Warning: This article contains extensive spoilers for Game of Throness sixth season.
Were in the midst of yet another Game of Thrones hiatus, but one thing is for certain: just how uncertain the next season will be.
Its reached a point where most of the shows characters are at the same place as their book counterparts in A Song of Ice and Fire, leaving the show with a couple of different options: Take the characters in a different direction (or push them further) before The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring are released, or spoil what George R.R. Martin is currently writingunless The Winds of Winter comes out first.
For the first time in the shows history, Game of Thrones will be largely running in uncharted territory for both show fans and book fans. But viewers havent been completely left in the dark. Thanks to on-set reports, actor rsum updates, and the occasional confirmation from HBO, we have at least some indication of where season 6 is going.
And if the hints from previous seasons are any indicator, its gonna be a wild ride.
1) A dance with delays
As far as we know, its not due to any production issues, but rather HBOs scheduling. Last month, HBO announced that its rock n roll drama, Vinyl, will debut Feb. 14 at 9pm (a Sunday) and will run for 10 weeks, ending its run April 17. Even if Game of Thrones debuted the following Sunday, April 24the earliest it could with Vinyl taking up its slotit would still make season 6s release the latest in the shows run. That timing aligns with HBOs confirmation that it will premiere in April. (In the past its premiered anywhere from March 31 to April 17.)
For most people, waiting a week or two longer isnt really that big of a deal, but some fans believe that there was an ulterior motive to the delay: Game of Thrones is stalling so that Martin will be able to publish The Winds of Winter before season 6 airs.
And while theres nothing to suggest thats why Game of Thrones may air a little later than usual, there is growing evidence that The Winds of Winter will come sometime in 2016.
2) Reintroducing the Greyjoys
Game of Throneshas been largely mum about casting for season 6.
Last season the Greyjoys got sidelined in favor of introducing us to Dorne, but now theyre making a big splash in season 6. We already had suspected that the Ironborn would have a large role to play after a leaked casting call last season included a description matching Theons swashbuckling and ruthless uncle Euron. And it turns out it was pretty spot-on.
Game of Thrones has been largely mum about casting for season 6, with the exception of Max von Sydow, who will be taking over as the Three-Eyed Raven, and Ian McShane, who will be playing a small, mysterious role that some people believe is Septon Meribald. In the case of Euron, HBOs hand may have been forced after Watchers on the Wall first reported in September that Pilou Asbk was spotted filming what looked to be the kingsmoot at Ballintoy Harbour, Northern Ireland.
For his part, Asbk acknowledged the casting with some choice words from the common prayer of the Drowned God, the religion the Greyjoys and those on the Iron Islands follow.
Around the same time, a drone flew over the Ballintoy Harbour set, and according to a set report, Asbk and Gemma Whelan (Yara) were at Ballintoy Harbour, along with Theon. While Victarion Greyjoy, another one of Theons uncles, was nowhere to be found, someone who looks to be portraying Aeron was spotted, although that is less certain.
The kingsmoot, which was previously used to determine the next ruler of the Iron Islands, comes at a crossroads: Balon Greyjoy is dead, allegedly killed by a Faceless assassin hired by Euron. And since Theonwho just escaped Ramsay Boltons clutches in the show but is still captured and brainwashed in the booksreally isnt in any position to claim a throne for himself, its left to Euron, Yara, and other the other Ironborn to hash it out.
It turns out Melisandres blood magic demonstration all way back in season 3 has finally finished the job after all.
3) Were about to see a lot of familiar facesand theyre (probably) not being worn by any Faceless Men
While a new season of Game of Thrones often brings brings plenty of new faces, well be seeing many of those characters we thought the show forgotor feared were gone for good. Here is just a small sample of characters we havent seen in at least a season who might be returning:
Osha and Rickon, who were supposed to be heading towards the Umbers when we last saw them at the end of season 3.
Edmure Tullywho probably had the worlds worst wedding night the last time we saw him.
One of the most despised men in Westeros, Walder Frey, will finally show his face again.
Sibel Kekilli, who played Tyrions former lover Shae, has been spotted on set recently, although its unclear if she was visiting or may return. (Shes probably still dead, though.)
Rory McCann has also been spotted in Belfast, despite the fact that Arya left the Hound for dead the last time we saw them. But a major tinfoil theory supports that the Hound is still alive, and considering we might have our Septon Meribald and Elder Brother hybrid in McShane that might fuel that theory even more? Well, get hyped.
Still no Gendry though, whos still probably rowing that damn boat.
