Three months ago I wrote up some guesses on what might happen in Season 5 of Game of Thrones. Let’s see where I was right and wrong, what characters did in Season 5, and where they might go in Season 6. Spoilers ahoy; I assume you, the reader, have read all published and preview-released A Song of Ice and Fire material, all five aired seasons of Game of Thrones, and have heard of/read about some of the casting and plot rumors for Season 6.
Every season of Game of Thrones has been a rough, at best, adaptation of chapters of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series. Seasons 1 and 2 were more... “faithful”, if that’s the right word, adaptations of the first two books (even though both seasons had divergences), but starting in Season 3 and continuing through the fifth season, the books and show have diverged into two very distinct entities. That makes trying to guess what happens a fun challenge, as Show and Book versions of characters act very differently. As in the previous article, things marked From the Books (FTB) are plot threads that were adapted from the novels, and things marked Not From the Books (NFTB) are plot threads entirely or mostly invented for the show. Also I am going to use the same fan-created art as what I used last time because I have no interest in spending time hunting down new images.
Image by Cris Urdiales
FTB: We see Cersei’s prophetic past: As a child, Cersei had her fortune read by Maggy the Frog. Probability: 100%. Reality: This prophecy happened in the season premiere, as the first scene. But I don’t feel as if Maggy’s prophecy was entirely accurate. For one thing, in the show, she had four children. Maybe that first child, which was fathered by Robert, didn’t count because he died young? Also, Maggy says that gold will be the crowns and the shrouds of all three of Cersei’s children, but Myrcella (RIP) ... did she ever have a crown? Is “gold crowns” a reference to their hair colour? I’m reading too much into this, moving on.
FTB: Cersei is bad at ruling. Cersei Lannister is the de facto ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Probability: 90%. Reality: Cersei drinks a lot less in Season 5 than she does in Books 4 and 5. But she is not particularly good at ruling Westeros, perhaps to less of a degree than her book counterpart.
FTB: Cersei tries to get Margaery killed. Cersei uses her connections to get someone to falsely accuse Margaery of infidelity. Probability: 50%. Reality: This did not happen, the show instead makes Margaery’s arrest a consequence of Margaery lying to the Faith Militant about her brother Loras’s homosexuality. It’s a much less convoluted story, but it also makes Margaery’s ultimate fate much less clear: in the show she definitely lied, she’s definitely guilty of the charges laid against her, but the show has so ill-defined what the Faith Militant believe and do that I don’t know what that means for Margaery’s ultimate punishment.
FTB: Cersei’s plan backfires, she gets imprisoned by the High Sparrow. In the books, this happens because the accuser of Margaery eventually admits to having killed the previous High Septon on the orders of Cersei. Probability: 90%. Reality: I didn’t expect this to involve accusations of infidelity, so I was sort of wrong here, because Cersei is brought low after Lancel admits his crimes of passion with Cersei to the High Sparrow.
FTB: Cersei has a nude penance walk. Cersei is forced to walk from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep. Probability: 100%. Reality: This is the most brutal thing that happened in the season finale that didn’t involve someone dying, other than Tyrion’s terrible Valyrian accent.
Summary: The show followed the plot arc of Cersei fairly well: she finally has power, she makes a poor choice, and she has to deal with the fallback from that choice.
For Season 6: The FrankenGregor is real and fights on her behalf if her trial becomes a trial by combat. Maggy’s prophecy is still hanging above her head; she will probably see her only remaining child die.
Image by Ania Mitura
Jaime Lannister (and Bronn)
FTB: Jaime turns down Cersei’s offer to be new Hand of the King. It’s a somewhat boring plot development so it might get dropped. Probability: 50%. Reality: This never happened. For a part of this season there was no Hand of the King. Heck, for part of this season the King was apparently hiding in his room on hunger strike. Tommen, you are the worst.
FTB: Jaime goes to the Riverlands with Ilyn Payne, helps stop Brynden Tully. Probability: 0%. Reality: Season 5 may have never mentioned the Riverlands? Sorry Tullys, but you just weren’t cool enough for Season 5.
NFTB: Jaime goes to Dorne with Bronn. The show is sending Jaime and Bronn to Dorne. Probability: 100%. Reality: This happened and it was sometimes really really underwhelming.
FTB: Cersei and Brienne both request Jaime’s help. Jaime refuses Cersei’s request for help in King’s Landing when things go south for her there. Probability: 75% and 0%. Reality: IIRC Cersei did try to get in touch with Jaime when things started falling apart in King’s Landing. But Brienne never sent any ravens to Jaime. She was too busy waiting for a message
to conveniently ignore when Stannis showed up but then got distracted by a more important message.
NFTB: Jaime and/or Bronn dies. Bronn is a lot more expendable... Probability: 0% and 33%. Reality: Despite the fact that these two men fought three dangerous women, and were in enemy territory, and were basically trying to abduct a guest of House Martell, they were under little threat. Bronn almost died... but thankfully he
was wearing plot armor was given an antidote right when the symptoms of the poison he was attacked with started to take effect.
