Game of Thrones Season 6 Primer: The North, The Wall, and Beyond
Winter is coming (in Westeros). The Game of Thrones Season 6 Premiere is only three days away, and there are SO many reasons to be excited: Dany knows how to use one of her dragons! Tyrion and Varys are together, bantering wittily! Cersei is fresh from a very literal walk of shame and ready to enter Rampage Mode! Jorah Friend Zone and Daario Bone Zone are traveling in search of their mutual love interest! The Mountain is back as a very large zombie! Dorne is being forced to actively join world events! A lunatic is leading armed religious zealots in the capital city!
With all that to look forward to, let’s take a quick look back and get ready for what’s coming our way. Here are the regional breakdowns you need to be prepared come Sunday:
The Wall and Beyond
Bran Stark, Summer, Jon Snow, Ghost, Davos, Melisandre, White Walkers, The Night’s Watch
Where we left off:
Jon Snow was bleeding out into the snow at Castle Black.
Ghost was last seen helping Sam and Gilly fend off attackers.
Davos and Melisandre are at Castle Black along with the majority of The Night’s Watch.
The White Walkers and their formidable army of undead were last seen at Hardhome
Bran and his group are in a mysterious cave far north of The Wall with a tree-person called the three-eyed raven. This man is likely Brynden Rivers, nicknamed Bloodraven.
Brynden Rivers was one of six Great Bastards legitimized by Aegon IV Targaryen on his deathbed. He was a tall, thin albino with a dark red birthmark in the shape of a raven, hence his nickname. Gifted in war and intelligence gathering, he was said to have “a thousand eyes, and one”, referencing his vast network of spies and an eye he lost in battle. He was also said to have dabbled in sorcery, and wielded the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister.
After fighting on the Targaryen side of a series of succession wars, Bloodraven executed Aenys Blackfyre, a descendent of the opposing line. He was arrested for the act, and allowed to take the black rather than face execution.
Bloodraven eventually became the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch before disappearing on a ranging north of The Wall.
How will Jon Snow survive, and how Jon Snow will he be?
Seemingly everyone agrees that Jon Snow will still be a primary character and major player in events to come. Given his repeated stabbing, he’ll need to be resurrected in some form. The logical source of this resurrection is Melisandre: we’ve seen the power of a Red Priest to do so, Melisandre has taken a keen (read: creepy) interest in Jon since meeting him, and she and Davos are newly leaderless. If Melisandre can revive him, what impact will the whole process have on him?
Lore: Red Priest Resurrections
R’hllor, the Lord of Light, is a relatively new god in Westeros, but we have already seen impressive displays of power by his priests. Melisandre’s powers vary (sex with Stannis creates a shadow assassin, burning his daughter alive makes snow melt?), and we’ve seen Thoros of Myr bring Beric Dondarrion back to life. In the conversation that followed, it was revealed that he had revived him six times. We don’t know the rules that govern who can be brought back, or how much time can pass before an attempt is made; some of Beric’s stories would have involved a delay, and Thoros tells Arya bringing Ned back from a beheading would be unlikely. We do know that the process isn’t perfect. After his latest resurrection, Beric explains: “Every time I come back I’m a bit less. Pieces of you get chipped away.” Can Melisandre perform the same ritual on Jon Snow? Will he still be himself?
What does the Night’s Watch do now?
The Wildlings are already south of The Wall, there are reliable reports of White Walker activity north of The Wall, and the only weapon effective against them is Jon’s sword, Longclaw. Even with a new bearer, one sword leaves you at a big disadvantage. Aliser Thorne, former runner-up Lord Commander, will likely be taking command. He’s probably best off shoring up his defenses and praying for divine intervention when the White Walkers show up, because Tormund and the Wildlings sure as hell aren’t lending a hand now.
When and how will the White Walkers attack?
