Well, here we are. Eight years and eight seasons after "Game of Thrones" premiered, we’ve finally reached the end. Daenerys broke bad. King’s Landing has burned. Jaime and Cersei are buried somewhere in the rubble. Bran is … well, who the heck knows where he is or what he’s doing? (And frankly, who cares?)
So what could possibly be next? Will Daenerys take the Iron Throne, or will she try to break the wheel? Will Jon Snow have a change of heart after watching his queen/aunt/former lover barbecue a bunch of civilians? Maybe Arya will use her special Faceless Man assassin skills to become her brother to seduce her aunt with the intentions of killing her. (Come to think of it, that sounds like the most "Thrones"-y ending.)
Let’s turn to the teaser trailer. Our. Very. Last. Teaser. Ever. (Well, you know, until the prequels.)
At 37 seconds, this is the shortest teaser yet – especially considering that the actual video cuts off at 19 seconds, and we just stare at the "Game of Thrones" title screen for the remaining 18. It also includes absolutely no dialogue. According to the closed captioning, it’s just our old favorite: "♪ (TENSE MUSIC PLAYS) ♪"
That music mostly plays over haunting scenes of a decimated King’s Landing.
It opens with images of people wandering the broken streets as Drogon’s many fires still burn. Tyrion looks around at his old home, now in ruins, with a ruminative look on his face. Arya, face covered in blood, stares on with a mixture of horror and fury as legions of the Unsullied stand inside the castle walls in perfect formation.
Next, a close-up of Tyrion’s face shows the full weight of the betrayal he feels. It’s quickly replaced with the Dothraki cheering – screaming and thrusting their arakhs high in the air. Victory was theirs. (Somehow there are still some Dothraki left after "The Long Night.")
Then the music suddenly stops. The screen fades to black only to be replaced with a terrifying sight.
It’s a simple shot following Daenerys from behind. Her elaborate silver hairdo, all braids that must take hours to complete, is center-frame. She stands high above King’s Landing, the Unsullied lined up on either side, forming a path. Then we see what’s she’s looking at: the city she conquered, in ashes, as her armies stand together and await her leadership.
That’s it. Seriously!
Much like last week, what’s most striking about this trailer is what, and who, isn’t in it. Jon Snow is nowhere to be found, though he’s surely hiding out somewhere and writing some sad poetry or something. Maybe he’s even planning to take down the Mad Queen. If we have to judge simply from the teaser, however, that job might fall to Arya.
The most notable absence, though, is Sansa Stark. There’s simply no way her journey is over. There are a million reasons she should be the one sitting on the Iron Throne, as Washington Post reporter Elahe Izadi has eloquently and convincingly laid out. But in a simple storytelling sense, Sansa must have a bigger role in the endgame. Otherwise, why did the show plant such tension between her and Dany to act as an emotional Chekhov’s gun? Why did she and Tyrion share that oddly tender moment in the crypts? Why have we watched her suffer for seven seasons, always coming out stronger, smarter and one step ahead of both her friends and foes?
Of course, this is just a teaser. There’s almost no doubt that Sansa will return. Maybe she’ll use one of the Concorde jets that everyone seems to have now to get on over to King’s Landing for a little tête-à-tête with Dany. Or maybe she’ll just tell Jon, "I told you so."
Then again, given the way this season has been going, Sansa might get a suntan at the beach in Dorne, and the final episode might just feature Dany outfitting the throne room, maybe choosing a council (Grey Worm can be Master of Coin!) and taking a pleasure ride on Drogon.
One way or another, we’ll find out Sunday.