It’s a blink and you’ll miss it situation, but Game of Thrones fans finally have new footage to dissect.
And it’s all about long-separated siblings Sansa Stark and Jon Snow.
The surprise came when cable network HBO dropped a trailer teasing its much-anticipated 2019 programming line-up on Sunday night (local time) just before the US finale of its hit drama Sharp Objects.
It showed a Meryl Streep-meets-dragons montage of returning shows, including Big Little Lies, True Detective, Veep and The Deuce – and a much-anticipated Flight of the Conchords return.
But among the TV treasure trove, Game of Thrones was the biggest talking point.
While most of the action was from last year’s seventh season – Daenerys working into a monologue, Tyrian working up a plot – at the 1.10 mark there was a fresh three-second snippet.
And? It shows Jon Snow (Kit Harington) reuniting with his sister Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), and the pair hugging it out.
The two characters were last seen together during ‘Stormborn’, the second episode of season seven, when Jon left Sansa in charge of Stark stronghold Winterfell.
— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) August 27, 2018
But while the super-fast footage was hardly enough for a plot spoiler, one aspect was intriguing enough to spark theories and social media debate.
While Sansa embraces Jon in a snowy setting – with speculation he’s finally made it back to home base – her expression isn’t one of unmixed joy. She’s looking over his shoulder with a fixed gaze.
Turner promised the season would be “bloodier than ever” in an interview with 1883 magazine.
“It’s full of betrayal, full of war, full of danger. That’s all I can say without giving too much away.”
After seeing the new footage, Twitter users were keen to analyse possible hidden meanings.
“Is Sansa staring down Daenerys behind him?” asked one user.
“Definitely stabbed him in the back somehow, look at that look she gives,” said another.
“I hope they square off,” said a third, while one user was hoping for a different reunion: “Jon still didn’t see Arya. That scene going to be amazing.”
A premiere date has yet to be announced, but despite US media reports that Game of Thrones’ return has been “delayed” until mid-2019, the final six episodes will kick off in the first half of 2019, according to Time.
“Rest assured, first half of 2019 means exactly that”, according to Entertainment Weekly.
“HBO expects the show will air all its episodes in time for the 2019 Emmy eligibility cut off.”
Filming of season eight wrapped in July, with stars including Emilia Clarke and Maisie Williams posting tributes to their years on the TV behemoth.
The plot of the last season is so tightly under wraps that the network has boosted security to prevent leaks, according to HBO programming president Casey Bloys.
Star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau said at the Cannes Film Festival that secrecy had “reached a crazy level this year”.
The cast would get their scripts digitally, “and then when you’ve done the scene, it just vanishes. It’s like Mission: Impossible: ‘This will self-destruct’,” he said.
When the end does come, there could be a silver lining for fans: CNN reported in June that HBO has ordered a pilot for a potential Game of Thrones spinoff prequel.