Game of Thrones season 6 will be the first season of HBO's immensely popular fantasy series - based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels - that explores brand-new narrative territory, now that the TV show is in the unusual position of having eclipsed its published source material with regard to plot progression. This has only further heightened interest in the TV show's return of course, following on the heels of a season 5 finale ('Mother's Mercy') that left the majority of its story threads on a cliffhanger note; and we're not just talking about Jon Snow's (Kit Harington) brutal death at The Wall, for that matter.
On the other hand, 'Mother's Mercy' did leave Brienne of Tarth's (Gwendoline Christie) storyline in a comparatively satisfying place, as Brienne finally accomplished one mission that she had been on for the preceding seasons of Game of Thrones: to slay Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). However, this only happened after Brienne spent most of season 5 waiting around for a distress signal from Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) at Winterfell - only for Sansa to instead make her escape with the help of Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) in 'Mother's Mercy'.
Much like how Turner has indicated that Sansa will get a much more satisfying storyline in Game of Thrones season 6 than she did in season 5, Christie has now told EW that Brienne will be a more active player in the 'Game' in season 6:
“After season 5, people would come up on the street moaning about why wasn’t Brienne wasn’t doing more. I’d say, ‘I’m terribly sorry, I’m not really in charge of that.’ I got the scripts for season 6 and I thought the story was so fantastic. It’s really exciting to see Brienne burst forth again.”
Brienne, for her part, has come a ways from being the honorable, yet inexperienced, warrior that she was when she first appeared on Game of Thrones back in season 2. The character has since further honed her own personal code of honor and conduct, in addition to having developed a more nuanced understanding of the treachery of politics in Westeros; not to mention, she's also survived being thrown in a fighting pit with a bear and a battle to the death with The Hound (Rory McCann), and has even become a mentor of sorts to her companion Podric Payne (Daniel Portman). Christie also teased that Brienne's evolution will only continue on its current path in Game of Thrones season 6, during her EW interview:
“Brienne is so unique and unconventional and so strong, and I love the writing hasn’t allowed her to just rest there. [Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] are so terrific about how they develop characters. We see her develop like the way a human being might through life.”
The further along that Game of Thrones has progressed, the more key characters like Brienne have not only changed, but also ended up crossing paths with one another - something that was particularly true during season 5. Not only did Brienne and Sansa meet properly for the first time this past season, but of course Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) met at last... if only for a while. Christie likewise teased EW that Game of Thrones season 6 shall see even more character plot threads overlap and intersect with one another:
“So many characters for so long had their isolated storylines and as a fan of this show as well, I’ve been wanting and dreaming — ‘I wonder what it would be like to see this person interact with this other person?’ And that’s what starts to unfold.”
So, now that she has killed Stannis, will Brienne (and Podric) attempt to track down Sansa and Theon as they flee through The North of Westeros? That seems the most plausible scenario right now, though The North is also filled to the brim with dangers that Brienne has not encountered before - including, Sansa's husband Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) and Wildlings, among other things. Indeed, as Brienne and other main players on Game of Thrones continue along on their journeys, they may not cross paths with each other so much as "collide" with one another - violently, when necessary.
Game of Thrones season 6 will premiere on HBO on April 24th, 2016.