpse to form some kind of creepy warning to Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), and Edd (Ben Crompton).
So, yeah. It wasn't a great day to be Ned Umber, and maybe he would've been better off if Jon Snow (Kit Harington) had just stripped him of his castle last season.
Now, let's talk about that symbol.
As fans might recall, that gnarly death spiral business was one of the first things we ever saw on this show. Way back in the pilot, Will (Bronson Webb) came across a similar spread of wildling body parts. Later, the Night King would again splay out body bits — this time belonging to horses whose riders had presumably been made into wights — in similar fashion for Jon and Mance Rayder's (Ciarán Hinds) wilding army to find in Season 3.
We also saw a similar spiral icon in Season 6, when Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and the erstwhile Three-Eyed Raven warged to the weirwood tree where the Children of the Forest first created the Night King. The stones surrounding the tree then were arranged in similar fashion. Then in Season 7, the symbol also appeared in the Dragonstone cave drawings Jon saw with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to showcase how long this battle against winter has been going on and how mankind had to put aside their differences to survive the freeze.
Both of those connect back to the Night King's origins, so it might just be his way of reminding everyone that he didn't choose this life — er, death — but it was instead a mistake of the Children's own making.
Some fans on social media think the Night King might be using the symbol to warn mankind against allying with the Children because he wants to destroy them in retribution for what they made him become.
We've got more evidence that the white walkers just want to kill the Children (Dead Children in each picture/warning) Of The Forest at the God's eye (eye symbol) and are trying to warn Men to get out of their way. pic.twitter.com/Kye23kWpYn— MVP of the losing team (@Greywind115) April 15, 2019
Others believe that the warning may be meant for Daenerys Targaryen. She was at the center of a living swirl pattern when the Khalasar found and surrounded her in the Great Dothraki Sea, and coincidences don't just happen on this show. Meanwhile, the sigil for House Targaryen has a very, very similar layout with the three dragons forming a circular design. Again, that cannot be an accident.
To some of these armchair theorists, the similarities between the Night King's symbol and the Targaryen sigil might mean that the blue-eyed baddie was once a member of the dragon family himself. After all, there are now three riders, as was foretold, and he's one of them.
Seen these pics but I haven't seen this take yet. Initially we thought that it was the symbol for the White Walkers, but now it also looks like the Targaryen sigil.— archie (@archa24) April 15, 2019
What if the Night King is also a Targaryen? The throne could belong to him🙃 #GameofThrones pic.twitter.com/0nP8cDt8YG
*Viscerion has let the night king ride him. We know a dragon is not a slave. Implying that the night king has Targaryen blood, hence why Viscerion is LETTING him— Chelssssie💖🔮 (@ChelsieLuckman) April 15, 2019
*THE NIGHT KING IS THE THIRD TARGARYEN WHAT..
Remember yall, you heard it here first, mwah x
Of course, it could be much bigger than that. Perhaps the paralleling between the two emblems is indicative of the fact that the Night King and Daenerys (and maybe even Jon, now that we know he's half Targaryen) are the endgame players. This is a song of ice and fire, and the ice zombie and the unburnt in particular have always represented those elements in very literal fashion. If they both finally stop swirling around in their separate corners of Westeros and meet in the middle, it could be the epic end everyone's been waiting for.
Daenerys always talked about wanting to stop the vicious cycle of mankind's power struggles, so maybe the Night King's symbol (which kinda looks like a broken wheel) means that he does, too. Maybe just with different results than she hopes for.
Game of Thrones airs on Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.