After an agonizing ten months, the time has finally arrived.
Game of Thrones is back.
We closed Season 5, what seems to be the most divisive of seasons, with many of our characters in dire situations. Daenerys is left surrounded by Dothraki after escaping the fighting pits in Meereen. Theon and Sansa attempt to escape Winterfell via jumping off the roof as the Bolton army makes itâ€™s way back after defeating Stannis. Arya is blinded as punishment for killing Ser Meryn without permission. And, of course, we have an apparently dead Jon Snow, bleeding out on the snow, attacked by his own.
So what can we anticipate (or dread, depending on how you look at it) this season? Letâ€™s first look south and east.
After a disturbing turn into a religious theocracy in Kingâ€™s Landing, we get what can be construed as a brief glimpse of relief for Cersei. After suffering the humiliation of the Walk of Atonement, a broken Cersei returns to the Red Keep to see that The Mountain has been successfully reanimated. As distressing as this is to the audience, Cersei is desperate to regain power these days. The combination of Margery still being held captivate by the High Sparrow, and the addition of the undead Mountain to the Kingâ€™s Guard are all Cersei has holding her together. But if thereâ€™s one thing weâ€™ve learned itâ€™s to never under estimate a Lannister.
Daenerys is last shown dropping her ring to the ground as a Dothraki clan surrounds her. In Meereen, Daario and Jorah, the latter still hiding his greyscale, embark to find her. Meereen has been a difficult space for Daenerys to grow. Over the course of season five, it ends as a near failure with virtual civil war breaking out and her dragons killing civilians. In an interesting turn, the Dothraki capture serves as a reset. In season one, Daenerys was a stranger in Dothraki society, and here it looks like season six will thrust the mother of dragons back into this role.
With Daenerys gone and Jorah and Daario out searching for her, Tyrion is left to rule over Meereen with the guidance of Missandrei and Grey Worm, which is probably our best chance for levity in season six. In addition, our favorite schemer, Varys, also appeared at the end of season five after exposing his support of Daenerys as the true heir to the Iron Throne. He may be spending season six supporting Tyrion to achieve his end game of the Targaryen Restoration.
In what was arguably the weakest storyline from last season, we find Jaime and Bron sailing away from Dorne after a catastrophic rescue attempt of Myrcella. What initially seemed like a rare happy ending, Cersei and Jaimeâ€™s daughter collapses on the ship with blood pouring out her nose. Itâ€™s suggested Oberyn Martellâ€™s vengeful lover, Ellaria, killed her Poison Ivy style with a venomous kiss. Jaime went to Dorne solely to prove himself to Cersei after coming under fire for releasing Tyrion and getting Tywin killedâ€”and heâ€™s coming back to Kingâ€™s Landing as a failure. Cersei claimed she would burn Dorneâ€™s cities to the ground if they hurt Myrcella. Itâ€™s safe to say that relations between the Martells and the Lannisters arenâ€™t going to be so rosy this season.
The North is full of unknowns. There has been a huge amount of speculation on whether or not Jon Snow is really dead. All the show runners and even Kit Harrington, who plays (or played) Jon Snow claim he is dead. But in the North, does dead really mean gone?
Castle Black/The Wall
With Melisandre, the Red Woman, hovering so close and her vested interested in royal blood, whoâ€™s to say the God of Light wonâ€™t have a hand in raising Jon Snow from the dead? His arc feels so central to bigger story; the fight between the living and the dead. His death would constitute arrested development for what seems to be the only truth that really mattersâ€”winter is coming.
All signs point to Theon and Sansa surviving their snow dive, and once Ramsey finds Myrandaâ€™s corpse (if we recall, Theon pushes over a railing to her death when she threatens Sansa), theyâ€™ll be on the run from a very angry torturous sociopath. The North is a bleak place and our two bleakest and most abused characters have a chance to escape their personal hells. But where are they escaping to? Most of the Stark clan is dead. The Iron Islands seem like a good of a destination as any, as Theonâ€™s sisterâ€™s fondness for him may lead to a safe haven.
But where is Little Finger? Heâ€™s one of the puppet masters after all. Baelish is the one who orchestrated the disaster that was the Ramsey-Sansa marriage, in addition to getting Cersei arrested, all for his own goal of eventually becoming Warden of the North. But Sansaâ€™s escape was not part of his plan. This season may delve more deeply into what Little Finger really wants and how much heâ€™s willing to do to achieve his goals, which judging by his past actions, is almost anything.
Beyond the Wall
Finally, Bran Stark was entirely absent for Season 5, but will hopefully get his due this season. Often, especially in early season, Games of Thrones comes off as a medieval drama set in our world. Itâ€™s easy to forget about the fantasy elements on this show. Seasons Four and Five finally bucked this trend with the dragons taking stage, the appearance of Melisandre, Aryaâ€™s time in the Hall of Faces, and most dramatically, Branâ€™s meeting with the Children of the Forest at the end of season Four. Branâ€™s journey North of the Wall was so entrenched in deep fantasy, so completely in the realm of magic, that itâ€™s reintroduction in Season Six will arguably make this season as the most fantastical yet.
My advice: Itâ€™s impossible to predict what happens on this show. Buckle up and expect the worst. Only seven seasons of Game of Thrones are guaranteed. Enjoy whatâ€™s left of the ride.
Game of Thrones returns tonight at 9/8c on HBO.
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