By the time this goes to print, Game of Thrones will have returned on the 24th April, and with it, we embark on a perilous journey into the unknown. The television series has shot past George R.R. Martin’s established books, and now we will see whether David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (and the host of other writers involved) will fall or fly on their own. The signs are encouraging. Natalie Dormer, who plays Margaery Tyrell in the show, has gone on record to say that the writers “know where it’s got to go and what [George Martin]’s intentions for the characters are…they are just filling in the gaps.” Reassuringly then, Martin’s hand still has a place on the reins.
“it Feels that the writers’ selectiveness with what they have not included has been spot-on”
The ways in which the show has already deviated from the books also leave room for optimism. Tyrion arriving in Meereen, with all his political cunning and savvy, is exciting. The marriage of Sansa Stark to Ramsay Bolton has worked well, especially culminating as it did with her and Theon’s attempted escape. The Hound’s death at the hands of Brienne is far more interesting than the equivalent in the books. And the setup for the Night’s King was spine-chilling – a textbook fantasy introduction of ‘the nemesis’.
In addition, it feels that the writers’ selectiveness with what they have not included has been spot-on; the removal (so far) of characters like Euron Greyjoy, Lady Stoneheart, Coldhands and Quentyn Martell, have provided the show with an intense focus far more suited to the screen. My only complaint is that the books’ Aegon Targaryen storyline, now seemingly bypassed, had the potential to bring fresh vitality to the war for the Iron Throne, but perhaps the writers felt that a narrower focus would guarantee greater quality.
The end of Season Five left us with a number of huge, pressing (mainly death-related) questions. Is Stannis Baratheon dead? Apparently, despite his continued survival in the books, he is – The episode’s director David Nutter has confirmed it. Did Sansa and Theon successfully escape? Theon does in the books, albeit with a different woman, so it seems likely. Is Myrcella Baratheon dead, poisoned by a Dorne and miles out to sea? I’d guess so. What’s going to happen to Daenerys, stranded and confronted by a Dothraki horde?
“everyone involved in the show is adamant that he’s dead”
And, most importantly, is Jon Snow really dead? This is the question everyone is waiting for the answer to. It appears that he is. Everyone involved in the show is adamant that he’s dead. However, in a world of dragons and the undead, would it surprise anyone in the least if he returned? A number of factors make this seem likely.
Firstly, the exclusion of Catelyn Stark’s resurrection as Lady Stoneheart, as well as the removal of Mance Rayder’s faux-death, leave the writers room to include Jon Snow’s return. If every major character who died could be brought back there would be no suspense, after all. In addition, Melisandre’s arrival at Castle Black towards the end of Season Five put a magic-user (with interests in Jon Snow) in close proximity. Finally, come on – Jon Snow is one of the best characters in the show. Surely they wouldn’t get rid of him.
So we return to week after week of shock and delight, readers and non-readers now united in ignorance. Personally, as well as the show itself, I can’t wait for the inevitable, great conversations that follow every episode.