HBO on Thursday released 20 photos of Game of Thrones characters who will be appearing, however briefly, in Season 8, Entertainment Weekly reports. And seven of them are shown bearing weapons.
So does that mean anything? Maybe, maybe not. Let's take a look.
It might mean something because: Fans who have stuck with Game of Thrones since the first episode of Season 1 know better than to get attached to any character. That's because they can, and do, die at any moment, oft unexpectedly and without notice. And in some cases, you can see the death coming a mile away, and it's still a punch in the gut. So to get all Biblical about it, if you live by the sword, you die by the sword, and if you're holding a weapon in HBO promotional material, you're about to die.
Or it might not mean anything because: You'll notice that all of these characters appear seated on the Iron Throne, and few (if any) of them could have any access to the Throne within the laws and rules that govern the Game of Thrones universe. In other words, it's just HBO promotional material, into which you shouldn't read anything.
And a final warning: The remainder of this article will contain oblique spoilers for previous seasons of Game of Thrones.
So with those disclaimers out of the way, let's parse the characters that appear with weapons drawn in Season 8 promotional material.
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)Arya's sword ("Needle") has been as much a part of her as her left hand or her big toe since early in Season 1. And though she appears to be out of peril and back in safety as of the end of Season 7, anything can and will change on a moment's notice in this show.
Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson)Grey Worm is a warrior and a bodyguard, a captain of an army; he doesn't step out of his chambers without being armed to the teeth. Showing him not bearing a weapon would raise more questions than showing him bearing one.
The Hound (Rory McCann)In what you are realizing by now is a theme in this list, The Hound (Sandor Clegane) is a warrior, mercenary, bodyguard, and whatever else he needs to be. His sword is his life, just as whispers are Varys' life and religion is the High Sparrow's life.
Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)Brienne is, at times, a warrior, an executioner, a mercenary and a bodyguard. If her sword isn't swinging by the end of Episode 1, somebody in the writers' room at HBO has failed at their job.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington)Jon, like Brienne, is a warrior, finding himself aligned with one of two forces at the precipice of war with each other, all the while trying to contain a third, larger threat that could consume them all. Yes, he'll be wielding his sword in Season 8.
Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen)Like Brienne, Jorah is a warrior, bodyguard, mercenary, or whatever else he's required to be, and nine times out of 10, his role requires the use of sharpened steel. And like Jon, he's caught up in a war that's about to erupt. Expect that sword to be swinging shortly after the opening credits roll in Season 8.
Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen)This is a bit of a head-scratcher. When we left off in Season 7, Theon was so beaten down by PTSD that he's barely functional, and though he's back among his people, even his peers regard him as little more than cargo. Does his borne sword indicate redemption for Theon in Season 8?
Season 8 of Game of Thrones arrives on HBO on April 14, 2019.