Game of Thrones has a lot of 'splainin' to do. The hit HBO show's fifth season ended on a whole mountain range of cliffhangers, from Jon Snow stabbed by his own men to Daenerys Targaryen and her dragon running into a horde of Dothraki warriors. Meanwhile, Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy are running for their lives and political powder kegs everywhere are waiting to go boom. Since the show is now moving past the point where author George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series left off, nobody really except the showrunners knows where any of this is headed.
As anticipation builds for Sunday's season premiere, get psyched — or go crazy — by reading up on the 11 biggest unanswered questions awaiting us in Westeros this year. Winter? Definitely coming. Everything else? Your guess is as good as ours ….
1. Is Jon Snow dead? Like, dead dead?
When everyone involved with Game of Thrones swears up and down that Jon Snow is dead, they're probably not lying. Last season's final shot — Jon in the snow, blood gushing out from multiple stab wounds, with the unblinking eyes that are cinematic shorthand for "yeah, this dude's a corpse" — doesn't leave a whole lot of wiggle room. Nor do the clips from the trailers that show him lying in state, surrounded by Ser Davos and various Night's Watch loyalists.
So does this mean Jon is following his father Ned, his half-brother Robb, and his stepmother Catelyn into Shocking Stark Death Oblivion? Since the most recent volume of the novels, A Dance with Dragons, ends on this exact same cliffhanger, nobody knows for sure — but don't count the boy in black out just yet. For one thing, he has a special connection to his direwolf Ghost, and may be able to "warg" his consciousness into his animal companion. For another, the red priestess Melisandre is hanging around, and her religion has serious resurrection powers. Readers have long speculated that a combination of these two kinds of magic — ice and fire, if you will, perhaps with an assist from his psychic brother Bran — will give Lord Snow his ticket back to the land of the living, and leave him much more whole than other resurrectees have been in the past.
2. What the hell's going to happen at the Wall?
Nothing good! Ser Alliser Thorne has led a mutiny against Jon Snow for allowing the wildlings through the Wall, which means more bloodshed between rival factions is sure to follow. The feral tribe from the outlands may not have been the late Lord Commander's biggest fans, but they're not likely to take kindly to his murder by a pack of bigots, whom they outnumber by an order of magnitude. The late Stannis Baratheon's two most devoted followers, Davos and Melisandre, are still in the mix as well — and so is at least one giant, whom Jon helped rescue from the besieged fishing village of Hardhome. To the south, the Boltons are in charge, and they could well send forces to slay the few remaining Stark and Stannis loyalists at Castle Black. And to the north, of course, the White Walkers are coming, with their army of the dead in tow. It's an explosive situation, and the whole Wall could fall if it blows up.
3. What's going to happen to Daenerys?
The Mother of Dragons fared a bit better than Jon Snow did last season, if only because he's dead and, well, she isn't. Still, Dany is in a pretty precarious position. Her attempt to govern the city of Meereen ended in a bloody insurgency that forced her to flee on the back of Drogon, her black dragon. She's now stranded in the middle of the grasslands known as the Dothraki Sea — alone, hungry, unable to force the beast to follow any of her commands, and finally, surrounded by a khalasar of warriors on horseback. Never the most popular figure among the horselords, our heroine is shown staggering into their capital city in the trailers, where forces unknown strip and manhandle her.
So: Is she a prisoner, forced to join other widowed khaleesis in early retirement? Is she going to rally the Dothraki to her side with a little help from her scaly friend? Where did he go, anyway? What will happen if and when Daario Naharis and Jorah Mormont — her two rival warrior-suitors, one of whom is infected with the greyscale plague — track her down? And will any of it bring her any closer to invading Westeros and taking back the Iron Throne — or defending the Wall from the White Walkers?
4. What's going to happen in Meereen?
There's no reason to believe the Sons of the Harpy will stop their insurrection just because the queen who freed their slaves fled the scene. The ruling council currently in charge consists solely of non-natives: Grey Worm, general of the Unsullied; Missandei, her translator; and Tyrion Lannister, who talked his way into her good graces just before she flew away. Two of the three are former slaves themselves and thus unlikely to be popular with the aristocracy; the other has a price on his head. The Imp's pal Varys is along for the ride, too, but the spymaster's loyalties have always been questionable. Finally, there are still two dragons locked up beneath Daenerys' palace. Talk about wild cards!
5. What's going to happen in King's Landing?
Seriously, is there any place here that isn't a ticking time bomb going into Season Six?! Like Jon and Dany, Cersei Lannister started last season in charge and ended up in deep shit. After empowering the extremist religious leader known as the High Sparrow — in the hope that he'd take down her rivals — she wound up in the crosshairs as well. Now she's endured a horrifying walk of shame but will still have to stand trial ... and we've all seen how trials in King's Landing go. Her brother Jaime's back in town, bearing the bad news of their daughter Myrcella's murder, and her undead bodyguard Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane is running around too. There could well be a three-way bloodbath in the streets between Lannister, Tyrell, and Faith Militant forces before it's all said and done — four-way, since Dorne's Prince Trystane is a newcomer to the city this season. It's a recipe for disaster potent enough to make Meereen look like Des Moines.
6. Will Arya stay with the Faceless Men?
The wild-child Stark girl ended last season by crossing the evil Kingsguard Ser Meryn Trant off her kill list; her supervisor in the mystical order of assassins called the Faceless Men blinded her as punishment. Will she continue her training to become "no one" and join the FM for real? Or will she continue her vendetta against the Lannisters, perhaps by heading back to Westeros to seek them out?
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