After what felt like an eternity watching paint dry, but was in reality a little over an hour watching ice melt, HBO finally admitted Facebook Live defeat and announced the premiere date for the seventh season of Game of Thrones. To sweeten the deal, and alleviate the aggravation of fans who spent the better part of their afternoon typing “FIRE” into a Facebook comment section, HBO also released the first trailer for the upcoming season. While there was no actual footage, it did promise “the great war is here” which could mean either the war between Dany and Cersei or the war between the living and the dead. Probably both. But hidden at the end of the trailer was an image that is now familiar to anyone who watches the show.
The mysterious spiral pattern utilized by both the Children of the Forest and the White Walkers.
The first time audiences saw this pattern was in the Season 3 episode “Walk of Punishment” when Mance Rayder and Jon Snow find the remnants of the Night’s Watch horses splayed out in a spiral of carnage. Rayder even quips the White Walkers are “always artists.” The pattern isn’t seen again until the Season 6 episode “The Door” when Bran witnesses a flashback featuring the Children of the Forest. In it, the same spiral can be seen in a stonework pattern with a weirwood tree at its heart. Considering the connection between the Children of the Forest and the White Walkers, one would assume that was the end of the mystery. Cleary, the Night King is mimicking or mocking the Children. But then it showed up again in the Season 7 trailer. So now one has to wonder if there is greater significance. It could be in relation to magic or a ritual. It could have something to do with the origin of the Children of the Forest or the mysterious “third ancient race” lost to time. It could be nothing. But I like to think the spiral pattern — which resembles a galaxy — it a hint that George R.R. Martin’s fantasy epic is actually science fiction in disguise.
I’ve talked before about ancient aliens in the Game of Thrones universe. George R.R. Martin has peppered the history of Westeros and Essos with phenomena that can be explained “scientifically.” The Known World used to follow the pattern of the Earth’s rotation, with hints that whatever slammed into Asshai-By-The-Shadow altered the course of the planet’s axis, causing The Long Night, and throwing the seasons out of order. The Age Of Heroes left behind architectural wonders such as Dragonstone, The Wall, and the remnants of Pyke Castle*. In “modern” times, the people of Westeros chalk up these creations to magic, but as Arthur C. Clarke noted, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
*Pyke Castle may actually predate any other architectural structure in Westeros save the foundations of the Citadel. Martin has written that by the time humans discovered the island that would become the seat of House Greyjoy, the castle was already in ruins.
HBO has hinted in the past about an advanced society lost to time in Game of Thrones. This coincides with Martin’s scant mentions of evidence pointing to a lost “third race” that inhabited Westeros along with the Children of the Forest and the Giants, long before humans touched a foot to the shorelines. It’s conceivable that lost race was not native to The Known World, but instead came from another star system, either on purpose or crash landing in Asshai-By-The-Shadow and becoming stranded.
The theory that Game of Thrones is science fiction masquerading as fantasy is not a new one. After all, Martin is well-versed in writing the sci-fi genre, and A Song Of Ice And Fire is specifically him thumbing his nose at traditional fantasy tropes. So seeing the Children of the Forest and the White Walkers copy what looks like a galactic map straight out of Mass Effect lends another buttress to the idea. If an alien race crash landed on The Known World eons ago, how would their biology and technology trickle down over the millennia? When Earth Europeans crossed the Atlantic, they forever changed the face of the Americas, and we’re all the same species living on the same planet. Could this mysterious race that is long since dead have given their “magic” to humanity through either microbes, experimentation, or interbreeding? Sure. Why not? It’s no more far-fetched than dragons or ice zombies.