Game of Thrones season 8 recap: Every new episode explained, and everything else you need to know

Game of Thrones season 8 has debuted with a relatively quiet premiere (well, quiet for Game of Thrones), but fans are already going cuckoo crazy over some of the key scenes that took place throughout the episode. We'll be recapping the core plot points of each episode right here every week, so read on below for a bitesize summary of what went down in Westeros so far. 

Here is also where you can find every scrap of information we know about Game of Thrones season 8, from the cast to the Game of Thrones season 8 trailers, to posters, to our own predictions for Game of Thrones ending. A word of warning though: if you weren’t ready to wave goodbye to Game of Thrones now, you definitely will be by the end of this article. Unless you’re in deep, deep denial like me. Anyway, just read below for everything we know about Game of Thrones season 8! 

Also, do not go anywhere near the plot section if you want to stay clear of any and all spoilers... you have been warned. Plus, if you want to know exactly how we're dealing with Game of Thrones spoilers, we've got you covered.

Fast Facts:

  • Game of Thrones season 8 release date: April 14, 2019 at 9PM (US)/April 15, 2019 at 9PM (UK), then every Sunday/Monday until May 27
  • Game of Thrones season 8 episodes: 6
  • Game of Thrones season 8 showrunners: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
  • Game of Thrones season 8 cast: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Liam Cunningham, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen, Nathalie Emmanuel, Gwendoline Christie, John Bradley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Hannah Murray, Rory McCann, Iain Glen, and more
  • Game of Thrones season 8 directors: David Nutter, Miguel Sapochnik, David Benioff, DB Weiss
  • Game of Thrones season 8 writers: Dave Hill, Bryan Cogman, David Benioff, DB Weiss

Game of Thrones season 8 recap

Game of Thrones S8.01 - Winterfell

Image credit: HBO

Image credit: HBO

The Game of Thrones season 8 premiere begins in symmetry with the very first episode of the show itself, but instead of The Lannisters arriving at Winterfell, it's Daenerys and an army of Unsullied, alongside Jon Snow and her band of advisors (plus two, increasingly hungry dragons). Cue a bittersweet reunion with the remaining Stark children, and a slightly more tense introduction between Sansa and Daenerys. The Lady of Winterfell remains sceptical of the Dragon Mother's right to the Iron Throne, it seems. 

Indeed, as the Stark homestead becomes the last stand for every last bannerman in the North, most still consider Jon their King, despite the fact he bent the knee to Daenerys in season 7. Which brings us to Samwell Tarly, who - after learning that Daenerys killed his family when they refused to surrender - finally tells Jon the truth of his parentage, and begs him to accept his birthright as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Jon, as you can imagine for someone who just learned he's sleeping with his auntie, is lost for words. Further north, at Last Hearth, Tormund, Beric, and Eddison discover a gruesome graveyard of corpses left as a sign by the Night King, who's marching ever closer to Winterfell...  

Meanwhile, in King's Landing, Cersei finally accepts Euron Greyjoy to her bed chambers after he brings her a new army in the form of The Golden Company. Unaware that Cersei is already pregnant, the self-proclaimed king of the Iron Islands wants to give the Queen Mother a prince, but it's possible she might pass off Jamie's unborn child as his own. Around the same time, Qyburn also asks Bronn to assassinate both Jaime and Tyrion for the Queen, but it's unclear if he's willing to go ahead with it at this point. Speaking of, the episode's closing scene sees Jaime arrive at Winterfell, only to be met with an icy stare by Bran Stark, who seems to finally remember the cause of his "fall" that kicked off this sorry chain of events all the way back in season 1. Fresh start, guys? 

Game of Thrones release date

An image from Game of Thrones

Now that it's begun, the Game of Thrones season 8 release date is... technically, every week from here on out. Hooray! Its premiere aired on Sunday, April 14 on HBO at 9PM in the US, and it airs in the UK the following day, on Monday, April 15 at 9PM on Sky Atlantic or Now TV. Each new episode will air at the same time respectively each week on those channels, right up until May 26/27, which is when Game of Thrones officially comes to an end with the season 8 finale. 

Read more: The most anticipated new TV shows of 2019 

Game of Thrones season 8 trailers

Finally. We’ve been blessed with a full-length Game of Thrones season 8 trailer, with almost two minutes of glorious footage. There’s tons to pick out from it, like - for a start - the fact that Drogon and Viserion appear to have been snacking down on humans, Arya is getting all creepy with the fact that she’s looking forward to see another of Death’s many faces (but still looks scared out of her mind at the beginning), and there’s plenty of shots of the cast in the dark, preparing for war against the Night King’s army. 

