After months of waiting, it’s finally here – our first glimpse at Game of Thrones’s sixth season.
What makes this trailer so special – beyond its far-later-than-normal release date – is, of course, the fact that the vast majority of season 6 is based off of the sixth novel in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter, which hasn’t released yet. This means that for both television viewers and book readers alike, the upcoming grouping of 10 episodes will provide the very first details of what happens in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros (and across the narrow sea) after Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) assassination, Queen Regent Cersei Baratheon’s (Lena Headey) walk of shame, and Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) unexpected encounter with the Dothraki.
And it just so happens that the season 6 preview is one of the best yet in Game of Thrones’s history, providing both ample excitement and concrete story clues. In fact, there is so much in the trailer, it might be good to slow things down, untangle the imagery from the voiceovers, and catalogue all the new insights that are coming our way.
Here, then, is our 10 Biggest Clues from the New Game of Thrones Trailer. And don’t worry – if you are up to date with Game of Thrones, then you know as much as we do, so there won’t be any spoilers.
Stannis Baratheon is probably dead
When the fifth season came to a resounding close last year, there was much controversy in the fandom regarding whether or not King Stannis Baratheon (Stephan Dillane) truly was dead – his execution happened off-screen, with no follow-up with either him or his would-be killer, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christy); the character remains alive and well in the novels (though there is certainly the unsubstantial claim that he has fallen in battle); and there’s the small-but-incredibly-vocal contingent of Stannis supporters who refuse to let go of the individual who might yet end up being Azor Ahai reborn (that’s the man of prophesy who rose up to fend off the White Walkers several thousand years ago, the last time they attempted to move on Westeros).
But the trailer provides two snippets that, when taken in conjunction, point to a pretty resolute answer to the question. “The great victory I saw in the flames,” Lady Melisandre (Carice van Houten) says, “all of it was a lie” – as the image of a flayed, burning corpse is hanging from a giant wooden X. All of this screams House Bolton – it of the flayed-man-on-an-X sigil – and they only save that particular practice for victims of note.
Dany is enslaved by the Dothraki
Daenerys Targaryen, the self-appointed ruler of Meereen, is cut off from her base of power and left stranded in the middle of nowhere at the end of “Mother’s Mercy,” the fifth season finale. Even worse, last when we see her, she’s being encircled by a rather large Dothraki horde, placing her right back where her story started all the way in the pilot, when the exiled Targaryen princess is sold to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) for a military alliance.
Just what, exactly, her fate entails would seem, just as with King Stannis, to be a no-brainer, but fans of both Martin’s Ice and Fire and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss’s Game of Thrones have learned to be especially careful about what seems to be true and what indisputably, quantifiably is real. Now we have the latter: Dany has become the horselords’ captive. And, actually, she might even be something worse – their slave, as she’s seen being herded off to Vaes Dothrak, the Dothraki capital city, on foot (a person who doesn’t ride a horse in Dothraki society, after all, is no person at all).
Theon and Sansa’s fate
The last that audiences see of Lady Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Theon Greyjoy/Reek (Alfie Allen) is their jump off Winterfell’s outer wall and plunge into a deep snow drift below. While no one honestly believed that there was any real chance either of them died, what happens to them or where they go next is a very open question. Luckily for us, though the trailer only provides a few quick clips of the two, it’s enough to construct a (mostly) plausible scenario of what happens.
“Mother’s Mercy” ends with Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) returning victorious with his army to the Starks’ former castle. Since his mistress, Myranda (Charlotte Hope), lies dead not far into Winterfell, the Bastard of Bolton will discover Sansa’s and Theon’s absence almost immediately – which means he’ll be able to dispatch men to track them down at once. Given that the two escapees have no horses of their own, it’s easy to see how the Bolton men will overcome them quickly – hence the shots of Sansa running through a snowy wood and Theon being cornered by a man with hunting dogs (a Ramsay trademark). It’s also easy to see how the footage of Brienne slaying a soldier, again against a snowy forest backdrop, is her finally helping the Lady Sansa to escape her captors once and for all.
