The fifth season of Game of Thrones starts on April 12th, and for those of you who haven’t had the time to go back through 40 hours worth of programming and all five books, a little refresher might be needed. So, here’s everything we need to know about the major players to start season 5.
There WILL be spoilers for all four seasons of Game of Thrones and all five of the A Song of Ice and Fire books. If you do not want to be thoroughly and horribly spoiled as to what’s happened and what may be happening, do not read any further.
House Stark: We’re down to three Starks and one half-Stark. Well, technically TWO Starks as it’s already been announced that Bran Stark will not be in this season. You’ll have to do your own Hodoring while they wait for Bran to get interesting again or for Issac Hempstead-Wright to get through the worst of his growth spurts. Whichever comes first.
Arya Stark is headed off for Braavos and The House of Black and White. Unlike the books, she will be seeing a familiar face there, as HBO has confirmed that Tom Wlaschiha will be appearing in season 5. We don’t know yet if he will be reprising his role of Jaqen H’ghar, but at the very least it seems likely that he will be working with Arya in her training as a Faceless Man.
Sansa Stark holds the most possibility this season in terms of going above and beyond her book storyline (since we’ve basically reached the end of it) and in terms of exciting character development. After spending the previous three seasons keeping her head down and learning incredibly bloody lessons in how the nobility behaves outside Winterfell, Sansa finally seized her moment at the end of last season and revealed herself to the Lords of the Eyrie to win them to her cause. In the process she saved Littlefinger, and put him in her debt. Both of them were clearly aware of the shift in power, and now the man who started The War of Five Kings (by ordering the poisoning of Jon Arryn) and the rightful heir to the North are working together. I am thrilled and terrified in equal measure.
Jon Snow is at the wall, and we’re waiting for him to become the Lord Commander and start pissing people off left and right. Once there, though, his story will be taking a drastically different turn from the books as we’ve already seen a lot of advance footage and interviews that shows a great battle at Hardhome led by Jon. The big question is if the show will dare give Jon the ambiguous ending that the book did, given that there’s far less room to hide if Kit Harrington ends up on the show for a sixth season. We could learn more about Jon’s fate from the show than we have so far from the books.
House Lannister: Another house that suffered losses, but there are still five left going into this season. Tommen has taken Joffrey’s place as King, and the only major plot for him on the horizon is his marriage to Margaery. I am interested to see if they use Tommen’s more advanced age to make him more involved in the ruling of King’s Landing, but if he’s going to survive the season I’d advise sticking to laws about beets.
Myrcella Baratheon (Lannister) has been in Dorne for the last two seasons, and the show is finally going to Dorne so we’ll get to see her and her future husband. Myrcella has been aged up and recast, and the speculation is that she’ll be taking a much larger role in the Dornish intrigues to come, perhaps agitating for her own crowning.
Cersei Baratheon (Lannister) has been left in Kings Landing without her father. She is now the de facto ruler of the Seven Kingdoms as Tommen is not yet old enough to rule. The book saw Cersei swinging wildly between paranoia and an extreme susceptibility to flattery before ending up imprisoned by The Faith. Lena Headey’s portrayal of the character has been more cagey than the Cersei of the books, but we already know she’ll be walking to Aegon’s Hill by the end of the season.
Jaime Lannister was dispatched to settle the Riverlands and gave us more information on how the small folk fared in the war in the books. In the show, he’ll be headed to Dorne with Bronn, presumably to recover Myrcella, and encountering a whole new set of enemies for House Lannister. Without his hand, it’s questionable how he’ll defend himself against any attacks by the Sand Snakes or Areo Hotah. We’ve been told that there’s a character who will die this season who is still alive in the books, and that character knew they were still alive in the books. I am wondering if perhaps Jaime is not as safe as we may suspect.
Tyrion Lannister was last seen shut into a crate on a boat with Varys headed across the narrow sea. From leaked set photos, we know that he’ll be meeting up with Daenerys before the season is out which means that virtually his entire plotline from Dance with Dragons has been discarded. This means no Penny, among other important characters I’ll mention later.
House Baratheon: Stannis is at The Wall under advice from both Davos Seaworth and Melisandre and has just defeated an attempted Wildling attack. While this was useful, I anticipate that he will continue being crabby and boring at The Wall while Melisandre is mysterious and wrong about prophecy, and Davos is unfailingly loyal. Business as usual, just colder.
House Targaryen: Daenerys has taken Meereen, and has sent NotMyDaario back to retake Yunkai. Presumably, this is setting up the war that will drive her to marry Hizdahr zo Loraq. Set photos show a scene with her in a large bullring set up with a massive green screen along one edge, so it looks like we will be getting another wedding and a REALLY BIG dragon sometime toward the end of the season. This means that the Meereenese knot will likely be far less knotty on screen, and while I am a fan of exploring the difficulty of “winning the peace” I’ll admit that it’s not especially entertaining. My biggest question with Daenerys’s storyline is how on earth they’re going to play that Missandei/Gray Worm relationship they’re setting up. Then I remember that line from the books about “some of them just like to be held while they sleep” and my heart hurts.
Sirs Not Appearing in This Season: There are several major characters from the books who will not be making any appearances in the show, from what we can glean from casting news and set photos.
The Ironborn: Tragically, we will not get to hear people say “What is dead can never die” a whole bunch, or watch proto-Vikings have crises of faith. I’ll miss Asha/Yara. Not really any of the rest of them.
Arianne and Quentyn Martell: There’s been a lot of words spilled on Arianne’s absence from the show, and how irritating that it is that a prominent female character was eliminated. But between aging up Myrcella, bringing in Ellaria Sand as a bigger player, and keeping all three Sand Snakes it seems like we’re pretty ok as far as strong Dornish women who can advocate for feminine rights of succession. There is only one reason I’m mildly interested in Quentyn’s absence, which I will probably discuss later in the season.
Aegon: The young man who is totally not actually Aegon Targaryen was not cast and so will not be in this season. This is fine by me, as of all the things that exasperated me about Dance with Dragons (and there were many things) this was one of the biggest exasperations. I’m happy to skip the storyline of someone who may be a Blackfrye, is probably Illyrio’s son, but who is almost certainly not actually the heir to the Iron Throne.
This season is going to hold a lot of surprises as we’ll be deviating further from the books than ever before. As mentioned above, we’ll definitely be losing an important character who’s still alive in the books, we’ll be seeing characters who have never met in the books thrown together, and we’ll get some clues as to how things in the book are going to turn out based on the show. I am definitely excited, but if Varys turns out to be a Merman I will quit the show AND books and never look back.