Game of Thrones Season 6: What Happens Next?
After the shocking deaths of Sunday's season finale, we examine where Game of Thrones Season 6 can go from here.
This article contains major spoilers from the Game of Thrones Season 5 finale.
ended its fifth season Sunday night at about 10:10pm EST. And by about 10:15pm, the Internet dissolved into a dark vortex of grief, anguish, and repulsion for HBO, George R.R. Martin, and the emotion-vampire they wrought upon the world. With Jon Snow dead, Arya blind, Sansa and Theon unaccounted for, and even Cersei brought so low as to earn our pity, the season ended in a dark place—and if you read our review, one with far too many cliffhangers for our taste.
However, as a series that began its debut episode with an incestuous knight pushing an eight-year-old child out a window, and followed that with the murder of the family pet in its sophomore airing, we all knew what we were getting into with
from the beginning. Readers of the first four (and now five) published novels realized this even more so. To paraphrase the nastiest character of the series, if you wanted a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.
Thus even as Jon Snow’s blood still warms the sheet of ice that marks his funeral shroud, we all know that we\'ll be back for
season six. So, what can we expect next from this annual stomach-kicking?
more or less caught up with George R.R. Martin’s novels Sunday night. This means, sullied and unsullied viewers alike can speculate about the things to come. And for once, I can lay all my cards on the table about where I predict that
Well, let’s back track that for a second.
After that gruesomely bitter finale, most fans can only wallow in their sorrow with the loss of the last traditional hero in the fantasy mold: the boy hero who wants to save the world from monsters and darkness. In many ways Jon Snow is the final piece of a triumvirate of “classic” fantasy protagonists, which also included Lord Eddard Stark and his supposed half-brother Robb. Both Robb and poor dead Ned lost their heads; so, it seems almost too perfect that Jon Snow’s equally big heart gets him killed just as much as his noble kinsmen.
However, such perfect symmetry is reason enough to not believe for a second that Martin will leave it there. If anything seems too poetic or neat, it is not how this story is going to end. And quite frankly, there aren’t enough likable protagonists (and no point-of-view characters) left at the Wall to make us want to spend anymore time there. Since it has all but been confirmed by Martin’s own original “A Song of Ice and Fire” outline that the saga will end with Fire and Ice clashing on or near the Wall when the Others (White Walkers) come, the chances of Snow staying dead seem increasingly remote by the minute.
showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, as well as Jon Snow actor Kit Harington, have confirmed that he’s dead and claimed he’s not coming back for season six. But their legalese styled wording is certain confirmation that he is coming back
asked Dan Weiss point blank if they are letting Harington out of his HBO contract for season six, Weiss said, “Dead is dead.”
Nobody is asking whether Jon Snow is dead, as we saw a dozen blades pierce his flesh. The question is whether Jon Snow will
. Which brings us back to the obvious red witch in the room.
In the greatest of ironies, last week viewers (including myself) were cursing Melisandre’s name to the old gods and the new, but now she is our only hope for seeing the Bastard of Winterfell’s pretty face one more time. Like the previously introduced Thoros of Myr from the third season, Melisandre belongs to a cult of red priestess’ and priests, and like Thoros she knows the secret of resurrecting the recently dead from the ground.
And is it not the biggest of coincidences that Melisandre, who is in need of a new champion following Stannis’ Shakespearian styled defeat, showed up at Castle Black
? It is less suspicious on the page since Stannis left Melisandre, Selyse, and Shireen (all four still alive) behind at Castle Black as he campaigned south. But since
decided to move up Shireen’s expected death, they had to have Melisandre in Stannis’ camp and then quickly returned to Castle Black just in time for Jon’s demise.
Additionally, there are multiple prophecies about Jon Snow that indicate he will return. While I am not one to put much faith in anything Melisandre says about her visions, on the HBO series especially, the vision appears ready to come to pass.
For several years, Melisandre has mistakenly put faith in Stannis Baratheon as her Second Coming of Azor Ahai, the Lightbringer who as legend tells wielded a flaming sword that would not melt, and which vanquished the Others (White Walkers) during the Long Night of thousands of years ago. Well, we recently learned on
exclusively that Jon Snow’s sword of Valyrian steel, Longclaw, has the ability of vanquishing White Walkers on impact. And if he is risen from the dead like when Beric Dondarrion was repeatedly brought back during season three by Thoros of Myr, then Jon Snow’s kingsblood will have a fiery and magical property that will set his swords aflame, also like Dondarrion. However, unlike Dondarrion, Jon wields Valyrian steel, which does not melt.