Summary: A lot of people have come to the conclusion that Dorne is as useless as nipples on a breastplate. This remixing of Jaime’s plot was a deliberate choice on the show’s part, and it had occasional moments of being powerful television, like when Jaime told his daughter that he’s her daughter, and she was cool with being a product of incest who is technically ineligible to rule in Westeros unless massive reforms occur, and they hugged, and then she died. But. If this season gave Jaime and Bronn something to do, it did so at the expense of making Dorne feel really lackluster. In Books 4, 5, and what we know of 6, Dorne is ... Dorne is kind of a big deal. In Game of Thrones it doesn’t seem to be, at least not yet.
For Season 6: Jaime has extremely awkward conversation with Cersei when he arrives in King’s Landing with the body of their daughter who he saw get poisoned when Ellaria gave her a very awkward and long kiss on the lips. Everyone in Dorne complains about the heat. Bronn makes more jokes, possibly sings.
Image by M. Luisa Giliberti
Tommen and Myrcella Baratheon
FTB: Tommen gets married to Margaery Tyrell. Tommen marries Margaery. Probability: 100%. Reality: This happened, and Tommen apparently enjoyed being married to Margaery. How strange for a 14? year old boy.
NFTB: Myrcella falls for Trystane Martell. Myrcella Baratheon, once in Dorne, realizes that the Martells are way less messed up than her family. Probability: 100%. Reality: This happened, and honestly Myrcella seemed to have learned how to be a slightly better human being while she was in Dorne. Good for her.
NFTB: Myrcella gets married to Trystane Martell. Probability: 25%. Reality: This did not happen. In the books there’s a reason why such a wedding would get pushed into happening (a faction in Dorne thinks Myrcella is the rightful ruler of Westeros because she’s the oldest child of the former king) but the show never ever ever discussed this reason whatsoever. There was rumor that Trystane might sort of replace Quentyn and be the Martell promised to marry Daenerys, but, that rumor assumed more of Dorne than the show was interested in providing.
FTB: Myrcella loses an ear. I think the show realizes it has maimed enough Lannisters. Probability: 0%. Reality: Well, technically, I was right, because ... she didn’t lose any ears, she just lost her entire life. But okay yeah 3 months ago I did not expect the show to kill off either of the Baratheon children. I guessed wrong here. They do not hurt little girls in Dorne; they wait until little girls are on boats, leaving Dorne, before the poison kicks in.
FTB: Tommen is a rubberstamp ruler. He will probably just go along with whatever Cersei says as long as Cersei is the Queen Regent. Probability: 90%. Reality: This one turned out kind of weird, because Tommen is extremely ineffectual about getting his wife’s brother, and then his wife, and then his mother, out of prison. Heck, Tommen literally watches his wife’s brother be dragged away by fanatics and he does nothing. So Show Tommen was just as useless of a King as, if not more so than, Book Tommen, but it was expressed differently.
Summary: The show was more deadly than the books, but the overall arcs of the two Baratheon children were similar. Neither really pushed forward with their own plots, instead mostly just acting as objects that adults could conflict over. In the books there’s a bit more reason for this (because they’re younger) whereas in the show they’re just ... minor characters.
For Season 6: The death of Myrcella at the lips of the Dornish makes Trystane riding back to King’s Landing on a ship with Myrcella’s uncle-dad and taking a seat on the Small Council very awkward situations. Maybe he’s got a secret marriage pact with Daenerys Targaryen so he’s not too worried about it. Tommen, on the other hand ... how do you solve a problem like Tommen? He’s terrible at his job, but he’s marked for death. And his mother hangs out with zombies and necromancers. Maybe he dies in Season 6 of a broken heart, I heard that happened to a character in a popular fantasy movies series once.
Image by Kay Huang.
FTB: Meets with Illyrio and Varys in Pentos. While here, they put him onto his path towards Daenerys in Meereen. Probability: 100%. Reality: Illyrio is not at Illyrio’s house in Pentos. Illyrio’s not there. Illyrio went away. Illyrio’s gone. But Tyrion gladly drinks his wine.
FTB: They send him on a slow boat to Meereen. While on the boat, Tyrion interacts with some interesting people. Probability: 0%. Reality: Any and all people who were talking about Aegon Targaryen being in Season 5 were wrong and they owe you a beer or other beverage of your choice.
NFTB: They send him quickly to Daenerys. He will move from Pentos to Meereen in half a season at most. Probability: 100%. Reality: A bit more complex than what I guessed, but, basically, Tyrion’s trip eastward from Pentos to Meereen is not used to introduce more characters.
FTB: Tyrion is drinking and whoring a lot. In the novels, Tyrion “deals with” the pain of killing his father and lover by doing a lot of drinking and whoring. Probability: 50%. Reality: Tyrion drinks. Tyrion does not whore. He does not obsess, over and over and over again, about wherever whores go.
FTB: Jorah meets, and captures, Tyrion. After visiting a brothel in Selhorys, Jorah captures Tyrion. Probability: 0%. Reality: Well, huh. I was watching the third episode, of the belief that this plot was not going to happen, when suddenly it happened and I felt adrift on the Narrow Sea. Tyrion and Jorah having a weird boat/road trip eastward did give the two of them some stronger moments of Season 5: their brief chat about their fathers is one of the best moment in Essos of the season. ... on the other hand, Tyrion talking about cock merchants is one of the worst moments anywhere of the season, so...