The Iron Islands return
There is a storyline in the third and fourth Song of Ice and Fire books – that equates to seasons four and five in the series – that involves some political fallout among the ironborn, those rascally inhabitants of the Iron Islands. Weiss and Benioff, the showrunners, have opted to remove this wholesale from Game of Thrones, with many a fan speculating that the material was simply moved to later on down the road. This is quite a common occurrence with the show, as its history-making number of characters and plot threads has required a constant slimming down in order to make the overarching narrative more manageable; this is why, for example, Meera [Ellie Kendrick] and Jojen Reed [Thomas Brodie-Sangster] weren’t introduced until the third season instead of the second, and why Oberyn Martell [Pedro Pascal] was similarly held back by a year.
The shot of a group of men all gathered on a plot of land near the shore – the Iron Islands, if ever we saw them – would seem to confirm this hypothesis, and it would seem to confirm that Westeros’s version of Vikings are back with a vengeance for this new season. And the clip of a fleet of ships might also go hand-in-hand with this, although it’s impossible to tell which banner(s) the vessels fly.
One of the scores of characters present on the page but missing on the screen is Euron Greyjoy, King Balon Greyjoy’s (Patrick Malahide) younger brother whom he exiled years previously. Wearing a patch over a mis-colored eye, which gives him the nickname Crow’s Eye, Euron can only be described as insane – his lips are stained blue by constantly drinking the Qarth warlocks’ magical potion, his ship is crewed entirely by mutes whose tongues he personally has ripped out, and he claims to have sailed and reaved all over the world during his banishment, securing such plunder as a dragon’s egg and a score of warlocks from Qarth to teach him black magic.
Pilou Asbaek has been cast to portray the psychologically cruel Euron in Game of Thrones, and though he doesn’t bear his trademark eye-patch or blue lips, he looks every inch the part in the few (admittedly dialogue-less) clips included in the trailer.
Even more exciting, however, is the inclusion of one particular shot: Euron, unhooding himself on one of the many rope bridges that connect the various buildings of Pyke, on a dark and foreboding night. Such a sight should immediately send electric jolts through book readers everywhere, as it appears to be a scene that has long been referenced but never directly depicted in the source material.
Cersei Baratheon – unbowed, unbent, unbroken
The psychological trauma of being forced to endure the High Septon’s (Jonathan Pryce) walk of shame is, in the books, severe, breaking that which no other event or individual had ever been able to do before in Cersei Lannister’s life: her pride. By the end of A Dance with Dragons, the fifth novel, Cersei is humbled, quieted, pliable – or, at least, that is the impression she means to convey to her political rivals.
The early season 6 footage seems to expose this lie for exactly what it is, as this Queen Cersei is only too happy to openly challenge – or is that mock? – the Faith Militant as it’s apparently sent to gather her for one proceeding or another. “Order you man to step aside, or there will be violence,” Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon), the queen’s cousin (and former sexual plaything), threatens. “I choose violence,” Cersei quietly but resolutely replies. With someone like Ser Robert Strong (Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson), who is actually the corpse of Ser Gregor Clegane brought back to “life,” it’s not surprising that the queen regent has found her footing again.
And, as an added bonus, it looks like the long-lost lovers that were Cersei and her twin brother, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), have reunited, as they’re embracing one another – though, as with all else in Game of Thrones, this could just be a short-lived occurrence.
Trouble in Meereen
When Daenerys Targaryen flees the ancient slaver city on the back of her dragon, Drogon, in the penultimate episode of season 5, “The Dance of Dragons,” she leaves behind her a city besieged by a deep-rooted, apparently unconquerable insurgency – called the Sons of the Harpy, they have managed to assassinate her would-be Meereenese husband, Hizdahr zo Loraq (Joel Fry), and the lord commander of her Queensguard, Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney), as well as murder her Unsullied guards in the streets with impunity.
