9:00am PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones' Season 6 Trailer Provides Hope for Jon Snow's Return
War erupts on a dying battlefield beneath a gray sky as soldiers smash swords and shields against one another. In the thick of it all, a warrior charges forward on a white horse, weapon in hand, his head of black curls flowing with the wind.
Then, nothing. The scene shifts elsewhere and shifts elsewhere again, over and over as the Game of Thrones season-six trailer barrels through countless quick cuts all the way to its conclusion. But that one image of a soldier riding horseback lingered in the minds of some eagle-eyed viewers. Ask them what they saw, and the answer comes in the form of the two most magnetic words in the show's lexicon right now: Jon Snow (Kit Harington).
The first full trailer for season six answers, or at least addresses, many lingering questions about the fates of fan-favorite characters but none more pressing and overt than Snow, the fallen Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. By all accounts, the man is truly dead, betrayed and stabbed by his fellow Brothers in Black.
"He's gone," Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) solemnly confirms as the trailer begins.
So, that's that? Not so fast. Vanity Fair, among others, pointed out a very much alive warrior with an uncanny resemblance to Jon, present for only a split second in the trailer. When contrasted with a behind-the-scenes photo of Harington on the Belfast set of Thrones, it sure looks like we have a match.
Then again, compare the warrior's hair with some other folks from the HBO show's past, present and future — such as Jory Cassel (Jamie Sives), killed in season one. Much fuss has been made about Harington's lengthy locks, but the truth is, long black hair is a trendy look in Westeros.
Back to square one, then? Again — not so fast. Even if the trailer plays Jon's death straight, there are hundreds of reasons to expect Snow's return from the dead. For one thing, few people ever argued that Jon died. The bone of contention comes down to whether or not he'll overcome what's typically a permanent state. The trailer doesn't explicitly favor the resurrection side of the argument, but there are moments indicating Jon's cold corpse is hotter than we think.
Take Melisandre (Carice van Houten), for instance. The Red Priestess of Asshai openly owns her role in Stannis Baratheon's failure. "The great victory I saw in the flames," she whispers. "All of it was a lie." This rare instance of vulnerability is greatly contrasted with another image in the trailer, as Melisandre sheds her clothes, her face stiff with purpose. Seth Meyers would have a field day joking about the sorceress' propensity for nudity, sure. But in truth, it's often associated with moments of magic — the birth of the shadow assassin in season two, as just one example. Many fans expect Melisandre's fire magic to play a role in Jon's return, and the trailer adds heat to that theory, if only a hint.
Another popular theory centers on Jon's consciousness hopping into his direwolf, Ghost, right before his body gives out. There's textual evidence to support the idea in the books, if not quite on the show; Jon's relationship with his snowy companion hasn't been a major emphasis on Thrones. But the trailer gives some weight to the notion, as Ghost is seen lying down by his late master's side, faithful to the end.
There's some fear that Ghost is not quite keeping Jon company so much as he's also dead, laid out by Lord Snow's side, perhaps as a show of respect from Davos. The direwolf is startlingly still in the final shot of the trailer, as Davos pulls the Valyrian sword Longclaw from its sheath, either as a means of stepping into battle with or against the Night's Watch warriors in the room. That scene is worth several looks. Davos might be doing nothing more than standing vigil for a man he respected in life and continues to respect in death … or perhaps he's guarding Jon because he knows in this case, death is not the end.
But the trailer's biggest signpost for Jon's return exists far away from The Wall, both in time and space. Two scenes feature a young version of Eddard Stark, the late Warden of the North played by Sean Bean, killed in season one. Ned's reappearance is surprising enough on its own, but his surroundings are even more exhilarating. Book readers will recognize it as the Tower of Joy sequence, a potentially pivotal moment not just for Jon Snow, but the entirety of Thrones. If this long ago moment is getting screen time in season six, it strongly indicates that Jon's story is far from finished.
In any event, the trailer proved one thing: Harington wasn't lying when he said he'd be back on Thrones as a corpse. What it doesn't prove, however, is that the Jon Snow mystery is over — far from it. There's every reason to believe it's only beginning.
Rewatch the season-six trailer.
Game of Thrones returns on April 24.