The Game of Thrones Season 8 Trailer is Here, and the Show’s Lessons are as Timely as Ever

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Mar 05 2019 |
Winter is here. | Photo Courtesy HBO

Jon Snow can’t beat the Night King without Valyrian Steel and Dragonglass.

Get hype.

On Tuesday, HBO unveiled the official trailer for the final six episodes of its hugely popular series Game of Thrones. With most of the storylines from previous seasons now wrapped up — fare thee well, Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish — the action is now in the North, where Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister and the remaining Starks are readying to take on the Night King and his army.

It's going to get real — and real quick.

A lot of us here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) are fans of the show, and we're excited as everyone to see how the whole thing wraps up. But there's another nerdy reason why we are looking forward to the final episodes — especially that big showdown with the White Walkers, which is rumored to be the longest battle sequence ever filmed.

Valyrian Steel and Dragonglass — the only two things known to kill White Walkers — are likely to play a big role in the show's finale. And as my colleague Matt McMullan wrote about way back in 2016, Valyrian Steel is "an allegory for our times."

I'll let Matt explain:

Valyrian steel originated in (duh) old Valyria, an ancient kingdom that was once home to the House Targaryen before it was destroyed by a cataclysm. It was known to be incredibly light and incredibly strong – and other than Dragonglass, it’s the only thing that can kill a White Walker. And there’s a whole lot of White Walkers coming down south to Westeros where they intend to bust some heads.

That’s a big problem. Only a few Valyrian steel blades are known to exist in Westeros, and they’re held by a handful of noble houses. … And the White Walker army is coming. Winter is Coming!

What happens when you lose the ability to manufacture the thing that keeps us safe? You’re left defenseless. No one in Westeros knows how to make Valyrian steel any longer – now a vital resource for defending the realm. All that knowledge was lost in the Doom of Valyria.

And right now, in the real world? More and more of America’s steelmaking capacity is going over to China – which is gobbling up steel market share and owns the more than half of the world’s steelmaking capacity.

At the time of Matt's blog, the United States desperately needed to shore up its defense industrial base, especially its steel capacity. But a lot has happened since then.

Former President Barack Obama began to fight back by placing steep tariffs on specific steel imports. President Trump went a step further, enacting a 25 percent tariff on steel and aluminum imports after a "Section 232" national security investigation outlined the threat posed by a market flooded with unfairly traded goods from China and other countries.

Since the 232 tariffs were announced nearly a year ago, the U.S. steel and aluminum industry has begun to stablize.

Domestic producers have announced more than $18 billion in capital investments in 26 states to reopen, expand and build new facilities. That's led to the addition of more than 18 million tons of capacity. As a result, more than 12,000 steel and aluminum jobs have been announced since the 232 investigations launched — 10,000 of which have been announced since the tariffs were unveiled. And despite initial worries that the tariffs would harm steel consumers, the overall manufacturing industry remains strong; 230,000 new factory jobs have been created since March 2018.

It would be a mistake to claim victory now, or to weaken any of the available national security trade tools at our disposal. Instead, we should confront countries like China and Russia when they distort the global market and continue to work to strengthen domestic industry, including through additional policies like infrastructure investment.

But back to Game of Thrones. What role might Valyrian Steel and Dragonglass play in the Game of Thrones finale?

Jon Snow mined Dragonglass on Dragonstone in season seven — that's the reason why he met Daenerys Targaryen. That Dragonglass is expected to be turned into weapons that can be used to fight the White Walkers. 

Valyrian Steel, meanwhile, remains rare. Jon Snow, Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth carry Valyrian steel weapons, and are likely to use them in battle. Samwell Tarly also has a Valyrian steel sword that is likely to play a big role.

But will it be enough to defeat the Night King? It's going to have to be.