What’ll Happen in Game of Thrones, Season 6…

…is something I honestly don’t know. Humans are well-known to be bad at predictions, whether it’s serious things like stock markets, elections, personal life etc., more light-hearted stuff like movies and so on, or dead-or-alive matters like the plot of the next season of “Game of Thrones”. Nevertheless, I am going to present some speculations here, and act as if I am pretty confident in them. (I would actually be surprised if any of them came true.) Please consider that a) I haven’t read the books, so anything I say might be rendered irrelevant by information contained in them and b) I do not possess extensive knowledge of other people’s fan theories, so it’s possible I will say things many other people have said before me. Also, this is obviously going to contain spoilers for the previous five seasons of the show, which I will assume the reader has seen:

The North: The previous two seasons featured at least four ambiguous deaths that could play a role here – Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, Stannis Baratheon and Theon Greyjoy/Sansa Stark’s jump from the wall of Castle Winterfell. The Hound was left for dead by Arya Stark, yet we never saw his corpse. Moreover, when the Brotherhood without Banners set him free in Season 3, he was told that “the Lord of Light is not yet done with you”, indicating he should be set to play a much bigger role than he has so far. Perhaps the strongest indication that Sandor Clegane is still alive is that Rory McCann, the actor who played him, is suspiciously missing from the “The Fallen” panel for Season 4 of the show. Stannis Baratheon, in the Season 5 finale, was found by Brienne of Tarth after he had lost the battle for Winterfell, and she sentenced him to death for the murder of his brother Renly. We did see her swing her sword towards his head, and we did hear a dull sound, but we never saw her sword connect, and the sound could have been from someone who snuck up on her and struck her down before she could finish the job. If so, that person could be The Hound. The third one, also from the Season 5 finale, is Theon and Sansa’s jump from the battlements of Winterfell, after killing Ramsay Bolton’s lover Myranda before. I think these deaths are actually going to hold up, and they will not miraculously survive the fall. (The only plausible scenario I can imagine for that is Bran Stark taking over the brain of some kind of very large bird and saving them, but it’s questionable if he could yet do that, and this kind of thing is also pretty lame when no dragons are involved.) Taken together, that leads me to the following scenario:

Brienne was, in fact, stricken down by Sandor Clegane, who somehow managed to survive his wounds from their last encounter. It has been established that the “Lord of Light” cultists of the Brotherhood without Banners can revive the dead, and that might just be what happened to him. He now becomes a key figure in forging an alliance between Stannis and the Brotherhood. The last time we saw the Brotherhood, they were people who had a strong sense of justice, stood up for the common people and pledged allegiance to no noble House. So they and a man who killed his own daughter and claims to be the one true king of Westeros would make for strange bedfellows, but the same could be said about their previous connection to Melissandre, a woman who mercilessly persecutes heretics, advocates human sacrifice and is a supporter of Stannis. On the other hand, the deaths of Myranda, the woman he lo… well, at least had affection for, Theon, his faithful, brainwashed servant, and Sansa, the wife who was going to secure his newly-acquired position as a full-fledged Bolton and his father’s heir, Ramsay Bolton is likely to become inreasingly paranoid na unhinged. (In fact, this is what I view as the intention behind Sansa and Theon’s action: Revenge by suicide.) His insecurity about being a bastard and getting a legitimate younger brother might lead him to lash out and go on a rampage, possibly even killing his father and his pregnant wife and installing himself as the most tyrannical ruler The North has ever seen. That would create the ideal climate for a rebellion against the Bolton’s, led by Stannis and the Brotherhood (the latter of which should already have a following among ordinary people). This being Game of Thrones, it might not be successful, but I think it will be for reasons that will become apparent below. (Also, Melissandre has foreseen “Bolton banners burning”, and prophecies coming true, but not in the way one expected, is not exactly uncommon in fantasy.)

Alternately, Stannis might be and remain dead, and then it will be exclusively Sandor Clegane’s role to lead the Northern revolution. In that case, you might be tempted to think that House Baratheon has been extinguished, but don’t forget King Robert’s bastard Gendry, who could theoretically press a claim to Dragonstone at some point.

