Game of Thrones’ seasonal posters have, in the past, been a bit of a mess. Some look like fan art (and give fan art a bad name), some have been a step above MS Paint, but regardless of their style, all have revealed something important about the upcoming season. We’ve seen faces (like from the House of Black and White), dragons, and other key story elements.
As everyone should know by now, Season 6 kicked off the TV series going in its own direction away from the books, which George R. R. Martin has not finished writing yet. That means that what comes next with the show is anybody’s guess — there’s no road map anymore. However, even if the TV show and the novels diverge on their way to (what is presumably) the final battle and its conclusions, the ending should be the same. Showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff have said that when they first worked with Martin on the project, he told them the ending he envisioned. So, we can extrapolate from there that Weiss and Benioff are heading in the same direction.
With all of that in mind, there are two ways to approach this new Season 7 poster, (which according to EW debuted at SXSW), promoting the penultimate season of the show:
One is that, well, the book series as a whole is called “A Song of Ice and Fire,” and this is a really easy way to give us a dramatic image that holds absolutely zero spoilers or hints at what is to come in Season 7. As we know, the showrunners love to withhold info from us to the point of absurdity (see: Is Jon Snow Dead or Alive?)
However, we could read into it a little bit (which is what I prefer to do) a see a potential hint of an endgame. The overarching book title says it all: A Song of Ice and Fire. This can refer to the icy North marching south behind The Night’s King, and the dragon fire coming from Beyond the Narrow Sea. Character-wise, Season 6 left off with Daenerys and her dragons teaming up with unexpected allies the Greyjoys to transport her and her troops to reclaim the Iron Throne of Westeros. Meanwhile in the North, the ice zombie apocalypse is upon us, and Jon Snow (although really the machinations of Sansa Stark) defeated the Boltons. and Snow was declared the King in the North.
In between we have Cersei Lannister, who just burned literally everyone in King’s Landing with her Wildfire plot (goodbye Tyrells).
So where does that leave us?
For a long time, fans have speculated that the series’ finale (be it the novels or the TV show) will be about dragons vs ice zombies. How can it not, right? But it’s also potentially going to be about Dany and Jon, and whether they will come together to unite Westeros (don’t forget that Jon is half Targaryen and you know they like marrying their own!) It would be fitting to have the Starks and Targaryens — two noble families who have been exiled — return to power together, defeat the Night’s King, and save Westeros. Remember we have the hint of the prophesy about three dragon riders — could be be Dany, Jon, and Tyrion Lannister?
Even though Martin’s writing, and therefore the show itself, have largely been a subversion of fantasy tropes, our suffering with these characters (and their deaths) over the years would make that eventuality — however predictable — still extremely satisfying.
Still, those events would not likely take place until the final season (8) in 2018. As we know, it takes people (except Littlefinger) a very long time to move around Westeros. And there are still many, many other storylines to follow and wrap-up first.
What this means for Season 7, then, is unclear, but it seems like it is confirming that the positioning for this final confrontation is as we expected. But what comes before it — like what Cersei’s role in the seat of power will look like moving forward — could still lead to more explosive surprises.
Game of Thrones returns … sometime this year! But no official date has been set yet.