Is Jon Snow dead? That’s the main question weighing on many viewers’ minds as the sixth season of Game Of Thrones prepares to hit our small screens. In a show already famous for shocking deaths, this was perhaps one of the most shocking of them all: How could they kill off such a fan favourite so casually? Especially one with such an important role in the storyline?
Many viewers have refused to accept this death, believing Jon will somehow be brought back to life. One of the most popular theories is he will be resurrected by Melisandre, a priestess with magic powers. After all, the title of the first episode of S6 is The Red Woman, a popular nickname for the character.
Hate to burst your bubble, Jon Snow fans, but at a recent press junket in London, actress Carice Van Houten (who plays Melisandre) dismissed this theory.
“I was very surprised to hear it. I mean, I have done some magical things, but I’ve never brought someone back to life! I don’t understand why that has to be me! Why is there so much pressure on my character?” Van Houten quipped.
“I understand that in this crazy world, we want the good to come back. I mean me, my mother and my sister, we all want him back. But I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint a lot of people!”
Jon may return in other ways – actor Kit Harington (who plays Jon) was spotted in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the show was being filmed, and many fans swear you can spot him in the trailers if you pause certain moments.
The only way to find out the truth, however, is by asking President Barack Obama, who reportedly got to see Game Of Thrones before everyone else. Or you can watch the show’s S6 when it starts later this month!
Even with the mystery of Jon Snow aside, this season is definitely going to be one of the show’s most exciting yet. This is because, for the first time ever, no viewer can predict what is going to happen.
Why? With the exception of a few minor subplots, the show has finished adapting all of the material contained in the original novels written by George R.R. Martin.
Actor Liam Cunningham (who plays Davos Seaworth) said show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have had a discussion with Martin, who revealed to them how his story would end.
“Instead of books to draw on, they now have topics. They’ve got a lot more artistic freedom now, because these guys are not just adapters, they are also creative writers and producers. I’m sure they’re loving it with S6 and S7," Cunningham said.
The show has already branched off from its source material before – Daenerys meeting up with Tyrion, for example – and it will be interesting to see how close it ends up to Martin’s future books.
Journey to the West(eros)
So what’s going on in Westeros in S6? That’s complicated; after all, this show has more plotlines than Walder Frey has wives. But let’s try and recall where all the major players are.
In King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) has been shamed and humbled by the Faith Militant. She awaits trial for regicide and incest, but may still have some tricks up her sleeve: one perhaps involving Ser Robert Strong, a mysterious new member of the Kingsguard. Meanwhile, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) returns from Dorne with the body of his dead daughter.
In the North, the armies of House Bolton have triumphed in the Battle of Winterfell, with Stannis Baratheon defeated and (most likely) slain by Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). Davos Seaworth and Melisandre find themselves at a loss as to what to do next. And in all the chaos, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Theon “Reek” Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) have escaped from everyone’s favourite psychopath, Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon).
In Slaver’s Bay, the city of Meereen is in chaos after the disappearance of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and Daario Naaharis (Michiel Huisman) have left to seek her, while Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) must work with Daenerys’s advisers to ensure Meereen does not fall apart in her absence.
And just where is our Khaleesi? At the southern border of the Dothraki Sea, where she encounters a huge Dothraki khalasar (clan) numbering in the thousands. Trailers suggest Daenerys is taken to Vaes Dothrak, a Dothraki city marked by two huge stallion statues. But is she brought there as a victor, or as a victim?
Family ties and blinded eyes
At the Wall, tensions are still brewing between the Wildlings and the crows of the Night’s Watch, especially after Jon’s death. The White Walkers and their armies of the dead only grow stronger as time passes. Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and his partner, Gilly (Hannah Murray), however, have left for the Citadel in Old Town, where Samwell intends to train as a Maester.
According to Bradley, Samwell would cross paths with his family – most notably with his father, Lord Randyll (new cast member James Faulkner).
Diehard fans of the show may remember Lord Randyll was the reason Samwell ended up in the Night’s Watch – the proud lord cast his son away in shame for being overweight and scholarly, instead of a warrior.