The Wall: Jon Snow, possibly the last completely just and honourable man on the show (but not the last such person, as long as Brienne is alive), is dead. Theoretically, he could be reanimated by Melissandre, but actor Kit Harrington has confirmed his character will not come back. Now, Ned Stark’s bastard allowed the wildlings to enter Westeros before his demise, he risked his life for them and he put their king out of his misery when he was to be burned alive. They are reluctant to trust anyone from south of the Wall, but the fact that Jon Snow was stabbed to death for all these actions by his own brothers should convince them that he was, in fact, truly their friend. Thus, they might be inclined to avenge him, especially since they demonstrably don’t care much for any other member of the Night’s Watch. Ser Davos Seaworth – The Onion Knight – and Melissandre are both at Castle Black at the end of Season 5, and if it is attacked by the wildlings once again, or if they concoct some kind of assassination plot, at least one of them might try to help the Night’s Watch fend it off, but I make a different prediction: The wildlings will rebel against the Night’s watch, be successful, and ultimately replace it, and Ser Davos will become their leader in the process. This would fullfil another Melissandre prophecy, that The Onion Knight will play a key role in the war against the white walkers, and once again in a rather unexpected way. However, he will remain bitter about the death of Shireen Baratheon, and thus my second prognosis: Stannis will conquer the North, and he will give his blessing to Ser Davos and the wildlings guarding the Wall. Ser Davos, however, will kill him, probably in one of the last episodes of Season 6. This would perfectly fit the typical GoT pattern that even when a character has won, he or she doesn’t really win.

King’s Landing: After Cersei Lannister got publicly shamed in the last episode, she is likely to emerge even more bitter, resentful and thirsty for revenge than she was before. Qyburn, her own personal Dr Frankenstein, has turned the murderous knight Gregor Clegane – “The Mountain” – into a soulless fighting machine, and promised he would avenge her. So, I believe, he will, but one thing remains mysterious: The High Sparrow is not portrayed as someone stupid or naive about politics, and from Lancel Lannister’s accounts, he should have ample evidence of Cersei’s personality, so he must have anticipated Cersei would only “confess her sins” to be set free and pursue vengeance afterwards. So, why did he let her return to the Red Keep? And cruelly punish her just to make sure she would hate him even more? My guess is that he conciously seeks to die a martyr. We saw that the “Sparrows” enjoy quite a bit of popular support, and he may hope to provoke an mass uprising, a possibility he did talk about before. And even The Mountain can’t kill everyone in the capital (I predict a spectacular death scene were an angry mob fights and kill him, although he takes many of them with him).

Alas, a theocratic-socialist paradise in King’s Landing is not going to happen, according to my theory: After all, a rigid religious morality is not for everyone, not even every commoner. And thanks to Margaery’s efforts, the Tyrell family should have some popularity among the poor and downtrodden as well. Olenna Tyrell and Petyr Baelish, who we already know to be allied against the fanatics, can boast a lot of financial ressources, too. So I claim there is going to be a civil war in the capital, with the Sparrows and their sympathizers on one side and citizens supported and financed by the Tyrell family and Littlefinger on the other. In the course of this, Thommen Baratheon will be overthrown and Baelish will take control of the city and the realm. After all, he has always talked big about ascending to the throne and taking advantage of chaos, and this would be a golden opportunity for the kind of man he always claimed he is. Suspiciously enough, we didn’t see anything of him after his conversation with Olenna last season. (And neither anything of her.)

Braavos (and, again, The Wall): I don’t have any specific predictions about how Arya Stark’s apprenticeship at the temple of the many-faced god will go, but instead a general projection of what her role will be afterwards: She is going to emerge as some kind of theological rival to Melissandre and the Lord of Light cult in general. After all, it was clearly implied last season that this many-faced god is identical to the “one god: death” Arya’s dance master told her about at the beginning of the series, and the many faces displayed in his temple are identical to the traditional Westerosi gods she is familiar with – the ones the Fire religion claims are false idols. Melissandre, when encountering Arya, had a vision of the many people she would kill, and told her they would meet again. Secondly, “The Red Woman” explained last season that the fundamental conflict in this world is between “life” and “death”, and she, and all disciples of the one true god she claims to serve, is on the side of life. Her willingness to burn people at stakes may seem at odds with that, and even the nicer-seeming Brotherhood without Banners is not unwilling to kill. However, as mentioned, the magic of their religion does give them the ability to revive the dead, but, in the words of Beric Dondarrion, they also come back “less”. So, their devotion to “life” could actually mean this: The Fire religion’s ultimate goal, although its followers may not be aware of it, is to achieve immortality, even at the price of one’s own soul. If that’s correct, the end result of this process could even be the creatures known as “White Walkers” – and its conceivable that the metaphysical forces behind the Fire cult could have contacted people beyond The Wall at some point. That would explain why Melissandre’s visions have led her there, but are failing her now: She is supposed to facilitate the invasion of ice zombies, and Arya Stark is chosen to prevent that, or help preventing it. At some point, she will thus have to completely transcend the desire for revenge killings that originally brought her to Braavos. That process has pretty clearly already begun.

