'Game Of Thrones' Creepy Night King Symbol Explained

Game of Thrones returned last night on HBO TV and while the episode was largely focused on some long-awaited reunions, difficult revelations, and one stunning dragon flight, the episode also served as the kick off for what will be the largest and most significant war in Westeros. Winter isn't so much coming anymore, folks. Winter is pretty much here. The Night King has destroyed the wall and things are about to get very challenging for everyone involved, but while much was focused on "setting the table" for the coming conflict as it were, the Night King managed to send one nightmarish and chilling message in last night's episode -- one that might need a little explaining.

Now, before we get too deep, a warning: there are major spoilers for Game of Thrones' Season 8 premiere below. You've been warned.

Last night, as everyone prepared for the coming war, the Night King sent a powerful message. Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), and Edd (Ben Crompton) discovered a truly horrific thing. Young Lord Umber (Harry Grasby), the child lord of House Umber, was found nailed to a wall with various butchered limbs arranged around him in a gruesome spiral fashion. He had returned home from Winterfell earlier in the episode to get his people out before the war reached them. Unfortunately, he didn't make it and Beric notes that the display of the child's body is a message "From the Night King".

Sure enough, when the child wakes moments later, his eyes pale blue in the zombified fashion of the White Walkers, prompting the men to have to set him ablaze. The scene is nightmare fuel to be sure, but let's step back for a moment and talk about that spiral symbol constructed out of little Lord Umber and those body parts. That spiral is far from the first time we've seen something similar in Game of Thrones. All the way back in the series pilot a group of Night's Watch rangers came across something similar. Literally less than five minutes into that episode. Body parts were arranged in a circular pattern -- not quite a spiral -- and even featured the corpse of a child nailed to a tree.

game of thrones season 3 pattern
(Photo: HBO)

Later, in Season 3, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Mance Raydner's (Ciaran Hinds) wilding army come across the aftermath of the White Walkers' attack on the Night Watch at the Fist of the First Men. They don't find dead people, but they do find dead horses, their mangled body parts spread out and when the camera pulls back, we see that pattern is none other than a spiral. It's pretty creepy itself, but it's not just dead body parts making up spiral patterns in Game of Thrones. In Season 6, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) warged to the weirwood tree when the Children of the Forest originally created the Night King. The stones around the tree at that occasion? Spiral pattern.

So, it's pretty clear that spiral pattern is a big deal, but the real question then becomes what is the message it’s supposed to send and who is it actually for? That is the part that is up for speculation. We know that the symbol ties to the Children of the Forest -- David Benioff confirmed it in an "Inside the Episode" featurette after Season 6, Episode 5. Is the Night King's message a warning? Or is it somehow a clue, specifically as to the identity of the Night King? The Children of the Forest don't exactly have the corner on spiral-like symbols in Game of Thrones. The sigil for House Targaryen could be described as having spiral-like features, potentially a clue that the Night King was once a Targaryen.

Whatever the true meaning of the Night King's message last night, fans will find out soon. There are only five more episodes of Game of Thrones left to go.

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Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights on HBO at 9 p.m. ET.