Summary: Tyrion of A Dance with Dragons spends hundreds of pages “on his way” to meet Daenerys Targaryen and never meets her. Some book fans are still, years later, annoyed about this. So the show gave the audience some fanservice and drove the Tyrion-Daenerys meeting to occur sooner. And it seems to be for a good cause? Tyrion ends up part of the temporary oligarchy ruling Meereen, along with his good friends Varys (who magically appeared), Missandei (who he barely knows) and Grey Worm (who he just met). That’s interesting; that’s an interesting change of events than what has happened, or probably will happen, in the books. Changes like this, where characters are placed into situations not in the books, are part of why I’m watching this television adaptation.
For Season 6: Tyrion bans the further discussion of cock merchants because such a profession/trade is ridiculous. He helps stabilize Meereen and when Daenerys returns and, finally, wants to leave Essos, he helps her pack up and leave.
Image by Anita Puskás
Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne
NFTB: They go to the Bloody Gate. In the show, they were on their way there when they met Arya and Sandor. Probability: 100%. Reality: Yeah okay that didn’t happen. Oops.
NFTB: They encounter Sansa. Rumors abound that a group of people from the Vale (including Sansa) meet up with Brienne. Probability: 80%. Reality: Brienne and Podrick do meet up with Sansa, do try to talk her out of the clutches of Petyr Baelish, and kind of ... fail miserably at that task.
FTB: They return to the Riverlands. Probability: 100%. Reality: This so did not happen whatsoever. Sorry, everyone who liked the Riverlands.
FTB: They are captured by the BwB. The Brotherhood without Banners captures them while they are searching for Starks. Probability: 0%. Reality: The BwB may still exist in the show, but as no one went to the Riverlands to encounter them, no one really knows.
FTB: They encounter Lady Stoneheart. Probability: 0%. Reality: This character continues to not exist in the show.
Summary: Book Brienne and Show Brienne diverged sharply when Show Brienne met Arya Stark. At that time, she realized that the pledge she had made to Catelyn Stark, to “find and protect her girls”, was a pledge she could not keep. In Season 5 she continued to struggle with this pledge, vacillating between trying to keep it and giving up on it because it’s folly. In the finale, she let this pledge take lesser priority to an earlier pledge of hers, to get justice for the death of Renly Baratheon. So she apparently (and, IMHO, does) kills Stannis Baratheon, a very large departure from what her Book self is likely to accomplish.
For Season 6: Brienne and Podrick encounter Sansa and Reek fleeing away from Winterfell. The four of them temporarily ally but... where the heck are they going to go? The Vale or the Riverlands? Or, as seems less likely, Castle Black? (Please, note, going to Castle Black requires marching through hundreds of kilometers of Bolton-controlled territory.) There’s rumors that Sandor Clegane might be showing up again, so maybe Brienne, Podrick, Sansa and Reek/Theon rendezvous with him...
Image by Joe Harty
Bran Stark, Meera Reed, and Hodor
FTB: Bran trains. Bran learns how to use the weirwoods to see things in the past, present, and future. Probability: 0%. Reality: Did not happen, as the showrunners said on multiple occasions.
FTB: Bran says hello to Theon. While Theon is in the Godswood of Winterfell for a wedding, he thinks he hears his name being said... Probability: 50%. Reality: The only person who tells Reek to be Theon is Sansa.
Summary: These three characters are the highest profile characters to be given a time out on the show, and it seems like no one in the audience really minded; I didn’t read many comments asking “Where’s Bran? I want to see Bran.” I don’t think this means that the Game of Thrones audience didn’t miss these characters, I think this mostly just meant that Season 5 was so full of plot that these three had no time to do anything, even if they wanted to.
For Season 6: Casting rumors of more flashbacks could mean that Bran uses his weirwood “warging” skills to see flashbacks. But other than that I have no idea what the show can do with these characters in the next season. They’re not mobile, so it’s possible to film them with a greenscreen indoor set instead of an outdoor set. But at the same time it seems like all they can do is help out other characters who are near godwoods, and the list of those characters has dramatically dropped as of the Season 5 season finale.
Image by Cecilia Latella
Samwell Tarly, Aemon Targaryen, and Gilly
FTB: Sam helps get Jon elected. Sam helps sway the contest Jon’s way. Probability: 100%. Reality: Sam nominates Jon, and the much-more-streamlined election awards Jon with the title of Lord Commander.
FTB: Gilly’s baby gets traded. Gilly’s baby gets traded with that of Mance Rayder Probability: 0%. Reality: No baby-swapping occurred.
FTB: Sam, Aemon, and Gilly visit Essos. Jon sends the three of them to Oldtown so that Sam may become a maester. Probability: 0%. Reality: As guessed, no one from Castle Black visited Essos. As not guessed, Sam asks Jon to send him away from Castle Black.
NFTB: Aemon dies as a blood sacrifice. In the books, Aemon dies on the journey to Oldtown. Probability: 50%. Reality: Well, the good news is that Melisandre did not burn Aemon Targaryen. As I said three months ago, rumors were that Shireen Baratheon was going to be burned. Those rumors were accurate...
FTB: Sam and Gilly become lovers. In the books, this happens after Maester Aemon has died on the voyage to Oldtown. Probability: 20%. Reality: I did not expect this to happen, and based on how Jon Snow was confused on how it happened in the season finale, I don’t feel that bad about being surprised. Also, the only reason this happened was because Ghost was able to save Sam and Gilly. Ghost is the best lupus ex machina on the show, by far.