Plus what on earth is Arya running from? We spotted that something's been edited out of the trailer, but whether it's a wight or a zombified Ghost remains to be seen... No sign of Viserion, one of Daenerys’ now-undead dragons, though… but best not to dwell on that too much. Above you can see it in all its majesty and finally realise, like I am right now, that this is the last ever series of Game of Thrones and oh my god it’s just sinking in. Help. Keep reading for every other Game of Thrones season 8 trailer we've had so far.

HBO are truly spoiling us now, as we have two new Game of Thrones season 8 trailers. Ok, so they might only be about 40 seconds long each, and they reuse footage that we’ve seen before, but knowing how strict HBO is with spoilers we should probably be thankful that we’re getting them at all. You can watch them both below, with one centered around fighting together, and another around surviving… just pray to the Seven that your favourite character makes it out of Game of Thrones season 8 alive. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner D.B. Weiss said that he wishes “there were no trailers”, but his wishful thinking doesn’t mean there won't be any Game of Thrones season 8 trailers... 

When pressed about whether they’re still making Game of Thrones season 8 trailers Weiss assured EW that their minds were changed when they saw the trailer for Westworld. Cue a sigh of relief.

Having said that, we're still waiting for a Game of Thrones season 8 trailer containing actual footage from the show, with the highly anticipated Game of Thrones Super Bowl trailer turning out to be nothing more than an ad for Bud Light (above)...

The longest and most recent Game of Thrones season 8 trailer we've had (above) still doesn't contain any actual footage from the show! Clocking in at 1.44, the Game of Thrones season 8 trailer shows Jon, Sansa, and Arya in Winterfell's underground crypt, haunted by the memory of their parents.

As the three Starks traverse the dark and dank hallways, past the remains of previous members of House Stark, you can hear the voices of Lyanna (Jon's mother), Ned, and Catelyn from past seasons. Finally, the trio comes face-to-face with statues of themselves, but they don't have long to be stunned by their graves as an icy chill descends, indication only one thing... the Night's King.

Roar!

Game of Thrones dragons - everything you need to know about Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion ahead of season 8

While the Game of Thrones season 8 trailer clearly doesn't contain any actual footage from the new season, that hasn't stopped fans from speculating over every little detail. The most popular theory seems to indicate that it might spell doom for Sansa and Arya as their statues look young, while Jon's looks older. Could this mean that the two female Starks won't survive the final season, while Jon lives to a grand old age? Maybe, maybe not... 

The other interesting thing to note is that Bran is nowhere to be seen in the trailer. What would be the reason for the other surviving Stark child to be absent? Sure, he's not exactly in the running for the Iron Throne, but neither is Arya. And the feather that fell from Lyanna's statue when Jon past? That's the same feather that Robert Baratheon placed in her hand in the very first episode of Game of Thrones. 

Here it is! A Game of Thrones season 8 trailer containing actual footage from Game of Thrones season 8 (above). Ok, so there's only about five seconds of footage mixed in with teasers for other upcoming HBO series, but still, it's all we've got, and it does show the very first meeting between Daenerys and Sansa at Winterfell.

You can see the footage for yourself from 0.40 and, is it just me, or does Sansa not look happy? Her mouth says, "Winterfell is yours, my grace," but her eyes say 'Who the hell are you?' Something tells me that Sansa isn't going to be too happy about Jon bending the knee to the Mother of Dragons.

We've got another bit of footage from Game of Thrones season 8 (above) - it's only a couple of seconds, mind you - but it depicts an astounded Arya as she sees Drogon flying overhead for the first time. With the Unsullied and Dothraki coming to Winterfell, it looks like this Stark is already bewitched by Dany's children. Let's just hope she doesn't get too close and become the second character in the show with a missing limb (*cough* Jaime *cough*).

One of the first Game of Thrones season 8 trailers we got wasn't much more than a teaser showing a clash of fire and ice (above). Debuting at Comic Con Experience in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the cryptic, 30-second sneak peek depicts the familiar map of Westeros (which resides in the ancestral home of the Targaryens, Dragonstone) overcome by frost and flames.

It seems to imply that Game of Thrones season 8 will have all the death, destruction, and devastation we've come to expect (and then some) from the show, and there's no telling who'll come out on top when these forces of nature meet.

Game of Thrones season 8 posters

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Whereas HBO is definitely withholding footage from the final season, we at least have some official Game of Thrones season 8 posters now with the above 20 character posters. Depicting all the major characters sitting on the Iron Throne - even those who seem unlikely to rule Westeros, like the Hound and Davos - the Game of Thrones season 8 posters send a clear message: Anyone could win out in Game of Thrones season 8. Yes, even the Night King.