Well also be seeing a lot of characters, both dead and alive, come to life courtesy of a theater troupe in Braavoswhich may include a version of Arya Starks released Winds of Winter chapter or even that cameo from Of Monsters and Men. But will the tone of the troupe be closer to Hamlets play within a play or the Ember Island Players?
4) So about #KitHaringtonHairWatch…
Jon Snows death at the end of season 5 sent shockwaves throughout the Game of Thrones fandom. TV fans didnt expect it. Book readers had a feeling but didnt know the how of it until it aired. And nobody expected Kit Harington or the showrunners to confirm that Jon was dead so quicklyonly minutes after the finale ended, according to Entertainment Weeklys timestampor for HBO to keep pressing that point over the coming weeks and months.
But thanks to the Internets obsession with Haringtons hair, noticing just how much time hes been spending in Belfast (where the main studio for Game of Thrones is located), numerous set reports, paparazzi photos of Harington on set (and in costume) participating in a battle sequence, and reports of an upcoming scene featuring him, Sansa, Petyr Baelish, and Ramsay Bolton, that didnt really work out so well.
Jon Snow is now basically shorthand in TV and pop culture for the audience assuming that youre screwing around with them.
But on Nov. 23, just one day after The Walking Dead revealed the fate of its fan favorite character who inspired a few conspiracy theories, Game of Thrones addressed the Jon Snow question head-on with the release of the first poster for Game of Throness sixth season. Despite what anyones said on the matter, Jon almost certainly isnt dead hereat least not anymore.
So what do we know about Jons eventual return? While some fans have been theorizing how Jon gets out of this one for more than four years, theres not much solid on how the show tackles that particular point. We just know that he eventually ends up in the north wearing what appear to be Stark colors in the middle of a giant battle with the Boltons, the Umbers, wildlings, and a couple of other familiar faces toward the end of the season (which well get to shortly).
Only time will tell if fans get a scolding from the showrunners for ruining it for everyone else or taunts of, Yeah, I lied. So what? once that reveal actually comes to pass.
5) Will the Starks finally get an ounce of happiness?
Its basically an unwritten rule in Game of Thrones that the Starksa family once whole, respected, and untarnished (unless you count Ned Starks bastard)will probably never reunite. Whenever theres a chance that they might, whether it be Arya arriving at the Twins just before Robb and Catelyn Stark are killed at the Red Wedding or Bran not letting Jon find him at Crasters Keep (in a sequence that doesnt happen in the books), they dontand it usually ends horrifically.
But that could end this season. Sophie Turner, our Sansa Stark, was seen on the set of the same battle where Jon was already spottedalthough in this case shes believed to be more of a politician than a fighter. And because the Umbers are on hand for the battle, fans believe that Rickon and Osha will show up. (That is, if theyre not on Skagos, as is believed in the books.)
The only guarantee about this battle is that not every character we love will make it out alive.
6) Speaking of family reunions…
Samwell Tarly and Gillys journey toward Oldtown in order for Samwell to become a maester is one of the remaining book plots that still hasnt been adapted, and in order to do that hes getting a ripe old family reuniononly this one isnt as happy as we imagine the Starks will be.
Thanks to casting confirmations, we know that well be meeting Sams family next season: his father, Randyll Tarly (James Faulkner); his mother, Melessa (Samantha Spiro); and two younger siblings, Dickon (Freddie Stroma) and Talla (Rebecca Benson); Sam has two more younger sisters in the books, but they may all be consolidated into Talla. Since Sam gave up his claim to Horn Hill by joining the Nights Watch, Dickon is now the heir to Randyll.
Before Sam left for Castle Black, Randyll essentially told him that if he didnt renounce his claim and let Dickon have it, hed have him killed, so we dont imagine their reunion will be pleasant. Its unclear right now just how Sam will react to seeing the rest of his familyor how theyll react once they meet Gilly and Little Sam.
7) The sorrow at the Tower of Joy
Weve already gotten a flashback last season courtesy of a young Cersei Lannister, but now that Brans back in the game, well likely have lots of them through his visions in season 6. And one of them has major implications for one of the shows biggest mysteries.
Game of Thrones will be filming the infamous Tower of Joy fight that finds Ned Stark, Howland Reed, and their men facing off against three members of the Kingsguardthe most famous and respected of which is Ser Arthur Dayneshortly after Rhaegar Targaryens death. Ned is trying to rescue Lyanna Stark, but the Kingsguard refuse to disobey Rhaegar Targaryens orders to guard her even after his death. A battle ensues, with only Ned and Howland surviving. They find Lyanna covered in blood, who died soon after the battle. Fans believe that this scene will ultimately reveal that Lyanna is Jons mother.
