Just in time for the grand finale of Game of Thrones, it appears Winter is here for Westeros. Like, actual Winter, not just the metaphorical Winter that's sure to come about after Daenerys's torching of King's Landing. Now, I know what you're thinking: things have been looking pretty chilly in the North all season long. But the weather is notoriously weird in Westeros, and when the Dragon Queen lets Drogon loose on the city in "The Bells," it looks like things are still warm in King's Landing. Either that, or they're having an unseasonably nice day before Daenerys decides to roast them all like marshmallows. By the episode's end, ash is falling like snow, mirroring the Mother of Dragon's House of the Undying vision, but there's not a stitch of real snow in sight. That appears to be about to change in the final episode, because the preview for the series finale shows the Unsullied assembled as snow falls around them.
At the end of last season, one lone snowflake falls on Jaime's golden hand as he's leaving the city, but despite Winter descending on the North, it doesn't appear to have made its way South just yet. Thematically speaking, it makes sense for Daenerys's arrival to coincide with the true beginning of Winter for the people of Westeros. The woman who could have been their savior is now their worst nightmare, and the Stark words are sounding truer than ever before: Winter is coming, and when Winter comes, the pack has to band together in order to survive. The snow falling in what's presumably King's Landing could be pointing toward the show's endgame: the Starks, and yes, that includes Jon Snow, uniting against the Dragon Queen in order to save the realm.
The Night King's arrival once felt like the harbinger of a long Winter, but there's something darkly poignant about Daenerys, a woman who is driven by fire, plunging the Seven Kingdoms into its first Winter in quite some time. The preview makes it feel like even the weather is disappointed in the newly minted queen. Her reign isn't going to bring about a period of light and happiness, but rather a dark cloud of cold and fear for all those who live under her rule. Reminding viewers that the characters have been waiting for the true arrival of Winter for eight seasons is a pretty clever way to drive home the metaphor surrounding Daenerys's ascension.
It's also a bittersweet way to end the series. Hopefully, the wars will be behind the remaining characters when the episode ends, but they'll still be facing a long Winter that reflects their loss of innocence. They were all sweet Summer children when the story began, but they'll end the series as Winter-hardened adults who have faced bitter disappointments, death, and far too many hard truths in their short lives. Holding off on Winter fully blanketing the Seven Kingdoms is a wise move, if that's indeed what the writers are going for, because there's no better moment for the Starks to face the cold reality of Daenerys's true nature than in the light of Winter with their father's words ringing in their ears.