Summary: Aemon only had a few jobs in Season 5: he had to deliver some good lines. He did, and he helped vote Jon Snow in as Lord Commander, so I think he did a fantastic job. Sam and Gilly, on the other hand, had a lot less to do. I guess they also did what little the plot demanded of them.
For Season 6: Sam and Gilly travel to Oldtown, a city in the Reach. This southwestern portion of Westeros, where House Tyrell and House Tarly are from, so far has not been shown in Game of Thrones. Since this season showed the Westerlands (in Cersei’s flashback in the season premiere) and Dorne (in multiple episodes), the Reach appearing next season would show the last of the seven “kingdoms” of Westeros. Casting calls seem to indicate that Randyll Tarly, Sam’s father, and possibly other members of House Tarly, will appear. How exactly Sam and Gilly get there is up to guesswork; in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, the Ironborn are pirating the Reach, and rumors indicate that the Ironborn are active in Season 6.
Image by Tomasz Jedruszek
Stannis Baratheon, Melisandre, and Davos Seaworth
FTB: Stannis burns (f)Mance. Mance has broken the vows of the Night’s Watch, Stannis doesn’t like traitors, Mance gets burned. Probability: 20%. Reality: In the season premiere, Mance gets burned at Castle Black. He doesn’t die of the fires, instead being arrowed to death by Jon Snow. Before season 5 started airing, I didn’t put much faith in rumors that Stannis was going to be burning people. I was wrooooooooong on that.
FTB: Melisandre glamours Mance. In order to save Mance, Melisandre uses a glamour to make someone else appear as Mance. Probability: 20%. Reality: Mance Rayder is very very very dead, and Melisandre didn’t really do much magic for a divine magic user.
FTB: Davos goes to White Harbor. While there he negotiates with Wyman Manderley, who says he will join with Stannis if Davos finds Rickon. Probability: 0%. Reality: There’s rumors that Davos might be doing this next season, but it most definitely did not happen in Season 5; Davos remained firmly with Stannis’s army until he was ordered away by Stannis.
FTB: Stannis captures Deepwood Motte. While on his way south, Stannis captures Deepwood Motte. Probability: 80%. Reality: This was wishful thinking on my part and did not happen. In the books, Stannis realizes that he has no chance of winning the North without gaining support of enough of the North to make the Bolton advantage (of being in a defended position and maybe having more troops) negligible. In the show ... Stannis just charges headlong into destruction, as if he knew nothing.
NFTB: The Battle of Ice. Stannis’s forces fight the forces of the Boltons, near or in Winterfell. Probability: 80%. Reality: This happened in the season finale. A vastly outnumbered and unpowered Stannis army faces off against Bolton’s forces. Team Bolton wins in a decisive manner. It’s a very odd interpretation of Stannis; he’s definitely a headstrong character, so the show put him into a no-win situation and then ... watched him lose.
Summary: At the end of A Dance with Dragons, Stannis’s army is still on the march, Melisandre and Stannis’s family is at Castle Black, and Davos Seaworth is going to go find Rickon on an island of possible unicorns. At the end of Season 5, Stannis’s family is dead, his army is smashed to pieces, and Melisandre and Davos are both at Castle Black. Team Stannis has been drastically cut down in size in the show, leaving only Melisandre and Davos as characters capable of future plots.
For Season 6: If Melisandre does nothing in Season 6 I might have to literally eat a literal hat. Davos, on the other hand... he might finally go visit the Manderleys, if someone in the North (or, say, the Vale...) wants to try to invade Winterfell again. But that’s assuming that anyone in Season 6 has any interest in taking down the Boltons after their rather successful defense of Winterfell.
Image by Tiziano Baracchi
FTB: Arya enters the House of Black and White. Arya is allowed to begin training to be part of the guild of the Faceless Men. Probability: 100%. Reality: She started training there in the second episode of the season. IMHO The House of Black and White looked amazing.
NFTB: Arya is trained by Jaqen H’ghar. In the show, Jaqen H’ghar’s actor has been cast. Probability: 85%. Reality: He never identifies himself as Jaqen H’ghar but he talks like Jaqen and he looks like Jaqen so let’s just say he’s Jaqen, even if the Faceless Men don’t like using names for themselves.
FTB: Arya is blinded. While she is blinded, she might further develop her warging abilities. Probability: 70% on blinded, 50% on warging. Reality: In the season finale, Arya’s plot ends with her blinded. Somehow. In the books the reason why is lot more obvious; she drinks something. But in the show it just kind of seems like the Faceless Men cast Blindness on her or something. Also there was no warging into kitty cat. Maybe next season.
NFTB: She kills Meryn Trant. Meryn Trant is on Arya’s List, and he is going to appear in Braavos. Probability: 90%. Reality: In the season finale she really, really, really kills Meryn Trant. Yikes. But this plot went almost exactly as forecast: she disobeyed her orders in order to kill Meryn, and she got punished with blindness for disobeying orders. Why she couldn’t kill the Thin Man with poison and Meryn with a knife is because (this space left blank intentionally)
FTB: She wears a face. In ADWD, for her first assigned killing, she travels to the lower chambers of the House of Black and White and is assigned a face. Probability: 90%. Reality: This is almost what happened; in the show she observes the Thin Man and interacts with him with her real face. To go and kill Meryn, she steals a face.