“He doesn’t have the best relationship with his family. You meet his father and his brother, and you see the contrast they have with his mother and his sister. And then suddenly, Sam makes sense,” Bradley said.
“A lot of people have wondered why Sam’s self-esteem is so low. He’s very insular, very psychologicaly damaged by his childhood. And you see his family, and you think, oh that’s why he behaves like that.”
Across the Narrow Sea, in Braavos, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is now blind, a punishment from the Faceless Men for killing without permission. Her assassin training under Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) and the mysterious Waif, however, continues.
According to the 19-year-old Williams, she had to wear special contact lenses for her “blind” scenes, which were difficult to adapt to.
“They covered my whole eye, and made my vision very murky and cloudy, basically near-nothing. I could see lights, but not shapes or anything. Pretending to be blind when you really can’t see anything was a lot easier than pretending to be blind with your eyes on full display!” Williams explained with a laugh.
“Arya is very physical in this series. Doing (the stunts) without my vision was very difficult.”
This season, she said, was a very dark one for her character. “It’s an incredible, incredible season. There are some points this year that are very sad for Arya. The first time reading the script, I thought, oh, she’s really struggling,” Williams said.
“Usually when Arya is in a low place, it’s because something happened to someone around her, or her family. But this year is the first time we see her physically breaking. It’s not something that can be fixed by revenge, but a real personal struggle.”
A Bran new awakening
This season also sees the return of Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead- Wright), as well as his companions Meera (Ellie Kendrick), Osha (Natalia Tena) and Hodor (Kristian Nairn). These characters were all absent in S5 as they were all far Beyond The Wall, where Bran was developing his magical abilities under his new mentor, the Three-Eyed Raven (Max Von Sydow).
“My year off came at just the right time, because it was my exam year at school, so I could concentrate on them,” Hempstead-Wright said with a smile.
This season, Hempstead-Wright said, would see Bran learning the extent of his magical abilities under the tutelage of the Three-Eyed Raven.
“Bran has had to grow up pretty quickly as time goes on. Now he’s found himself in this cave, and he’s increasing his skills as a Greenseer,” said the 17-year-old.
Meanwhile Kendrick shared what it was like working with legendary actor Von Sydow.
She said: “There was this mystical aura around him! There was an atmosphere of hush and respect when he stepped on set, and rightly so.”
The old faces and the new
According to actor Michael McElhatton, who plays Roose Bolton, this season would see characters being revisited by the sins of the past, and feature check-ins with people that hadn’t been on the show in a while.
A look at the season’s cast list confirms this: Clive Russell and Tobias Menzies return as Brynden and Edmure Tully, as does David Bradley in the role of Walder Frey, (aka the worst wedding planner ever) who were all not seen since Season Three.
Also expect some action in the Iron Islands, as Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) and his daughter Yara (Gemma Whelan) make reappearances, together with new character Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek).
Reports also abound that there will be several flashbacks to important moments in Westeros’s past, including one with a young Ned Stark (played by 13-year-old Sebastian Croft)!
Another exciting bit of news is that legendary actor Ian McShane will be appearing on the show. As to what part however, that has not been announced. All we know is that he will be instrumental in “bringing back someone we never expected to see again”. Jon Snow, perhaps? Or someone else?
Whatever happens, expect a lot of action, intrigue and shocking twists as this award-winning show of “real stories in a fantasy world” returns.
“There will be a lot of revelations about the past that will be very surprising, and will shake how the series moves on,” Kendrick said.
“A lot of things will start to make more sense. A lot of storylines will start to tie up, which will pave the way to the series’ conclusion,” Hempstead-Wright added.
“Expect a lot more blood,” said Rheon. “But you probably knew that already! A lot of questions that were asked last season are being answered in this one. You get more of the world, and see more characters. I think it’s going to be a very exciting season!”
Game Of Thrones S6 premieres on April 25 at 9am on HBO (Astro Ch 411/HD 431).