CAUTION: Possible book spoilers, and major show spoilers, are coming! So, proceed at your own peril, but I advise that you catch up before you go on ahead.
With season five of HBO's epic high fantasy series, Game of Thrones, vast approaching, the Internet is bombarding us with all sorts of subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints and clues in regards to what the upcoming season might entail.
This time, I have the pleasure of sharing with you all a myriad of new season five images depicting both the characters we have all come to know and love (or loathe), as well as a few newcomers who are sure to bring about even more chaos.
Last time we saw her, she was able to sway the captain of a ship bound for the Free City of Braavos to allow her to join his crew, thanks to the iron coin given to her by Jaqen H'ghar, which happened way back in season two.
Just to recap a bit, Jaqen H'ghar helped Arya and two of her friends, Gendry and Hot Pie, escape Harrenhal, the castle in which they were held in for a while. H'ghar also killed two people in Harrenhal upon Arya's request, as he had given her the opportunity to choose three names of people she wanted dead. The first man was called The Tickler, the torturer of Harrenhal. H'ghar broke his neck, but made it look like an accident. The second man was Ser Amory Lorch, a general in Lord Tywin Lannister's army. H'ghar hit him in the back with a poisoned dart, just as Lorch was about to tell Tywin what Arya had stolen (a piece of paper detailing Tywin's battle plans). Lastly, Arya forced H'ghar to help her and her friends escape, but it required more than the one death left, which is why H'ghar was reluctant to help her, at first. In the end, Arya and co. did escape unharmed, and we found out that Jaqen H'ghar was an impostor; in reality, he was a Faceless Man, a member of the ancient guild of assassins based in Braavos. H'ghar was posing as a criminal from Lorath, another Free City in Essos. Arya, who was so impressed by H'ghar's deadly skills, wanted to learn how to do all that he did, and so he gave her the opportunity to travel with him to Braavos, in order to become a Faceless Man (despite their name, women may also become a part of that guild). Arya chose to stay in Westeros to find her family, but recall that all of this happened in season two, when her mother and eldest brother (Catelyn and Robb Stark, respectively) were still alive.
Arya and Jaqen in season two:
Now, and judging from the stills above, Arya has made it safely to Braavos. And it appears as if she has reached the place where the Faceless Men reside. Will she be able to reunite with the man who posed as Jaqen H'ghar? Or, could it be possible that her former water dancing master, Syrio Forel, is still alive, and perhaps living in Braavos?
The beginning moments of the season four finale episode, "The Children," brought about a drastic change at Castle Black. The brothers of said castle had managed to hold off the wildling invasion that had occurred in the previous episode, "The Watchers on the Wall." However, the wildling leader (The King-Beyond-The-Wall), Mance Rayder, still had a very formidable army at his disposal, while Castle Black's numbers dwindled even lower after the incredible battle in "The Watchers on the Wall." Jon Snow realized this problem, and so he sought out to negotiate with Rayder on his own, without carrying any weapons. And to make the matter much worse for himself, Snow decided to meet with Rayder at his wildling camp, beyond the Wall.
The meeting did not go as planned. Mance Rayder wanted the brothers at Castle Black to grant him and his army passage beneath the Wall, in order to get away from the dangers that were vast approaching, including the threat of the white walkers and wights. Jon Snow, on the other hand, had a very different objective in mind - kill Mance Rayder, and hope that it weakens the morale of the wildling army enough to discourage from mounting another attack. Rayder, and those he had with him inside the tent in which the "negotiation" was taking place, recognized Jon's intentions, and so Rayder was not killed. Instead, Mance's army was overthrown entirely, thanks to Lord Stannis Baratheon. His army devastated Mance's, and so Stannis has now put himself in a position to head Castle Black, and provide assistance on the Wall.
Stannis' invasion of the Wall:
It remains to be seen how Jon and Stannis will co-exist, as well as how Stannis will go about improving the situation at Castle Black. Moreover, now that the former Lord Commander of Castle Black, Jeor Mormont, is dead, who will become the next Lord Commander? All signs point to Jon Snow as the next leader of the Night's Watch, but will his actions and decisions conflict with Stannis's? We shall see this upcoming season!
Queen Cersei Lannister
So, Lord Tywin Lannister is dead, thanks to his own son, Tyrion Lannister (more commonly referred to as "the Imp" in that world). Joffrey Baratheon died earlier in season four. As a result, Tommen Baratheon is now King of Westeros, but he is too young to rule the Seven Kingdoms on his own. So technically, Cersei rules the Seven Kingdoms, until her son Tommen matures a bit more.
Tommen Baratheon, the King:
Cersei is not the brightest Lannister. She can be very impatient and selfish, and that can sometimes lead her to anger and outrage, which further lead her to terrible decision-making tactics. And, her actions have surely infuriated many people, both within King's Landing (where she resides), and within the rest of Westeros. She practically has no friends, and she trusts no one but herself. Likewise, no one trusts her, except perhaps those who are constantly by her side. And finally, she has no clue on how to properly rule, a fact her entire family knows very well about her. So, is Westeros safe under her leadership? Heck no!!!
Here's what I predict will happen: Cersei will win a few battles, but she will ultimately lose the war. In other words, she will find ways of getting things to go her way at the outset. But, her decisions will lead to chaos for everyone, but it will also bring about dire consequences for the queen herself. Also, her past actions will catch up with her, which will inflame those dire consequences even further. Anyone who has read the books should know all about this, but I will keep that information to myself. Hopefully, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have chosen to stick closely to Cersei's storyline in the books, because they were absolutely thrilling to read.
