Game of Thrones Season 6 Preview

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Click the icons for an update on the region and/or ruling family.
1

Beyond the Wall

Beyond the Wall

Shit got REAL beyond the Wall in Season 5. Jon went with Stannis’s ships to Hardhome to bring the Wildling families south, a plan that went awry when the army of the undead attacked the outpost. Jon killed one of the White Walkers thanks to the Valyrian steel in his sword, but Team Human took a real bad L.

Elsewhere in the untamed north, Bran Stark is underground with the three-eyed raven, having escaped an attack from the undead at the end of Season 4. We didn’t see Bran at all in Season 5, which is probably why the show felt better-paced than usual (if sadly devoid of Hodor saying “Hodor”). Anyway, he’ll back this season, probably having mysterious visions of inscrutable metaphors. Yay.

2

The Wall

The Wall

Hoo boy. LOT goin’ on up at the Wall, where Jon Snow’s stint as Lord Commander was anything but smooth. Stannis, having saved the Wall from Wildling invasion the season before, set up shop at the Wall and decided to burn Mance Rayder alive for treason (Jon sent a merciful arrow into Mance’s chest to spare him the worst of it).

Later, Stannis left to attack the Boltons, while Jon sent Samwell Tarly and Gilly away to Oldtown to get Sam some proper maester-training. With them gone and Maester Aemon dead (of natural causes, a first on the show), Jon’s only allies were the Wildlings, which is not a great situation for the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Ser Alliser Thorne led an insurrection that ended with a LOT of knife wounds for Jon.

So, the lingering question since the last season finale: IS JON DEAD? Yes, he is totally dead. He got stabbed like a million times and there are no hospitals at the Wall. Fortunately, death is not necessarily a permanent condition in Westeros: as we saw with Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion in Season 3, the red priests of R’Hallor have a knack for bringing people back to life. And oh hey: Melisandre just happens to be at the Wall. Nice coincidence.

3

The Dreadfort (Bolton)

The Dreadfort

House Bolton

The Boltons are basically blue-collar Lannisters: evil, but in a grittier, bring-your-lunchpail-to-the-torture-chamber kind of way. Patriarch Roose Bolton is Tywin-esque: cold, cunning, and ruthless (though lacking the same stores of gold), while his son Ramsay is likely the product of a creative meeting that began, “What if Joffrey were worse?”

If Ramsay were in the NFL, he’d begin Season 6 with AT LEAST a two-game suspension for his repeated rape and torture of Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy/Reek. (Roger Goodell is SUCH a Tommen.) Instead, Westeros’ top sadist will start Season 6 on the hunt for his wife and servant after they escaped by leaping from the walls of Winterfell. Can’t imagine why. Was it all the rape and torture?

4

Winterfell (Stark)

Winterfell

Winterfell, the traditional seat of the Starks, is presently held by the Boltons. The northern power marriage of Ramsay Bolton to Sansa Stark, brokered by Littlefinger, was a disaster for Sansa, who was raped on her wedding night while Theon/Reek was forced to watch. Ramsay also did a lot of other sadistic, crappy stuff I’d rather not revisit.

Outside the walls of the castle, the Boltons crushed Stannis Baratheon’s depleted force, with Brienne of Tarth killing a wounded Stannis after the battle. While Ramsay was out of the castle, Reek finally rebelled, killing his master’s sidepiece and jumping to freedom with Sansa.

House Stark

The ostensible “good guys” of the series, the Starks have mostly been a vehicle for George R.R. Martin to show that honor has no reward in his world. A quick rundown on the former inhabitants of Winterfell (which, uh, got burned to the ground by their adopted son):

Ned Stark — declared a traitor and decapitated
Catelyn Stark — throat slit at her brother’s wedding
Robb Stark — murdered after watching his pregnant wife get murdered
Jon Snow — stabbed to death by his subordinates
Sansa Stark — twice married against her choice; raped in front of childhood friend
Brandon Stark — pushed out of a tower window and paralyzed
Arya Stark — blind and at the mercy of assassins in a foreign country
Rickon Stark — ¯\(ツ)

5

Iron Islands (Greyjoy)

Iron Islands

Balon Greyjoy is the last surviving king from the War of the Five Kings (RIP Stannis, Joffrey, Robb and Renly), a claim he can make by getting no screen time whatsoever since Season 3. So, uh, congrats? But teases of the new season confirm that the Iron Islands will return to the fray, presumably for conversations besides, “Hey, bummer about Theon, huh?” “Eh.”

