'Game of Thrones' season 8: 10 critical details to remember during the final season - CNN

(CNN)Nothing in “Game of Thrones” happens by accident.

It means that in the final few episodes, basically every detail, line of dialogue and theory from the past seven seasons could very well be at the center of some mind-blowing revelation. However, a LOT has happened, and you’d be forgiven if somewhere between the Red Wedding and Margaery Tyrell becoming green mist, the section of your brain devoted to “Game of Thrones” deep cuts got a little overloaded.
So, settle in to your favorite knobbly tree, let your eyes roll back in your head and let’s journey through time and space to revisit 10 critical details that may or may not play a part in the final season — but will be good to remember anyway.
(NOTE: This list only includes things specifically mentioned or heavily implied in the series, so things like the Valonqar prophecy are not mentioned by name. Otherwise, we’d be here all day.)

1. White Walker symbols

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In case you needed a clue that this story wasn’t JUST about games and thrones, after all, the very first scene of Season 1, Episode 1 ends with a very cryptic arrangement of dead bodies, executed by the very murder snowmen we’ve come to know and fear. We see the White Walkers using circular patterns pretty often, and a spiral pattern of dead bodies in Season 3, Episode 3 is echoed again in Season 6, Episode 5 when the Children of the Forest set about making the Night King. We can assume these aren’t isolated incidents — Mance Rayder even comments that the White Walkers are “ever the artists.” And the spirals are back in Season 7, Episode 4 when Jon shows Daenerys cave paintings of the White Walkers that feature the mysterious shapes.
What does it all mean? Well, obviously we don’t know yet, but here’s another thought to keep you awake at night: Aside from those horrible dry ice screeches, White Walkers don’t talk (as far as we know). If the Night King and Company are really going to be the epic antagonists this season, it’s pretty likely we’re going to learn more about their motives, which means they’re going to have to communicate. How? Unless the Night King clears his throat and David Attenborough comes floating out, the answer may lie in these symbols.

2. Daenerys’ vision in the House of the Undying

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Some “GoT” hints and prophesies are subtle, and some haul off and smack you right in the face years before you even know what to do with them. In Season 2, Episode 10, Daenerys enters a symbolically rich vision while trying to escape the creepy warlocks of Qarth. In it, she explores a frozen, snowy version of the Red Keep, complete with a charred, burnt-out ceiling. Hmm. She then approaches the Iron Throne — the one thing she thinks she wants, the one thing that has driven her entire odyssey in Essos. She gets close enough to touch it and … doesn’t. Hmmmmm. Let’s not even get into the emotional reunion she has with Khal Drogo and her son Rhaegal and focus on how likely it is that all of this very obvious imagery will come to pass. Because remember, as of now, the Red Keep is in one piece and Daenerys is torn between wanting the throne and not wanting every living person in Westeros to be turned into a skeleton puppet. Oh, and snow is definitely in the forecast for King’s Landing.
'Game of Thrones' season 8: 10 critical details to remember during the final season - CNN

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3. Maggy the Frog’s prophecy for Cersei

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“You’ll be queen, for a time. Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear.”
Those are the words of Maggy the Frog, a witch young Cersei visits in Season 5, Episode 1. Young Cersei, already very much a vicious queen-in-training, asks the woman for some predictions. And boy, does she deliver. Maggy the Frog accurately predicts baby Cersei’s marriage to Robert Baratheon, his philandering ways, Cersei’s three golden children and their three golden deaths. But that first tidbit hasn’t yet come to pass. Sure, there was Margaery, but Cersei assured that she and almost every other Tyrell became vapor, so Daenerys is the obvious answer to the prophecy. What may be even more interesting to ponder is what, exactly, Cersei still “holds dear.” Her children are gone, Jaime’s done with her and her motivations seem less and less focused. Don’t forget, though, Cersei really believes in prophecy: She notes to Jaime in Season 6 that everything Maggy said came true. No doubt she thinks about that while she’s sitting on the Iron Throne in her fabulous black mourning clothes.
(Another deep dive on this: Maggy the Frog also says to Cersei that her “joy will turn to ashes in her mouth,” which could just be a figurative and rather metal threat. However, and bear with us here, in Season 3, Episode 4, Joffrey throws us an interesting morsel: While wooing Margaery with various dead things, Joffrey points out the skull of Aerion Targaryen, who died because he thought drinking wildfire would turn him into a dragon. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. But given Cersei’s Targaryen-like penchant for wildfire, paranoia and vengeance, it’s a pretty interesting detail alongside ol’ Maggy’s colorful words.)

