Game of Thrones has always been a show where minor characters randomly turn up when you least expect it. Lyanna Mormont never seems to go away, even Hot Pie came back for an episode. But it’s the tiny parts that come in towards the later seasons fans usually forget. But in this case, one character went out in such a manner that fans will always remember who he was. Who is the Umber Boy? Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 follow.
The Umber kid is named Ned, he’s the head of his house now that Great Jon Umber died in the Battle of the Bastards. As fans may remember, in Season 7, Jon raised him up to be the head of his house and took the Umbers back into the fold.
At the beginning of the Season 8 premiere, Ned reports he needs more wagons to bring his men, and Sansa promises he will have them, and sends him home to his keep of Last Hearth, not far from where the Wall fell. Later, she worries when House Glover isn’t coming, and House Umber hasn’t shown.
Now fans know he didn’t make it home. Sansa sent him back to get his men, and the result was a death sentence.
This is not the first time fans have seen the Walkers do this. The opening episode, long ago, back in 2011 also featured a scene with body parts used to send a message, though in that case, the Night’s Watchman, Will, who found it, couldn’t make heads or tails of it. That image also had a young child nailed up, in that case, to a tree. She too came to life, in one of the series’ most indelible images of the blue-eyed dead girl.
Beric recognizes the kid right away: “The Umber Boy.” This time, the message is one Tormund has learned to interpret. It means the Night King and his army (the arms) are between them and Winterfell (represented by Umber). They’re heading to Winterfell to take it down, and there’s nothing the Night’s Watch can do.
Beric and Tormund haven’t come this far to turn back or give up. Edd and company rode down from Castle Black. They have horses. If they double up, and the horses don’t drop, the group of them can make to Winterfell ahead of the dead, and warn Jon and company that their fate is not far behind.
Of course, before they can plan further, the Umber boy finishes his wight transformation and wakes up with a scream, trying to attack Tormund where he stands. Beric moves swiftly, stabbing the poor child wight in the stomach with his flaming sword, setting fire to him and to the arms all around him. The wall becomes a giant fiery pinwheel, as Ned Umber’s screams fade away.
He’s not the first child to become a wight, nor the last. The Army of the Dead is on the march, and next week’s arguments over who should be king or queen will be cut short by a far more pressing question: Who will live or die.