We watched the White Walkers and their army of the undead overrun the Wildling host at Hardhome in minutes, but The Wall presents a large problem both figuratively and literally. The gates at each castle are extremely difficult to force, which is why Tormund and the other Wildlings climbed over to attack from the south. The same strategy might be more difficult for the wights and their decaying limbs. Magic could have a role to play; some myths claim that spells have been worked on The Wall to prevent White Walkers and their like from crossing, while others detail the ability of the Horn of Joramun to destroy The Wall entirely. One more idea to consider: if the leader of the White Walkers is in fact the Night’s King, he should have intimate knowledge of The Wall, especially the since-abandoned Nightfort where he ruled. Perhaps he knows of a vulnerability or secret passage.
Sansa Stark, Theon Greyjoy, Rickon Stark, Shaggydog, Roose Bolton, Ramsay Bolton, Brienne and Pod
Where we left off:
Sansa and Theon just leapt from the walls of Winterfell into a snowdrift outside the castle. Ramsay and Roose are returning from routing Stannis and his army.
Brienne and Pod are nearby, having found and passed judgment on Stannis.
Rickon, Shaggydog, and Osha are hiding at Last Hearth, but haven’t been seen since Season 3.
The Wildlings Jon rescued were heading south to settle in The Gift.
Lore: The Gift
A large stretch of land on the southern side of The Wall was given to the Night’s Watch by a Stark to provide area to farm and support the brothers. Later, Queen Alysanne Targaryen visited The Wall on her dragon, Silverwing. Seeing the difficulties faced by the Night’s Watch and recognizing the important role they played in defending the Seven Kingdoms, she doubled the size of the Gift. This land is dotted with small villages who provide the Night’s Watch with money and food as a tax.
Part of Jon Snow’s arrangement with the Wildlings was allowing them to settle The Gift and use it as their own. The land is not forgiving and the weather is difficult, but the Wildlings are one of the few peoples accustomed to such challenges. The Night’s Watch was understandably uneasy with Jon’s proposal; since the atrocities committed by the Night’s King, no castles on The Wall have defenses on the southern side. If the Wildlings decide to attack the Night’s Watch, they’ll have an easy approach from The Gift.
Where will Sansa go?
Sansa and Theon shouldn’t have much hope of escaping the Boltons for long; they are not on horseback, they didn’t have time to pack supplies, and Ramsay is the rare hunter with practice tracking human beings. Let’s be optimistic, though, and hope Sansa will finally have a chance to direct her own life. Some options: Torrhen Square is the nearest city, but Sansa knows it was sacked; Deepwood Motte is next closest, but isolated from the rest of the North and easy prey for Ironborn; she knows Jon was elected Lord Commander, so The Wall would be a logical destination, perhaps stopping at Last Hearth on the way. The fastest escape would be by boat, traveling down the White Knife to White Harbor, where the wealthy (and loyal) House Manderly rules. I think this is the path she and Theon end up taking, possibly with the assistance of Brienne and Pod who we know to be nearby.
Do the Boltons have any allies in The North?
The Boltons are currently in an interesting situation. They are recognized by the Iron Throne as Wardens of the North and they occupy the region’s seat of power in Winterfell, but the other Northern houses have little reason to recognize them as masters. The Starks have largely been admirable rulers for centuries, and everyone knows the Boltons played a critical role in the Red Wedding. The best card they had to play with northern houses was Ramsay’s marriage to Sansa, but she escaped and will speak against them if given the chance. They need the support of the Iron Throne to remain in power, but any Lannister connection damages their credibility in the North. At this point they may have to rely on recapturing Sansa and hoping the rest of the North decides it’s easier to swear allegiance than it is to band together and fight them. This isn’t the first time the Boltons have caused problems in the North, but they’ve never made friends doing so.
Where have the Ironborn been?
After taking Torrhen’s Square and Winterfell, the Ironborn have been out of sight for some time. We haven’t seen Yara since she attempted to rescue Theon in Season 4, only to be turned away by shirtless Ninja Ramsay, and we haven’t seen Balon since Season 3. We never touched on them in Season 5, but they haven’t suffered a handy defeat or been killed off like the Baratheons. I don’t know what they’ve been up to, but they have a part to play in this story yet