Aside from Bran’s relentless stare, the creepiest moment from the latest episode of Game of Thrones was undoubtedly the young undead Lord Umber, encircled with limbs arranged in a bloodcurdling pattern.
But, of course, we have seen this eerie pattern before. And it doesn’t exactly spark joy for anyone, appearing in places where evil and foreboding deeds have taken place.
During season three, episode three, Jon Snow encountered a grim spiral shape beyond the wall; formed from the corpses of horses.
While travelling back through the centuries in season six, episode five, Bran – when he was still Bran – saw first-hand how the pattern had been traced with stones when the Children of the Forest transformed a man into the decidedly inhuman Night King.
This particular scene made it clear as Dragonglass that these spiral shapes hail from an ancient time, long before the White Walkers began their current reign of terror.
This time around, the spiral is discovered by a team which includes Tormund, Beric Dondarrion and Dolorous Edd, who come to the reasonable conclusion that the Night King is using this gruesome symbol to send them a message.
As well as being very good at getting everyone and their secret auntie thoroughly spooked, it would appear that the blue-eyed menace is also a dab hand at jigsaw puzzles on an ambitious scale.
But viewers were still left puzzled as to why the Night King would choose this particular spiral shape, which – although disturbing to behold when crafted from severed flesh – looks a bit tricky to get right.
Thankfully, screenwriter Dave Hill – who penned the latest episode – has given some much needed insight into the history of the shape. And it would seem that the Night King is somewhat of a rebellious goth behind his silent but deadly persona.
Speaking with the New York Post about the spiral, Hill explained:
As we saw with Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven, the spiral pattern was sacred to the Children of the Forest, who created the Night King by sacrificing a captured man in a spiral ‘henge of stones’.
The Night King then adopted the symbol as a sort of blasphemy, like Satan with the upside-down cross.
Blimey. How many sleeps again until the next episode?!
You can now – finally – watch the new season of Game of Thrones on HBO or Sky Atlantic.
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