Ergo, Jon Snow like the fabled Azor Ahai, will have a sword that both burns as it slaughters fire-fearing Wights, and also shatter the ice of White Walkers into tiny little pieces with its Valyrian properties. This is
The other is the far less bloodthirsty Westerosi folktale of a hero will rise up to one day fight the Long Night again, and his legend is called “The Prince Who is Promised.” In Martin’s text, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen believed for a short while that he might be the said prince before Robert Baratheon bashed his skull in along the Trident River. Still in
, Daenerys Targaryen has a vision of her long dead brother Rhaegar, and he warned that she will soon meet the prince who was promised and that “his will be the song of ice and fire.”
So for those who have ever put much thought into Jon Snow’s parentage, it is deftly obvious that he is the foretold product of ice and fire, because he isn\'t Ned Stark’s bastard; he\'s the child of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (fire) and Lyanna Stark (ice). Theirs was the song of ice and fire, and so too is it now his. Just as winter descends in time for season six, it will likewise find its next refrain in Jon\'s resurrection.
As for those who have not caught on that Jon Snow is really half Targaryen, consider that in
season five, Littlefinger amuses himself by pondering how many lives might have been spared in the realm if Rhaegar had not turned his eye to Lyanna Stark. Sansa parrots the official history by lamenting how Rhaegar raped the aunt she never met. However, Littlefinger smiles to himself knowing such things did not occur.
Indeed, I suspect that this truth will finally unspool in season six as well. Look for evidence in the recent
season six casting breakdowns that confirm they are looking for three young children who fit the descriptions of a childlike Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark, and Ned’s oft-forgotten older brother Brandon Stark (the one Aerys Targaryen burned alive several decades before the series started). All three men are dead, yet since the casting call even insists that the youngest of the three boys (Ned Stark) should have green eyes like Sean Bean, there is no doubting that we can expect a flashback of the three characters as children. Who might be recollecting them but Littlefinger? After all, he’s the only character left alive who knew all three as children.
If Littlefinger is remembering Robert and company as kids, perhaps he will also have a flashback that reveals Robert’s intended, Lyanna Stark, loved not the bullish Baratheon child, but a prince of Targaryen blood. And for what purpose would this even matter at this point, save for if Jon Snow was returning from the dead?
Also revealed in the casting breakdowns is the fact that we are going to see the Iron Islanders return. Indeed, one casting call requires a middle-aged actor to play “an infamous pirate who has terrorized seas all around the world.” If this is indicative of anything, it is that Benioff and Weiss are finally ready to revisit the sole
House that they entirely skipped: the Greyjoys.
In Martin’s text, we did not wholly ignore Theon’s blood relatives after the Ironborn Prince of Winterfell lost his princely parts. In fact, there is a bit of a power vacuum because Balon Greyjoy (Theon’s father) died in a strange “accident” that nobody witnessed. Aye, it should have already happened since it corresponds with Melisandre and Stannis’ blood magic that also foreshadowed the deaths of Robb Stark and Joffrey Baratheon (remember the leaches in the fire?). Hence in Balon’s absence, the character known to viewers as Yara attempts to take her father’s stead as leader of the Greyjoys and the Iron Islanders…but she loses to her Uncle Euron, who just so happens to be a middle-aged pirate that has terrorized the world and sea. Also, his first order of business is to attempt to take via emissary Daenerys Targaryen as his wife—or at least nab her dragons.
That storyline is still in flux in the book, and it might make for great television now. This is particularly true if they cut out the middleman that Euron sends to Essos, his more boring Viking-like brother Victarion. Also as of now, there has been no casting call for a character matching Victarion’s description.
We can also expect Samwell Tarly to finally make it home to Horn Hill since casting calls are searching for performers that match the descriptions of Randyll Tarly, his wife, and the other two children, one of whom appears in
Also of importance is that when Sam reaches Oldtown far earlier than he has on the HBO series during
, his original intention is to send Gilly to live with his family. Randyll Tarly is also a staunch supporter of the Tyrells, who will be in dire need of allies next season since the High Sparrow still wanting to try Margaery, as well as likely launching some type of offensive against the Lannisters who hold the crown (just while the Martells also have drawn Lannister blood).
