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Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 trailer teases the Battle of Winterfell

Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms"

The dead are here — and Winterfell is ready to vanquish them. 

Shortly after debuting the second episode of Game of Thrones season 8, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms," HBO unleashed the trailer for the episode to follow. The third installment in Thrones' final chapter, episode 3 doesn't have a publicly released title just yet, but this footage tells fans all they need to know for the time being: the Night King and his pack of vicious, unfeeling White Walkers have made it to the grounds of Winterfell and are about to begin battling the humans in a life-or-death, all-or-nothing fight.  

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) opens the promo clip with an empowering message: "The most heroic thing we can do know is look the truth in the face." This is both in reference to rising up and attempting to defeat the Army of the Dead, and accepting that they have an enormous task ahead of them if and when the White Walkers fall. There's the truth of the war that's greater than the living, but there's also the truth of the war within the Seven Kingdoms that must end with a rightful heir to the Iron Throne seizing power and putting a stop to the violence that has poisoned Westeros for years. 

We see a sweeping shot of the Unsullied, led by Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), lined up in perfect formation, ready to defend Winterfell. Then, in quick succession, the faces of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), Sansa and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), and Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) flash across screen. They all appear to be functioning at varying levels of worry, but there's little time for fear and anxiety, as the Night King is about to show his face at House Stark's ancestral seat. 

The trailer moves to show a sweat-soaked Arya running through a corridor, seemingly escaping someone who's chasing after her; the Hound (Rory McCann) and Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) walking into a corridor; Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) riding on the back of one of her dragons (i.e., one of the two that the Night King didn't shoot down with an ice spear and turn into an Ice Dragon-adjacent beast during the season 7 finale); Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) drawing a flaming arrow with his bow, just about to fire; and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) unsheathing his sword. Dany tells Jon, who revealed to the Mother of Dragons his real parentage in a tense conversation during "A Knight of Seven Kingdoms," that the Night King and his minions are already here — then the footage cuts to the newly knighted Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) shouting to her men, "Stand your ground!" Cue the title card, and that's the clip complete. 

This forthcoming episode will be bigger than its two season 8 predecessors, clocking in at a whopping 82 minutes in length. Game of Thrones producers entrusted Miguel Sapochnik with directing the Battle of Winterfell episode — and that's a flawless choice considering the British director's past work helming the Massacre at Hardhome on season 5's "Hardhome" and the Battle of the Bastards on season 6's episode of the same name. 

Sapochnik told Entertainment Weekly that he shot the impending episode across nearly three months, shooting only at night instead of breaking the filming up into multiple, non-consecutive sections. This method of shooting was done to make the entire battle feel more seamless, as there's nothing that would need stitching together in post-production. If Sapochnik and the Thrones team had divided the episode and shot it bit by bit with gaps in between, it would lose quality and go against Sapochnik's vision. 

"We built this massive new part of Winterfell and originally thought, 'We'll film this part here and this part there,' and basically broke it down into so many pieces it would be shot like a Marvel movie, with never any flow or improvisation. Even on Star Wars, they build certain parts of the set and then add huge elements of green screen. And that makes sense. There's an efficiency to that," Sapochnik said. "But I turned to the producers and said, 'I don't want to do 11 weeks of night shoots and no one else does. But if we don't we're going to lose what makes Game of Thrones cool and that is that it feels real' … It feels like the only way to really approach it properly is take every sequence and ask yourself: 'Why would I care to keep watching?' One thing I found is the less action — the less fighting — you can have in a sequence, the better." 

Game of Thrones co-creator and showrunner David Benioff agreed, saying, "When you have rapid cutting [in an action scene], you can tell it was all assembled in post-production. That's not the show's style and it's not Miguel's style."

Thus, the shooting schedule was approved and given an infamous name: "The Long Night." 

Thrones executive producer Bernadette Caulfield also highlighted just how big an undertaking it was to bring the upcoming episode to life: "If Miguel lives through this it will be the hardest thing he's ever done — the hardest thing all of us have ever done."

Added Arya Stark actress Maisie Williams, "The hard work pays off on this show. After one of those really tough days, you know it's going to be part of something so iconic and it will look amazing."

Tune into the next episode of Game of Thrones on Sunday, April 28 at 9 PM ET on HBO.