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“The night is dark and full of terrors.”
The signature catchphrase of Melisandre (Carice van Houten) comes to mind when considering the 10 months that passed since Game of Thrones finished its fifth season. In the 315 days that elapsed between the death of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and now, fans of HBO’s fantasy series have obsessed over every single possible detail, few and far between as they are.
Now, the questions end, and the answers begin — or, more accurately, new questions will emerge, as Thrones prepares to launch its sixth season. With the premiere episode, called “The Red Woman,” airing Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT, here’s one final look at everything viewers must know about the coming year of Thrones before it begins.
Closing the Book
This season, for the first time ever, Thrones pushes forward ahead of George R.R. Martin’s source material, telling stories not yet told in the author’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have insisted the show won’t spoil the books as much as fans fear, and many castmembers agree, including John Bradley: “What you’re going to see [this season] is something inspired by the books, and maybe not necessarily what you’re going to see in the next book.”
The Great Unknown
Given the deviations from the books, secrecy surrounding Thrones is at an all-time high. Unlike years past, HBO won’t send advance screeners of season six to members of the press. (President Barack Obama, however, will see episodes early.) The first episode of season six screened for Thrones cast, crew, family, friends and press at the Hollywood world premiere earlier this month, but otherwise, all viewers are equally in the dark about the show’s future.
Glimpses of the Future
Despite all the mystery, there are some glimmers of light ahead. HBO released a few season-six teasers late last year, with a heavy focus on the late Jon Snow and the foreboding Hall of Faces. Eventually, the full-length trailer dropped, filled with footage from the coming year, and an even lengthier trailer revealed further conflict ahead for the Starks and Lannisters.
Where is Everyone?
After almost a full year, it’s hard to remember exactly what happened last to each and every character on the show. This quick overview of the heroes and villains’ current whereabouts will get any viewer up to speed, even regarding some minor and long-forgotten characters. After all, there’s reason to believe some old, familiar faces will return this year.
Who is Everyone?
It’s a fair question, given the enormous size of the show’s cast, and the intricate relationships between each and every character. Refresh your memory with THR‘s roundup of the best warriors, most ruthless villains, greatest heroes, biggest battles, most gruesome deaths and most legendary love stories in Westeros lore.
Is Jon Snow Really Dead?
It’s the question on everyone’s mind, and it comes equipped with many answers. For one thing, Kit Harington remains part of the show, and is still in season six’s opening credits. But Harington himself confirmed his continued involvement with Thrones, albeit as a corpse. (“He gives good corpse,” Liam Cunningham told THR about Harington’s work.) Still, there are several theories about Jon’s resurrection, with some more plausible than others. For now, fans are advised to remain cautious, but hopeful.
It’s Almost Game Over
Rumors persist that Thrones only has two more seasons left, and whether or not it’s true, even castmembers agree that season six pushes the story toward an endpoint. Maisie Williams tells THR, for example: “At the end of this [season], people will obviously be waiting for the next season of the series, but it will feel like the end is in sight.” Savor the remaining time in Westeros accordingly.
The Final Word
What’s going to happen in the weeks ahead? Will Jon Snow come back to life? Will Arya’s sight return? Will Sansa finally free herself from the Boltons? Will the White Walkers finally attack The Wall? No spoilers here, but for their part, the cast and crew have a lot of predictions on how viewers will react to the coming episodes, including this major tease from Isaac Hempstead Wright: “There are things happening this season that are going to be remembered as the biggest events that ever happened on Game of Thrones. We look back and we think about the Red Wedding, Hardhome … imagine rolling all of that into one ball.” In other words, heed House Stark’s words: “Winter is coming.”
Check here after the premiere for THR‘s recaps, interviews, analysis and more.
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