Game of Thrones: an army of wights, the rise of Bran Stark and all that's new in season 6

They say time flies, but nothing makes a year seem like a lifetime more than waiting for a new season of Game of Thrones – it is an insidious form of torture that would impress even the sadistic Ramsay Bolton. We’ve been studying the omens and reading the entrails, sifting clues for months in an […]

They say time flies, but nothing makes a year seem like a lifetime more than waiting for a new season of Game of Thrones – it is an insidious form of torture that would impress even the sadistic Ramsay Bolton.

We’ve been studying the omens and reading the entrails, sifting clues for months in an attempt to guess what lies ahead when the sixth season begins on OSN tomorrow – but it has been no easy task.

The cast and producers are, as usual, playing their cards close to their chests. And fans of the HBO series who have read the books by author George R R Martin, on which it is based, no longer have any advance knowledge – as they await the publication of the sixth volume, The Winds of Winter, the show has largely overtaken the story as told in the first five books.

At the Hollywood premiere on April 10, showrunners David Benioff and D B Weiss gave nothing away, instead joking about a change in tone for the famously dark and brutal drama.

“We’ve listened, you know, and a lot of people were upset about violence and darkness,” says Benioff. “So this season, no one gets hurt and nothing bad happens to anybody – and it’s kind of the happiest season.”

Weiss added: “Everybody wins.”

Whatever else lies in store this season, you can be sure that will not be the case.

After the shocking developments at the end of season five – including Jon Snow’s apparent death at the hands of the Castle Black mutineers, Daenerys’s near-death experience in the fighting pits of Meereen, and Cersei’s humiliating naked walk of shame past a howling mob in King’s Landing – the survivors from Westeros and Essos are regrouping to press on towards their ultimate fates.

According to HBO, familiar faces will forge new alliances to bolster their chances of survival, while new characters will emerge to tip the balance of power.

Oh, and those zombie-like White Walkers are well and truly on the march – but to where?

Here are our predictions of what is in store for a few of the main characters:

• Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Headey, will struggle to recover from her fall from grace and start to plot her revenge.

“I was actually a bit lost in the beginning,” says Headey. “Cersei’s usually running things and now she’s so broken down.”

• All bets are off for Daenerys Targaryen. “We’re in uncharted territory, especially with Daenerys,” says Emilia Clarke, who stars as the Mother of Dragons. “The last time you saw her she was literally in an alien land. Everything was new and different.”

• As Dany was carried off from Meereen by one of her dragons, we left Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) trying to keep the peace. Odds are he’ll rule Meereen for a while, with the help of interpreter Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and the Unsullied warrior Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) – but seeing his dead head in the Hall of Faces in an HBO teaser might hint at tough times ahead.

• A “bromance” is in the air for Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and sellsword Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman).

“Jorah and Daario are off to try and find Dany, which is really fun,” says Huisman. “There’s clearly a dynamic between the two.”

• Sansa Stark will start to toughen up, following her escape from Ramsay Bolton, according to actress Sophie Turner.

“It’s Sansa’s season to take charge,” she says. “She’s taking those skills that she soaked up from Littlefinger, Cersei and Margaery, and she’s finally putting them to use.”

• Headstrong Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), struck blind at the hands of the Many-Faced God, is expected to get a second chance – after much suffering.

“This is really the first time we’ve seen her as an underdog,” says Williams. “Lots of people think she is their favourite character, and now we are going to see if people stick by her.

“Everybody can like the little girl who tells grown men what to do because that is funny – but now we are going to see her at a really low point.”

Of course the biggest talking point since the end of last season has been the fate of Jon Snow (Kit Harington).

When last we saw him, he was bleeding to death in the snow, murdered by his Night’s Watch comrades.

Things looked bleak – though many fans hope that the arrival at Castle Black of mystical Red Priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten) means a resurrection could be in the cards. However, the official word from everybody involved in the show remains that Jon Snow is dead. End of discussion.

• Game of Thrones season six begins at 5am on Monday, April 25, (the same time as the American broadcast), with a repeat at 11pm on OSN First HBO, and continues every Monday.

Bran returns with a vengeance

You don’t need the mystical power of the Three-Eyed Raven to foresee that Bran Stark is back in a big way.

The sweet little 10-year-old, whose life took a tragic, crippling turn when Jaime Lannister shoved him off the top of a castle tower at Winterfell, is all grown up now.

While sitting out last season – as his character mastered the dark arts under the Raven’s tutelage in the underground lair of the Children of the Forest – actor Isaac Hempstead Wright has turned 17 and now stands about six feet tall.

Now we’re ready for our favourite skin-changing warg to dazzle us with magic, sway the fate of Westeros and come face to face with The Night’s King.

“Bran has taken a particularly long time to work out what his power is – that controls him and that he learns to control – and it’s kind of his destiny,” says Hempstead Wright. “In season six, he’s got an idea what his power is, and what it can be useful for.

“I don’t think Bran should necessarily rule. I think he’d be perfect to be someone who enables someone else to rule, like a magic sage, who could advise and counsel.”

Also on the actor’s wish list for Bran is a Stark family reunion – and a bit of sunlight.

“I would like for him to leave the cave,” he says with a laugh. “It’s a bit dark in there.”

New faces

There are dozens of newcomers this season – here is a guide to a few of the more notable new stars, and what we know about the roles they will play.

Max von Sydow: The Three-Eyed Raven

This two-time Oscar nominee plays the ominous mystical bird, seen frequently in previous seasons as a harbinger of sorts. It turns out he is an elderly ‘greenseer’, or wizard, who has merged with a weirwood tree and teaches magic to Bran in a cave under its roots.

Ian McShane: Mystery role

Little has been revealed about the role played by the British actor, whose career stretches back to 1965, but is more recently remembered for his turns as Al Swearingen in Deadwood and as Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Richard E Grant & Essie Davis: Theatre performers

Another Brit, Grant was recently seen in Downton Abbey and Girls, while Davis is an accomplished Aussie stage actress, who also appeared in acclaimed horror movie The Babadook in 2014.

Pilou Asbaek: Euron Greyjoy

This Danish actor, a star of The Borgias and an upcoming remake of Ben Hur, plays the uncle to Theon and Yara. He is captain of the Silence, a ship so named because he cut out his crew’s tongues.

Joe Naufahu: Khal Moro

This Kiwi, a former pro rugby player with Scottish side Glasgow Warriors, plays a hunky Dothraki warrior. Presumably, he will get to spend some quality time with the Mother of Dragons.

Source: art & life

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