Danaerys: While the last of the Targaryens (Or is she? See below.) continued to refer to herself as “Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea”, we actually hadn’t seen the Dothraki in a while before they reappeared in the finale of Season 5. There are at least two things this could mean: Either, they are annoyed at the fact that their leader has conquered several cities and yet, they didn’t get to plunder them or brutalize their people and now, they demand what they believe is theirs, creating a lot of trouble. But  Danaerys was not universally accepted as a their leader before, and indeed, her original purpose in acquiring the Unsullied was, in Jorah Mormont’s words, to obtain the “one thing the Dothraki respect: strength”. Thus, the more likely meaning of the scene seems to me that the Dothraki will now finally flock to Danaerys. Hence, the Mother of Dragons will spend the season finally building her army and somehow integrating the Dothraki into her vision of a kingdom. That will by no means be an easy task, but I predict that at the end of Season 6, she will finally set sail for Westeros, because really, how long can that event still be delayed?

Tyrion and Varys: I do predict that Tyrion Lannister will do a good job ruling Mereen, because, after all, he is Tyrion. This is going to be decisive in consolidating Danaerys’ kingdom, and thus freeing her to retake Westeros. The only interesting speculation I can currently think of is that the fan theory that the imp is actually Danaerys’ illegitimate brother (and the Mad King’s son) turns out to be true. If so, it might convince her to take him with her to Westeros, rather than leaving the administration of her empire in his hands.

On the other hand, the future fate of Varys the Spider is a really intriguing question to ponder: Danaerys knows right now that he was involved in the plot to assassinate her, and Tyrion has defended him saying he did it “to survive”. But Varys also mentioned last season that he and some confederates had been secretly working on a “Targaryen restauration” to replace the incompetent king Robert Baratheon when he was still alive. This is something he did of his own volition, not because he was following orders. That could mean that he had a hand in Danaerys’ forced marriage to Khal Drogo. If that is true, let it sink in for a moment: This event is to her what the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents is to Batman: A trauma (of being sold for personal gain by her own brother) which drives her mission (of liberating the slaves), and yet must continue to hurt, as evidenced by the fierceness with which she has pursued it. If she ever finds out that Varys is partially responsible for it, she will in no way be “amused”. While we are at it, the “just following orders” excuse for his actions in Season 1 is also dubious: After all, who brought the news of Danaerys’ engagement to King’s Landing in the first place? Is it possible that whatever cabal Varys was part of eventually realized that Viserys Targaryen would be worse than King Robert, and they decided to sacrifice the life of the exact same women who they previously forced into a marriage with a brutal warlord? (Actually, it’s not just possible, it is probable.) On the other hand, we know from Ser Jorah’s example that traitors have a long halftime in Danaerys’ court, so my prediction is that nothing will happen to Varys in Season 6, but in Season 7, Danaerys will have him killed.

Dorne: Myrcella Baratheon is dead, and the Sand Snakes hope to provoke a war, but I don’t believe it will necessarily come to that. Jamie Lannister and Trystan Martell are on the boat where she died, two people who love Myrcella, know who is responsible for her murder and will want to avenge her. Ellaria Sand is almost forced to overthrow Doran Martell, because he would never let her actions stand. But Trystan has a legitimate claim to be Lord of Dorne, so I project that Jamie and Trystan will try to settle the matter of Myrcella’s death by themselves, and to eliminate the Sand Snakes. I do not make any predictions on if they will succeed.

And that’s it. Perhaps some of this will actually come true, probably not, but it’s fun to make up wild theories in any case.