Aside from all the dragon swooping and people whispering ominously in poorly lit rooms, perhaps the most exciting part of the trailer for Game of Thrones season eight was the revelation that fan-favourite characters Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarrion had survived the Night King attack at the end of season seven.
Last time we saw Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Beric (Richard Dormer), they were fleeing the flames of the White Walkers’ new dragon pal while the icy Wall collapsed around them.
When a large part of the structure eventually toppled, their fate remained a mystery – though Hivju says he never had any fears that he was being written out of the series.
“I assumed that they wouldn’t give Tormund an offscreen death,” Hivju told RadioTimes.com.
How Tormund and Beric did survive the Wall’s collapse is a bit of a mystery, as is how they’ll return to help in the grand Battle of Winterfell when they’ve already been overtaken by the Army of the Dead.
Still, Hivju promises fans that their miraculous reappearance will be explained in an early episode of the new series, so we won’t have too long to wait until we discover the truth.
“There will be a resolution of some kind [to the cliffhanger],” Hivju promised. “But as to how Tormund reappears… well, I’d watch.”
In the meantime, Hivju said he wanted to express his gratitude to the fans who had worried about his character’s fate, saying that he’d been moved by the viewers’ sadness that Tormund might have been gone for good.
“I felt a lot of love when that happened,” he said. “When people were anxious about what’s going to happen.
“And there have been many moments throughout the season where I have been close to death. The Hound saved me out on the lake. And I think many people thought that this is where Tormund’s going under.
“Every time we get new scripts it’s been like, ‘Am I dying on that page?’ No. That page? No. That page? No. End of the script? OK!” Hivju added.
“But for season eight, it’s a different story…”
For his part, Dormer said he was just happy to continue bringing the regularly resurrected Beric Dondarrion (appropriately) to life, especially considering the character’s considerably earlier death in George RR Martin’s source novels.
“I’m very happy,” Dormer said, before referencing a book storyline where Stark matriarch Catelyn (played by Michelle Fairley in the series) is resurrected instead of him and becomes a murderous vigilante.
“Because it’s different in the books: Beric gives his life, he gives the kiss of life to Lady Stoneheart. And he dies. And then she becomes the leader of the Brotherhood.
“Thankfully, we did it differently from the books and so I’ve still got a career,” he joked.
“It’s been great – I really loved it, and I love what [executive producers] Dan and David have done. The arc, the journey, every character. But personally speaking, I love my journey the most.”
As to what that journey’s final destination will be, well, both men remain tight-lipped – but at least we now know they’re on board for a few more stops yet.
The final series of Game of Thrones will air on the 15th April at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV
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