Game of Thrones

What has hap­pened to Jon Snow?

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Facts! Ru­mours! Mys­ter­ies! The need- to- know on sea­son six

THE GREAT­EST FAN­TASY SAGA ON TV HAS OUT GROWN ITS SOURCE MA­TE­RIAL - SO WHAT HAP­PENS NOW? ROB POWER LOOKS AHEAD TO THE MOST UN­KNOW­ABLE SEA­SON OF GAME OF THRONES YET...

Ge­orge RR Martin might well be a ge­nius, but ge­nius takes its own sweet time. In a re­cent blog post, the au­thor ad­mit­ted that the next in­stal­ment of A Song

Of Ice And Fire – The Winds Of Winter, the fol­low- up to 2011’ s A Dance With Dragons – won’t be ready be­fore sea­son six of Game

Of Thrones airs. “Will the show ‘ spoil’ the nov­els?” asks big Ge­orge. “Maybe. Yes and no. I never thought the se­ries could pos­si­bly catch up with the books, but it has.” Which means, for the first time ever, read­ers and TV view­ers alike are in the dark as to where the plot is headed. Ex­cit­ing, right?

So, where were we? Pre­dictably, given

Game Of Thrones’ predilec­tion for killing ev­ery mother flip­per in the room, there were a lot of dead – or pre­sumed dead – folk at the end of sea­son five. Stan­nis is an ex- Baratheon ( as con­firmed by sea­son five fi­nale di­rec­tor David Nut­ter), Cer­sei’s daugh­ter Myr­cella is a gonner, and as for Jon Snow, well, who knows. But the two Royal deaths alone will have dire con­se­quences. Is war on the hori­zon?

Regardless, war in Wes­teros is of lit­tle con­se­quence to every­body’s favourite Lan­nis­ter. Tyrion was left hold­ing a Meereen- sized baby when Daario and Jo­rah bug­gered off to track down the er­rant Khaleesi and her dragon. Peter Din­klage has been spot­ted film­ing at Meereen­sub­sti­tute Peñis­cola Cas­tle in Spain along­side a num­ber of ema­ci­ated ex­tras. So… famine? Plague? What­ever it is, there’s big trou­ble headed in Tyrion’s di­rec­tion.

At least some of that trou­ble looks to be in the form of an­other Red Priest­ess pop­ping up in Meereen. R’hllor’s dis­ci­ples seem to cause grief wher­ever they go ( we’re look­ing at you, Melisan­dre), so the casting of Me­lanie Liburd as a “woman in red” who preaches in Meereen doesn’t bode well...

Daen­erys got off her royal back­side last sea­son, much to the re­lief of all. We’ll see a re­turn to her Khal Drogo roots this year in the form of Dothraki and dragons, although if scenes be­ing shot in Navarra, Spain, are any­thing to go by, she’s not go­ing to be treated like a queen. Held cap­tive by a rogue Khal? Dany’s go­ing to need those dragons more than ever…

Which is handy, be­cause the dragons are grow­ing up fast. Ac­cord­ing to VFX su­per­vi­sor Joe Bauer, this sea­son “the dragons will again dou­ble in size”. Dro­gon and co had a wing­span of 60 feet at the end of sea­son five, but that’s go­ing to dou­ble to 120 feet in sea­son six. Which­ever way you slice it, that’s some su­per­sized drag­o­nage.

Speak­ing of dragons, is there any­one more dan­ger­ous in the Seven King­doms than Cer­sei Lan­nis­ter right now? We think not. In the wake of her walk of shame, and with a mys­te­ri­ous, ter­ri­fy­ing new knight of the Kings­guard ( who looks sus­pi­ciously like the Moun­tain, brought back to life by dodgy ex- maester Qy­burn) in tow, Cer­sei is surely out for blood. Lan­nis­ter vengeance beck­ons.

Cer­sei won’t be alone in at­tempt­ing to make King’s Land­ing her own, though. Mar­gaery and Lo­ras Tyrell, both cur­rently pris­on­ers of the High Spar­row, surely won’t re­main in chains long, and there are ru­mours of a faux- con­ver­sion/ power- grab by Mar­gaery. Set- spot­ters also re­port Tyrell troops – led by none other than Jaime Lan­nis­ter – be­ing filmed storm­ing the High Spar­row’s strong­hold.

And that’s not all for Natalie Dormer, who been on her trav­els this year. “I’m mainly in Belfast,” she said, dur­ing an in­ter­view on Jimmy Kim­mel Live. “But I was in Spain a lot this year, I re­ally en­joyed be­ing

in Spain.” Could this mean dear Mags is head­ing to Dorne? It cer­tainly sounds like it.

And she’s not the only Tyrell that has been spied in sunny Spain. Diana Rigg’s im­pe­ri­ous Lady Olenna has al­legedly put in an ap­pear­ance at the Al­caz­aba fortress in Almería, film­ing with the Dorne pro­duc­tion crew. A Tyrell- Martell alliance could be pretty for­mi­da­ble, and spell big trou­ble for the Lan­nis­ters…

From women with a plan to one with­out: Bri­enne has her work cut out for her this year. Sea­son six will likely see the fur­ther ad­ven­tures of Bri­enne and Pod as they wan­der Wes­teros look­ing for Starks – and a sense of pur­pose. Ru­mour has it the Hound isn’t as dead as we were lead to be­lieve, so per­haps we’ll see round two of Cle­gane the younger ver­sus the Maid of Tarth.

