Artists revolutionize the world they create in, and the Night King is no different.
WARNING: If you do not want potential spoilers, go no further.
Since Season 1, episode 1, the Night King and his posse of Long Night taggers have been painting the town red and dead with their gruesome graffiti in the hit series Game of Thrones.
Last night, countless people tuned in for Episode 1 of the eighth season of this epic show, myself included.
The memes, GIFs, tweets, posts, and blogs galore make me dizzy with excitement. We, as a global society, are creating art about art through individual and collective artistic expression together.
So freaking meta!
Do you remember when Syrio Forel (the First Sword of Braavos) tells Arya back in Season 1 that "watching [Game of Thrones] is not seeing, dead girl"? In light of this caution, my role as an artist and geek is to take your mind's third eye on a tour of what I see through my artist lens to fuel your theorizing and enjoyment of the gift that is Thrones.
That said, a girl has no answers, and, like Jon Snow (I mean, Aegon Targaryen), I know nothing. I'm a questioner, always have been and always will be. Let the Games begin...
Imagery Begins in the Opening Sequence
The episode starts, as usual, with the title sequence. Pointedly, the sequence has some major changes signifying that winter has truly and finally come to Westeros, marking, as Tyrion would say, "that [we]'re in the great game now." (Some of which I tweeted about here and here for the curious).
The sun/meteor/spiral thing is surrounded by ring-like wheels and appears to be exactly the same as it was on Day 1 of Thrones. As such, I anticipate that the stories depicted on the rings in the opening scene of each subsequent episode may artistically summarize what we have seen in prior episodes while the stories depicted as we travel through the map will signal what is to come in the remaining episodes, perhaps on an episode-by-episode basis (little fingers crossed!).
Notably, this fiery ball of light is surrounded by what looks to be spears and/or arrows and dragon glass and/or steel swords.
Speaking of spears and arrows, perhaps this is a clue to Arya's upcoming kill-shot weapon she asks Gendry to craft for her, which appears to be a double-headed dragon glass staff, hopefully with an ability to screw the Cat's Paw Valyrian steel dagger into it (shouts to spiral imagery everywhere).
(Remember when she first trained with a staff in the House of Black and White?! How times flies!)
Perhaps this is an artistic shout-out to the Lannister bow Bronn now has?
Imagery Suggests the Return of House Martell
Perhaps House Martell and Dorne have a role yet to play in the wars to come, suggested by their house sigil.
Consider: Doesn't the Martell spear through a burning ball of light remind you of something floating over the entire world in the opening sequence?
Doesn't it remind you of what we saw as the Night King was created at the base of a red (color hint!) weirwood tree surrounded by a spiral of stones?
Red is particularly significant in GOTs and is an often-chosen color of living and deceased artists. In fact, ever since humans started creating art, red was used!
The oldest confirmed cave painting is of a single red dot, and is at least 40,800 or so years old. As such, the imagery of GOTs is arguably the best form of derivative art (i.e., artwork based upon one or more preexisting works) of the modern age.
Imagery Suggests Big Things to Come for House Karstark
I am incredibly excited by what we do not yet know about what caused the Karstarks to split from the Starks long ago (at least in the show, if not the books) and what context clues already suggest to careful observers.
So what are those clues?
Well, the imagery of Karstark's sigil should now look incredibly familiar to you.
Then, in the opening sequence that just debuted, we literally see an etched spiral while the camera spirals us down onto Last Hearth. This location is pointedly at the epicenter of this imagery and the first place to fall in Westeros.
Later, Tyrion directs our attention to the rarely-seen-on-camera sigil, commenting it is "one of the better sigils."
And let's not forget that the Karstark's house words are "The Sun of Winter" and Alys' hair sure looks kissed by fire to me!
But this must be a total coincidence, right?
Imagery Engulfs Even House Tarth and King's Landing
Perhaps House Tarth will have a significant role yet to play in light of its sigil.
I, for one, want Brianne, the already-blue-eyed and battle-ready beauty, to get some much deserved screen time.
Spirals even make it as far south as the Red Keep as we spiral down its staircase in the opening sequence! This strongly suggests, as did Dany's vision so long ago, that Winter will reach King's Landing.
Imagery Shows Us A Song of Fire and Ice
Consider: what if the Night King wasn't a Stark, but a Targaryen? A Targaryen who can walk through fire and remain unburnt (remember what happened at Hard Home?).
The spiral imagery merging fire and ice in a never-ending spinning spiral is repeated over and over again. At Last Hearth, we see Ned Umber and dismembered body parts immediately get engulf in an unnaturally spreading burning blaze.
This then raises additional questions for our meteor-crossed lovers, Dany and Jon: What happens if Daenerys the Unburnt (titles, titles, titles, you know the darn words) is turned into a White Walker?
Is there significance to be gleaned by the fact Jon could (and has) been badly burnt before?
What do we have yet to learn about why the weirwood tree was at the heart of this spiral as the Night King of unknown origins was forcibly stabbed with dragon glass without his consent?
Is there hidden meaning in the camera swirling us down onto the weirdwood tree at Winterfell in the opening sequence of the final season before tunneling us down deep into the Crypts of Winterfell? (Guarded, mind you, by artistically created statutes intended to mirror dead Starks.)
Book readers might now want me to get into House Blackwood, in light of the family's sigil and their suspiciously named's seat at Raventree Hall.
Video gamers might want me to get into House Forrester, a noble house from the wolfswood in the North, featured in the game "Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series," but I digress.
Ultimately, artists create imagery for a purpose, so we must ask:
What are the creators of GOTs telling us through countless adaptations of spiral imagery throughout the entire series?
All that seems to be certain for now are two key things. First, the wheel spirals round and round. Second,"if you think this has a happy ending, you've come to the wrong place."