Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7, and potentially Season 8, discussed below.
If life’s getting you down, here’s something to focus on: with each passing day, we are that much closer to the final season of Game of Thrones. Any detail, large or small, about the highly anticipated eighth and final season of the HBO drama is predictably being guarded with a vengeance. When fans find even the smallest crumbs of information, they pounce.
That’s what happened recently, when Wilf Scolding, who plays the small but crucial role of the young Rhaegar Targaryen, posted a photo on his Instagram in Belfast, Ireland, where much of the show is filmed. Eagle-eyed fans deduced that if Scolding is in town and is filming with the rest of the crew, then we can expect certain key plot points. Scolding quickly deleted the picture, but not before fans got a screenshot.
Scolding's character is an essential element of the R + L = J fan theory, which was confirmed in season 7 when we discovered through flashbacks that Jon Snow is a Targaryen, since Rhaegar is his father and and Ned Stark’s sister, Lyanna, is his mother. That’s why it was so creepy to see Jon and Daenerys getting it on last season, since his lineage means he is her nephew.
On a more regal note, it also means that Jon has the most legitimate claim to the Iron Throne. This will undoubtedly be the driving force behind Season 8, as all the different factions in Westeros must figure out how to deal with the incoming White Walker invasion.
Why is it so important to know that Scolding might be filming in Belfast, then? Well, it would confirm that Season 8 will include more flashbacks, since Rhaegar definitely died at the Battle of the Trident. These flashbacks could have something to do with Bran Stark, since his supernatural abilities include being able to see into the past. Will Bran find out more Targaryen/Stark family secrets?
We know that HBO is going above and beyond to keep spoilers under wraps, even filming multiple versions of the series finale in an attempt to throw off the very kind of fan who will eat up this apparent mistake by Scolding. With that said, this isn’t the first time images from the set have informed potential spoilers: a fansite claimed to see the set of Winterfell completely in flames earlier this year. About a month ago, an assistant director accidentally posted a photo of a thank you card to the show’s cast and crew that suggested one battle scene took a whopping 55 nights to shoot. As we inch closer to 2019, you can expect little details like this to keep sending fans into a frenzy, which will only be topped by when the actual episodes finally drop.