It has been almost two years since the season finale of Game of Thrones and many fans are still reeling from the episode, which was the satisfying series climax we’d all been longing for (in more ways than one).
It feels like the finale pulled together narrative arcs that viewers had been waiting years to watch play out. The epic meeting of so many favourite characters in the dragon pit, a scandalous but unsurprising betrayal from Cersei Lannister, Jaime Lannister’s much longer for epiphany that he was on the wrong side, a bittersweet and long awaited discovery of inner strength for Theon Greyjoy, the ultimate revenge scene from the Stark sisters and then there was that sex scene.
And, as if that wasn’t enough excitement packed into one episode, we watched the Night King ride reanimated ice dragon Viserion in a terrifying attack on the wall which, unsurprisingly, came down pretty quickly in the face of that blue fire.
The Night King, the silent villain of Game of Thrones who is now leading his army of the dead in the direction if the North, has been the subject of much speculation and fans have become convinced that his connection to Bran “The Three-Eyed Raven” Stark is something of concern.
The pair have, for a long time now, seemed to be hyper-aware of one another’s comings and goings. And fans have certainly picked up on the fact that the Night King always knows when Bran is warging nearby: his eyes will scan the sky and immediately identify which of a flock of ravens Bran is sheltering inside.
And now, in the brand new trailer for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, fans have noticed a sneaky detail that might be the most powerful proof that there’s a link between Bran and the Night King yet. The trailer, which features Jon Snow and Sansa and Arya Stark walking through the Winterfell crypt and coming face-to-face with their burial statues and, in Jon and Arya’s case, with each other for the first time in several seasons.
Fans have noticed something mysterious about this short minute of footage. Firstly, there’s the fact that while Jon’s burial statue is an aged version of himself, both Sansa’s and Arya’s sculptures feature images of the Stark sisters at their current ages. Could this be a hint that Sansa and Arya might die at the end of the season?
Fans also noticed that there’s one Stark missing from the reunion: Bran. Again, this could be a big hint from HBO about the fate of one of Game of Thrones’ most important but least dramatically compelling character.
Or, if you believe one particular fan theory, Bran’s not missing from the trailer at all. He’s there in the form of the creeping cold mist - the Night King’s signature move - that arrives in the crypt at the very end of the video clip. A mist that turns a bird’s feather, potentially symbolising Bran’s role as the Three Eyed Raven, into ice.
Not everyone is convinced that the Night King (or even the mist) is Bran. Many fans are counselling caution, considering that this clip isn’t even an official trailer and only lasts for a minute.
But it’s not the first time fans have found sneaky links between Bran and Game of Thrones’ main antagonist. In the seasonal seven final episode, fans noticed that Bran and the Night King were wearing what was essentially the same outfit.
Who wore it better, eh?
Joking aside, this sneaky fashion detail could confirm a huge fan theory that’s been circling on Reddit for ages now: Bran is the Night King. They are one and the same. And everything we thought we knew about time does not exist.
As turm0il26 theorises, Bran will most likely attempt to travel back in time (as we saw him do with the younger Hodor) to try and stop the Night King and the White Walkers from ever setting foot in Westeros. To, in short, rewrite history.
Which is always a bad idea, as anyone who’s seen Back to the Future will know.
“The first time he travels back in time, Bran tries to prepare the Mad King for the White Walkers and whispers to him to prepare wildfire under King's Landing, where they will later attack,” says turm0il26. “But Bran fails in his task, instead causing the Mad King to go crazy from the whispers (“burn them all”) and attempt to burn the city to the ground.”
The savvy GoT viewer continues to explain that Bran will later, in an act of desperation, travel all the way back to that fateful moment the Night King was created.
Bran, at this point, fully intends on warging into the human that the Children of the Forest are sacrificing. Unfortunately, though, it all goes wrong. The green-skinned people recognise Bran from the future and fearfully gag him and tie him down to the rocks.
“When he realises that he’s failed again, Bran tries to warg back into the current timeline, but he can't because he’s too deep into the past and stayed too long (remember the line, ‘it is beautiful beneath the sea, stay too long and you drown’?).”
Bran gets a nasty dose of dragonglass straight to the heart and gets stuck in the past – just as Brynden and Jojen always warned him that he would – and he becomes the Night King.
“Immortal as he is, Bran waits for himself to be born thousands of years later,” adds the redditor. “He knows when and where he has to be to mark the young Bran, to personally kill Brynden Rivers for hiding the truth, and, eventually, to be able to destroy the Wall with a certain dragon…
“If you pay attention, you can actually see that, in the scene where young Bran goes back to the creation of the Night King, he tightens his grip on the veins just as the dragonglass is pushed into his future self’s heart.
“And, in the end of the flashback, Bran is laying in the exact same position in the cave, as the human pushed up to the tree is.”
Still not convinced? Watch this video:
Now we really can’t wait to see what happens next.
Season eight of Game of Thrones will air on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the UK on 14 April 2019.