(If you’ve read the books, you know that there’s a LOT that still needs happen with the Greyjoy family. Keep your yap shut about it so the non-book-readers can enjoy it, okay? Besides, as we’ve seen, the showrunners have no problem taking different paths than the ones written by George R.R. Martin.)

House Greyjoy

You may remember Balon Greyjoy from way back before Theon burned Winterfell and got his dick cut off. Balon was a SUPREME asshole to Theon, which was why Theon took Winterfell in the first place.

Ol’ Balon is still in the Iron Islands, his long-ass hair wrecked by salt water and badly in need of conditioner. His daughter Yara was last seen in Season 4, storming the Dreadfort to rescue Theon, only for him to insist that he’s Reek. Then Ramsay sic’ed the dogs on her, hastening a retreat.

FUN FACT: Yara’s name is Asha in the books, but the showrunners didn’t want her to be confused with Osha, the Wildling in care of Rickon Stark. So they changed Asha to … an anagram for Arya. Brilliant. Why not Erscei? How about, I dunno, fucking Naederys Artgaryen?

6

The Vale (Arryn)

The Vale

With Lysa Arryn dead and young Robin in the care of House Royce, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish was free to work his intrigues around Westeros. First, he brokered the marriage between Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton, assuring Sansa that Stannis Baratheon would soon defeat the Boltons in battle (whoops). When Cersei called Littlefinger back to King’s Landing, he assured her that he would use the Knights of the Vale to defeat the Boltons — if, of course, he were named Warden of the North in return.

House Arryn

Tough times for House Arryn. Petyr Baelish is Lord of the Vale, having married and murdered Lysa Arryn, who had previously (at Baelish’s request) murdered HER husband, Jon Arryn, when he served as the Hand of the King before Ned Stark. The lesson? Don’t mess with Littlefinger; he’ll push you out the Moon Door and send your ponce-ass son to swordfighting camp.

7

Dragonstone (Targaryen)

Dragonstone

House Targaryen

House Targaryen, the ruling house of Westeros for generations before King Robert’s Rebellion, was nearly wiped from existence. But the one survivor is an important one: Daenerys Targaryen, once a virgin queen sold to Khal Drogo for the horselord’s army and a possible conquest of Westeros, now a battle-hardened Mother of Dragons who is actually kind of bad at ruling and mothering dragons.

Dany has survived the death of her husband, the loss of his allies, a trek through the Red Waste, assassination attempts, and literally walking through fire before amassing an army and breaking up the region’s slave trade, yet she starts Season 6 in a familiar place: on the grassy plains of Essos at the mercy of a khalasar.

8

King’s Landing

King’s Landing

Season 5 saw the rise of the Faith Militant, or Sparrows, a religious extremist group that imprisoned two different queens, Margaery and Cersei, for their sins. (Well, three queens if you count Loras Tyrell — ZING!) And though King Tommen’s youth and inexperience proved no match for the High Sparrow, Cersei nonetheless earned her freedom by confessing her sins and enduring a horrific, nude walk of shame through the city back to the Red Keep. Stripped of her power (and her long blonde hair), she seems poised to strike back with the help of pseudo-maester Qyburn and Ser Robert Strong, the monster he put in Kingsguard armor (presumably a resuscitated Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane).

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Casterley Rock (Lannister)

Casterley Rock

House Lannister

Quick recap on Westeros’s ruling family: Tyrion was accused of killing his nephew Joffrey, but was freed from his cell by his brother Jaime. Tyrion rewarded that trust by immediately killing his father Tywin, who had just been having sex with Tyrion’s longtime hooker-girlfriend (whom Tyrion strangled with her own necklace).

