Warning: SPOILERS for Game Of Thrones
'The Long Night' may not have been filled with as many deaths as some fans expected, but the show did say goodbye to Theon Greyjoy - in a scene that was actually hinted at all the way back in season one. This isn't too surprising, though. The final season of Game of Thrones has been packed with callbacks and references to earlier seasons, with everything from references to the first scenes of the show to specific lines that were first heard years ago. It's a beautiful way to see the series end, with memories of the beginning, and a way to see how far some characters have come.
Theon's arc came full circle in the third episode, as he redeemed himself with a final sacrifice, trying to take on the Night King to protect Bran. Theon offered himself and his Ironborn to protect Bran as he waited to draw out the enemy, as a way to make up for the pain he caused the Starks when he took Winterfell. The series has seen him go from Ward of the Starks and a loving member of the family, to their enemy (and even claiming to have killed Bran and Rickon), and back to their friend, helping Sansa flee the Boltons. Dying for Bran was a clear way to show that Theon has made up for his mistakes, and Bran even thanks him before he rushes the Night King and ends up impaled.
What many fans may not realize, however, is that this wasn't simply a nice way to wrap up Theon's arc, but a moment that references one of Theon's first ever scenes in the series. Back in season one, episode two, Theon has a moment in the Godswood with Robb, Maester Luwin, and Ser Rodrik Cassel, brought together by Catelyn Stark, who wants a private place to reveal her fears that the Lannisters pushed Bran off the tower to try and kill him. When Robb learns what happened, he immediately leaps to the thought of declaring war, and Theon declares that he will back the Starks if war should happen. The boys' eagerness to fight, and their intensity, leads the Maester to drily ask "what, is there going to be a battle in the Godswood?". If only he knew what was coming...
WHAT THE pic.twitter.com/vypY7Muy3X— Won’t you tell me how to get, how to get to (@Calicoville) April 24, 2019
Having Theon protecting Bran in the Godswood, is a perfect callback to this moment. Once again, the Starks are gathering to try and take care of a threat to Bran's life, and Theon has returned to the Stark family fold to stand behind them and fight at their side. It's worth pointing out that not only does this scene include Theon's avowal of his loyalty and the Maester asking about a battle in the Godswood, but Robb's line "They come into our home and try to murder my brother?" - which is exactly what has now come to pass, although 'they' are the Others, rather than the Lannisters.
Like many of the callbacks and references to earlier seasons, this could have been a long-planned hint at what would eventually happen... but it is equally likely that the writers actively looked for elements from earlier seasons to reference in season 8. While the battle in the Godswood itself was presumably planned from very early on, showrunners have revealed that they only knew that Arya would strike the killing blow to the Night King for about three years - suggesting that they didn't have all the pieces in place for this battle from the very start. Still, whether a carefully planted hint or simply a beautiful callback, this is another impressive example of Game of Thrones using the last season to reference the first.