4. The reason Daenerys can’t have children

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In case you haven’t heard, Daenerys can’t bear children. We know this because she has told literally everyone in the “GoT” universe and repeated it several times to Jon, a man she knows carnally but not genealogically (yet). Her reason for believing she’s a lifelong dragon mom (the fantasy equivalent of a dog mom) goes back to Season 1, Episode 10, when the witch Mirri Maz Duur tricks her into essentially trading the life of her unborn child for the life of her ailing husband Khal Drogo. However, she finds Drogo alive but not living, ya know, and when Daenerys asks Mirri when he’ll be back in fighting shape, she replies:
“When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. When the seas go dry and the mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before.”
Which, of course, is fancy witch speak for “never.” But judging by how often it has been noted that Dany can never have children, it’s not unreasonable to suspect “never” is kind of flexible in this case. So will Mirri’s words come echoing back in some poetic, heretofore unknown way? Mirri also tells Dany, “Only death can pay for life.” Since that could describe about a dozen different “Game of Thrones” scenarios past and present, it’s worth keeping in your bank of general “GoT” wisdom.

5. Weirwood trees

'Game of Thrones' season 8: 10 critical details to remember during the final season - CNN
Hey, remember those? The spooky red and white trees that used to grow across Westeros and hold deep religious significance, especially for people in the north? The ones that sometimes bear carved faces and weep sap and seem to always pop up when something mythologically important happens? Some quick reminders: Weirwood trees seem to have some sort of magical connection to ancient races, specifically the Children of the Forest. Greenseers who possess warging abilities and the ability to see the past and the future, can use weirwood trees to essentially look through, like time periscopes. There is a heart tree (a special weirwood with a carved face) still at Winterfell, and under its branches, a ridiculous amount of important stuff has happened, most recently several reunions of the Stark children and the tragic, ill-fated marriage of Sansa and Ramsay Bolton. Given that there is a lot of mythological explaining to be done and Winterfell will undoubtedly be the site of lots and lots of action and revelation, those trees might come back into play.
Oh, and you know where else a weirwood tree made an appearance? In Season 6, Episode 5, when the Children of the Forest make the Night King, they tie him to — you got it — a weirwood tree.

6. Bran’s weirwood visions

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Speaking of trees, perhaps one of the most enticing puzzles in the whole story is Bran’s garbled, alarming weirwood vision. In Season 4, Episode 2, Bran touches a weirwood north of the wall and immediately goes into sensory overdrive: He sees the same snowy throne room Daenerys saw in Season 2 and the shadow of dragons flying over King’s Landing. But what’s really interesting about this vision is the stuff he sees from the past: He sees his father, Ned, cleaning his sword underneath the heart tree in Winterfell. He sees Ned’s panicked face in the dungeons of King’s Landing before his execution. He also sees the creepy wight girl that was part of the opening sequence of the pilot episode. Not to mention, he gets glimpses of the Land of Always Winter, the north-iest northern part of Westeros, where the Night King and his undead men reign. Are these different snippets supposed to form some pointillistic picture of truth that we have to take 10 steps back from to truly understand? Or are they just random, intriguing elements sewn together to make people wonder?

