Why The Crypts Of Winterfell Are The Worst Place To Be Right Now

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Cue the suspenseful music, because the Night King and his White Walker army have officially invaded Westeros. The houses to the north of Winterfell, like Last Hearth, now fight for the Night King. Winterfell is next on the White Walkers' travel bucket list.
In the face of the incoming invasion, the people of Winterfell are split between preparing for battle or preparing to hide away in the crypts. Young but fierce Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsay) is adamant about going to one (the battlefield) over the other (the relatively safe crypts).
But the crypts could use attention from the warriors, too. While the Crypts are certainly more protected than the open battlefield, they’re definitely vulnerable to a White Walker attack — one of the most uncomfortable sort. One thing's for sure: The Crypts of Winterfell are not as safe as everyone keeps saying.

What are the Crypts of Winterfell, and what's in them?

Until now, we've only seen the crypts in brief snippets of statues and dank hallways. But the crypts are far more important to the architecture of Winterfell than Game of Thrones would have you believe. The labyrinthine maze of underground tunnels extends far beyond the castle itself.
Still, season 8 has been giving the Crypts a disproportionate amount of camera time. In the second episode Jon (Kit Harington) stands before the statue of his mother, Lyanna Stark, and reveals his true identity to Danaerys (Emilia Clarke).
The Crypts are the ideal location for such conversations about identity and family: They house the tombs of countless generations of Starks past. The Starks have ruled Winterfell for 8,000 years. That means there are a lot of bodies down there.

Who's buried in the Crypts of Winterfell?

Think of the crypts as a huge subterranean graveyard. All of the Starks of generations prior are buried in the tombs. Typically, only kings and lords got statues accompanying their graves, though Ned Stark broke with tradition and had statues made for his brother, Brandon, and sister, Lyanna.
Ned Stark and Rickon Stark are the most recent Starks to join their ancestors. As for the other recently departed Starks: It's unclear whether Robb and Catelyn Stark's bodies ever returned home after the Red Wedding.

Why are the crypts suddenly so important to Game of Thrones?

Actually, it's nothing new. The Crypts of Winterfell have always been a site of mystery. For one, they're are always cold, despite the hot springs that heat the rest of the castle. There's a collapsed, completely inaccessible lower level. In George R.R. Martin's books, characters dream of ghosts in the crypts.
Essentially, there's something up with the Crypts. And to think — the Starks have been sleeping above this spooky labyrinth for generations.
Many fan theories posit that the Crypts hide something other than bodies. Maybe a stash of dragon eggs. Maybe Rhaegar Targaryen's beloved harp. Maybe the Great Other, the mortal enemy of R'hllor in the R'hllor religion.
Before it ends, Game of Thrones is going back to the beginning, back to Winterfell. Suddenly, Winterfell's quotidien structures — from weirwood trees to Crypts — take on a more significant meaning. Nowhere is safe in Winterfell, not even the safe places. And nowhere is insignificant.

Are the crypts a safe place to be during the White Walker battle?

Given the fact that the White Walkers' primary army recruitment method is turning the dead into wights, the answer is no. Aside from the battlefield, in the face of an impending White Walker attack, the crypts are just about the worst place to be.
That said, there are a few questions about the Night King's strategy. Are the Walkers agile enough go down the steps to the Crypts, or can they revive the dead from a distance? Likely, most of the bodies down there are just bones — is there a window of wight-ability? How many "fresh" corpses are down there? Will Winterfell's vulnerable population, hiding out in the Crypts, also be turned into wights? Can they use torches to fend off the wights?

Does this mean there will be a Stark reunion in episode 3?

While seasons 7 and 8 have been chock full of Stark reunions, none compare to the reunion that may yet occur in future episodes — a grim reunion between the living and the dead Starks.
The implications of this are stunningly awful, even by Game of Thrones standards. Imagine Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), down in the Crypts, being confronted with her zombie younger brother, who was killed by her abusive ex-husband Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). While we don't know if Catelyn's body is back in Winterfell, we're not ruling out a nod to Lady Stoneheart, the resurrected Catelyn in Martin's novels.

More from TV

R29 Original Series