Prior to the release of Season 8, Game Of Thrones fans were very thirsty for any information about the upcoming season. That lust for content was filled by speculation articles, message board theories, arguments among fans and of course articles about which actors were spotted at which filming locations. Fans treated these actor and location clues like puzzle pieces, but it turns out the producers actually brought some famous faces in for no other reason than to throw people off the scent.
Last night, HBO aired a documentary chronicling the making of Game Of Thrones Season 8. During it, longtime producer Bernadette Caulfield revealed different characters the show brought in, simply because they knew shooting on location in Spain that the actors would be spotted out and about. The shoot in question was the final roundtable scene in which they picked the new king. Jon Snow actor Kit Harington was brought in, even though he doesn't actually appear, and perhaps more interestingly, three actors were brought back whose characters were actually dead at that point.
It’s very hard to keep the cast quiet because when in Spain, you must eat and drink. So, they’re going to be out and about. So, we’ve brought in a few ringers. We have the Waif coming in because so many people think Arya is dead and the Waif killed her. We also have Jaqen who is also another House Of Black And White character. We have The Night King here. Not quite sure what he’d be saying. They won’t know what’s happening. It’ll be a big surprise no matter what.
What’s perhaps most interesting about this whole thing is not the subterfuge itself but the two different plotlines the producers decided to fake, each of which shows a keen understanding of the fanbase and viewer expectations. Obviously, the Night King is a little more straightforward. Many thought the White Walker plotline would be the final battle/ culmination of Season 8. As Kings Landing has been the central location of the show (sorry Winterfell), it would have made sense for the Night King to end his reign of terror there (or turn into Bran Stark).
The House Of Black And White callback is a little more complicated. In short, while Arya’s time in Braavos may be the most love it or hate it storyline in the show’s history, it also opened up a world of possibilities to bring different characters back. In fact, there were many fans who were convinced going into Season 8 that every single major show development was somehow a machination of the Faceless Men. A not insignificant percentage of fans really wanted Jaqen H’ghar (and The Waif) to somehow be behind it all. So, I love that Game Of Thrones producers really leaned into that conspiracy theory.
In a dream world in which producers were only trying to screw with fans, three other great options to bring back would have been Littlefinger, Syrio Forel and Daario. Those three were the subject of many rumors, some of which seemed believable and some of which were so complicated and dense they could only have been the product of extreme and almost unhealthy fandom. Not that I’m hating on wild theories, of course. I was convinced Littlefinger was coming back and even made note of that in our office deathpool, which I obviously lost.