Game of Thrones: Jon Snow is back, so get set for a wild season six
HBO’s teaser poster suggests that the character is alive after all. Far from a cheap soap opera move, it suggests the show will become more gripping than ever
The worst-kept secret in television finally leaked on Monday as HBO and Sky Atlantic released the first promo art for the sixth season of Game of Thrones: a picture of Jon Snow looking suitably haggard, with blood pouring from one eye down his cheek.
At this point I would normally write something along the lines of “don’t read any further if you don’t want to be spoiled” but it’s arguable that if it’s the TV station that airs the show doing the spoiling then it’s already a pretty moot point.
Rumours that Jon’s death was not all it appeared have been growing since summer. While Kit Harington, the actor who plays the heroic 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, initially insisted that his time on the show was over after Jon’s brutal stabbing, he was subsequently snapped filming in Belfast amid rumours of an epic battle scene at The Wall (yes, another, it’s a hard place to conquer). Jon, it appears, is also a hard man to kill.
So what does this latest suggestion of his survival (something which has not been officially confirmed in the books with author George RR Martin recently suggesting that fans should read The Winds of Winter when its published if they want to uncover his fate) mean for the series?
First, it confirms that next year will be something of a wild ride for both book and TV fans as we head into the unknown and the probability that for the first time ever a TV series will potentially be spoiling the books on which it is based.
Secondly, it marks something of a deviation for this show, which has previously prided itself on the fact that if a character is dead, they stay dead. No matter how important they might be. This is Game of Thrones after all, the show that killed Ned Stark in the first series, that wiped out half the cast in The Red Wedding and that has never worried about introducing popular characters only to gruesomely off them.
Well rein in that irritation for a second because there is, at least, precedence here. It has been well established over the course of five seasons that, since Daenerys Targaryen hatched her dragons, magic has been growing stronger throughout Westeros and Essos, meaning that things that might not previously have been possible are increasingly likely.
We’ve also been introduced to Thoros of Myr, a Red Priest with a particular talent for bringing the dead back to life, who has worked his magic on the leader of the Brotherhood without Banners, Beric Dondarrion – a man who happens to wear an eye patch, which is interesting given that on the promo poster there seems to be a bloody hole where Jon’s own eye should be. Given that the somewhat spooky Melisandre, also a Red Priest, was last seen arriving back at Castle Black, having abandoned Stannis Baratheon to his fate, it would seem likely that a swift resurrection with some rather unpleasant strings attached is in the cards.
Because that’s the thing about Game of Thrones: yes, Jon coming back to life might initially appear like a cheat but in the world of the show it almost certainly makes sense. Will things be on the up for the former Lord Commander next season? Given his life so far I rather doubt it, just as I doubt that the Red Priests resurrect the dead for fun. Perhaps Lord Snow (as Ser Alliser Thorne so sneeringly calls him) would be best to take comfort from the fatalistic words of House Greyjoy: “What is dead, can never die” as he begins his next life in the new season.