Here's why George RR Martin's approach to killing off characters in Game of Thrones works so well. It's not because of the shock it induces in the reader or watcher, and it's not because of the sheer callousness it presents. Sure, Martin enjoys how much his twists and turns affect you, but it's not the soul reason he does it. Hell, there was no such thing as a reaction video back in 2000 when he wrote A Storm of Swords and included the Red Wedding.
The truth is that Martin kills off characters so freely in order to create vacuums in the narrative. The death of Ned Stark in the first book doesn't work just because you enjoyed him being around, and now he's not around anymore. It works because he was the linchpin protagonist that seemed to hold the whole story together, and when he's killed off, there's a sense of chaos that is subsequently exciting.
David Benioff and DC Weiss
I'm not going to suggest for a second that these two don't understand A Song of Ice and Fire through and through. They have a dedication to adapting the source material and it's narrative beats almost to a terrifying degree. It simply seems that the following they've garnered is not the healthiest, with character deaths being played up for their OMG CAN YOU BELIEVE IT effects rather than their narrative functions. The supposed death of Jon Snow in A Dance With Dragons is used as something ambiguous, but of course the TV adaptation plays to the shock value. With Game of Thrones Season 6 on the horizon, we should try to fill this new vacuum in the narrative, and guess who is left to save Westeros from the impending threat of the White Walkers!
So let's get the obvious candidates out the way first. For many fans, Daenerys is constructed as some idyllic force that's set to solve everything when she finally uses her dragons to fly over to Westeros and claim what's hers. Game of Thrones Season 5 put a spanner in the works by asking exactly how effective this would be. Matters were made worse by Dany ending the season stuck in the fields of Essos surrounded by Dothraki. She doesn't appear in any position to save Westeros from its frozen doom.
What's worse is that Dany has a passing relationship with the idea of White Walkers at best. Sure, Daenerys is a force with particular clout in this story, but when she finally makes it to Westeros, what's to say that she will be aware of the White Walker threat, or even care?
Yo, Stannis! Heads up! Oh wait... too soon? This guy likely wasn't the most sufficient protection Westeros had to the threat beyond the wall, but he was certainly the most proactive. Any hope of him saving the realm has likely been dashed against the rocks with Brienne's apparent beheading of him after the battle for Winterfell. Chances of him showing up in Game of Thrones Season 6 are pretty slim, but hey. The Game of Thrones fandom won't accept that someone's dead till they explicitly see it in all its gory detail, and a cutaway like the one used for Stannis can make fans pretty hopeful. I won't buy that someone is dead till I see their head removed from their body. And even then, I'm pretty sure some fans are cooking up theories of robot torsos.
Again. Just because Tryion is a fan favorite doesn't mean he has even the slightest chance of saving the day in all his glory later on. The very point of Tyrion as a character is to exhibit the contradictory relationship between heritage and individuality, and now Tyrion has had his prestige as a Lannister taken away too. At the start of Season 6, he will likely be toiling around, hanging out with Daario, and with no Queen to council, will appear more useless than ever before. I'd suspect the tone will be something similar to his time spent with Bronn in Season 1, surviving through sheer wit and ingenuity alone. Tyrion hopping over the narrow sea to solve everyone's problems is now purely in the realms of fan-fiction, if the show wasn't considered that already.
Here's where the plans for Game of Thrones Season 6 get interesting. A leaked script segment reveals a new character, Kinvara, being introduced to the mix in Mereen. Supposedly the high priestess of Volantis, Kinvara is set to be the only other Red Priestess in the story other than Mellissandre. She seems just as dogmatic and dedicated to doctrine as the Red Woman, though she puts her stock into a slightly more promising figure than Stannis Baratheon.
Her faith in Daenerys seems to exhibit a knowledge of the "prince that was promised" prophecy that has lingered in the books and fan sites alike for years. The show hasn't made much reference to it in its run, though it's this very concept that has fans hopeful for a possible return of Jon Snow in Season 6. Perhaps with Kinvara, Benioff and Weiss are approaching these massive solve-all prophecies a little more directly. Or they could just be getting our hopes up in order to break our hearts once more down the road. Yeah. Now I think about it, that's much more likely.
You can catch more of my Game of Thrones coverage here. What are your thoughts, hopes and fears for Game of Thrones Season 6? Write a post about it here on MoviePilot, vote in our poll, or leave a comment below!