Talk­ing of ass- kick­ing ladies, we’re hop­ing the show will in­tro­duce a cult char­ac­ter this sea­son in the form of Lady Stone­heart. Wish­ful think­ing per­haps, as there’s no sign yet that she’ll ap­pear in sea­son six, but we live in hope. We won’t spoil who she is for folk who haven’t read the books but suf­fice it to say she’s a re­turn­ing char­ac­ter in a new guise that takes over lead­er­ship of the Brother­hood With­out Ban­ners and hunts down Freys for fun.

Nat­u­rally, this sea­son those das­tardly Freys con­tinue their bas­tardly ways. House Tully, sent into freefall after the Red Wed­ding ( re­mem­ber that?), are ap­par­ently to be­gin sea­son six un­der siege by Frey forces at River­run. Crappy for them, but great for us as that means we’ll see the re­turn of the Black­fish ( Bryn­den Tully, played by Clive Rus­sell), Cate­lyn Stark’s un­cle and of­fi­cial badass. Here’s hop­ing for some Tully re­venge.

In other sort- of good news for dear, departed Cate­lyn, young Bran is back in the frame after an en­tire year off. Last seen north of the Wall, deep un­der­ground in the lair of the Three- Eyed Raven ( who, in­ci­den­tally, has been re­cast, with Max von Sy­dow step­ping in fresh from The Force Awak­ens), Bran and Hodor ( Hodor!) are fi­nally rel­e­vant to the plot again, so ex­pect to see the young Stark

hone his Warg and Greenseer pow­ers to all sorts of rev­e­la­tory ends.

Se­bas­tian Croft has been cast as Ned Stark, so an ap­pear­ance from a young Ed­dard in some form or an­other seems nailed on. An ed­u­cated guess tells us this will tie in with Bran’s story, and opens up the pos­si­bil­ity of some fas­ci­nat­ing back­fill­ing of plot de­tails. Could we fi­nally be about to dis­cover the truth of Jon’s parent­age?

What is to be­come of Ayra, our favourite bur­geon­ing assassin? Blinded as pun­ish­ment for the bru­tal killing of Meryn Trant, she’s now stuck in Braavos and at the

mercy of the House of Black and White. This sea­son will see a trav­el­ling troupe pass­ing through Braavos ( Kevin El­don and Richard E Grant among them), which could well prove piv­otal to Arya’s arc. Here’s hop­ing she gets her eye­sight back in time, eh?

While Arya con­tin­ues her jour­ney to ul­ti­mate badass- itude, Sansa is in all sorts of trou­ble. We last saw Mrs Bolton and Theon/ Reek jump­ing into a snow drift from one of Win­ter­fell’s bloody great big walls. Are they alive? Well, yes, they are, but where they go now or what hap­pens to them is trick­ier to an­swer. The north could fea­si­bly rise up be­hind Sansa, and a re­demp­tion arc for Theon is surely in the off­ing.

Theon aside, it’s been a bit quiet on the Greyjoy front of late, but with Bor­gen’s Pilou As­bæk cast as Euron Greyjoy – think “ter­ri­fy­ing nutjob pirate” – the Iron­born should be back in the thick of it. We’d like to see Theon get back to his fam­ily, if only to see how the proud is­lan­ders re­act to the man he’s be­come.

Sam the Slayer is an­other char­ac­ter head­ing for a fam­ily re­union, with big brother Dickon, dad Randyll, and his mother and sis­ter all cast. Sam and Gilly are on their way to Old­town, pre­sum­ably pass­ing chez Tarly en route – we can feel Samwell’s fa­mously frosty fa­mil­ial re­la­tion­ship drop­ping an­other cou­ple of de­grees al­ready.

It’s a good job Sam has left the north, as it looks like it’s about to roy­ally kick off up there. The Night’s King – the White Walker leader Jon Snow en­coun­tered at Hard­home – is clearly amass­ing a sig­nif­i­cant force. Will the Wall fi­nally buckle un­der a mas­sive undead as­sault? We can’t help but won­der if dragons might be the only way to de­feat them. The very thought of a united Wes­teros, led by Daen­erys, her dragons, and a res­ur­rected Jon Snow, tak­ing on an army of White Walk­ers, is al­most too tan­ta­lis­ing to deal with.

Fi­nally, where would Game Of Thrones be with­out po­lit­i­cal machi­na­tions? Nowhere, that’s where, so we’re par­tic­u­larly look­ing for­ward to catch­ing up with Varys and Lit­tlefin­ger. The Spi­der was in­stru­men­tal in bring­ing Tyrion to Meereen, but on past form he isn’t the sort of man to leave the Iron Throne to its own de­vices. We an­tic­i­pate Varys creep­ing back into the Red Keep, although to what end we couldn’t pos­si­bly say… As for Lit­tlefin­ger? Well, don’t rule out the re­veal of an­other epic long con now that the north is in up­heaval…

Game Of Thrones sea­son six starts on Sky At­lantic in the UK on 25 April.

Bran is back after a sea­son in the stands.

Big­ger and bet­ter.

“You may re­mem­ber me from such films as Star Wars.” Is that a Moun­tain we see be­fore us? Are the Tyrells headed to Dorne this year?

Maisie Wil­liams ( Arya) film­ing for the new sea­son. Br­rrrrrr!

Ev­ery­one’s favourite Lan­nis­ter is hang­ing out in Meereen.

The White Walk­ers are ap­proach­ing…

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