Since Game of Thrones Season 7 is upon us — the second to the last season! — I assume that secrets are going to start pouring out of Westeros fast. I’ve made a lot of my theories known already, but I thought it might be fun to go back to the very first moments of the very first episode and think a little bit about what is going on in the larger story, which is the White Walkers versus the humans.
For those of you who need a refresher, the first Game of Thrones episode begins with two seasoned rangers of the Night’s Watch on patrol with a young noble, who is in charge of them, as they track some Wildlings. A ranger named Will finds the Wildlings, and they have all been butchered and put into a curious circle. Will is freaked out, runs away to his two companions and tells them what happened. Gared is satisfied, but Sir Weymar Royce, the young guy, wants to find out how the Wildlings died. When the rangers get back to the spot Will saw, everyone is gone except some White Walkers, who kill Royce and Gared. Will runs as far as he can and gets as far as Winterfell, where he is beheaded by Ned Stark for deserting the Night’s Watch.
To bookend that visually, Season 1 ends with Episode 10, when Daenerys is preparing a funeral pyre for her beloved Drogo. Within the fire, Daenerys gives unnatural life to the three fossilized dragon’s eggs she’s been carting around. The pyre is formed by a series of circles that echo the shape of the dead Wildlings’ scattered body parts. It’s not the sort of thing that jumped out at me on my first viewing, ten weeks apart. But re-watches have definitely got me thinking about it.
The Game of Thrones story in the books is actually called, A Song of Ice and Fire, and I think this is the first moment where that happens: Ice-dead Wildlings; Drogo’s fiery funeral pyre. But does it have any significance? Well, first of all, Dani does have her moment in the sun with magic, but she is no witch. Other than not being burned by fire, she doesn’t exhibit any other magical tendencies.
So, I think the circle tells us something about the White Walkers. It’s easy to see them as vampires — something I think the books and the TV show clearly push us towards. In other words, they kill someone and those people become Wights doing the bidding of the White Walkers. But then, why are they all in that weird circle when Will first finds them? Well, because it’s a spell. Obviously, the White Walkers are extremely magical, probably learning a lot about magic from the Children of the Forest, who created them to drive the humans from the North. But they aren’t bringing the dead back without machinations.
One theme in the books and the TV show is that magic was gone but something brought it back. It’s easy to assume that the thing was Dani bringing back dragons. But it wasn’t. It was the return of the White Walkers. That’s why the dragons came back to life. I don’t know if the dragons are going to kill the White Walkers necessarily, but I’d be very surprised if they didn’t.
So it’s a spell, so what? Spells can be broken. Authors and filmmakers often give us all the information we need in the first few minutes of a narrative to know what’s going to happen in the end. In this case, the end is coming years later, so we’ve all been thinking about it. And I have to say that the disruption of Wight production is going to be important in the last two seasons.
One bonus prediction: The wall comes down!
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