At this point, I can only really write more generally about what I suspect will happen based on knowing George R.R. Martin as reader. But I can plainly see that the Lannisters are on their last legs. There is no version of this story that ends with Tommen still alive and on the Iron Throne, and I imagine that it will be all out war soon between the Rock and Highgarden. Dorne is a wildcard unto itself since Prince Doran is (in my estimation) probably waiting for the Targaryen Queen to cross the Narrow Sea to make his move (the Targaryens and Martells were always close), and he will not go to war over Ellaria Sand’s murder of Princess Myrcella. Still, the general gist of King’s Landing and the South is that with the War of the Five Kings settled, they will implode upon themselves as winter comes. I just imagine that Cersei will take all the religious fantaics in the Great Sept of Baelor with her before the snows (or daggers) reach her in the Red Keep.
As for Daenerys crossing the Narrow Sea, it looks like that won’t happen next year until at least the end of season six (if at all). The sequences in the season five finale of Daenerys parlaying with the Dothraki and Tyrion settling in for the long rule of Meereen suggest that neither plot thread is heading east anytime soon…which is a
lasting only seven seasons. Yet, if Dany only begins her passage to Westeros at the end of season six (which would be the earliest she could do so at this point), I find it hard to believe that she’ll only spend one season or less in her homeland when her dragons could do so much damage to the bickering Southron lords or, particularly, the flammable Ice Zombies to the North.
Similarly, I think by looking at George R.R. Martin’s original outline of “A Song of Ice and Fire” (when it was meant to only be a trilogy) that we get a very good idea at what the seventh and possibly eighth season will look like.
With the Lannisters and Southron Houses collapsing before either Daenerys, the Church, or simply on each other’s prejudices by the beginning of season seven, the focus will be to the North. And it is there that Martin’s outline is most telling. In his original conceit, he planned for Daenerys to cross the Narrow Sea with an army of Dothraki horselords to her back. And lo and behold, season five ends with Daenerys meeting a new Dothraki khalasar, who in Martin’s original mind would worship the dragons as gods. Surely, that could still come into play with Drogon peacefully napping just across the ridge from his mama when she is forced to recollect her “Khaleesi” dialect?
Martin’s original title for the third book, which has since been reappropriated for his penultimate sixth volume, was “The Winds of Winter.” In it, Martin teased a more classically high fantasy finale where “the final battle will also draw together characters and plot threads left from the first two books, and resolve all in one huge climax.”
For me, this can only mean a climactic battle in the North either at the Wall or just past its ruins when the White Walkers overrun the traitorous Night’s Watch and reach the heartland of Westeros. By this time, it is all but inevitable that Daenerys and her dragons will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Azor Ahai Returned (Jon Snow), unifying their fire and ice. Or maybe, Dany will choose not to help the Stark boy, even if he is really her nephew, and Bran will return as a warg and command her dragons with his magical capabilities (they did say
It is all pointing in one direction. And again, Jon Snow’s parentage indicates he\'s alive since Martin’s original plan was for Jon Snow and Arya Stark to have an unrequited love (in this original concept her age was never given, and she may have been much older). This conflict is only resolved when Jon learns his true parentage, and that they\'re cousins instead of half-siblings.
I thankfully do not think that the book series or TV show will be going that way. Yet perhaps, Jon Snow will still take a wife and live in Winterfell. Sure, he would not break his oath for Stannis Baratheon when offered the chance to become Jon Stark, but his Watch has ended now. He has died, and he has no obligations to those supposed brothers in black. So, if another monarch, say Daenerys Targaryen, discovers that he is a long lost nephew, she might reinstate this “Lightbringer” as a legitimate heir and make him Jon Stark Targaryen.
So while I could never foresee him marrying Arya…Sansa Stark was sent North for a reason by Benioff and Weiss. She covets ruling Winterfell like her parents did, and perhaps there will be a cousinly love yet between Jon Snow and one of his former half-sisters. It is perfectly in keeping with Martin’s ambiguous (see: problematic) romantic entanglements, and it was also established that Sansa knows Jon Snow is Lord Commander of Castle Black when she escaped Winterfell. Unlikely to hear of his mutinous death, I could see her and Theon making a beeline for the Wall, which coincidentally is where the climax-inducing White Walkers are headed.
Again, this is all my conjecture, but I think I’m mostly on the right track. We may not see Jon Snow alive until the
season six finale reveal, but Melisandre will bring him back from the dead before another night of dark terrors descends on Castle Black. And he along with Dany will prove instrumental for the White Walker War to come in season seven.
Oh, and at some point Arya will get her eyesight back so she can slaughter Walder Frey. Even George R.R. Martin is not against giving us the occasionally endearing decapitation to keep us engaged.
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