Why It Matters That This Particular Boy Meets His End on Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones has never shied away from creative and gruesome deaths over the years. After all, this is a show that has included deaths by molten gold and shadow stabbing, alongside your fantasy-standard beheadings and poisonings. But the season eight premiere just might have a new contender for most disturbing death. Lord Umber, a young boy who was part of Sansa Stark's court at Winterfell, was captured by the White Walkers, turned into a wight, and nailed up alongside dismembered body parts of the Walkers' other victims as a warning from the Night King.

Lord Umber, whose given name is Ned (yes, like Ned Stark), became the head of the minor house of Umber after the senior Umber died at the Battle of the Bastards. Although he's only a boy, he's been a good lord, sworn loyalty to the Starks, and done his best to take charge of his men. In the opening minutes of the season eight premiere, he's seen telling Sansa that he needs more wagons to bring his men to Winterfell. She promises him what he needs and sends him to his family seat: Last Hearth, which lies between Winterfell and the breached Wall. Later, while going over pledges with Jon, she comments that House Umber hasn't shown up, and she seems concerned.

It's toward the end of the episode that we find out exactly why they never showed up. Tormund and Beric and their respective groups bump into each other, discovering a horrific scene of slaughter at the keep. Beric recognizes young Ned Umber, and Tormund recognizes the creepy symbol that the bodies have formed as a sign from the Night King: the White Walkers are headed to Winterfell, and there's nothing the Night's Watch can do to stop them. But Game of Thrones doesn't stop there: Umber transforms into a wight and wakes up, shrieking and trying to attack the men. Beric quickly stabs the zombie-fied boy with a flaming sword, which puts him out of his misery and also sets fire to the whole "arrangement," lighting up a deeply creepy symbol.

If things are this violent and we're only in the first episode, we can be pretty sure that it's only going to get more deadly as the series finale quickly approaches.