With the new season of Game of Thrones kicking off last weekend, the show’s official social media accounts released an ominous and intriguing commemorative poster for the season 8 premiere, “Winterfell”. So, what can fans deduce from this poster by artist Robert Ball, which features as part of his Game of Thrones ‘Beautiful Death‘ series. A series of posters commissioned by HBO, depicting every episode of the series thus far.
In the latest poster exploring the themes and events of S08E01, we can clearly see a poor undead Ned Umber (Harry Grasby), already possessed by the Night King, who features above him. Fire and ice cover the young lord’s face, which represents the scene in which his cold dead body is burnt, and also the overarching symbolism of these two elements throughout the entire series. Bloodied and burning decapitated arms surround Ned, much like they did in the spiral pattern in the episode. They also appear incredibly menacing as they reach out, obviously representative of the wight walkers. On the Night King himself we can see a moon almost at a total eclipse, connoting that devastation and doom is quickly drawing in at the eleventh hour.
Moving down the poster we can see the Last Hearth, the home of House Umber. If you look closely at the cliffs at either side of the poster you’ll notice that they are in the shapes of Beric (Richard Dormer) on the left-hand side, and Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) on the right. The two characters that find and burn Ned’s body in one of the last scenes of the episode. Beric’s quote, “It’s a message from the Night King”, also features at the bottom of the poster, a reminder of the warning being sent to both our characters and the audience.
Most notably is the silhouettes of the besotted couple, Jon (Kit Harington) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), stood in an embrace in front of the waterfall, and outlined in red like the blood at the end of Ned Umber’s sword. Notice how the blood dripping down the blade looks like the main part of the waterfall. Could this be foreshadowing doom amongst our two heroes, perhaps the much speculated Azor Ahai/Nissa Nissa theory? Broken chains also surround the sword, perhaps referencing Daenerys, as she was known as the ‘Breaker of Chains’ whilst in Essos. The outline of Jon’s cloak appears to be in a shape of a dragon wing, after he unknowingly embraced his Targaryen heritage by riding Rhaegal for the first time in the episode.
Speaking in an interview with the Making of Game of Thrones Ball explains his artistic choices, “I wanted to show the wider impact of the death and the message from the Night King, by picking up a theme from the episode that youth and happiness, and Jon and Daenerys’ brief moments together, will ‘never last.’ I used an image of Ned Umber from the episode where he’s pardoned by Jon Snow — arguably setting him on the path that led to his doom.”
Be sure to keep an eye for more posters of the remaining episodes in the following weeks.
Game of Thrones‘ final season in currently airing Sundays, on HBO.