Summary: Arya’s plot in Season 5 basically followed plots adapted from published chapters of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons and also the Preview chapter of The Winds of Winter entitled “Mercy.” However, similar to plot happenings at Castle Black, the timing of events were changed around. In the novels she is blinded as part of her training (in her last chapter of A Feast for Crows, so book readers had to wait years to know if she would ever see again), then she kills the Thin Man, then she meets a visitor from Westeros and kills him, while in the show she is blinded as punishment.
For Season 6: Oddly enough, Show Arya’s not really “caught up” with Book Arya, but other than warging (which the show is not a big fan of showing) I have no idea what else Show Arya can do. She can spend more time learning how to be an assassin? She can leave Braavos and return to Westeros, either as a successful assassin or as herself?
Image by Polina
Sansa Stark, Petyr Baelish, and Robin Arryn
NFTB: Robin leaves the Eyrie. The trailers seem to be showing Robin actually outside the Eyrie. Probability: 100%. Reality: He does leave the Eyrie. He doesn’t leave the Vale, though; he’s being fostered by Lord Yohn Royce at Runestone.
NFTB: Sansa Stark is (f)Arya. One rumor is that she will marry Ramsay Bolton in the role of Fake Arya. Probability: 40%. Reality: I didn’t really expect this to happen, which was a case of me being stubborn about the evidence that existed before the season started. To be fair, Sansa wasn’t really (f)Arya, she was just Sansa. Like, just plain identifying as Sansa Stark, for everyone in Winterfell to know as if such an identity was not in anyway worrisome.
NFTB: Sansa Stark serves Frey pie. The other rumor is that Sansa will emulate Wyman Manderly and serve up meat pies at Ramsay’s wedding. Probability: 60%. Reality: Here is more wishful thinking. Frey pie does not exist in the show, at least not yet.
NFTB: Petyr goes to King’s Landing. Photos have shown Baelish’s character being filmed in King’s Landing. Probability: 100%. Reality: He was indeed in King’s Landing, although his reason was that he was called in by Cersei. She said that she recalled him to King’s Landing just to make sure of the loyalty of the Vale to the King, which seems like a weird reason to get him to travel all the way to King’s Landing. He ... also said some somewhat odd things to Cersei about his future plans, but there’s no indication so far of what really happened next with that plot, in the sense that the show didn’t indicate whether he was or wasn’t going to act on those future plans.
NFTB: Sansa kills Roose, Ramsay, or Reek. If Sansa is taking a truly dark turn this season, there’s three people in Winterfell who have seriously done her family wrong. Probabilities: 10%, 50%, 50%. Reality: Sansa killed no one in Winterfell in Season 5. At all. Her plot arc in Season 5 was that she got repeatedly raped by her husband, survived such an ordeal, and got the heck out of Winterfell when she got the chance to do so.
Summary: Robin Arryn did what Robin Arryn does: not a whole lot. That was not surprising, although I didn’t expect him to be as little-used in Season 5 as he was. Petyr Baelish did what Petyr Baelish does: whatever he has to in order to assume greater and greater power. In the relevant books, he’s primarily doing this by shoring up support in the Vale and by making long-term plans of basically letting the rest of Westeros starve during the coming Winter unless they pay a lot for the food that the Vale is going to store up. Sansa Stark... I have strong feelings about where I thought this show was going to go with Sansa, my thoughts were wrong, and I continue to feel annoyed about that. To pretend to be objective, I will say that Season 5 continued Sansa’s long-term arc of being someone who faces adversity and survives it.
For Season 6: Sansa’s short-term future is tied to that of Reek’s, as the two of them jumped from the walls of Winterfell (surviving, in spite of the season 5 finale somehow making that dubious) to escape that Bolton stronghold. As Brienne and Podrick are nearby, Sansa and Reek might meet up with those two. Another possibility is that Petyr Baelish’s claim to Cersei about assembling an army from the Vale and marching on Winterfell was not a false claim, and that he and his troops march on Winterfell. Maybe they will rally for the defense of Sansa Stark in a way that the North did not. Maybe the Vale army will meet up with Sansa and Reek as they flee Winterfell. This seems somewhat less likely because the latter half of Season 5 doesn’t indicate Petyr leaving King’s Landing... Meanwhile, Robin Arryn will do something. Probably continue to be not coordinated at sword fighting.
Image by Mathia Arkoniel
The Greyjoys Not Theon
FTB: Balon Greyjoy dies. The book is not entirely clear if he dies of naturally falling off a bridge, or if he is pushed. Probability: 100%. Reality: Wow this never ever happened in Season 5. Balon Greyjoy is the last survivor of the War of the Five Kings, a stunning achievement.
FTB: A kingsmoot is held. Euron, Victarion, and Yara all compete to become the next King of the Iron Islands. Probability: 10%. Reality: This also did not happen. Maybe in Season 6?
FTB: Yara is captured by Stannis. After Deepwood Motte is attacked and taken by Stannis’s forces, he tracks down and captures the fleeing Ironborn, including Yara. Probability: 10%. Reality: There was no evidence of Yara being in Season 5 before it aired, and then there was no mention of her in the show at all in Season 5.
