Since the end of Game of Thrones season 5, a great deal of the discussion set around the series has focused on two questions: Will George R.R. Martin manage to finish the sixth book of the show’s source material in time for the new season? And: Is Jon Snow dead or alive?
One of those questions one has definitely been answered -- as Martin last week admitted that he won’t be done with the sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series prior to the start of the season. As for Jon Snow, his fate remains a mystery, although photos of actor Kit Harington on set and in the promotional material indicate that Jon will play at least some role in the new episodes. And now, we know one more thing about the upcoming sixth season: The exact date it will premiere.
HBO announced in a press release, at the TCA's currently being held, and later via Twitter, that Game of Thrones will return for season 6 on Sunday, April 24. The announcement also mentioned that Silicon Valley and the Emmy Award-winning Veep will premiere that night as well. Check out the tweet below:
— HBO (@HBO) January 7, 2016
There had been some speculation that Game of Thrones might premiere later than usual, and this announcement confirms that -- though it's not as late as some might have feared. April 24 is indeed the latest a season of GoT has ever started, though. Most previous seasons have premiered in either late March or early April. With the standard 10 episode season ahead of it, season 6 will wrap up in mid-to-late June, so while winter may be coming to Westeros, it will nearly be summer for the rest of us.
And now, with the question of when can everyone agree what they're doing with their Sunday nights again answered, it comes time to ponder what audiences can expect from season 6? Chances are good there will be more from the key players of season 5, including the Faith Militant in King’s Landing, Tyrion’s alliance with Daenerys Targaryen, the coming approach of the White Walkers, and the villainy of Ramsey Bolton. Fans can definitely expect to see the return of Bran Stark, who is set to return after a one-year hiatus, looking more grown up and in possession of an expanded supernatural skill set, apparently.
There will also be a few potentially exciting additions to the cast to get everyone talking. Throughout the downtime between season 5 and 6, announcements were made that included the casting of Ian McShane in a mystery role, as well as Richard E. Grant and The Babadook's Essie Davis. But the show didn't stop there as Downton Abbey's James Faulkner and Freddie Stroma of UnReal were cast as the father and brother of Samwell Tarly, while the great Max von Sydow was confirmed to appear as Three-Eyed Raven.
The casting news certainly makes for some interesting storytelling possibilities, which will finally see fans of the show on equal footing, as the divide between those who have read the books and those who have not no longer much of an issue. Sure, there may well be some leftover plots, and book readers are blessed with more general background, but for the first time since the series began, whatever happens will come as a surprise to everyone watching.
Game of Thrones returns for season 6 on Sunday, April 24 on HBO.