Is it just me or did this hiatus feel really, really long? Sure, Game of Thrones‘ sixth season premiere is airing a few weeks later into April than usual, but a lot has happened on my TV screen since last June. I’ve binged on all seasons of Orphan Black, Better Call Saul, Peaky Blinders, and Daredevil. And I’ve watched new shows like Jessica Jones, Hap and Leonard, and gave The Expanse a try. Add to this my regular shows like The Walking Dead and the final (sniffle) season of Hannibal and, wow, I watch too much TV.
Which is to say, I needed a reminder on what happened to the considerable cast of Game of Thrones. Hint: a lot of them are dead.
Except for that one character every actor on Game of Thrones has signed an NDA for, insisting at every press even that, yes, that character is most certainly dead. You should not decipher clues hidden in the actor’s haircut. You should ignore paparazzi photos of him on set in Iceland. Or hanging with other cast members at an airport in Belfast. Nope. You know nothing.
Spoilers for the entire fifth season, obviously. Spoilers from all published books in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series are fair game, but not spoilers from The Winds of Winter early chapters. Please white them out if you must share them.
In the North
Last know location: on the cusp of an awkward puberty at the end of season four. Also: Beyond-the-Wall learning to be an all-knowing weirwood tree. Bran being a tree still sounds more exciting than anything that happened in Dorne last year.
Picture Princess Buttercup jumping down into Fezzik’s waiting arms at the end of The Princess Bride. Only picture instead the saddest character in the North jumping from the walls of Winterfell with the emotional wreck formerly known as Theon Greyjoy. Hope that snowdrift was deep and that she and Reek can escape both the Boltons and the defeated army of Stannis Baratheon. Will they flee further north to find Jon Snow at the Wall? Or will Brienne—fresh from her presumed vengeance-taking on Stannis—and Podrick find Sansa as they had intended?
Dead. And if you believe that, I have a bridge in the Twins to sell you for the price of your first-born son’s hand in marriage. Well, I believe he did die. But it was only temporary. Come on, he’ll be back. Game of Thrones without Jon Snow is as unthinkable as Game of Thrones without Tyrion. Surely even George R.R. Martin has his soft spots. That Red Priestess has to do more than disrobe while she’s at the Wall, right? (Maybe not. It is Game of Thrones, after all.) Oh, and Ser Davos Seaworth is also at the Wall trying to shore up Stannis’ army with fresh wildlings and not rescue any little moppet princesses.
A blast from the past, no? When last we saw the ballsiest Greyjoy, she was chased away by Ramsay Bolton’s hounds and had given her brother Theon up for dead in season four. She’s been doing her thing (pillaging, pirating, carousing) around her home of Pyke. The krakens shall be released in season six, as the Kingsmoot finally comes into play.
In the South
Last spotted figuring out how in the Seven Hells he’s going to tell Cersei that their only daughter was poisoned by the most boring subplot Game of Thrones has ever had. Maybe he’d be better off just going straight to the Riverlands and skipping King’s Landing altogether.
If there’s anything Cersei is good at, it’s royally fucking things up. Like making the resurrected corpse of Gregor-freaking-Clegane her champion after all of King’s Landing watched her Walk of Shame… Shame… Shame. At least she can rock a cute pixie cut on her tumble to the bottom of the Westeros power rankings.
Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish
With his brothel shut down by the Sparrows, the most famous pimp in Westeros has more time to plot against Cersei with Olenna Tyrell, while maneuvering himself to be the next Warden of the North once he helps King Tommen defeat Stannis Baratheon and Roose Bolton’s forces at Winterfell.
Margaery “The Smirking Whore of Highgarden” Tyrell
Last seen pacing a Sparrow’s cell awaiting trial for giving false testimony in her brother Loras’ trial (but really it was Cersei wanting her out of the picture). This young upstart surely has something up her beautifully tailored sleeve. My guess is she will be just contrite enough to get freed and get Cersei back.
Samwell Tarly and Gilly
Having found the Wall too untenable for a Wildling babe (and babe) and a Jon Snow loyalist, Samwell and Gilly were last seen heading south
in a white Bronco on a ship to Oldtown. Will Samwell meet up with his terrible father? What secrets will he learn in his maester-training at the Citadel?
In the East
The best Stark child was last seen having flunked her Jedi training pretty hard and now she can’t see you at all. Don’t expect her to remain blind for long though — she has other lessons to learn. Meanwhile, her Mr. Miyagi, Jaqen H’Ghar, still loves highlights, spa robes, and giving the gift of death to those with enough coin or reason to ask for it.
After her dramatic exit on the back of her luck-dragon Drogon, Dany must’ve taken Quaithe’s words to heart: “To go forward you must go back,” because now the Mother of Dragons has been taken hostage by a khal who was once bloodrider to her late husband Khal Drogo.
After Dany peaced out of the fighting pits and Daario 2.0 and stone-cold silver fox Ser Jorah Mormont (who’s keeping his Greyscale infection literally under wraps) went off to find her, Tyrion was left with the awful task of governing Meereen, hotbed of political upheaval, assassins, plague, and famine. Gee, thanks, Dany. Whatever Tyrion decides to do, he’s likely to be very, very drunk. Luckily Varys has also arrived to offer his network of spies and bitchy color commentary.
Game of Thrones returns on April 24th, 2016 at 9PM E/PT on HBO.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing and Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. Send her a raven through Twitter.