Isaac Hempstead-Wright, who plays Bran, has been spotted on set while the Tower of Joy sequence filmed, and while we dont yet know who will be playing a 20-something Ned, Luke Roberts appears to be playing Arthur Dayne, and some people suspect that Robert Aramayo will play Howland Reed.
8) Checking in on the rest of Westeros and Essos
A lot has changed since we last saw the characters we love (and love to hate) in Westeros and Essos. Lets do a quick check-in, shall we?
Reports indicate that Margaery Tyrell, whom we last saw stuck in the same prison as Cersei for lying to the Faith, will soon leave her cell as a broken womanand a new convert to the Faith of the Seven. Although whether her Faith is genuine is yet to be seen.
Meanwhile, Tommen Baratheon has become so distraught about losing Margaery that he tries to break her out of jail (with help from his father/uncle Jaime Lannister) and may even hand himself over to the High Septon.
While Cersei is fresh off her Walk of Atonementafter she admitted to committing adulteryshe still has to answer for her other sins. In the books she wants a trial by combat, and with Ser Robert Strong by her side, we could see her choosing the same route.
We dont know how the impending fallout between the Lannisters and Martells will play out after the murder of Myrcella Baratheon, but its definitely not going to be prettyespecially for Trystane Martell, whos currently on his way to Kings Landing. The same goes as to whether Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes will suffer any consequences from Doran Martell for killing Myrcella or whether that was all part of their plan.
But we do know that the Martells may be getting some unexpected guests to Sunspear in the form of Olenna Tyrell and Varys, thanks to Dame Diana Rigg and Conleth Hill being spotted in the same area as some as Doran, Ellaria, and Areo Hotahs portrayers. The last time we saw Olenna and Varys, they were in Kings Landing and Meereen, respectively.
Considering the Martells and Tyrellsonce allies to the throneare both now at odds with it, could they perhaps be persuaded to support Daenerys Targaryen, whos still across the Narrow Sea?
Meereen and beyond
At some point Daenerys, who was last seen surrounded by Dothraki, will be taken to Vaes Dothrak (a Dothraki stronghold run by the wives of former khals, or the dosh khaleen). And eventually a couple of Dothraki will will end up talking to or near Missandei, which we know thanks to a page of the script posted by a new Game of Thrones actor.
Ser Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis, whove been trying to find Daenerys, appear to stumble upon a Dothraki meeting where theyre in the midst of deciding what to do about herand may even include a scene that calls back to a major event all the way back in season 1.
Meanwhile, Tyrion and Varys are left to deal with the fallout of Meereen after the departure of Daenerys, Jorah, and Daarioand the former two receive an offer of help from a Red Priestess (who isnt Melisandre).
Were going to see Edmure Tully and the Blackfish again next season, but well also be seeing some characters book plots get back on course after some redirection last season.
In A Feast for Crows, Jaime was sent to the Riverlands, not Dorne, in order to take out the remaining limbs of Robb Starks rebellionthose who didnt die at the Red Wedding, anyway. Hes heading that way, presumably after he returns to Kings Landing, along with his bodyguard and travel buddy Bronn, as reports claim that the Brotherhood Without Banners will return and several outlaw characters will be cast. (Or could it be a version of the Brave Companions, a sellsword company with a nasty reputation?) And Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne, who opted to follow Sansa to Winterfell last season, may end up right back where her book plot had her: in the Riverlands.
And, if rumors prove true, we may end up seeing another very familiar face returning to the Riverlands, far from her new home in Braavos.
9) Will we finally get Lady Stoneheart?
An article speculating on Game of Thrones wouldnt be complete without conjecture on Lady Stoneheart and whether shes ever going to show up.
Stoneheart, the name Catelyn takes after shes brought back from the dead by Beric Dondarrion, has had a looming presence over the past few seasons, despite never actually having been on the show. Fans expected her to show up after season 3right after Catelyns deathand then we got nothing. We also got nothing after season 4, which essentially covered the latter half of A Storm of Swords (her first book appearance), and despite rumors, IMDb edits, and murmurs about spoilery episode titles, she still hasnt appeared on the show.
So with seasons of disappointment behind us, take this tweet with a huge grain of salt.
With Brienne and Podrick appearing in the Riverlands, the time may be ripe for it to happen. But can fans, whove been left disappointed so many times before, muster up enough excitement about it once again?
The short of it? \_()_/
Screengrab via HBO Go
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