We are now just over two weeks away from the premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones. It's a day fans have been waiting for since August 2017, when season 7 concluded in spectacular fashion. While the gigantic team of artists who bring the show to life both in front of and behind the camera have done an impressive job of remaining tight-lipped on any of the juicy details, there are a few things we do know about what to expect from Game of Thrones season 8. (Just be aware that if you're not caught up, there are spoilers ahead!)
1. There will be fewer episodes than in previous seasons, but they'll be longer.
Season 8 will be comprised of a total of just six episodes. While fans were initially disappointed to hear that the season would be so short, there is a silver lining: Three of the episodes will be about 80 minutes long, which is practically movie length. Here are the runtimes:
Episode one: 54 minutes Episode two: 58 minutes Episode three: 60 minutes Episode four: 78 minutes Episode five: 80 minutes Episode six: 80 minutes
Many fans believed, based on multiple reports and even quotes from people behind the show, that every single episode would be closer to that 80-minute runtime. "Season 8 episodes will all I think be longer than 60 minutes. They'll be dancing around the bigger numbers, I know that for sure," director David Nutter said in November 2018. Though this turned out to be wishful thinking, fans are just happy that their Sunday nights will be full of Game of Thrones again.
2. The first episode will take place at Winterfell, and will mirror the pilot episode.
Without giving anything vital away, Entertainment Weekly shared some basic details about the first episode of season 8, which will in many ways mirror the series' pilot episode:
"Season 8 opens at Winterfell with an episode that contains plenty of callbacks to the show’s pilot. Instead of King Robert’s procession arriving, it’s Daenerys and her army. What follows is a thrilling and tense intermingling of characters—some of whom have never previously met, many who have messy histories—as they all prepare to face the inevitable invasion of the Army of the Dead."
3. Cast members have been (unsurprisingly) cryptic about it.
While many of the series' stars have shared the details of their final day of filming (Lena Headey's last day on the set was "weirdly tedious"), their feelings on the season overall, and how they predict fans will react to the ending, any true spoilers have been pretty much nonexistent. And much of what Game of Thrones insiders have sad has been rather cryptic. Case in point: Emilia Clarke.
When asked about the series ending by Vanity Fair, Clarke stated that, “It f***ed me up. Knowing that is going to be a lasting flavor in someone’s mouth of what Daenerys is ...” Clarke also added that she’s “doing all this weird s**t” in the final season. “You’ll know what I mean when you see it,” she explained. While not very helpful to those fans looking for details, it certainly adds some mystery around what we can look forward to.
4. We'll see ghost again.
According to special effects supervisor Joe Bauer, Jon Snow’s direwolf Ghost will be making his return to the screen this season. "He’s very present and does some pretty cool things in season 8,” Bauer told HuffPost of Jon's furry sidekick.
5. It will feature the most epic battle in Game of Thrones history.
It only makes sense that there would be a huge battle in the final season, as it's essentially what the entire series has been leading up to. And while we've seen some impressive battles before, most notably the Battle of the Bastards, insiders say that this upcoming fight—which took a whopping 55 days to shoot—will be like nothing the show has ever produced. "It makes the Battle of the Bastards look like a theme park,” Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister, told Entertainment Weekly.
6. Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarrion are alive.
The first full-length trailer for the final season shows Tormund and Beric walking down a dark corridor in a quick scene, which seems to indicate that they are indeed alive. The last time we saw these two in season seven, they were being trapped on top of the remaining part of the wall after the Night King destroyed it with Viserion. No one knew if they had survived.
7. The Night King is intent on killing one person in particular.
Though it may seem as if the Night King just kills whoever—or whatever—gets in his way, he has a very specific target in mind. Vladimir Furdik, who plays the Night King, told Entertainment Weekly that, "People will see [the Night King] has a target he wants to kill, and you will find out who that is."
8. Jon Snow will learn his true parentage.
In an interview with TV Insider, co-showrunner D.B. Weiss all but confirmed that Jon Snow will learn his true parentage (which, let's face it, would be disappointing if he didn't as it's been such a major plot point). "From a dramatic standpoint, it makes things interesting, because the story is no longer about who Jon's parents are," Weiss said. "It's about what happens when Jon finds out."
9. They shot multiple endings.
It's been reported that multiple endings were shot for the season—and not because the showrunners couldn't decide on how to end the series, but so that they could ensure that no details about how the series will end would be leaked. “I know in Game of Thrones, the ending, they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that nobody really know what happens,” HBO boss Casey Bloys told The Morning Call. “You have to do that on a long show. Because when you’re shooting something, people know. So they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that there’s no real definitive answer until the end.”
10. It will shock fans.
Fans are hoping for the most intense, epic season in television history, and Clarke has pretty much assured us that will happen. While at the Academy Awards this year, the actress told Ryan Seacrest:
“It's going to be huge, that much everyone needs to know ... It took us a long time to film this one for a very good reason. But I think there's going to be some things ... I know there's going to be some things in this last season that will shock people.”
The final season of Game of Thrones premieres on April 14.