The final season of Game of Thrones is finally here, and that means one more season of the iconic opening sequence. Since the beginning, fans have joked about the length of the opening sequence, with one even working out that fans who watch the entire thing each episode have spent over an hour and a half watching that map of Westeros and listening to the theme music. The credits do more than just take up an incredible amount of time, though - they also change from episode to episode, revealing a little bit about what is going to happen in the episode.
Each episode, the credits begin with an astrolabe decorated with the symbols of the major houses of Westeros, wrapping around the sun, before the camera pans down to a three-dimensional map of Westeros and Essos. From here, the shot zooms in, skimming over the map and stopping on labeled locations (like Winterfell or Dragonstone) that rise from the map using clockwork. As well as showing the locations that are going to be relevant in each episode, the Game of Thrones map changes depending on what has been happening in Westeros; when Winterfell burned, smoke rose from it on the map. When a castle is taken by a different house, their sigil appears on it. All these details add up, orienting the viewer at the start of the show.
While the opening credits are different for each episode, there are some major differences when it comes to the opening credits for Game of Thrones season 8. Immediately, the visual effects are much more dynamic; the shot doesn't just look over the various locations from above - when the camera comes to Winterfell and King's Landing, it actually goes into the locations, exploring the Stark crypts and dragon skull basement respectively.
A new location also appears, as the shot of the Wall shows the massive breach that was made by Ice-Viserion in the Game of Thrones season 7 finale, as well as a shot of the castle nearby, and a sheet of ice spreading outward from the wall (charting the path of the Night King's army).
In additon to the new design and perspective of the Westeros map Game of Thrones opening, the season 8 titles also feature different tableaux on the rings. Instead of Robert's rebellion, they now depict the War of the Five Kings, with images of the Red Wedding and the birth of Daenerys' dragons.
It's fantastic to see that for the final Game of Thrones season, HBO is really pushing the boat out to create something new and exciting for fans, and leaves everyone wondering what else we might see appearing in the opening credits over the next five episodes - and if another major change may happen for the series finale itself.