Game Of Thrones season 5 was shocking for a variety of reasons, including the deviations from its source novels' storylines and of course, the inevitable, controversial brutality of certain scenes. In addition, the award winning HBO series wound up excluding certain characters altogether this year, with the promise that we will catch up with them in season 6 instead.
One of these absent characters was Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) whose story thread on the show had caught up to where he's at in the currently published A Song of Ice and Fire books by the end of season 4. Wright has now opened up about the reasons behind Bran's non-appearance in season 5 and hinted at the compelling developments we can expect from the second youngest Stark in season 6 - including, the insights into the past that he will provide.
Season 5 was the point in which Game of Thrones largely caught up with George R.R. Martin's published source material. The last time viewers saw Bran, he had reached his destination along with Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and Meera (Ellie Kendrick) to begin warg training with the Three Eyed Raven (now played by the famous Max von Sydow). The first season 6 teaser featured both the voices of Bran and his Weirwood bound mentor, hinting at the abilities he has gained in seeing into the future and uncovering the past (not to mention, Bran's got a new haircut too).
Despite Bran's absence, Hempstead-Wright's recent comments to EW (see below) and the aforementioned teaser would suggest his role will be integral to Game of Thrones season 6:
“Previously Bran’s seen tiny glimpses of future or past but never has he been very much in control in the situation. Now we’re given looks into very important events in the past, present and future of this world and Bran is beginning to piece them together like a detective, almost as if he’s watching the show. Equally, he’s now discovering how crucial he could be in the Great War. It’s quite Inception-y.”
According to Hempstead-Wright, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss also used a movie analogy to explain his exclusion for season 5, comparing the decision to the way Luke Skywalker's Jedi training mostly takes place between the time lines of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi - thus allowing the character to become fully fledged by his next on screen excursion. The young actor completely agreed with the decision too, saying:
“I would have just been sitting in a cave going, ‘Oh, I can nearly do it now."
Now that Game of Thrones is entering brand new story territory, it is intriguing to imagine how a plot device like Bran's newly-honed abilities could open up the world of Westeros. The use of flashbacks will now be an opportunity to explore the complicated and rich history of the show's many characters in a way that is authentic to the series' narrative style. This could provide origin material that is pivotal to plot development and possibly allow Bran to intervene in the action, perhaps bringing key characters together and be the deliverer of meaning to some of the unanswered questions we have been waiting so long to discover. Still, there must be limits to this power, the perimeters of which are currently unknown.
While experiencing visions from a cave somewhere north of The Wall could be fairly limiting from an acting point of view, Hempstead-Wright describes his work as some of the best he has ever done on Game of Thrones. This suggests that the showrunners have treated Bran's visions in an unexpected way - after all, The Three Eyed Raven did promise he would be able to fly...
Game Of Thrones season 6 premieres on HBO in April 2016.