Plus Entertainment Weekly have released 16 - yes, 16 - covers that show us the core characters of Game of Thrones season 8. Dany, Jon, Arya, Sansa: they’re all there. Should I be worried about the lack of Tormund? Yeah, probably. You can see every single one in the gallery below. 

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Game of Thrones season 8 episodes

An image from Game of Thrones

There are just six Game of Thrones season 8 episodes. Yep, that’s right: six. One less than the already curtailed season 7. Given how much needs to be fitted into these episodes, that’s a bit of a concern. The good news is they’re all whoppers, with most of them running at over an hour long. With the Game of Thrones season 8 runtimes confirmed by HBO at last, you can find all the lengths below.

  • Game of Thrones season 8 episode 1 (April 14) - 54 minutes 
  • Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2 (April 21) - 58 minutes 
  • Game of Thrones season 8 episode 3 (April 28) - 1 hour 22 minutes 
  • Game of Thrones season 8 episode 4 (May 5) - 1 hour 18 minutes 
  • Game of Thrones season 8 episode 5 (May 12) - 1 hour 20 minutes 
  • Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 (May 19) - 1 hour 20 minutes 
Read more

Catch up on where EVERY Game of Thrones character is before season 8

Turns out filming them took a hell of a long time too, as Jorah Mormont himself, Iain Glen, has been quoted in the Daily Express as saying: “We all sat down for the read-through of six feature-length episodes. They took longer to film, cost more, and are more surprising.”

They're going to be a spectacle too, which was hinted by HBO CEO Richard Plepler during an interview with Variety. "It’s a spectacle. [David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] have done six movies. The reaction I had while watching them was, ‘I’m watching a movie,’…They knew the bar was high. They’ve exceeded the bar. I’ve watched them twice without any CGI and I’m in awe. Everybody’s in for an extraordinary treat of storytelling and of magical, magical production." Wow. 

Miguel Sapochnik and his crew will be back to direct two episodes in season 8 (we know they're episodes 3 and 5). He’s the guy who was responsible for Hardhome in season 5, and final episode The Winds of Winter in season 6 (which won an Emmy), so that's good. He certainly knows how to shoot an impressive action scene. Elsewhere TV veteran David Nutter (Winter is Coming, The Rains of Castermere) is back to do episodes 1, 2, and 4. 

But what of the all-important final episode? Showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff are directing that one themselves - the first time they’ve helmed an episode of the series… So no pressure then. 

It’s certainly going to be an epic finale. One battle sequence took 55 straight nights to film – more than double that of the previous biggest fight (the Battle of the Bastards, which took 25 days). That sounds fairly epic. According to a note to the cast and crew from Jonathan Quinlan (below), it was filmed over three different locations, for 11 weeks, and "You'll never see anything like it". Sounds a lot like the final, final battle between humanity and the White Walkers…

Game of Thrones season 8 cast

An image from Game of Thrones

It goes without saying that all of the (still breathing!) regular Game of Thrones characters will be part of the Game of Thrones season 8 cast, but there will also be a smattering of new faces as well.

Marc Rissman (The Man in the High Castle) is playing Harry Strickland. A rare character from the books that hasn’t yet appeared, he’s the leader of the Golden Company, expected to be fighting on the side of wicked Euron Greyjoy. 

Danielle Galligan (Strangers in the Park) will be playing a character called Sarra. Digging into the books, we know of a Sarra Frey, so it seems like she's the most likely person Galligan will be portraying. The role she plays is unclear, but Galligan is trained in small arms combat, so she's probably going to be fighting (like everyone else).

Read more

The forgotten Game of Thrones characters we want back in season 8

Bronte Carmichael (Christopher Robin) is said to be playing Martha - a young northerner, though we know little else about the character yet. Interestingly, when it was revealed that the casting directors had been looking for a “straight-talking Northern-accented girl, someone remarkable for her dauntlessness and integrity”, the speculation was that she would be playing Lyanna Stark. Could Martha just be a code-name? 

We also know that casting directors were looking for a boy of about 8-12 years to play someone from a poor background, "a boy who has to fight to make his way in the world," but there's currently no word on who's been cast in this role. 

Alice Nokes (EastEnders) has been cast as Willa, a character who might be a recast version of the Wildling child seen in Game of Thrones season 5 classic Hardhome.

Interestingly, Entertainment Weekly writer James Hibberd sat in on filming of the very last episode, and asserts that “there are characters in the finale that I did not expect,” which, frankly, could mean anything at this point.

If you were hoping to see a glimpse of the man who started your obsession with Game of Thrones, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed: George R.R. Martin refused a cameo in Game of Thrones season 8 because he couldn’t make it to Belfast in time. Dang. 

Continue to Page 2 for everything we know about the Game of Thrones plot and more