The new Game of Thrones promo might not have any footage from the final season, and it might not have any new dialogue, but its imagery and references still say a lot. Here’s everything we saw, and what we didn’t see, in the latest teaser, and what it all might mean.
It opens with Jon walking through the crypt alone. In the books, Jon fears and feels rejected by this place since he is not a true Stark. Here he seems at ease… that is, until he passes the statue of his “aunt” Lyanna Stark.As he walks past the woman who is really his mother, a feather blows from her hand. It was placed there by Robert Baratheon in the pilot, a token of his love.The feather was seen again in season five, when Sansa picked it up off the floor.Once again, it falls from Lyanna’s hand as we hear her voice from the Tower of Joy. “You have to protect him,” she told Ned as she lay dying after giving birth to Jon, a.k.a. Aegon. When the feather, a symbol of a lie, hits the ground, Jon stops and turns as though he’s heard his mother speak. If this is an omen for when Jon will learn the truth about his mother, it doesn’t seem to be a moment of joy. Jon looks uneasy, which makes sense since he bent the knee to Daenerys, who is really his aunt. Jon will have a stronger claim to the throne than she will, and the revelation of his birth is not likely to be welcome news.Next we see Sansa also walking with a purpose through the crypt. She passes the statue of her mother Catelyn. If that statue exists in the crypts it is entirely new (more likely it’s just here for this teaser) and empty, since Catelyn’s body was dumped into the river after the Red Wedding. We hear Catelyn’s voice as we Sansa walks by. “All this horror that has come to my family, it’s all because I couldn’t love a motherless child.”Catelyn said that to Robb’s wife Talisa in season three. After hearing Winterfell had been torched and her father had died, Catelyn made a prayer wheel to protect her children. She told Talisa she made them twice before: one after Bran’s fall, and when Jon got very sick as a young child. Catelyn hated what Jon represented and was jealous of the unknown woman Ned had supposedly fathered him with. She prayed for the gods to kill Jon so she didn’t have to live with the shame anymore, but when he got sick and was on the verge of death she stayed up all night with him, praying. She vowed if the gods spared him she would adopt the innocent, motherless child as her own and ask Ned to make him a Stark.She couldn’t keep her promise, though, and she blamed all of her family’s heartache on herself for breaking a sacred vow. But maybe she was too hard on herself. Her prayers might have saved the savior of the world, the Prince That Was Promised. Catelyn was flawed and treated Jon horribly, but when he was dying she was a mother to him. Of course, a creepy promo in a crypt doesn’t scream optimism. Is Catelyn’s quote included here because the Starks are still in danger? Are they still cursed because of her? Or does this portend something much worse, that mankind itself is doomed for some violation of the gods they committed long ago? This unexpected quote feels like the most important dialogue in the teaser.Like her siblings, Arya also seems unafraid as she walks alone through the crypt. Jon then passes Ned’s statue, and we hear a quote from their final meeting. “You are a Stark. You might not have my name, but you have my blood.” This is literally true, since Ned’s sister Lyanna is Jon’s mother, but it’s also true in a metaphorical sense. Jon is Ned’s son in all other ways. Ned raised him to be a man of honor and integrity. He taught Jon how to lead and treat others. Jon might be a secret Targaryen, but no matter his name he’s a Northerner and a Stark. No revelation about his real father being Rhaegar Targaryen will ever change that. Jon is a child of winter, and winter is coming.Finally, the three come together (a faux reunion since Arya hasn’t seen Jon since the second episode in season one). but their grim-faced, steely confidence melts away as they see statues of themselves. They’ve dealt with death and pain, but here they face their own mortality, and they all look scared.It takes a lot to scare any of these three after what they have all been through, but they are all clearly rattled as they stare at their own visages.Then Jon’s torch goes out and ice begins to overtake the crypt, freezing the feather. If that feather is as symbolic as we think, this shot does not bode well for the Starks.Jon and Arya draw their swords, ready to fight as true Northeners. A cold mist enters, the mark of the impending arrival of the White Walkers. They are no longer facing the idea of their own deaths; they are facing death itself. It’s always terrifying when the White Walkers arrive, but in a crypt full of bones and bodies their entrance feels even more sinister, as though the old Kings of Winter will rise up and fight their descendants.(Indulge us one wild bit of speculation: does Arya turn “blue” at the end? More than the other two, the light from the colds seems to make her look blue right before the shot cuts away. While it’s probably just an issue of lighting, what if it’s actually clever foreshadowing Arya joining the army of the dead? Seven bloody hells…)(Not that crazy, right!?)Taken all together, death looms over the Starks and Winterfell. As do secrets and promises, both kept and broken. Ned kept his vow to his sister, but Catelyn couldn’t keep hers to the gods. Will the living Starks learn from the past to save the future, by being honest with each other and staying loyal?Every action, every death, every lie, has brought the children of Ned Stark to this moment.Except for Bran. Where is Bran? Will he die? Or travel south to visit someplace very important? Is this some wild way to confirm the “Bran is the Night King” theory? Probably not, but his absence speaks volumes, even if we don’t know what it’s saying.[brightcove video_id=”5989386796001″ brightcove_account_id=”3653334524001″ brightcove_player_id=”rJs2ZD8x”]Clearly we don’t need actual footage from the season to get excited for the show. Even without it, this promo said a lot.