After two very long years, Game of Thrones has returned. “Winterfell,” the first episode of the final season, focused on character relationships and drama, putting the pieces in place for the battle against the White Walkers. But it also introduced a brand-new, opening-credits sequence that reminds us of where this season is heading.
From the Wall to the halls of King’s Landing, we have a breakdown of some of the biggest additions to unfold against the iconic Game of Thrones theme song in season 8.
THE WALL HAS A HOLE IN IT
While the season premiere doesn’t feel especially urgent, the credits sequence doesn’t forget what’s coming: the Night King and his army. The first image we see — after the clock from the maesters’ citadel in Old Town, — is the Wall, complete with its giant hole, courtesy of the reincarnated version of Viserion, the Night King’s new dragon.
WINTER IS MARCHING THROUGH THE LAND
As we move on from the regions of the map furthest north, we see a new force enter the fray. From the hole in the Wall, emerging into Westeros, are blue tiles that represent the encroaching army of the dead. (Listen closely and you’ll even hear their icy path crackle.)
We also get a very brief glimpse of Last Hearth, the former seat of the Umber family, where Edd, Tormund, and Beric make their ... unfortunate discovery of Ned Umber. This is the only place we don’t get a detailed view of, but the episode doesn’t stay there for long.
“If you look at the mountain that the Last Hearth is sitting on, it has that spiral shape that you’ve seen the White Walkers lay out bodies in spiral form, and you’ve seen the spiral shape reappear on the murals on the walls in the North,” designer Kirk Shintani told Buzzfeed about the new intro.
THE CRYPTS OF WINTERFELL
Unlike the credits in previous seasons, which lingered for just moments on each location, season 8’s version takes us to different parts of the castles. The first thing we see, after our traditional top-down view, is the Great Hall of Winterfell, where during the episode the people of the North gave Dany a fittingly cold reception.
But the main focus of our trip to Winterfell brings us a little deeper, all the way down to the crypts. While we certainly did spend some important time there during this episode — when we saw Jon get some life-changing news — the presence of the Winterfell crypts in the opening credits suggests that this might not be the last time this location plays an important role in this season.
THE THRONE ROOM AT KING’S LANDING
While most of the King’s Landing segment of the opening credits is spent showing us the beautiful exteriors of the Red Keep or the city’s crowded streets, things are very different now. We fly quickly past the streets that are normally occupied by the rabble of the city, and straight to the Iron Throne. During the episode, we saw some important conversations between Euron and Cersei there, but the focus of the credits seems to imply something more. In previous seasons, the King’s Landing sections of Game of Thrones focused a little more on the commoners, but it seems possible that season 8 will stay focused on Cersei. After all, now more than ever, she is sitting on the Iron Throne to win, not to rule.
In his interview with Buzzfeed, Shintani says these aren’t the only changes we’ll see to the opening credits this season. “I’ll say that there are differences in every single episode,” he said, speaking about the credits in general. “From episode to episode, pay attention, because there’s lots of hints scattered around.”