After waiting almost a year for it to return to screens, we're now over halfway through Season 6 of Game of Thrones, and what a season it is turning out to be!
So far this season we've seen the usual amount of deaths (some more devastating than others), some gratuitous nudity (including that rather closeup shot in Episode 5) and even the return of some long lost characters with Bran and company, Yara and Sweetrobin. But as Episode 6, "Blood of My Blood" approaches, could we be set to see Benjen Stark, the longest of long-lost characters, return?
Lately, there have been a few hints which strongly suggest the long-lost character may return to the show after being absent for the better part of five seasons. Firstly, take a look at the teaser trailer for the upcoming episode "Blood of My Blood" and see if you can spot the scene that may hint at Benjen's return:
So there was no outright clip of Benjen in that teaser, but we did see some footage of Meera and Bran facing off against what looks to be an army of wights. Following Hodor's death (rest in peace, sweet angel) Meera will undoubtedly need help getting Bran to safety.
Well, the internet is speculating yes, and adding more fuel to this rumor fire is a scene from the Season 6 trailer:
At the 1:15 mark of the trailer, Ser Davos ominously says: "...and make no mistake, the dead are coming" before flashing to a fight scene in the snowy woods, seen here:
At first glance, it might just look like a figure on horseback fighting another man with fire, but then something else might catch your eye:
Could that be Meera huddling behind Bran's sled? It definitely looks like it! And given that the last place we saw Benjen was north of the wall (excluding recent flashbacks, courtesy of Bran), it would all seem to match up perfectly that the figure on horseback was Bran's uncle coming to the rescue.
In addition to all of this, the original actor who played Benjen, Joseph Mawle, was recently credited as appearing in Episode 6 on IMDb, only for it to be deleted a short time later. Of course, IMDb credits are unreliable at the best of times, but let's stay optimistic and chalk this up as one more piece of evidence that Benjen will return.
However if Benjen was to return, fans are hypothesizing that it could be under the name "Coldhands," a character who features in the book series. Coldhands is described on A Wiki of Ice and Fire as:
A mysterious figure from beyond the Wall. He looks like a wight and has hands black from pooled and congealed blood, but is intelligent and seemingly benign.
In the books, Coldhands travels with Bran, Hodor, Meera and Jojen and guides them to the cave of the three-eyed raven. Coldhands never reveals his face, and rides on a giant elk. While we didn't see Coldhands guide the group in Season 4, maybe his arc could be reinvented into a storyline in Season 6.
While Benjen being Coldhands is a top theory for fans, the man himself, George R. R. Martin has sadly dismissed this theory for the books, but hey, that doesn't mean that it couldn't happen in the TV series, right? What do you think?
Game of Thrones returns to HBO with Episode 6 on Sunday, May 29.