Jamie and his twin sister Cersei are lovers who have had three children: Joffrey (poisoned to death), Myrcella (poisoned to death), and Tommen (about what you’d expect from incest). While Jaime was getting his hand chopped off in war, Cersei slept with her cousin Lancel, who later found religion and ratted Cersei out to the Faith Militant, who imprisoned Cersei despite her position as the Queen Mother. She was eventually freed but had to walk back to the castle naked while the simple folk of King’s Landing hurled insults and garbage at her.

These people are FUCKED UP.

10

Highgarden (Tyrell)

Highgarden

House Tyrell

Like the Lannisters, the Tyrells are calculating and rich, and what they lack in power, they more than make up for by not making incest babies or murdering each other. Queen Margaery — presently married to her third king — is the obvious star, but the sharp-tongued matriarch Lady Olenna is the family’s real power broker.

Margaery’s brother Loras, “The Knight of Flowers,” is a celebrated tourney knight presently imprisoned for homosexuality. Their father, the bumbling Mace Tyrell, serves on the king’s Small Council and was most recently sent to Braavos to negotiate friendlier terms with the Iron Bank, which has called in a portion of the Crown’s debts.

11

Storm's End (Baratheon)

Storm's End

House Baratheon

Despite King Robert siring more children than Antonio Cromartie, House Baratheon is essentially defunct, even though the current king (Tommen) bears the name. We all know that Tommen is the dim-witted, cat-petting production of Lannister incest; Stannis burned his only child for good luck (NOTE: not recommended); and Renly, the third Baratheon brother, wasn’t, ahem, biologically inclined to produce an heir. And the Lannisters, because they’re dicks, even had all of Robert’s bastards killed -- all except Gendry the Hunky Blacksmith, missing since he rowed off into the night in Season 3.

12

Dorne (Martell)

Dorne

The Sand Snakes — the three bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell — sought vengeance against the Lannisters for the death of their father, killed while showboating in single combat against the Mountain (serves him right, gotta play to the whistle). And uh oh: Myrcella was in the hands of the Martells, betrothed to hunky Tristan and sent away by Tyrion to broker an alliance during the War of the Five Kings.

So Cersei, being a devoted mother/insane lady, sent brother/lover Jaime to Dorne on a secret mission to retrieve Myrcella … how, exactly? This was not plotted strongly. Anyway, Bronn accompanied Jaime — ostensibly for the money, but really so two of the show’s better characters could exchange repartée — and they were promptly captured in the Water Gardens. After meeting with Doran, Jaime left with Myrcella on a ship for King’s Landing. She was all, “I know you’re my father,” then the tender moment was interrupted by her death. Ellaria Sand (Mama Sand Snake) had kissed her goodbye with poison on her lips. Whomp-whomp.

House Martell

The Martells are the ruling family in Dorne, the warm southern peninsula of Westeros. They are subjects to the Iron Throne but were never conquered by the Targaryens, and that lends to their independent spirit. Unlike most other Westerosi, who are descended from the Andals and the First Men, the Martells are descendants of the Rhoynar, a people who didn’t practice primogeniture. Thus the head of Dorne is not the eldest male of the ruling family, but the eldest sibling. Progressive!

The current ruler of Dorne, though, IS a male: Prince Doran. Both of his siblings are dead because of the Lannisters: his sister, Elia, was raped and murdered by Tywin’s army during the sack of King’s Landing in Robert’s Rebellion, while brother Oberyn was killed in Tyrion’s trial by combat against Gregor “the Mountain” Clegane (also: Elia’s killer). Did I say “killed”? I meant “got his skull crushed like a grape.” It was gross.

So it at least KIND OF makes sense why Oberyn’s mourning concubine Ellaria Sand and their three daughters (the Sand Snakes) killed Myrcella with poison despite Doran’s plan for peace -- or if not peace, exactly, then at least a slower-developing plan for revenge.

13

Meereen

Meereen

The stability of the former slave state was tenuous at best while the gold-masked Sons of the Harpy murdered citizens and Unsullied alike, a situation that could worsen with Queen Daenerys skipping town (and escaping assassination) by taking flight on one of her dragons. Or will the situation improve? The council left behind — a reunited Varys and Tyrion, plus Missandei the interpreter and Grey Worm the Unsullied captain — may prove to govern more wisely, while Dany’s most admiring advisers, Daario the sellsword and the twice-banished Jorah Mormont (now battling the skin disease greyscale), have left Meereen in search of their khaleesi.

