As widely expected, HBO released a new trailer for the forthcoming sixth series of Game Of Thrones on Sunday night, during the first episode of their new show Vinyl.
But, in a bold move, it doesn’t feature any new footage. Instead, it feels like a Thrones greatest/bleakest hits, or at least a reminder of some of the show’s most important messages. As HBO double down on security and leaked plots, we have to assume these voices are also precursors to where the sixth series might take us, too.
“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword,” says Ned Stark as the camera swoops through the Faceless Men’s Bravos hall, focusing in on a mask of Winterfell’s former Hand Of The King. It was an important message he passed on to his children, blood or otherwise, and carried out by them with varying degrees of success over the following four series. Here, it’s also a warning from beyond the grave about the dangers of getting others to do your dirty work. In Westeros, where manipulation is more common than honour, that could be aimed at anyone. Most likely, it’s pointed at Cersei Lannister, more a puppeteer than queen mother, who, let’s not forget, also had Ned Stark killed. The words could, also be relevant to Jon Snow, who presumably, once resurrected as everyone expects him to be, will abandon the Night’s Watch, hopefully and get stuck in to some good old fashioned vengeance killing like everyone else. There’s also Tyrion, over in Slaver’s Bay, running the show in Daenerys’ absence, with Varys at his side, pulling the strings.
Next up is Ned’s eldest Robb Stark, last seen on the end of Roose Bolton’s dagger at the Red Wedding. We hear his desperate exclamation that he was losing the war for the Iron Throne despite winning battles along the way. A message to Daenerys, perhaps, who while blessed with three dragons and a shitload of deadly armies, is at present alone, save for a wounded Drogon, and surrounded by Dothraki. Who hate her guts.
Perhaps most tantalising is the next mask and voice. Catelyn Stark. Despite not happening yet, it’s long-been hoped she would make a return as Lady Stoneheart. Michelle Fairley, the actor who plays her, says this definitely isn’t happening, and she’s on stage in the West End at the moment. The show’s special effects supervisor has dropped some pretty heavy hints that it might, however, and from certain casting calls, some of Stoneheart’s Brotherhood Without Banners associates look to have been cast too. If you don’t want to know any more about that, forget you ever heard that name. If you do, get Googling.
Maybe it’s mother Stark’s words we’re meant to concentrate on, though, not her presence? “Show them how it feels to lose what they love,” she says. She never really loved Jon Snow, the so-called bastard of her husband Ned, so these words are likely not meant for him, more probably her daughters Sansa and Arya, who very much have revenge on their minds as we head into the sixth series. Let’s not forget Bran Stark, who is on a mission to find the Three Eyed Raven. From images released by HBO last week, he looks to have found him, too, and he’s quite literally standing on two feet again.
We then see Joffrey, who reminds us everyone is his to torment. There’s not so much to read into that, but hearing his voice does bring back memories of his wonderful death at the Purple Wedding. There’s also the small matter of Littlefinger and Grandma Tyrell being responsible, and Cersei willing to do anything to avenge her nightmare of a child.
Jon Snow is next, and his warning of the long night being on its way. Hopefully that long night won’t be as drawn out as the saga surrounding his true parentage (surely R + L = J?), and here’s also hoping that particular storyline is dealt with in some depth and put to bed in this sixth series.
“And the dead come with it,” Snow warns, fatally, as the camera zooms out to masks of Lannisters Tyrion, Jaime and Cersei, Starks Arya and Sansa and Daenerys Targaryen.
Recipients of the advice issued earlier in the trailer? Perhaps. More likely, a stark, no pun intended, reminder that no one is safe in this world. We’re in uncharted territory now, the books are not here to guide us and even when they had George RR Martin’s books at their side, GoT producers showed they had no problem killing off a character prematurely. Now they’re truly in charge, anything could happen.