‘Game Of Thrones’ Is Going Rogue From The Books With The Return Of An Important Character

Last week’s heartbreaking Game of Thrones bid farewell to a fan favorite character. Tonight’s episode, “Blood Of My Blood,” said hello to a member of everyone’s favorite family, the Starks, who we haven’t seen since season one.

Ned Stark’s brother and Bran’s uncle Benjen was briefly in the pilot, when he tells Jon Snow that he’s going north of the wall on a ranging mission. That was the last time anyone saw him (Olly used his name to lure Jon into a trap in last season’s finale), until he saves Bran and Meera from certain death-by-wight. Based on the way he’s depicted, with blackened hands and a scarf concealing his face, one popular theory was all but confirmed: Benjen is Coldhands. But wait, didn’t George R.R. Martin Red Wedding that idea?

In the original manuscript for A Dance With Dragons, Martin’s editor wrote, “Is this Benjen? I think it’s Benjen… And does Bran never recognize him because he never sees his face fully?” All Bran sees is a “hooded cloak and a black woolen scarf about the lower half of his face.” In red lettering, with a circle around it, Martin replied, “NO.” HBO’s Game of Thrones is going rogue.

Here’s more, from producer Bryan Cogman:

It’s hard for me to talk about Benjen’s return without getting into the nitty gritty of the adaptation process. But, yeah, season six is rife with Stark reunions!… The show is so sprawling and there are so many threads, but, at it’s heart it’s largely about this good family that was torn apart. So seeing some of them connect again, [Benjen and Bran] was very satisfying to write and to shoot. And it was great to have Joe Mawle back with us – it must have been a trip for him to step back into the character after so long – but he’s also decidedly not the Benjen of season one, so that was fun to explore. (Via Entertainment Weekly)

We’ll have more on Coldhands in tomorrow’s recap.