Who died in Game of Thrones‘ season 8 premiere? HBO’s megahit series has finally returned with its final 6 episodes to wrap up its many storylines and answer the question of who will sit upon the Iron Throne in the end. But first, there’s the Great War against the White Walkers to be waged and the Night King has claimed the first casualty of the season – Lord Ned Umber (Harry Grasby).
As season 8 begins, Jon Snow brought his lover Daenerys Targaryen home to Winterfell, along with the Unsullied, Dothraki and Dany’s two dragons. Together, they are rallying the forces of the living against the Night King, who has led the White Walker army south of the Wall. As the heroes defending Westeros gather in Winterfell, have both touching and awkward reunions, and squabble over politics and alliances, the Night King struck at the Last Hearth.
In the final moments of “Winterfell”, the season 8 premiere, Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarion, who survived the destruction of Eastwatch by the Night King’s ice dragon, Valerion, in the season 7 finale, meet up with Dolorous Edd of the Night’s Watch at the Last Hearth. Together, their combined group of Crows and Wildings explore the eerily silent castle and find young Ned Umber pinned to a wall, seemingly dead, in a spiral symbol of bloody, severed limbs similar to other symbols left behind by the White Walkers throughout the series. They deduce that this is a message from the Night King – before Ned suddenly comes alive screaming and is finally killed by Beric’s flaming sword. Jon Snow had previously sent Lord Umber back to the Last Hearth to rally his forces back to Winterfell, but the Night King got to him first. Presumably, the White Walkers also got to the Umber men and made them part of the Army of the Dead, adding to their overwhelming numbers.
It’s easy to forget just who Ned Umber was but the 11-year-old was made the head of House Umber by Jon Snow in season 7. Ned’s father Smalljon Umber was killed fighting for House Bolton in season 6’s Battle of the Bastards. When he was still King in the North, Jon summoned Ned Umber and Alys Karstark in front of him at Winterfell; both feared Jon would have them executed because their families fought for Ramsay Bolton. Instead, Jon made Ned and Alys the heads of House Umber and House Karstark once they bent the knee and showed fealty; they both promised to serve House Stark “now and always”. Jon didn’t want to punish the children for their father’s sins, though Sansa Stark took issue with Jon’s decision.
Ned Umber is the only ‘name’ death in the season premiere, but the other casualites were the crew of the Silence, the flagship of Euron Greyjoy’s Iron Fleet, which was docked at King’s Landing. Theon Greyjoy made good on his promise to rescue his sister Yara, who has been Euron’s prisoner aboard the Silence since the conclusion of “Stormborn”, the 2nd episode of season 7. Euron’s Iron Fleet ambushed Yara’s and the King of the Iron Islands slaughtered Yara’s crew as well as Obara and Nymeria Sand. Theon abandoned ship and left Yara to be Euron’s prisoner, while the Lord Reaper of Pyke also took Tyene and Ellaria Sand as prisoners for Queen Cersei to torture and kill as revenge for Ellaria murdering Cersei’s daughter Myrcella in season 5.
Theon and his men boarded the Silence, slaughtered Euron’s crew, and escaped with Yara; they sailed back to Pyke but Yara gave Theon her blessing to join the Great War at Winterfell while Yara returned to make House Greyjoy a sanctuary for Daenerys, if necessary. Sadly, Euron was at King’s Landing enjoying a conjugal visit with Cersei and didn’t meet the same end as his shipmates. All in all, “Winterfell” was table setting for the wars to come and it was certainly light on deaths, but Game of Thrones season 8 is still young,