(Warning: Potential SPOILERS for future episodes of Game of Thrones lie below - as well as some discussion of potential changes from the plot as seen in the novels. Proceed with whatever level of caution that suggests to you is wise...)
Now, after what was - even for Game of Thrones - an unusually traumatic episode this past week, you might imagine that next week's installment of TV's premier heartbreak inducing show will ease off a little with the shocking developments and horrifying eventualities. Which could of course be the case - but, what with this being Game of Thrones that we're talking about, it's probably best not to count on it. Instead, it seems more likely that we'll see even more internet-denting revelations, a surprising character's return, and - with the way this seasons been going thus far - quite possibly a penis or two.
We Might Be About To Watch As Sam Visits His Family...And Changes Game of Thrones Forever In The Process
The reason lying behind that particular supposition? Well, for the first part, there's the fact that the teaser trailer for the episode (which you can watch just below) outright reveals that Sam and Gilly will, in fact, be heading to Sam's ancestral home of Horn Hill.
Which, with Sam having already informed Gilly that he plans to leave her and her baby there, for their own safety, would seem a pretty simple aside, surely? Sam and Gilly go in, Sam and his family argue, Sam heads off to Oldtown without Gilly. Done and dusted, right?
Well, perhaps. The thing is, though - it's entirely possible that nothing about Sam's visit is going to go according to plan. Y'see...
There's Not Really Any Novel-Based Precedent For What's About To Go Down At Horn Hill
After all, when we last left Sam and Gilly in the novels, Sam has made plans for Gilly to head to Horn Hill, but hasn't actually yet implemented them, Instead, she's sitting on a ship in an Oldtown harbor, waiting for Sam to find out what's set to happen with his Maester-related plans. What's more, we haven't actually met Sam's family yet, and Sam and Gilly very much didn't stop there on their way to Oldtown.
Which, with the show already having diverged substantially from the novels, means almost anything could now happen at Horn Hill. Especially since...
Sam's Relationship With His Family Is...Strained
Or, at least, his relationship with his father is. As Sam told Jon way back in Season One (above), his father is a cruel man, who doesn't really consider Sam to be his son at all - suggesting that the upcoming family reunion could take an unexpected turn or two.
In fact, with Sam's mother, sister and brother all also set to appear in the episode, there are a whole lot of wild cards in play - and a whole lot of potentially conflicting motivations about to be set in motion. If Sam's father Randyll responds poorly to the idea of caring for Sam's supposed bastard, for instance, could we see his wife Melessa pull off something dramatic (and perhaps even murderous) to protect her son and grandchild? Could Sam's brother - and now heir to the Tarly title and lands - do something even more rash...like deposing his father?
Alternatively, and perhaps most potentially 'final shocking scene-appropriate' of all - could Sam somehow take control of the Tarly family himself? Say, after hearing word of Jon's death (and resurrection), and deciding that going south to become a Maester isn't necessarily the best course of action at this particular moment in time? In which case, it would seem to make sense that he'd rather find a way to ride north with an army than without one - and we all know how good at scheming Sam can be when he puts his mind to it.
After all - just because he ended up in Oldtown the books, doesn't mean he will in the show...