The season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones, which aired Sunday on HBO, featured the resolution of several of the cliffhangers from last year’s finale, including the fates of numerous characters who were ambiguously dead at the end of season 5. But a few things fans were expecting were absent from the first episode, including the arrival of numerous new characters, while a return of the long-absent Bran Stark and Hodor also remained elusive.
Now, HBO has released some early images from the second episode, titled 'Home', and while there’s no sign of any of the new characters, it looks like fans will be seeing some old friends on Sunday -- including those in the Iron Islands and some way North of the Wall.
The shots show the episode will treat fans to the return of Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), who sat out season 5 following his confrontation with the Children of the Forrest in the season 4 finale. The first thing many will notice about the photo is that the now-17-year-old Hempstead Wright is considerably more mature and taller than the last time we saw him, but also that the paralyzed Bran appears to be standing under his own power -- though that may simply be how he perceives himself, especially if he is warging into another human being like the conspicuously absent Hodor. Also glimpsed in another photo is Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick), who was alongside Bran in his travels North of the Wall during season 4.
Like the image of Bran, most of the photos are fairly static shots of single characters standing by themselves, and while this is an obvious attempt to keep their circumstances shrouded in mystery, one such image actually depicts a pair of characters, Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), as they converse on some manner in Meereen. Another shows the series returning to the Iron Islands, as Patrick Malahide's Balon Greyjoy and Gemma Wheelman's Yara, seem to be having an intense conversation of some sort -- perhaps about Reek (née Theon) and his current status (as far as they know) in Winterfell. The appearance of the two is significant as Balon hasn’t been seen since season 3 and Yara since season 4, but now that Theon is free from his seasons-long captivity at the hands of Ramsay Bolton, perhaps he’ll be reuniting with his family members.
The last two photos feature a pair of characters from the Night’s Watch/Castle Black storyline of the show: Ben Crompton as Dolorous Edd and Owen Teale as Allier Thorne. Again, there's nothing too revealing here, but their appearances suggests Edd may return with a pack of wildlings who can help keep the mutinous men of the Night's Watch from getting a hold of Jon Snow's dead body.
The synopsis for 'Home,' states that "Bran trains with the Three-Eyed Raven; Jaime Advises Tommen; Tyrion demands good news," which would seem to indicate that, in addition to the above locations, the hour will visit King’s Landing and see the next step of the Lannisters’ fight against the Faith Militant.
The season is off to a good start, and seems to be slowly working to cover all of its bases. But still, two episodes in and the series hasn't introduced viewers to new characters played by Ian McShane, Richard E. Grant, Freddie Stroma, or Essie Davis. Hopefully, these new comers will make an appearance sooner rather than later.
Game of Thrones continues this Sunday with 'Home' @9pm on HBO.