Game of Thrones returns Sunday to HBO with ‘The Red Woman’

We know no one and nothing is safe in the “Game of Thrones” universe. Heroes and children die. Villains prevail. Plots thicken and schemes succeed. Bring on Season 6.

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Danaerys has a lot of explaining to do now that the Dothraki have caught up with her. Photo: HBO
Danaerys has a lot of explaining to do now that the Dothraki have caught up with her. Photo: HBO

SAN DIEGO, April 23, 2016 – “Game of Thrones” fans can now exhale. The series is back with its first episode of Season 6 on Sunday, April 23 on HBO at 9 p.m. ET with numerous replays throughout the night and week.

Can we still claim the series is based on the novels? Season 6 will be the first season for the series without any published novels determining the plotline. Martin confirmed on his blog several months ago he would not have the sixth novel finished before the season debut, not really news to anyone.

How much will this matter? With the HBO version veering away more than ever before from the plotlines in the novels, now having outrun the five existing books of the proposed seven book series, series only fans (called the “Unsullied”) will be on an even playing field now with the longtime readers (who call themselves the “Sullied”).

See the longest Season 6 trailer released so far here.


Readers may have a general idea how the unresolved questions of the novels may be answered. But the plot lines are far from assured despite the many clues and despite theories developed from video in the trailers.

But come on, everyone’s talking about Just One Thing. Is Jon Snow really dead? We can all agree by now Jon was killed by the Night’s Watch. But death is a fluid concept in Westeros. Melisandre saw Thoros the Red Priest resurrect Beric Dondarion in Season 3. Perhaps she can do the same for Jon. Days ago, actor Paul Dailly who plays Thoros confirmed he would be back this season. The “warg” theory says Jon’s consciousness now lives in his direwolf, Ghost. So we may see actor Kit Harrington, but those in Westeros only see his Ghost.

Bran Stark is almost unrecognizable from the small paraplegic boy we saw in Season 4. Photo: HBO
Bran Stark is almost unrecognizable from the small boy we saw in Season 4. Photo: HBO

Actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright who plays Bran Stark is now six feet tall and very much a man instead of the boy we last saw. Most of Westeros believes Bran is dead, but they will learn he survived an attack by the White Walkers’ wights, and has been presumably developing his talents as a warg, with the ability to enter the minds of animals and other people. Bran also has the gift of “greensight,” prophetic visions he hasn’t been able to understand in the past. In one of the Season 6 trailers, Bran goes toe to toe with a White Walker, with major implications. Bran’s reappearance could change alliances as the battle for control of the Iron Throne continues in Season 6.

Fans have a big wish list once we get past the Jon Snow Dead or Alive discussion: Danaerys and her dragons kill all the White Walkers. Sansa Stark (or someone, anyone) kills Ramsay Bolton. Arya Stark kills Meryn Trant. Tyrion gets out of Meereen alive. Bran Stark uses his powers for something really extraordinary – can he defeat the White Walkers? Something worth watching finally happens in Dorne. Cersei’s humiliation is complete. Jaime and Brienne finally get together.

Cersei Lannister wastes no time in plotting her revenge in Season 6. Photo: HBO
Cersei Lannister wastes no time in plotting her revenge in Season 6. Photo: HBO

HBO has provided a list of the main cast returning and a few new names: Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Aidan Gillen (Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish), Diana Rigg (Lady Olenna Tyrell), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Maisie Williams(Arya Stark) and Jonathan Pryce (the High Sparrow).

Additional returning series regulars this season include: Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Dean-Charles Chapman (Tommen), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont), Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark), Conleth Hill (Varys), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane), Michiel Huisman (Daario Naharis), Michael McElhatton (Roose Bolton), Hannah Murray (Gilly), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton), Carice van Houten (Melisandre), Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand) and Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H’ghar).

Nope, no Kit Harington (Jon Snow). New cast members for the sixth season include Pilou Asbaek, Essie Dabis, Souad Faress, James Faulkner, Richard E. Grant, Ian McShane, Joe Naufau, Freddie Stroma and Max von Sydow.

Theon and Sansa are on their own, fighting for survival at the start of Season 6. But their fortunes could change for the better. Photo: HBO
Theon and Sansa are on their own, fighting for survival at the start of Season 6. But their fortunes could change for the better. Photo: HBO

Devout novel reading fans have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the character “Lady Stoneheart,” who gets no additional description here to avoid spoilers. So far the HBO series has rolled on without her showing up. She provides a significant plotline. We won’t give up on the good Lady yet. We hope this character has not been entirely abandoned, whatever role she eventually plays.

One thing we can always count on is the unexpected, and without novels providing guidelines, we get unexpected on steroids. We know no one and nothing is safe in the “Game of Thrones” universe. Heroes and children die. Villains prevail. Plots thicken and schemes succeed. Bring on Season 6.

It is a free weekend for HBO viewing, so everyone can sample the first episode and get hooked.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

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