We’re in uncharted territory on Game of Thrones. There are no books to work from — even George R.R. Martin might be surprised with what’s happening on the HBO series — and things could get confusing. To help you out, after every new episode, our Thrones experts will answer your six most pressing questions.
1. Can Bran influence the past with his mind?
Ryan: It certainly seems like it! At the end of this week’s installment of the Tower of Joy story, Bran Stark called out his father’s name and young Ned Stark seemed to hear him, even if he didn’t see anything. And judging from the Three-Eyed Raven’s expression, this was not a positive development in Bran’s teaching. There are many more questions regarding this than answers right now. But it’s worth noting that this isn’t an original idea put forward by the show. In the books, Bran called out to his father during a vision as Ned sat under the Heart Tree in Winterfell, and Ned reacted as if he heard something. If Bran can actually learn to control this power, could his purpose be to change some element of the past to save the future? And if that’s his destiny, why did the Three-Eyed Raven look so worried about it?
Josh: So, what you’re saying is that Bran has the ability to change the past, and his then-actions have grave consequences on the present and future? And his tour guide is an old man who shouldn’t be spending so much time with someone so young? Sounds like the plot for Bran to the Future. I hope Catelyn doesn’t try to sleep with her sons. That’s more of a Lannister thing.
Anyway, in Back to the Future, Marty has to make sure his dad kisses his mom at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance; in Bran to the Future, Bran must do what exactly? There are countless ways his newfound vision-talking can affect everything as we know it — for instance, Bran tells his dad to not buy stolen plutonium from Libyan terrorists — but that seems like too easy of an out. The Three-Eyed Raven will teach his student to restrain himself, the way Jaqen H’ghar is training Arya, excuse me, A Girl to only use her powers for good. But if Bran could pass a message along to his dad, what would he say?
Ryan: There were definitely several moments during season one where Ned doomed the Starks through his honorable actions or inactions. Having Bran scream about what an idiot he is would certainly be more helpful than when we were cursing out the television. Perhaps true salvation only comes in leaving the past as it is and allowing all his family members to die so the realms of man can defeat the Others? Ugh. So many more questions, and we can only hope that some of them get answered by the end of the season.
2. Is Varys the smartest player on the show? And Tommen the worst?
Josh: Last episode, we finally learned after six seasons that, yes, Hodor is able to say more than just “Hodor” (or at least he could). This episode’s important revelation had nothing to do with Jon Stark’s lineage — it was the identity of Varys’ much-spoken-of “little birds.” The eunuch always knew what was happening in King’s Landing, and all over the world, because he used children, who can move around freely without being detected, to gather his whispers. It’s brilliant, actually. Adults talk freely when kids are around, figuring they have no idea what they’re blabbing out. That’s true, but Varys does. And for their hard work, the Spider gives the street rats candy, a tradition that’s been passed down to Qyburn. The difference between the two is that the kids describe Varys as “nice,” even though in the books, it’s hinted that the “little birds” had their tongues removed so they wouldn’t say something they shouldn’t; Qyburn might actually make the Mountain do that. If Varys is playing Game of Thrones on the “Expert” level, is Tommen at “Easy”?