game of thrones season 6

Isaac Hempstead-Wright‘s Bran Stark sat out season 5 of Game of Thrones and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who really missed him (although we did miss Hodor). Of the dozens of significant storylines on HBO‘s massively popular fantasy series, Bran’s trek beyond the Wall felt the most like wheel-spinning. The young prince-turned-warg reached the end of his book material ages before the rest of the Westeros.

But Game of Thrones season 6 will officially take us beyond George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire novels and into entirely unknown territory. That means book readers and show-watchers are now on equal footing. That means there will no longer be spoilers, only educated guesses. It also means that Bran can finally be interesting again! And according to Hempstead-Wright, he’s about to become one of the most important characters on the entire show.

A new photo of Bran was revealed yesterday, showing us a Bran who has officially grown up and has shed those long locks to prove it. However, Bran has done more than grow a few inches and get a haircut since the last time we saw him – he’s been training with the Three-Eyed Raven and has learned a thing or two about being a psychic who can control animals and see the past and future.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Hempstead-Wright says that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss compared Bran’s transformation to Luke Skywalker, who went from getting decimated by Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back to being a full-fledged Jedi Knight in Return of the Jedi. Actually watching that training, Hempstead-Wright says, would have been boring: “I would have just been sitting in a cave going, ‘Oh, I can nearly do it now.’”

Since we last saw him, the Three-Eyed Raven himself has been recast with the legendary Max von Sydow and Bran’s new abilities have made him privy to all kinds of things about the past, present, and future of Westeros and its many doomed citizens. Now able to control his visions, Bran will be able to start answering all of those burning questions and solving all of those puzzling mysteries that fans have debated for so long:

Previously Bran’s seen tiny glimpses of future or past but never has he been very much in control in the situation. Now we’re given looks into very important events in the past, present and future of this world and Bran is beginning to piece them together like a detective, almost as if he’s watching the show. Equally, he’s now discovering how crucial he could be in the Great War. It’s quite Inception-y.

We’re not quite sure that’s how Inception works, but we get what he’s trying to say there. If the Game of Thrones timeline is an onion, then Bran is the dagger that’s about to start cutting through the layers. Although season 5 did feature a flashback (the show’s first) to Cersei as a young girl, it sounds like season 6 is going to take us to times and places unknown. That’s pretty exciting.

And this is where we’re going to go ahead and address a popular fan theory that Bran’s newfound abilities can all-but-confirm. Feel free to highlight the text below if you want to take a potential dip into spoiler territory:

In A Song of Ice and Fire lore, Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna, whose abduction helped cause Robert Rebellion in the first place, died in an isolated keep called the Tower of Joy. For reasons not yet explained, she was sent there alone, guarded by several of the most renowned members of the Kingsguard. Ned and a band of his allies launched a rescue with heavy casualties – only the young Lord of Winterfell and Howland Reed, the father of Meera and the late Jojen, survived the skirmish. What we do know is that Ned found his dying sister in the tower and that she made him promise something before shuffling off his mortal coil. What we don’t know is everything else.

The popular theory, and there is plenty of evidence to prove it, is that Lyanna died giving birth. The father of that child? Rhaegar Targaryen, who kidnapped her in the first place. The identity of that child? Jon Snow. The details of the promise? That Ned must keep the child’s true identity a secret so this innocent half-Targaryen wouldn’t fall victim to King Robert’s wrath.

With Jon Snow surely coming back from the dead after seemingly getting stabbed to death in the season 5 finale, it’s time to solve the mystery of his parentage. And with reports indicating that Game of Thrones has apparently shot a Tower of Joy flashback, we can safely assume that Bran is going to look into the past and learn the truth about his bastard brother. Who is not really his brother, but possibly the proper king of Westeros.

Game of Thrones season 6 will premiere in April, 2016.

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