As expected, HBO used Sunday Night’s premiere of the third season of True Detective to finally reveal the exact date when the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones will arrive. It’s official — we’re all returning to Westeros April 14.
Sunday night’s reveal also included some quick teaser footage, which you can see in the tweet below. Now that we’ve all got the day marked on our calendars and can start counting down, here’s a quick recap on everything we know so far about the final season:
— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) January 14, 2019
Plot-wise, we’ve got a general sense of what’s in store. It’s assumed we’ll see someone finally take their place on the Iron Throne. There’s also the inevitable fallout to deal with from the invasion of the Army of the Dead that breached the wall last season, plus the revelation that Daenerys is actually Jon Snow’s aunt (even though, whoops, they didn’t know that before sleeping together last season).
Entertainment Weekly has also reported a ton of other nuggets. The clash that’s coming between the living and the Army of the Dead is “expected to be the most sustained action sequence ever made for television or film.” Per EW, the season will open at Winterfell with the arrival of Daenerys and her army. And thanks to some footage HBO aired earlier this month that showed off its 2019 programming — with some quick GoT clips included in the mix — we know we’ll see Sansa and Daenerys meet, with that earlier footage depicting Dany, Ser Jorah Mormont and Jon Snow arriving at Winterfell and being greeted by Sansa, with Brienne of Tarth looking on. “Winterfell is yours, your grace,” Sansa tells the Mother of Dragons.
Meanwhile, we’re expecting a total of six episodes that have the length and big budget feel of standalone movies. HBO’s chief executive Richard Plepler said as much in a recent interview with Variety, telling the publication that the rough cuts of the season he watched made him feel like he was watching “six movies.” (Fun fact: it took 10 months to shoot everything, and cost an estimated $90 million — $15 million per episode.)
Individual cast members have likewise been giving us tastes of what’s to come and how they each feel now that filming is complete. Sophie Turner, for example, recalled to EW that everyone started crying when it was all over. She herself felt numb and had to go away for a few hours on a private walk.
Kit Harington told GQ Australia that the final season was so heavy, and took such a physical, grueling toil on everyone involved. “Everyone,” he said, “was so broken at the end.” And in a Reddit AMA session towards the end of 2018, the director of 50 percent of the final season had this to say:
“I had no idea the pressure I was under except the pressure I always put myself under in order to make it great,” said David Nutter during that AMA — Nutter being the director who’s helmed past GoT episodes that contained seminal moments like the Red Wedding and Cersei’s “walk of atonement.”
He continued: “One of the most interesting things to me that surprised me the most was the responses of the audience — the YouTube videos showing people reacting to what they were watching I felt great about cause I felt like I had succeeded in doing so. As far as season 8 compared to the Red Wedding I just have to tell you — hang onto your seat cause it’s going to be special.”
Luckily, we won’t be saying goodbye to the franchise completely once this admittedly short burst of episodes is complete. As a reminder, HBO has already lined up the full cast for at least one GoT prequel series, the full details of which you can read about here. It’s a still-untitled series that will air sometime next year at the earliest, will be set thousands of years before the events depicted in GoT and will according to HBO chronicle “the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend, only one thing is for sure: It’s not the story we think we know.”