Daenerys of the House Targaryen
Queen Dany still rules Meereen, one of the three main slave cities in Essos, across the Narrow Sea. She has instituted the abolition of slavery successfully, but the two previous cities (Astapor and Yunkai) in which she did the same thing are now revolting and trying to re-enact slavery. Meanwhile, in Meereen, her anti-slavery campaign has not been without a few negative outcomes.
Firstly, when she publicly executed 163 of the slave masters in Meereen, she executed an innocent man, according to that man's son, Hizdahr Zo Loraq (let's just refer to him as HZL from now on).
Rather than telling you about it, here is the entire exchange between Dany and HZL (note: their exchange begins at 2:59):
So as you saw, Dany made a grave mistake with HZL's father. The show has not brought this up yet, but she could have made the same mistake with some of the other individuals she executed. Keep in mind that she did not even allow any of the 163 slave masters she killed a trial. So again, it is possible that many more of them might have been innocent, or at least not fully devoted to slavery.
However, there is the opposing (a very possible) scenario - HZL is lying about his father's involvement in the murder of those children they speak of, and therefore he is just trying to gain Dany's confidence just enough to get closer to her, in order to harm her in retaliation for his father's death. The show has mentioned that some of Meereen's citizens have tried to enact revenge killings, forcing Dany to use her Unsullied army to stop those committing murder.
With Astapor and Yunkai perhaps plotting to overthrow her, coupled with the enemies she has surely made not only in Meereen, but in other places she's visited (like Qarth, for example), Dany may be heading into a huge battle, perhaps even war. Will she be able to hold Meereen after everything is said and done? Or, will her quest to take the Iron Throne come to a tragic end?
Tyrion Lannister and Varys
Or the Imp and the Spider, respectively, as they are more commonly known as in Westeros. Tyrion is coming off perhaps his best and worst night ever, which occurred during season four finale, "The Children."
It was his best night because thanks to his older brother Jaime, and Varys, he escaped King's Landing and avoided possible execution. Remember that Tyrion was wrongly arrested by his spiteful sister Cersei because she firmly believed that he killed her son Joffrey. We all know that accusation is blatantly false, as it was Lady Olenna Tyrell, Lady Margaery's grandmother, who put the poison in Joffrey's wine cup, thanks to the machinations of Lord Petyr Baelish (a.k.a. Littlefinger). During his trial, Tyrion chose a trial by combat, in which he would have had to face Ser Gregor Clegan (the Mountain), had it not been for Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne volunteering to be Tyrion's champion. Oberyn wanted to kill the Mountain as vengeance for what the Mountain did to his sister Elia Martell and her children. In the end, the Mountain brutally killed the Red Viper, and so Tyrion was sentenced to death by his father Tywin.
Ultimately, Tyrion not only escaped, but he killed his own father in the process. Now, he will never have to endure his father's attempts at getting him killed any longer. However, the night of his escape was also one of the worst nights Tyrion has ever had. He also killed his former lover, Shae, who testified against him during the initial trial. That devastated him, and will surely haunt him as he travels with Varys to Pentos, a Free City in Essos.
Tyrion kills Shae and Tywin:
Tyrion's deadly actions will undoubtedly have Cersei desperately trying to hunt him down. But, what about Varys? What is his role in all of this? And why did he help Tyrion escape, when he knows he was risking his life in doing so? Where could he be leading Tyrion, and for what purpose? Season five cannot get here quick enough, huh?
Prince Doran's brother has just been killed by the Mountain in King's Landing. Surely, many in Dorne will seek revenge for the death of their fallen comrade, because when doesn't revenge factor into the equation (so to speak) in the game of thrones. Will Doran be one of them? Or, will he find a more hospitable way to negotiate with the Lannisters, with whom the Dornish have had quarrels with for quite a long time?
Season five is set to introduce three of the Sand Snakes, all daughters of the late Prince Oberyn - Obara Sand, Tyene Sand and Nymeria Sand. In the books, and without giving away too much, all three want to avenge their father's death, but they each want to go about it a different way. On the contrary, Doran advises restraint, and cautions his nieces against taking drastic actions that could endanger the livelihoods of everyone living in Dorne.
It remains to be seen how closely the showrunners choose to stick to the Dornish storyline in the books. However, I hope they do it justice, because that particular storyline is incredibly entertaining.
Ellaria Sand was Oberyn's lover, so she must be devastated by what she witnessed during Oberyn's fight with Gregor Clegane. Judging by her facial expression in the still image above, she is not about to let anyone stand in the way of her newfound mission, not even the intimidatingly strong Areo Hotah, the captain of Prince Doran's household guard.
The Sand Snakes might rally behind Ellaria in their collective attempt at seeking vengeance, but will Doran allow it?
Now, this guy is perhaps the most mysterious of all the newcomers to the show. He looks like a commoner who has been living out on the road for quite some time, but he also appears serious and determined. And judging by the following synopsis on the character, he is on a mission:
A devout and pious man, the High Sparrow came to King’s Landing to serve those forgotten by much of the world – the poor, the downtrodden and the infirm – and quickly amassed a large following. His fellow believers have swarmed over the city, ministering to the lowest and decrying the corruption of the highest.
Hmm, intriguing indeed. King's Landing has always been in need of someone who will protect those who cannot protect themselves from the injustices of the crown. The High Sparrow could possible put himself at odds with Queen Cersei, who obviously could not care less about those below her. But, if his followers really are as numerous as the synopsis would have us believe, then he may be in a position to take serious actions.
Could the High Sparrow be the one who finally puts an end to Cersei's reign? Or, will Cersei destroy him, much like she has destroyed her enemies in the past?
Which of these characters are you most looking forward to seeing?
Let me know what you think of these stills in the comments section below, as well as what we may see from these characters once season five rolls around.
[Images from: Den of Geeks]