3:35 pm EST, February 6, 2019

First ‘Game of Thrones’ season 8 photos suggest a dark final act punctuated by romance

The first Game of Thrones season 8 stills have hit the web, and we are vibing this darkness.

The new stills represent our first look at the on-screen action to come in Game of Thrones season 8. Previously, fans have been treated to two atmospheric but vague thematic teasers (the second of which revealed the premiere date of April 14) and about two seconds of footage in an HBO promo. Not that we’re not grateful for all that — but damn, it feels good to finally get a proper taste of Winter.

That being said, the Game of Thrones season 8 photos are definitely not giving off a cheerful vibe. Virtually every character is either dressed in or backed by black, and there is a distinct sense of a pause in motion. Most of the characters seem to be… well, gazing moodily at something off screen, which suggests that the real action is still a while away.

But what do these new Game of Thrones season 8 photos have to tell us? For one thing, it seems that at long last, the teams of the final battle have coalesced. Only Cersei Lannister, queen of Kings Landing and not much else, will be in the South of Westeros when the story picks up.

In a sparred silver crown, Cersei is seen backed by the Iron Throne — which is hardly surprising. Another image shows her gazing off into the distance. Her revealed pregnancy is not yet showing, which suggests that very little time will have passed in Kings Landing when Game of Thrones season 8 begins.

Cersei’s expression is also surprisingly serene for a woman who has literally seen humanity’s destruction come to life before her eyes. But she looks positively somber compared to her twin and (finally, finally!) former lover, Jaime.

Just look at that little smirk. The background of Jaime’s photo is too dark to discern whether or not he has arrived at Winterfell, but wherever the former Kingsguard is, he’s clearly making the best of the situation.

Meanwhile, Jaime’s girlfri– er, admired occasional companion Brienne looks quite anxious. Could it be because Ser Jaime, in whom only she believes lies true goodness and honor, has arrived to make his case before the Lords and Ladies of Winterfell? Or is someone else making a boneheaded decision? (It’s probably that one.

Ser Davos Seaworth also appears, presumably at Winterfell, with a rather guarded look about him. Something about his posture says “Battle planning session!” to me, but your mileage may vary.

Also at Winterfell are Sam Tarly (who actually looks genuinely happy) and Varys, who is wearing a Plotting expression for a nice change. Still, it’s interesting to see the Spider at Winterfell, so far from the sultry intrigue of Kings Landing and Essos.

Tyrion Lannister is also playing on a new field in these Game of Thrones season 8 images, returned finally to Winterfell for the first time since King Robert’s progress in the very first episode. Tyrion looks wary, though his expression could also mean, “I’ve fallen in love with Daenerys and now she’s sleeping with Jon Snow, and I have complicated feelings about this entire situation.”

Or he could just be looking at Varys.

And finally, we get to the Stark family, its surviving members at last reunited together at Winterfell. From what we can tell in the images, the youngest Starks are all perfectly in-character. Bran is doing his Three-Eyed Raven thing (namely, staring vaguely off into the middle distance, looking vaguely creepy), while Arya gazes with neutral but powerful intensity at something above her. (Perhaps Jon?) And Sansa is clearly in Lady of Winterfell mode, engaged in some kind of debate or negotiation that may not be going exactly how she has hoped.

This scene may be a follow-up to the only brief Game of Thrones season 8 footage we’ve seen, wherein Sansa tightly declares “Winterfell is yours, Your Grace,” to Daenerys. The terms of that concession may be an important story point at the start of Game of Thrones season 8, as Dany’s dreams of conquest meet the reality of the people she seeks to rule.

Speaking of Daenerys, it’s she and Jon Snow (er, Targaryen, but that’s still a secret) who receive the most attention in the Game of Thrones season 8 stills. In the Winterfell yard, Jon looks woefully off-screen in a very Jon Snow aspect. Inside, Dany smiles with slight hesitation — whether she is engaged in an intimate conversation or dialogue of war and state, we can’t yet tell.

And then finally, of course, we have the money shot. Dany and Jon, now lovers, standing together against the snow. They look worried, they look cold… but they also look pretty hot, if you know what I mean.

Hopefully this batch of images represents the first in a welcome tide of information on the final season of this epic fantasy series. As April and the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere draw closer, we really want a proper trailer already — and please, hold the Bud Light.

Game of Thrones season 8 premieres on April 14 at 9:00 p.m. on HBO.

Do you have any theories on these new ‘Game of Thrones’ season 8 photos?

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