Summary: If you liked pirates, Season 5 of Game of Thrones was not your season.
For Season 6: Good news, everyone! Pirates are back in! Or, at least Euron Greyjoy is in, so, pirate is back in. So Season 6 might include some Balon falling off a bridge (or being PUSHED!!!, but the show to keep it simple might just have him fall), and it might include some Yara. Since Sam and Gilly are going to the Reach, and since the Ironborn are actively raiding the Reach in the books, that might be a place where old and new characters meet.
Image by Ekcess
Ramsay and Roose Bolton and Reek
FTB: Ramsay gets married to (f)Arya. This wedding is meant to consolidate the claim of Roose Bolton as the new Lord of Winterfell. Probability: 100%. Reality: Yeah. This happened. Not exactly to fake Arya, but, it happened, and it helped the Boltons consolidate their claims as the Lords of Winterfell. It also gave Ramsay Bolton the opportunity to personally and repeatedly injure and dehumanize a Stark, in case anyone in the audience was not already aware that the Boltons really, really, really have not enjoyed being less-in-control of the North than the Starks.
NFTB: (f)Arya is Myranda. Someone who has been around Ramsay a lot is Myranda, who does have dark hair, like a Stark would. Probability: 60%. Reality: This was my guess when I was hoping the show would not transfer the Jeyne Poole plot to Sansa Stark. The show did no such thing. Myranda and Ramsay continued their relationship until Myranda’s untimely demise at the hand of her tormented,
FTB: Reek flees from Winterfell. In ADWD, Reek, with help from Mance Rayder, gets himself and Jeyne Poole out of Winterfell. Probability: 40%. Reality: This happened in the season finale, even though I didn’t really think it was likely to occur.
FTB: Ramsay sends Jon a letter. The Pink Letter is one of the things that ASOIAF readers know about, because it’s rather intense. Probability: 50%. Reality: As I said, this plot only would make sense if Mance was sent to Winterfell. Since he wasn’t, no Pink Letter happened in Season 5. Interestingly, since the Bolton forces crushed Stannis’s forces north of Winterfell at roughly the same time as Sansa and Theon escaped Winterfell, a version of the Pink Letter could still be written...
NFTB: Reek kills Ramsay and/or vice versa. Such a development would be completely not from the books. Probabilities: 30% dead Reek, 20% dead Ramsay, 50% dead both. Reality: The show apparently needs Reek and Ramsay alive in Season 6, as neither died. I was guessing that one of them might die because, back in February, Reek’s actor said, about Season 5, that “there’s definitely a moment or two - and one in particular - that will really blow people away.” I thought he was talking about his own character’s arc, but reading again, and having seen his character’s arc, I guess not...
Summary: Roose Bolton, a man of not middling intelligence and skill at scheming (see: how he put himself very close to Robb Stark in order to better betray him), makes up a bit of a crazy scheme: he is going to marry his son to Sansa Stark. I’m not sure how he knows that Sansa Stark is still alive (maybe Petyr Baelish told him?) but he has nothing to lose (the only person who would mind is Cersei Lannister, what is she going to do, invade the North?) and everything to gain (literally the loyalty of the North, something he needs a lot after betray-murdering Robb Stark and Catelyn Tully.) Over the course of Season 5 he does what he can to make this plan happen: he is legitimizing the Boltons as the new rulers of the North through a very shrewd marriage pact. Ramsay helps out: by marrying Sansa and keeping her under as much control as is possible. He also helps out by leading a raiding party against Stannis’s army, because Ramsay Bolton is, in the show apparently, good at leading raiding parties. Reek... eventually he helps undo the Bolton plans. But it does take him quite a bit of time of watching someone else suffer before he jumps into the fray.
For Season 6: Reek will travel with Sansa, as another pair of travelers, as the show so often likes to create. I generally assume their duo will meet up with the Brienne and Podrick duo. Roose has a slight need to find Sansa but I’m not sure what else he can hope to do; he completely defeated Stannis and the North is his. Ramsay has a much larger need to find Sansa, so maybe he’ll assemble another unstoppable raiding party and try to find her. Maybe him and Brienne can fight, and Brienne can hack him into small pieces.
Image by Veronica V. Jones, via westeros.org
FTB: Jorah travels to Volantis. In AFFC, Jorah is on his way westward from Meereen, after being exiled by Daenerys. Probability: 100%. Reality: Jorah did indeed go to Volantis. That’s where he abducted Tyrion, which I did not see happening. I really did not think (in spite of the show’s long-standing love of making two people travel together) that Jorah would capture Tyrion. I guess I thought that Tyrion and Varys would travel together.
FTB: Jorah gets captured at sea. After capturing Tyrion, the boat Tyrion and he is on gets captured by Yunkish slavers. Probability: 50%. Reality: This didn’t happen, although Tyrion and Jorah were on a boat for some time, until they were in the ruins of Old Valyria, and then Tyrion fell off the boat, and then I guess he got back on the boat, but then the boat sank or something? It all happened off-camera, so, magic. Oh, also there’s no indication that the slavers who enjoy Tyrion and Jorah are Yunkish. Yunkai might not have been mentioned in Season 5.
