The anticipation for Game of Thrones's final season hit an all-time high when HBO finally released the first cryptic teaser for Season 8. While it doesn't offer fans much in terms of spoilers, it's a dark, moody promo spot that signals the war to come for the Iron Throne of Westeros.
We see Jon Snow, Arya and Sansa Stark in the crypts underneath Winterfell, where their ancestors are buried. As they come across three statues of themselves, the room grows cold, indicating the arrival of White Walkers. We also see a lone feather, a small thing but one that might be something more than a mere Easter egg referencing previous seasons.
As Jon glides by a statue of his mother, Lyanna Stark (who was also Ned's sister and Arya and Sansa's aunt), a small feather is blown out of her stony hands and falls to the floor. We hear Lyanna's voice saying, "You must protect him," the same words she told Ned when we saw her give baby Jon to her brother just before she died. This, of course, resulted in Ned's oath of secrecy and the lie that Jon was a bastard fathered with a sex worker. The truth is, Jon is the final Targaryen and son of Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen, which makes him the true heir to the Iron Throne in the wake of Robert Baratheon's coup over the Mad King Aerys.
What makes this feather significant is that Robert himself placed it there when speaking to Ned about Lyanna's death in the premiere episode of the series. He lays the feather at her grave and tells her brother, his trusted ally at the time, and the man he'd make King's Hand, that every night he dreams of killing Rhaegar. Despite Ned's insistence that all of the the Targaryens died in Robert's coup, the King of the Seven Kingdoms states, "Not all of them."
At the time, it seemed clear that he was obsessed with Lyanna being kidnapped and raped by Rheagar, but the truth is they eloped and had a son, though she died shortly after giving birth. Seeing this feather here could indicate that Jon will indeed achieve his birthright and take the throne, giving him the opportunity to restore honor to the Targarye family. Their legacy was tainted thanks to the Mad King, and it became even worse when Rheagar was thought to have abducted Lyanna, an act which drove the Seven Kingdoms to war. The feather hints Jon can unite everyone with the truth and hopefully usher in a new era of peace.
However, being GoT, there's potential for a twist. The second time we saw the feather was when Sansa walked through the crypt with Littlefinger, in Season 5. She sees it on the floor and picks it up before Littlefinger arrives. While we don't know if she ever puts it back, it's their conversation about Lyanna and how she ended up with Rhaegar that's of most interest.
"Lyanna was already promised to Robert," Littlefinger told Sansa. "The last two riders were Barristan Selmy and Rhaegar Targaryen. When Rhaegar won, everyone cheered for their prince... until he rode right past his wife, Elia Martell, and all the smiles died. He rode past his wife and lay a crown of winter roses in Lyanna's lap, blue with frost... how many tens of thousands had to die because Rhaegar chose your aunt?"
Littlefinger hints at their forbidden romance, but Sansa insists Rhaegar was a rapist and criminal. It's possible she'll continue to hold on to this version of the story, no matter what. After being tortured by the likes of Cersei and Ramsay Bolton, she's no longer a naive young lady, so this feather could hint that Sansa might not be willing to accept Jon as king thanks to his Targaryen lineage. Given the tragedies her family has suffered, Sansa may well want a Stark on the Iron Throne, and may take a page from Cersei's book and leverage Lyanna's "kidnapping" to usurp it for herself as Ward of the North and daughter of the great defender Ned.
finally, as we see the feather in the final seconds of the clip, it freezes, an allusion to the notion the White Walkers and Night King are going to kill the heir to the Iron Throne. He's already cast his gaze on Jon, after all, and while his origin remains a mystery, it's clear he wants all of Westeros chilled to sub-zero death. Thus this frozen feather -- a symbol of the union of Starks and Targaryens -- could tease the death of them all.
Game of Thrones will return for its eighth and final season on April 14, 2019. The HBO drama stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.