7. Melisandre’s whole deal

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Look, Melisandre’s made some mistakes. Stannis was a non-starter, Jon just wanted to be friends and burning a little girl was probably one of the worst things to ever happen in Westeros (and that’s saying something). But if “Game of Thrones” has taught us anything, it’s that we should definitely believe witches. Here are some big things to remember about the Red Priestess:
  • In Season 3, Episode 6, she accurately predicts Arya’s future as an assassin/freelance murderer. She also says they “will meet again.” That honestly cannot come soon enough.
  • She left Westeros for Volantis last season, but not before telling Varys in Season 7, Episode 3 that she’d be back: “I have to die in this strange country, just like you.” Now, she doesn’t specify when this dying will happen, but let’s assume it’s not of old age on a golf course in Dorne.
  • She definitely has some sort of visionary power past the whole flame thing. In Season 5, Episode 4, after unsuccessfully trying to seduce Jon, she pulls out his dead lover Ygritte’s secret line: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” How did she know?
  • There are more of her. Remember Kinvara, the Red Priestess who earned the title of only person to ever really freak Varys out? In Season 6, Episode 1, the beautiful Red Priestess comes to Meereen to side with Daenerys and drag out Varys’ tragic past. Will we see her again? Since Melisandre is so confident in Jon and Dany, will she bring her Red Priestess friends to help fulfill the age of the Lord of Light? Only the flames know.
  • Oh right, and she’s ancient! In Season 6, Episode 1, Melisandre takes off her necklace to reveal she’s actually about 6,578 years old. We really need more details here.
'Game of Thrones' season 8: 10 critical details to remember during the final season - CNN

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8. ‘There must always be a Stark in Winterfell’

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The Starks have the esoteric, foreboding catchphrase game down: “Winter is coming,” “The North remembers,” and in Season 1, Episode 2, Catelyn Stark relates another critical chestnut to her son Robb: “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.” This line has plagued show watchers and book readers for years, and since Winterfell is going to be a deeply important setting this year, it seems as good a time as any to get some answers. Remember, Starks are tied to the First Men, one of the three ancient ethnic groups to populate Westeros. They have a special connection to the land, the Wall (a Stark was said to have constructed it), the Night’s Watch (a Stark was the first Lord Commander) and supposedly to the areas north of the wall. If the northern ground is really as heavy with magic and myth as they’ve made it seem, this line feels more like a prophesy than a boast. Could it come into play when war descends on Winterfell?

9. Sansa and Tyrion’s marriage

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So much traumatic stuff has happened to Sansa in the past few seasons, it’s almost quaint to think that her marriage to Tyrion in Season 3, Episode 8 was as bad as it was going to get. Tyrion and Sansa were forced to marry by Tywin Lannister, and not long after their nuptials, Joffrey dies at his own wedding and Sansa is spirited away in the melee. It’s obvious their paths will cross soon, since Tyrion is Dany’s Hand and Sansa is Lady of Winterfell. And given that Tyrion has pretty bad romantic abandonment issues and things for Sansa are just now starting to not be a total hell, there’s probably no love lost there. Also, there will probably be tensions when Sansa finds out Jon has unilaterally aligned himself with a Targaryen and that Targaryen is championed by a Lannister. So, you know, awkwardness is coming.

10. White Walker babies

'Game of Thrones' season 8: 10 critical details to remember during the final season - CNN
Let’s end where we began: We know the White Walkers are going to be important this season. We know that most of the big mysteries in the series surround their motives and their makeup. So, it’s really important to remember that the way they come into this world is completely bizarre and mythologically unclear. In Season 4, Episode 4, one of Craster’s sons (Craster is an abusive, incestuous wildling who made a pact to give up his sons to the White Walkers) is picked up by the Night King’s men and taken to the mysterious, icy world of the Land of Always Winter, where he is given an extreme baby makeover and turned into an itty-bitty White Walker. This all happens with a single forehead touch from the Night King, and luckily it all looks pretty painless. But that sequence, combined with the Children of the Forest’s original Night King experiment (which involved a giant dragon glass dagger), doesn’t really give us a clear picture of who these dudes are, why they exist or even how they exist. We need more information to make it clear. Heck, we need more of everything.

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