Game of Thrones season six doesn’t kick off until sometime in late April, but that hasn’t stopped HBO from beginning to tease us with the show’s return. A poster showing a bloody Jon Snow only increased the furor surrounding his supposed death and possible return, and this week, the network dropped an epic teaser video with an exciting message: the Three-Eyed Raven intoning, “The past is already written. The ink is dry,” followed by Bran Stark saying, “They have no idea what’s going to happen.”
Bran is no doubt referencing the poor people of Westeros, who seem on the verge of being overrun by the Others while their leaders squabble for power and titles. But it is also a message to us: Through this entire HBO show, what happened was already written … by George R.R. Martin. Now that Game of Thrones has caught up with his Song of Ice and Fire series, even the most devout fans have no idea what’s going to happen next.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the moments shown through the season six teaser. The ink may be dry on those events, but the impact they have on the future is still great.
*Spoiler warning: This post contains season six speculation, and information from book content.*
The Red Wedding
This was one of the original great Game of Thrones shockers and proof this show wasn’t going to be like any other. While some television programs will kill off a character for a season finale here or there, the Red Wedding wiped out Robb, Catelyn, Talisa, Talisa’s unborn child, and half the Stark bannermen. The plot was put in place by Tywin Lannister and executed by Walder Frey and Roose Bolton, who were promised rule over the Riverlands and the North, respectively.
The consequences of the Red Wedding are still playing out as season six looms. The Boltons have been busy setting down their roots in the North, marrying Ramsay Bolton to Sansa Stark and demanding northern lords offer them fealty and aid in the war against Stannis Baratheon. Meanwhile, the Riverlands burn as outlaws and brigands roam the countryside pillaging. House Frey is pressing their claim on the region by warring with House Tully, and it’s expected that Jaime Lannister will follow in his book character’s footsteps to help the Freys defeat the Tullys next season.
The Brotherhood Without Banners continues to roam the region as well, and are busy in the books hanging Freys for their part in the Red Wedding. A great pack of man-eating wolves led by Arya’s direwolf Nymeria is also in the Riverlands, giving fans hope that wolves of one stripe or another may end up enacting vengeance upon those that slew the Starks.
Jaime Losing His Hand
Jaime Lannister started out in Game of Thrones as the golden son of Tywin Lannister, a handsome cocksure member of the Kingsguard who was one of the most skilled knights in the realm. His history implies he’s a man with little honor — to this day, he is known by the derogatory name ‘Kingslayer’ for his part in the death of Mad King Aerys. He also quickly established himself as one of the worst people on the show by pushing Bran Stark out a window in the first episode. Later on, he murdered his own cousin in order to set up an escape attempt while held by Robb Stark.
But since losing his hand, we’ve seen the start of an unlikely redemption story. His killing of King Aerys seems more like an act of heroism once it’s reveled that Aerys planned on burning King’s Landing to the ground with Wildfire in his final days. He prevents Brienne of Tarth from getting raped by concocting a story that her family will pay a ransom of sapphires for her safe return. And then he put his own life in danger by jumping into a bear pit to save her.
By the time season five ends, we are left feeling for Jaime as he holds his dying daughter in his arms moments after she reveals she knew the truth about her lineage and was proud to call him her father. Will he somehow win redemption, or will his dark past continue to follow him and stop him from forging a new path for himself and saving those he loves?
Cercei’s Walk Of Shame
The biggest mistake the Faith made — past imprisoning Cersei Lannister — was letting her go. Season five ends with Cersei making a naked walk from the Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep, with all of King’s Landing lining the streets to witness her shame. While that incident might be enough to destroy her ability to rule, it won’t keep her from pulling strings and enacting her petty machinations from the shadows.
And Cersei still has enough creatures under her wing to be a force in the capital and beyond. Maester Qyburn’s resources and power flow directly from Cersei, so he’ll do whatever he can to help her retain influence. At the end of season five, he showed just how useful an ally he could be when he presented her with a new bodyguard in Ser Robert Strong, otherwise known as the reanimated corpse of The Mountain, Ser Gregor Clegane.
Cersei is not the kind of person who will silently harbor a grudge. She’s made many enemies over the past five seasons, and it will be interesting to see how she attempts to claw back power and influence over her son, the king, while dealing with powerful enemies like the Tyrells and the Faith.
The Others Are Coming
Hardhome was considered to be the biggest and best moment from season five by a wide margin. It was a not-so-subtle reminder that all the plotting from the lords of the Seven Kingdoms won’t matter once the Others make it past the Wall and into the realms of men. So, how is that going to play out?
The last time the Others came south was 8,000 years before the Targaryens set foot on Westeros. The Long Night was a winter that lasted an entire generation and those who did not freeze to death were left to face the wrath of the Others and their undead armies. In the end, the First Men and Children of the Forest combined forces to drive the Others back, and built the Wall using magic to keep them from ever coming again.
But it seems like the Others plan to return. At the end of season five, Lady Melisandre convinces Stannis to burn his daughter Shireen as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light so he will be the undisputed king “when the Long Night comes.” Jon Snow also cites the Long Night when explaining his plan to let the Wildlings through the Wall, pointing out that any Wildlings left behind will just join the army of the undead.
Jon Snow’s Death
Unfortunately for Jon Snow, many of his fellow Night’s Watch brothers were not at Hardhome to see the danger the Others posed. Season five ended with men from each faction of the Watch plunging a dagger into their Lord Commander, intoning “For the Watch.”
The big question leading into season six isn’t whether Jon will return, but how. Lady Melisandre showed up at the Wall at the end of the season following Stannis’ defeat outside the walls of Winterfell, so something similar to how Thoros of Myr resurrected Beric Dondarrion is possible. Another popular theory has Jon Snow surviving by warging into the body of his direwolf Ghost… although how he ends up back in a human body is a trickier problem to solve. Others think fire may revive him — Daenerys Targaryen stepped out of Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre unburnt, and they expect Jon to return from his in similar fashion.
But why is it so important that Jon Snow lives? It comes down to the prophecy of Azor Ahai, the champion of light who is sent to deliver humanity from the Others. No one is quite sure who Azor will be — Lady Melisandre clearly thought it was Stannis Baratheon until his defeat, while fans have listed everyone from Jon Snow to Daenerys Targaryen to Tyrion Lannister. But without Azor Ahai to save the day, there’s not much hope for Westeros. And many are putting their bets on J.S. being A.A.
The Watch’s betrayal of their leader may have further reaching implications than Jon’s life or death. There is a theory amongst book readers that by murdering their Lord Commander on the Wall, the Night’s Watch may have accidentally broken the magical bonds that keep the Others from being able to pass the Wall.
In the books, Bran Stark recounts tales that say “monsters cannot pass so long as the Wall stands and the men of the Night’s Watch stay true.” With the slaying of Jon Snow, has the Night’s Watch crossed a line? While Ser Jorah Mormont was killed in a mutiny as well, Jon Snow led a party of his brothers north to avenge him. In this case, Jon was killed by brothers representing the Rangers, Builders, and Stewards on the Wall itself. Have they just sealed the fate of humanity by murdering Jon Snow?
We are running fast towards the end of Game of Thrones, with the current plans from HBO calling for two more seasons of the show. That should leave us with one of the craziest seasons ever seen, and as noted in the teaser: No one has any idea what will happen.