SPOILERS AHEAD FOR "GAME OF THRONES" SEASON 4, EPISODE 4
Arguably the most routine episode thus far of the fourth season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" took a wild turn in its final segment.
Whilst the show regularly makes changes from the books, the final sequence of last night's episode deviated drastically from George R.R. Martin's source text - taking old and new 'Ice and Fire' fans into completely uncharted territory.
The White Walkers, also known as the 'Others' in the books, have deliberately always been kept mysterious and in the background - only showing up in brief moments with little explored regarding their lore.
The final scenes of last night's episode solved a two-season long mystery - what happens to those male babies that Craster sacrifices to the mysterious beings. In the sequence, a Walker is carrying the last of the kids through the icy wastelands and further north than we've ever seen.
Under glowing green stormy sky, at the base of a gigantic carved mountain and a frozen waterfall, the baby is placed on an ice altar where it appears a 'White Walker King' touches the baby with one of its claws - causing the little one's eyes to glow blue. Effectively it suggests that Craster's babies have become White Walkers themselves.
The entirely dialogue-free sequence raises more questions than it answers though, not just about the show but the entire "Song of Ice and Fire" saga. It essentially appears as if the show is ready to reveal things that haven't been covered in the five books thus far.
In fact, an HBO-approved long form synopsis for the episode also had a name for this leader - a name that has since been removed from said synopsis. That name? The 'Night's King'.
In the books, the character has only been mentioned briefly, mostly in bedtime stories told to the Stark kids. He is said to have been a Lord Commander of the Night's Watch during its earliest years almost eight millennia ago. He fell in love with a White Walker, enslaved brothers of the Night's Watch to his will via sorcery, made human sacrifices to the White Walkers and declared himself 'Night's King'.
Ultimately he was defeated by what were then the 'King of the North' and the 'King-Beyond-the-Wall' who joined forces. His defeat also lead to the edict that none of the castles along the wall are fortified against approach from the south.
The reveal has caused a bunch of speculation amongst fans from both sides of the "read the books"/"not read the books" aisles.