I recently wrote an analysis of Game Of Thrones' fifth season. I had originally planned to include some speculation about the sixth season, but it wasn't really relevant to the point of the article, which was to describe the themes present in the season. So for the sake of brevity, I moved that speculation to a new post.
What season five does very effectively is to blur the lines between heroes and villains and establish a series of new external threats to entrenched powers and factions. And the self-implosion of the Lannisters, Stannis, Boltons, and the crossing of the Wildlings leaves the Seven Kingdoms vulnerable to the internal strife that made the first few seasons so compelling. In addition, we may finally see a genuine power stuggle across the Narrow Sea.
The stage has been set for power stuggles to take place - not just in King's Landing - but throughout the entire world.
Power struggles in all corners of the world
Ramsey losing his wife Sansa (is she dead?) means that his claim as the Warden of the North is on thin ice. With Roose Bolton having a child (supposedly a son), Ramsey is stuck in the position where he may not have a claim to power at all. Without Sansa to legitimize his control of Winterfell, he may be forced to make a power play - possibly action against his own family.
At the same time, the Wildlings are loose south of The Wall, and they have lost their primary ally and defender, John Snow. I suspect we may see the Night's Watch attempt to round them up, or we might see them forced to raid the settlements under the protection of the Boltons. In any case, I doubt the Wildlings will be permitted to resettle without disruption now that the Night's Watch is under new leadership.
In addition, Ellaria's sabotage of Jamie's mission and her murder of Jamie and Cersei's daughter sets up for retaliation from the Lannisters and potential open warfare between King's Landing and Dorne. In fact, her circumvention of Prince Doran could result in internal conflict within Dorne that could escalate to civil war if Doran doesn't give into war to save Trystane from the Lannisters. Remember, Trystane was on the boat with Jamie and Myrcella, and is now effectively a captive of Jamie. There is one throne that will likely be contested in season six.
The Lannisters' authority in King's Landing is now being threatened by multiple sources,
including the High Sparrow's cult witch hunts [PICTURED] and the Tyrells and Littlefinger.
Dorne won't be the only threat to the Lannisters, since the High Sparrow is gaining power and influence, and the scope of his witch hunts are only expanding. It's only a matter of time before Cersei ceases to tolerate the High Sparrow's actions. It's also only a matter of time before the Tyrells take action against the Lannisters and / or the High Sparrow, since Margaery is still in prison, and it doesn't look like that's going to change any time soon. And with the Boltons having to worry about the Wildlings in the North, the Lannisters won't be able to seek reinforcements from the Boltons against Dorne, the Tyrells, or the High Sparrow.
We could be seeing the Lannisters' power in King's Landing finally start to completely crumble. But if the Lannisters are unseated from the throne, who would take their place? Margaery? Littlefinger? The High Sparrow? There aren't very many major characters left in King's Landing now that half the Lannisters are dead and Tyrion is across the sea. Perhaps some new characters will have to take their place? That's two thrones that will likely be contested in season six.
We also now have the open question of what happens to Meereen. There's a bit of a power vacuum since Daenerys isn't there anymore, and the Unsullied have lost control of the city. If Tyrion and his network of spies can re-establish control, then he may be recognized as the rightful ruler rather than Daenerys, leading to possible power struggle between him and Daenerys when she returns.
Who is more fit to rule Meereen? Daenerys (should she return), being the one who lost control of the city?
Or Tyrion, who hasn't had any ambition to rule, but has already successfully managed King's Landing?
Tyrion hasn't expressed any ambitions for the throne so far, but if he tastes power in Meereen and feels himself more fit to rule than Daenerys (or proves more popular with his subjects), he could very well make his own play for the Iron Throne. Alternatively, if Daenerys survives her current predicament and returns to Meereen, she could be willing to give him Meereen if he acts as an ally as she crosses the sea and fights for the control of Westeros. And that's a third contested throne going into season six!
In either case, with Tyrion assuming control of Meereen and Daenerys' other holdings, Daenerys herself could be free sooner than expected to sail her armies across the sea and into Westeros. She just needs the manpower to hold Meereen and invade Westeros.
Daenerys and Tyrion sharing rule of Westeros and Meereen when all is said and done would certainly be a favorable outcome - which is exactly why it probably won't happen.
Put simply: season six will likely feature multiple struggles for multiple thrones.
We also saw nothing of Bran, Hodor, and company in season five. I suspect that will change in season six.
Will John Snow be back?
If you were completely shocked and surprised by John Snow's rather sudden murder, then I suspect that you may not have to get used to him not being in the show. It's very possible that he may resurrect in season six or later.
The camera certainly lingered for a long time as John Snow lay bleeding out at the end of season five's last episode. I kept expecting his eyes to turn blue and for him to jump back up as a White Walker. That didn't happen, but this isn't entirely outside the realm of possibility. John Snow's unpopularity within the Night's Watch could result in them throwing his body out beyond the wall, where the White Walkers would have access to it.
Maester Aemon may have forshadowed John Snow's future, and his identity.
In addition, Maester Aemon may have forshadowed a resurrection for John Snow before his death:
"You will find little joy in your command, but with luck you will find the strength to do the things that must be done. Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born."
This dialogue could foreshadow a literal death and resurrection for John Snow.
But Aemon's dialogue also hints at another common fan theory based on the books - something that I've been told is strongly implied in the books, but which has so far only been given vague hints in the show. John Snow may actually be a Targaryen. It is likely that John Snow's body will be burned in a pyre as per Night's Watch tradition. However, this may have certain complications that the other watchmen wouldn't anticipate.
There are several hints at John's true parentage in the show. One of them immediately preceeded the speech quoted above. Just prior to that scene, while talking with Sam, Aemon comments "A Targaryen, alone in the world. What a terrible thing." And then, as if on cue, John Snow appears and asks to speak with Aemon.
John may be the son of Aegon Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. if true, then if John is given a funeral and placed on a pyre, he will not burn, just like Daenerys in the first season. It's also possible that the fire could resurrect him.
In any case, I suspect we may not have seen the last of John Snow.
And who is this "King" White Walker, anyway?
And speaking of resurrections, I'm also curious to learn more about this "King" of the White Walkers that appeared in episode eight. Something that struck me about him is that his head has some kind of spiky ridges on it. It reminded me of a crown. This could either be symbolic of this character's position of leadership within the army of the dead, or it could be an indication of the character's former identity. Was he a king before he died?
The spikes are also reminiscent of a dragon's spines, and the character's face reminded me of Daenerys' brother, Viserys Targaryen.
Who is this "King" of the White Walkers? Are those spikes supposed to look like a crown? Or dragon spines?
This might be a crazy wild stretch, but I'm wondering if this White Walker may actually be a reincarnation or resurrection of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, himself. The Mad King has never (as far as I know) been shown on screen, so we don't know what he looked like. In fact, according to the wiki, an actor had been cast for a season one flashback, but the scene was cut. We also haven't learned what was done with the king's body after he was assassinated by Jamie. Since he was deposed, he may not have been given a proper public funeral or proper burial, and if he was a Targaryen, then he might not have been able to be burned. So where is the body?
Perhaps the Mad King is leading the army of the dead in order to retake the Iron Throne and once again rule Westeros. It would tie a lot of things together. So far, the show has had two major, seemingly independent stories:
- The quest for the Iron Throne and dominance of Westeros between various families.
- The impending onset of winter, and the threat of the White Walkers.
So far, these two stories have been fairly independent and have had little to do with one another. But if the White Walkers have some relation to the Targaryens, then suddenly, the two stories would become interwoven.
I guess we'll just have to wait to find out...