NFTB: Jorah gets captured on land. Jorah Mormont did help defeat the military of Yunkai, so if Yunkish slavers encountered him on land, they might not hesitate to capture him. Probability: 50%. Reality: Jorah and Tyrion got captured on land. As already mentioned, not by Yunkish slavers, but instead by slavers heading to Volantis (for water, apparently) who, once they capture two slaves, decide to go to somewhere near Meereen to sell the slaves.
NFTB: Jorah dies. Either in Daznak’s Pit or relatively close to it, Jorah Mormont suffers a mortal wound and dies. Probability: 75%. Reality: Jorah Mormont is marked for death, but he did not die in Season 5. Two other characters in Meereen, who are still alive in the books, died instead.
Summary: The choice to move the “has greyscale” character marker from the not-appearing-in-the-show Jon Connington to Jorah Mormont is an interesting adaptation choice. The good news is that it puts an extrinsic “timer” on the life of one of the characters, giving him a stronger motivation to accomplish as much as he can in the shortened life he has left to him. The bad news is that ... Jorah was already strongly motivated. He’s in love with Daenerys, he sees helping her as the only way he can “redeem” himself in life, and for those reasons he has already put himself in mortal danger many many times. Adding one more motivator to Jorah was somewhat unnecessary but okay sure he’s now motivated x3. Also the not-very-well-discussed mechanics of how greyscale spreads do cause confusion among the audience; the audience is told and shown that it spreads by physical contact, but are not really convincingly told or shown that the only way to spread the greyscale is by coming into contact with the greyscale-afflicted area. The only characters to have it (Jorah and Shireen) contracted it off-camera. Since there’s confusion about how greyscale spreads, some part of the audience is going to think that anyone who Jorah touches (e.g., Daenerys) got greyscale.
For Season 6: Jorah and Daario go looking for their Queen. So far Jorah’s greyscale has not spread much, nor has anyone else discovered that he has it. It’s likely that one or both of those will change in Season 6. That would be yet another way in which Jorah has lied (by omission) to Daenerys, because he very simply is unwilling to learn any lessons from his prior mistakes.
Image by Guillem H. Pongiluppi
FTB: Jon Snow becomes Lord Commander. Jon Snow is voted in as the new Lord Commander of The Night’s Watch. Probability: 100%. Reality: This was a plot point from the third book of the ASOIAF books, so it’s good to see it finally happen.
FTB: Jon Snow beheads Janos Slynt. Janos Slynt refuses orders from Jon. The punishment for refusing orders is beheading. Probability: 100%. Reality: This happened. It’s a pretty major event for Jon Snow because he takes the authority that he has, as Lord Commander, and uses it to administer the justice of the Night’s Watch (and because it’s a callback to Eddard Stark, in Book/Season 1, beheading a person who had broken the vows of the Night’s Watch.) And then Jon does a bunch of actions that his subordinates don’t approve of. It’s a bit difficult to justify the betrayal of the Night’s Watch but I think the show does its best try in showing that Jon is a threat to the way that the Night’s Watch works. And since he killed Janos, he shows that resistance to his orders leads to death. That places individual members of the Night’s Watch into a no-win scenario; if they obey Jon, they put their historical, known enemies to the south of them, and if they disobey Jon, he might chop off their head.
NFTB: Jon goes to Hardhome. Jon leads the Night’s Watch to save as many Wildlings as he can. Probability: 100%. Reality: This very much happened, and was, at least looking at online response, a big event for the TV audience to see. But it was another incident wherein Jon Snow did something that his subordinates thought was a bad idea, and wherein he didn’t do much to placate their fears/suspicions/whatever that he was not working in the best interests of the Night’s Watch.
FTB: Jon Snow gets stabbed a lot. A faction within the Night’s Watch thinks that Jon is traitorous for working so much with the Wildlings and with Stannis. So they stab him “for the Watch”. Probability: 99%. Reality: This was the final scene in Season 5, which I did not expect; only Season 2 has ended on anything but a triumphant, hopeful scene. And the reason for the stabbing... In A Dance with Dragons, the stabbing occurs because Jon tells the Night’s Watch he is going to majorly break his vows. We’ve been told, in the books, that breaking your vows is a capital offense. We’ve been shown, by Eddard Stark and Jon Snow, that breaking your vows is a capital offense. Some book fans don’t think the show’s choice of “reason why the Night’s Watch decides to kill Jon” makes as much sense, while others think that Jon’s choice to break his vows in the book didn’t make much sense. And FWIW I don’t think that the show’s choice of timing made sense; the Night’s Watch is killing Jon after he leads the Wildlings through the Wall, when they could have just not let all those Wildlings through the Wall. But, in the abbreviated context of the show, it’s a powerful moment; it’s Jon Snow getting taken down by his subordinates because he could not successfully lead them, given the tough decisions he made.
NFTB: Jon is reborn. It hasn’t happened in the books yet (he is, right now, Schrödinger’s Snow), but the book and show are both hinting that Melisandre brings him back to life somehow. Probability: 50%. Reality: Yeah, about that... So Jon Snow’s actor has been making a lot of noise online, saying that his character is dead. And the showrunners have been making a lot of noise, saying that the character is dead. So unless the show is being rude to its viewers, Jon Snow is dead. For forever.