It seems that things have gotten only worse in her absence. There is one singular, quick cut of an explosion in what looks to be Dany’s private quarters atop her regal pyramid in Meereen, which is, presumably, where Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) have taken up residence in their efforts to rule the city in their queen’s absence. This is undoubtedly the Sons of the Harpy taking their rebellion to the next level, attempting to push out the next crop of foreign overseers after having made Daenerys flee, but it could also be the result of battle, which is precisely where things are left headed at the end of book five in Martin’s telling.
Battle in the north
There are several shots that run all throughout the trailer that are clearly images of war, of one sort or another: horses charging in battle, men being ridden down, archers letting loose volleys of arrows, men attacking an enemy formation of spears and shields.
On the one hand, this is unsurprising, given the medieval, martial nature of Game of Thrones; every season has at least one major conflict, which is typically made to be the flagship event of the year by being placed into the now-sacred ninth episode slot. On the other hand, however, these particular snippets seem to point to an especially big sequence, one, possibly, to topple the previous record-holders of “Blackwater” (episode 209) and “The Watchers on the Wall” (409). While, yes, some of these shots depict wildlings on the rampage or the Dothraki attacking on horseback, most of them revolve around the Boltons, specifically, and other northern men and houses – and it just might be that the shots of the wildlings are involved in this fight, too, given their newfound status with the brothers of the Night’s Watch.
The single most intriguing glimpse of this massive battle in the north, though, has to absolutely be of a dark-haired youth in the background, charging into battle atop his horse and generally looking to be raising hell. Could this be Jon Snow, newly returned from the land of the dead…?
The Tower of Joy
All right – for non-book readers, this is going to be something of an out-of-left-field development.
Back when Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) was firmly ensconced as the protagonist of the story, many a flashback was devoted to his final memory of his dead sister, Lyanna, whose “abduction” by the Targaryens was the cause of Robert’s Rebellion and the end of their 300-year-long dynasty. Without divulging too much, back during the final days of the war, Ned has moved on south to Dorne once the city of King’s Landing has been conquered in order to collect his younger sister, who is being held prisoner in the Tower of Joy by the Kingsguard. A vicious, to-the-death fight between the Stark forces and the last remaining Targaryen loyalists results in most lying dead on the ground, Ned victorious, and a brief reunion with Lyanna – before she, too, dies from some set of mysterious injuries.
We’ve long heard rumors of this particular scene finally being shot for Game of Thrones, and given the popular theories of just who, exactly, Jon Snow’s parents are, its inclusion in the trailer points to this particular mystery being solved at long last.
The Night’s King returns
The strange, ethereal culture of the White Walkers is only tantalizingly glimpsed in Song of Ice and Fire, leading the few appearances of either them or their scores of undead armies to be charged with extra expectation and analysis.
In typical practice, Benioff and Weiss have opted to be a bit more straightforward in their depiction of the series’s ultimate, supernatural nemesis – not only do viewers get to see more of the Walkers and their wights, they also get the chance to observe a character wholly missing from the books: the Night’s King (Richard Brake), the leader of the White Walkers who was believed to be only a mythical figure. He is first witnessed in “Oathkeeper” (404), when he transforms the last of the wildling Craster’s (Robert Pugh) sons into one of his kind by merely pressing his icy finger against the infant’s cheek, and he openly revealed himself to his human enemies in “Hardhome” (508), when he resurrects several thousand fallen men into wights with a mere wave of his arms.
For his third appearance, it seems that the Night’s King confronts Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) in one of his many visions – not at all inappropriate, given that the character was originally foreshadowed in one of Bran’s earlier visions (“The Lion and the Rose,” 402). What remains to be seen is whether this is another jumbled glimpse of the future, or if it’s one of the very first parlays between the two millennia-old sides.
Did we miss a particular clue? Do you think there’s an even grander reveal? Sound off in the comments below.
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