It’s been a rough couple of decades for the family of House Winterfell in A Song Of Ice And Fire. First, Lyanna was abducted by the Mad King’s son. Then, when her father Rickard and her brother Brandon, the eldest son and heir to Winterfell, went to reason with the Mad King, they were roasted alive and asphyxiated, respectively. This of course led to three-year civil war that saw thousands of their countrymen die, followed by 14 years of rule by a humorless prig who valued abstract concepts like honor above the wellbeing of his family and subjects.
But at least through all of that, they got to keep their ancestral seat of power. That run of moderate good luck ended in the second season of HBO’s Game Of Thrones when Winterfell’s former ward Theon Greyjoy returned to sack Winterfell. It was also denoted in the show’s opening credit sequence, which depicted the stronghold as a smoldering wreck, as it stayed for the next few seasons.
Believe it or not, that was actually preferable to what happened next. In the fifth season, the city’s smoking carnage was replaced with the image of a Flayed Man, the sigil for House Bolton. The sociopathic Roose Bolton and his psychopathic bastard son Ramsay settled in the former Stark castle to rule the North and skin its people alive from time to time. This is how Winterfell was represented in the opening credits for the past two seasons:
Until last night! As anyone who watched the season finale is aware, Ned Stark’s bastard son (actually not at all his bastard son, but raised that way) and Sansa managed to pull a narrow victory from the jaws of unnecessarily crushing defeat in last week’s episode. With the help of an army led by a creepy opportunist, the Stark-loyal Northerners decimated the Bolton army, and its leader was turned into dog food.
For the first time in four seasons, the Dire Wolf—sigil of House Stark—was seen atop Winterfell in the show’s opening credit sequence.
It was beautiful. Enjoy it now, before it gets replaced with a Mockingbird next season.