Season 8 of Game of Thrones is finally here and with it comes a brand new opening credits sequence, rebuilt completely from the ground up. Just like the previous version, it features growing clockwork models of various locales featured in the upcoming episode. Because the show is quickly nearing its endgame, almost all of the remaining characters have converged in just a few places, but rather than simplify things accordingly, the decision was made instead to go deeper, and this new opening takes us inside castles and cities for the first time. So while the opening follows the same general concept as before, there’s a number of interesting new details included that are hard to catch while watching things live on HBO.
Here’s what you might have missed.
The astrolabe that previously featured a history of Westeros leading up to the start of Game of Thrones season one now features major moments from the past seven seasons. The original three reliefs emblazoned on the spinning astrolabe above Westeros depicted the Doom of Valyria, Robert’s Rebellion, and then the Baratheon stag crowned with animals representing the other major houses kneeling. Now it rolls backwards, starting with the White Walkers bringing down the Wall and the Night King astride the undead Viserion.
Next, we have a grim recreation of The Red Wedding. A man with a wolf’s head hangs from the twin towers of House Frey, while the Lannister lion has the Tully trout in its mouth, and the Bolton’s flayed man holds another severed wolf head.
The last ring seems to represent the return of dragons to the world. One large dragon (Daenerys?) appears aside three smaller ones, with the mysterious red comet of The Prince That Was Promised prophecy flying ahead of them. It’s hard to ignore that the comet kinda looks like a dragon head. A fifth dragon who is the Prince?
As for the map of Westeros itself, one of the coolest subtle adds is the progress of the White Walkers as they move south. You can see tiles of land on the map flip from a snowy white to ethereal icy blue as the army of the undead crosses the shattered Wall at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and approaches Last Hearth.
Take a good look at the hill Last Hearth sits on. It’s shaped like a twisted circle, in a similar design to how the White Walkers have been arranging their corpse displays for several seasons now. Now we’re left wondering if it’s just a nice artistic touch or a sign that the spiral design has a bigger significance to the story?
From there we fly southwest to Winterfell, which is no longer the smoking ruin it was in recent seasons. The great hall where the Starks hold court is shown, as are the crypts.
King’s Landing in the south is next, and we get to fly through the defensive walls of the city before focusing in on the Red Keep. A painted map room featured in the last episode of season seven is visible as the walls rise, as well as the stairs from the Tower of the Hand.
We get a glimpse of the dragon-killing ballistas Cersei ordered built, and dragon skulls from the Targaryen era that are kept in the castle cellars.
The credits end overlooking the Iron Throne before showing the unchanged but much darker Game of Thrones title sigil. It’s as if the new Long Night that is starting to fall upon Westeros has already begun sucking the light from the world.
As in previous seasons, small changes to the map will be made as different characters travel across the map … and the White Walkers march south. Expect a whole lot more of the map to be taken over by the Others each week, especially with the amount of infighting currently going on amongst the living. Will things finish with a Westeros completely covered in ice, darkness, and death? If there’s one show with the stones to kill everyone at the end, it would be Game of Thrones.