8:15am PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones' Final Season Teaser Hints at a Happy Ending
Indeed, Daenerys' Northern excursion is just about the only scene HBO is willing to show off when it comes to the final season of Thrones, at least thus far. Previous teasers and photos all center on the ancestral home of House Stark, whether it's as direct as Dany meeting Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) for the first time, or the clever premiere date reveal revolving around Sansa, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Arya (Maisie Williams) wandering the Crypts of Winterfell.
In the latest teaser for the final season of Thrones (which is included in a broader look at HBO's 2019 offerings, including Damon Lindelof's Watchmen and the long-in-the-making Deadwood movie), it's once again all about the fabled meeting of the minds at Winterfell — except this time, there may be a little bit more plot to divine, thanks to the perspective of a fan-favorite character: Arya Stark.
The brief footage centers on the Targaryen army arriving in the North, ready to help defend against the Night King and his White Walker forces. The Unsullied march in unison as Drogon sails overhead, his mere presence terrifying the stone-cold Northerners, rarely in the presence of so much heat. The one person who doesn't seem afraid at all: Arya. Quite the opposite, in fact. She looks positively thrilled to gaze upon the soaring image of a dragon for the first time.
Is it any wonder why Arya is so intrigued by the sight of a dragon, where her countrymen are running scared? Unlike most of the others in Winterfell, Arya has studied abroad, seeing all kinds of strange wonders, and even adopting some strange wonders for her own use — including learning the ways of the Faceless Men, in which she uses old magic to flay faces from her enemies, adopt their likenesses and strike with little to no warning.
In considering the future of Arya Stark, it's hard to see exactly where she fits in with the White Walker conflict. Sure, she has a Valyrian dagger, thanks to the events of season seven; the odds of Arya using the thing against one of the Night King's lieutenants feels high, considering Valyrian steel's astonishing use as a White Walker weakness. But is there enough room for a major character like Arya to have a major story in the war against the undead?
It's easier to see how Arya's final storyline might intersect with another major character: Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), another power player with an eye on Winterfell, if not quite as imminent an arrival. The most recent edition of The Hollywood Reporter's Final Path series, in which we make our final predictions for each major Game of Thrones character, projected a deadly future for Arya and Cersei — one that ends in the former person's death, at the hands of the latter. There are myriad reasons to believe Arya might not survive Thrones, killed either at Cersei's command or by the Mad Queen herself.
Hand in hand with that fatal prediction, however, was a last hope for Arya. In season six, while she's recovering from a series of stabbings, Arya wonders aloud: "What's west of Westeros?" It speaks to Arya's wanderlust about the world of ice and fire, her feeling that mankind's understanding of their surroundings is so limited in scope, only including Westeros and Essos and not too much beyond. Is there a version of Game of Thrones that ends with Arya leaving everything she knows behind for a strange new voyage, one where she can see great adventures and chart a course forward through the unknown?
Quick as it is, this most recent final season teaser gives us cause to hope for Arya's survival by way of further journeys. The sheer wonder in her eyes at the sight of a dragon speaks to that adventurous spark inside the young Stark's heart. Sticking around in Winterfell does not feel true to the spirit of Arya, no matter how much she loves her family. Death could pry her away, certainly, but one can just as easily imagine Arya's incurable curiosity driving her back out into the world. What's west of Westeros? Are there more dragons to find? Perhaps Arya will try to answer those questions on her own once the dust settles on the final season of Thrones — assuming there's anything left of the world other than dust once she and her allies contend with the Army of the Dead.
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