14

Dothraki Sea

Dothraki Sea

We hadn’t seen the Dothraki Sea since Daenerys Targaryen became the Mother of Dragons and left the grasslands to walk through the Red Waste to Qarth in Season 2 (Hello, new geekiest sentence I’ve ever written). But that changed at the end of Season 5, when Drogon concluded his draco ex machina by depositing the Khaleesi in the land where she earned that title. Last we saw, Dany had been captured by a new khalasar, no dragon in sight, and only Daario and Jorah leaving Meereen in search of her.

15

Braavos

Braavos

Arya spent much of the last season in the shadows of the House of Black and White, scrubbing floors and cleaning dead bodies at the behest of her many-faced Miyagi, Jaqen H’ghar. But her training as an assassin went awry when she ignored her target to follow Ser Meryn Trant (who killed her Season 1 fencing instructor, Syrio Forel) to a brothel. Arya then stole a false face from the temple to murder Trant, but using the false face rendered her blind. Is it permanent? Probably not, but as Stark fates go, the mere loss of eyesight isn’t so bad.

16

The Dead

The Dead

Who got killed in Season 5?

Mance Rayder — The Wildling king was sentenced to burn at the stake by order of Stannis Baratheon, who could barely go an episode without Melisandre being like, “C’mon, just lemme burn another person. R’Hallor needs it, I swear.” As the flames consumed Mance, Jon Snow fired an arrow into his chest, ending his misery.

Ser Barristan Selmy — Once the greatest knight in Westeros, Ser Barristan died in an ambush in Meereen, but only after killing countless Sons of the Harpy himself. A tragic loss made worse by the embarrassing lack of tactical acumen by both sides in the fight.

Janos Slynt — In the first-ever episode of “Game of Thrones,” Ned Stark told his sons (including Jon Snow), “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” Then he executed an oathbreaker from the Night’s Watch by chopping his head off. Later that season, Janos Slynt, the captain of the City Watch at King’s Landing, betrayed Ned, leading to Ned’s arrest and execution by decapitation. Slynt was subsequently forced to join the Night’s Watch, where he refused an order from a new Lord Commander who just so happened to be Jon Effing Snow. AND THE CYCLE OF HEAD-CHOPPING WAS AT LAST COMPLETE. This show rules.

Stannis Baratheon — The scrupulously inflexible jerk finished his downward spiral by getting wounded in the hopeless assault on Winterfell. Brienne finished him off after the battle, her long awaited revenge for the death of Renly.

Maester Aemon Targaryen — Pretty much the only person on this show to die of old age.

Meryn Trant — Arya Stark ticked one of the names off her nightly list when she saw the Knight of the Kingsguard in Braavos, then hunted him down in a brothel, stabbed his eyes out and slit his throat. Do not get on Arya’s list.

Myrcella Lannister — Yeah, yeah, her last name is technically Baratheon. Just ONCE I want you geeky sociopaths to consider letting me simplify things for casual fans. Anyway, Myrcella got a goodbye kiss from her aunt-to-be, shared a tender moment with her father, then died. TIME-DELAY LESBIAN POISON KISS.

Princess Shireen — Desperate to save his disastrous march on Winterfell, Stannis finally caved to Melisandre’s desire for a kingsblood sacrifice by burning his own daughter at the stake. It was one of the most disturbing scenes in a show that has provided no shortage of them.

Queen Selyse — Responded to her daughter’s death by hanging herself in the woods.

Hizdahr zo Loraq — Hizdahr accomplished a lot in Meereen: he survived the initial purge of slavers when Dany arrived, then brokered a marriage with the most eligible single mother in Essos (Daenerys Targaryen: total MDILF), then got his bride to re-open the fighting pits, then got stabbed in the chest repeatedly during the Great Games by four Sons of the Harpy. RIP.

Myranda — The good news for the skinny, masochistic paramour of Ramsay Bolton: she won a free flight on Greyjoy Airlines. The bad news: the flight was straight down off a high wall.

Jon Snow* — Stabbed by assassins. Maybe you heard?

*resurrection totally gonna happen