Jon & Daenerys' Arrival In Winterfell Echos The Series Premiere
This would have to include Sansa and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) meeting Daenerys for the first time, and neither Stark sister will likely be thrilled to see Tyrion Lannister again - especially since Sansa may still be technically married to the Imp.
Sansa Is Not Happy About Jon & Daenerys
Just as how in the series premiere, a younger and much more innocent Sansa was present to receive King Robert and the Lannisters, she will welcome Daenerys and her army to her ancestral home, but this time as the Lady of Winterfell. However, Sansa is not thrilled (at least, not at first) to learn that her half-brother bent the knee and swore the North's fealty to the Mother of Dragons. Sansa has fought for respect the last couple of seasons and in Jon's absence, she and Arya killed Lord Peter Baelish (Aidan Gillen), one of the Stark family's greatest enemies.
Meanwhile, as far as Sansa was aware, Jon was supposed to be at Dragonstone negotiating for dragonglass to fight the White Walkers, so she's not pleased when he returns as Daenerys' lover and her loyal subject - which makes Sansa and the North her subjects as well. (And wait until the truth about Jon and Daenerys' blood relationship actually comes out!)
Winterfell Will Be Bigger Than Ever
If fans think they've seen every nook and cranny of Winterfell over the past 7 seasons - think again. Season 8 greatly expands the ancestral castle of House Stark in order to fully depict Winterfell as a setting for epic battles against the White Walkers.
The "new" Winterfell has "a towering new castle exterior, a larger courtyard, and interconnected rooms and ramparts" in which key subplots for certain characters during the major battles will take place. EW describes the much bigger Winterfell as "a sprawling, immersive, medieval resort" compared to its previous "Days Inn-like scale."
The Final Battle Calls Back To The Series Premiere
One of season 8's episodes will be wall-to-wall action directed by "Battle of the Bastards"' helmer Miguel Sapochnik - this could be a White Walker attack on Winterfell. The scale of his epic battle dwarfs even season 6's "Battle of the Bastards" and the production spent 55 night shoots just to film all of the exterior shots - over twice as much as the 25 nights needed for "Battle of the Bastards". Shooting then moved to soundstages where interior scenes took several more weeks to film. The battle also involves multiple characters who are caught up in their own survival storylines "that feel like separate genres." This was all part of a heightened production process where scenes were shot over several days with multiple angles and takes to ensure the producers had every option available to make the final episodes truly epic.
The battle with the White Walkers at Winterfell is also a callback to the very first scene of Game of Thrones' series premiere. (Also, this isn't the first time that Game of Thrones included season 1 callbacks.) In the opening moments of season 1, members of the Night's Watch traveled beyond the Wall and encountered White Walkers for the first time in hundreds of years. Season 8's final clash with the army of the dead is meant to bring the series full circle.
Surprising Characters Make It To The Series Finale
EW's set visit took place in March 2018 and coincided with the filming of the final episode of the series in which some Game of Thrones characters are surprisingly still alive. This is certainly an intriguing tidbit as it begs the question of which of the cast survive the battle with the Night King and make it all the way to the end? One of the actors EW spoke to about how difficult it is for the cast to keep from spoiling secrets was Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry - does this mean the bastard son of Robert Baratheon makes it to the end (after being absent for so long)?
The question of survival hangs over every single character on Game of Thrones, which has shocked fans by killing off main characters since the beginning. But the possibility that certain characters don't die (possibly even some that deserve to) is a compelling new twist for Game of Thrones fans to debate in the long winter months until season 8 premieres.