Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”
The most recent episode of Game of Thrones was a grab-bag of moments building up to the impending Battle of Winterfell. Between a love scene that took viewers by complete surprise, a sorrowful song sung around the fire that fans can’t stop listening to, a knighting that should have happened ages ago, and a bombshell-dropping by the believed-to-be-a-bastard boy from the North, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” also established an important rule for the fight against the Night King and the Army of the Dead: women and children (and men valued for their intelligence, like Samwell Tarly and Tyrion Lannister) will take cover in the crypts of Winterfell and hold strong until the White Walkers are defeated.
It’s a sound plan upon first hearing it. Keep those who have less of a chance of surviving the Night King and his hellish lackeys underground to ensure that they’ll live to see morning? Right on! However — and it’s a big however — there might actually be a serious problem with that arrangement.
The teaser for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 seems to suggest that the so-thought safest place in Winterfell may end up being the worst place to hide — and that confining the defenseless to the crypt in hopes of protecting them will ultimately result in their collective death.
About halfway through the promo clip for the upcoming episode, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) delivers to Jon Snow (Kit Harington), just after he draws his sword Longclaw to apparently deliver the fatal blow to an opponent on the ground beneath him, a harrowing line: “The dead are already here.”
Now, you might be thinking, “Duh! We know the dead are already at Winterfell. The Night King, the White Walkers, the wights — they were all shown just outside the walls of Winterfell in the final moments of episode 2. Dany must be either repeating what’s plan to see or talking simply because she likes the sound of her own voice. The icy freaks attacking Winterfell is all anyone has talked about over the last two episodes!”
We totally get it, since it’s abundantly clear that the Army of the Dead has indeed arrived and is encroaching on Winterfell fast. But the Mother of Dragons hasn’t added Captain Obvious to her lengthy list of titles — the “dead” she speaks of might be the corpses entombed in Winterfell’s crypt… you know, like actual dead people. There’s Lyanna Stark (Aisling Franciosi), Brandon Stark, Rickard Stark, and Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson) buried down there, plus a bunch more long-gone Starks. Though there’s a statue of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) within the crypt, his remains apparently never made it back to Winterfell following his execution during season 1. There may even be a few dragon eggs hiding there as well, if certain theories are to be believed.
Several dead Starks residing in the crypt spells trouble for those seeking shelter there, as they may not be truly safe from the Night King’s powers. What does the Night King do best, apart from look spooky and shoot down dragons with ice spears? He raises the dead to grow his army. The entire White Walker force is made up of the dead — people, giants, animals, and the winged creature formerly known as Viserion. Heck, on the first episode of the new season, the Army of the Dead seized the Last Hearth and made its denizens dead soldiers in the fight against the living, so why wouldn’t the Night King attempt to resurrect the dead Starks from the crypt to continue doing his dirty work on the next episode?
In George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novel series upon which the Thrones series is based, Jon Snow even has a recurring nightmare about the dead bursting out of their vaults in the Winterfell crypt, which corroborates this claim: “Last night he had dreamt the Winterfell dream again. He was wandering the empty castle, searching for his father, descending into the crypts. Only this time the dream had gone further than before. In the dark he’d heard the scrape of stone on stone. When he turned he saw that the vaults were opening, one after the other. As the dead kings came stumbling from their cold black graves, Jon had woken in pitch-dark, his heart hammering” (via Reddit).
Suffice to say, fans are incredibly worried that the place where danger shouldn’t reach will be a house of horrors on the forthcoming episode.
“Everyone’s going to hide in the crypt with all the dead Starks while an army who can raise the dead approaches and no one forsees [sic] a problem with that?” one fan wrote on Twitter. Another tweeted, “They keep mentioning how safe the crypt is going to be. After years of watching this show, I’m sure that means the opposite.”
Some are even of the belief that the Night King specifically headed for Winterfell for the first major battle because he wants to raise the dead, specifically an entity known as the Great Other who might be buried there. The antithesis to the Lord of Light, the Great Other is the god of “darkness, cold, evil, fear, and death” — all things that the Night King embodies. There’s a chance the Night King will break the Great Other (plus all the other dead bodies) out of his tomb and urge him to unleash horrors onto the people of Winterfell… and then onto all of Westeros.
But what if that’s not what will happen? What if, in a very non-Game of Thrones fashion, everything works out okay?
Sure, it’s possible that the dead Daenerys referred to are the corpses in the crypt, but even so, perhaps the Night King won’t be able to turn them into members of his army. Maybe a miracle will happen and it’ll be revealed that the person who built both the Winterfell castle and the Wall, Brandon “the Builder” Stark, reinforced the crypt with some kind of magic that deflects the Night King’s powers.
Furthermore, another moment in the episode 3 teaser hints that Arya Stark just might make it down to the crypt to warn the others of imminent danger and move them to a safer location. She’s seen sprinting through a corridor as if she’s fleeing something coming after her, but could she actually be making her way toward something instead?
Either outcome would be a happy ending to a situation that has a high chance of becoming a total blood bath, and we’re holding out hope for one of the two events to happen.
All we know for sure is that not everyone will survive the next episode of Game of Thrones — and the victims of the Battle of Winterfell could rest underground, up above, or in both places. If luck is on the side of the living, Arya Stark will use her specially made dragonglass-outfitted spear to slay wights and White Walkers galore, and the little girl who swore to defend the crypt will keep her promise.
Game of Thrones will air the third episode of season 8 on Sunday, April 28 at 9 PM ET on HBO.