Summary: Jon Snow was given a lot of plot this season, all of it pretty significant stuff. He becomes the Lord Commander, he’s told to kill the boy, his ward falls in hate of him, he saves a few Wildlings at Hardhome, he explodes a White Walker. And then his character ends up being taken out by his minions after they can no longer take the radical changes he is trying to make to the Night’s Watch. There were some marked divergences from the book plots but I think they added strength to Jon’s plot. Mostly.
For Season 6: So. Game of Thrones is so closely watched by fans during its filming that there is no way that Kit Harington can sneakily film multiple episodes worth of scenes. Before Season 5, people knew or correctly guessed that Petyr Baelish was going to visit King’s Landing, that Meryn Trant and Mace Tyrell were going to visit Braavos, that Sansa was going to be in Winterfell, and that Tyrion was going to be accepted (in some manner) by Daenerys in Meereen. That makes it very difficult for Mr. Harington to film anything more than a scene or two discretely. So if Jon Snow appears in Season 6 (as anything other than a corpse), and the show wants to keep it secret, he might only appear for a scene or two at a place where he can be green-screened in.
Image by Marc Simonetti, via Westeros.org
Daenerys Targaryen, her allies, and her enemies
FTB: The Sons of the Harpy emerge. A militant group of Meereenese resisting the Targaryen rule, they target supporters of the Khaleesi, including the Unsullied. Probability: 100%. Reality: They appear in the season premiere and kill an Unsullied.
FTB: Yunkai and Qarth both make war on Meereen. In the books, Yunkai raises an army and takes over Astapor before starting to turn toward Meereen.Probabilities: 100% for Yunkai, 50% for Qarth. Reality: This in no way happened. In Season 5, no mention is made of either Yunkai or Qarth having any form of hostility towards Meereen, and all the trouble that Meereen faces appears to be generated from internal dissent.
FTB: Hizdahr and Daenerys marry. Hizdahr offers marriage, and Daenerys agrees if the Sons can be stopped. Probability: 100%. Reality: I don’t remember the show ever showing the two of them having a wedding, but in the ninth episode of Season 5, he seems to refer to himself as a King. So I guess they got married. Unlike in the books, Daenerys was the one who instigated the royal wedding. Also unlike the books, Hizdahr makes no claim that he can stop the Harpies. Show Hizdahr apparently has no connection to them, whereas Book Hizdahr probably does.
FTB: Dragons are loosed. Daznak’s Pit reopens to celebrate the wedding, the noise and blood draws in Drogon, Drogon sets people on fire, Daenerys exits Meereen, on Drogon. Probability: 100% for Drogon, 30% for Daenerys leaving, 50% for Viserion and Rhaegal. Reality: Drogon appeared and Daenerys left Meereen, flying away from Meereen on Drogon. I didn’t expect that, since I didn’t expect Daenery’s plot to have any more events that would slow her down from going to Westeros. Meanwhile, Viserion and Rhaegal are still in the catacombs where they are chained up. Daenerys once used those dragons to arbitrarily execute someone down there, it was super effective.
NFTB: The Battle of Fire. Yunkai begins their siege of Meereen. Possibility: 30%. Reality: This did not happen. Whereas the Battle of Ice was conclusively finished in the North, the Battle of Fire in Slaver’s Bay was ... well there’s only one battle going on, and it’s all inside Meereen. There’s no indication whatsoever that the Battle of Fire is gearing up to happen.
Summary: The main objective of Season 5 for Daenerys was to get into immense trouble in Meereen, in such large trouble that, when given the option to leave the city, she would take it. So the show did that. But it’s still a complex plot; there’s still lots of wheels turning in Meereen and the show (through no one’s fault, it just can’t) does not give the audience a lot of time to figure out what exactly is happening in Meereen, in the four (?)-way civil war between the former masters, the former slaves, Daenerys and her Unsullied, and the Sons of the Harpy. And Grey Worm and Missandei apparently get to help rule Meereen while Daenerys is gone. That’s different.
For Season 6: Daenerys is going to take control of a khalasar, with or without the help of her reluctant Drogon. Daenerys takes the khalasar back to Meereen. Grey Worm and Missandei help rule Meereen. Someone, idiotically, tries to kill Viserion and Rhaegal. This leads to those two dragons being loosed. I dunno, I’m just guessing here.
FTB: Pycelle and Kevan die. At the end of ADWD, Varys shows up after hiding in Westeros somewhere. Probability: 70%. Reality: This did not happen, because instead of Varys staying in King’s Landing and suddenly showing up to destabilize that city, he instead travels to Meereen and suddenly shows up to stabilize that city. It’s similar, but, it’s different. It’s not a bad adaptation choice.
With the large amount of divergences between the television series and book series, the Book Readers are almost, but not quite out of our comfort zone. There’s a few things that we can strongly guess will happen, but that’s about it. The show has another 20, maybe 30, hours to wrap things up in a successful way. And, to the benefit of both tv and book audiences, the show ending seems like it will only share some rough outlines with the ending of the book series. To bring up a very stubborn example:
Every man shall reap what he has sown, from the highest lord to the lowest gutter rat. And some will lose more than the tips off their fingers, I promise you. They have made my kingdom bleed, and I do not forget that.
In the book series, Stannis is still alive, and he’s showing a lot more tactical knowledge than his show counterpart. I do not for a second think that his death in Game of Thrones means that he loses the Battle of Ice in The Winds of Winter, and I look forward to that book letting me know whether I have guessed right or not.