***The following contains seasons five spoilers and details of season six teaser trailers***
The Dothraki Sea: Daenerys Targaryen
Last we saw of Daenerys she had flown off on the back of her best dragon Drogon – a bit like that little boy in the Neverending story – leaving Missandei, Tyrion and Daario behind in the arena fighting insurgents the Sons of the Harpy.
It wasn’t exactly a fairytale ending for Dany, though – stranded in the middle of nowhere with Drogon licking his wounds and ignoring her like a rebellious teenager, she was spotted by some Dothraki bloodriders. From what we’ve seen in the trailers, she’s now travelling to the capital, Vaes Dothrak, with them – and not in an ‘all-bow-down-before-the-lost-Khaleesi’ way but more of ‘ooh-another-slave’ kind of way.
Don’t worry though, Dany took off her ring and dropped it in the middle of a field for her faithful followers to find.
The phrase “needle in a haystack” springs to mind…
Meereen: Tyrion Lannister, Daario Naharis, Ser Jorah Mormont, Varys
Tyrion, Daario and Jorah are back in Meereen, having fought their way out of the arena and presumably forgiven Dany for flying off without them. There are two things on the agenda: 1) find their queen 2) keep Mereen ticking over/prevent it from erupting into full-blown rebellion.
Daario and Jorah – who is still under suspicion after betraying Dany’s trust (and who is still secretly suffering from Greyscale) – head north to find her. Staying behind are Team Meereen: Tyrion on politics, the recovering Grey Worm on leading the Unsullied and cunning linguist Missandei on making sure the citizens can actually understand what the other two are saying.
Oh, and then out of nowhere, former King’s Landing spymaster Varys sidles up next to Tyrion – the boys are back together!
King’s Landing: Cersei Lannister, Margaery Tyrell
After her ordeal in the dungeons of her own King’s Landing (how very dare they!) at the hands of the holier-than-thou Grand High Sparrow – and that naked walk of shame back inside the relative safety of the castle gates – it looks like Cersei has cleaned off the rotten fruit and is ready to rumble again. There’s a mouthwatering scene in the season six trailer in which the Sparrow’s disciples demand her co-operation “or there will be violence”, to which she replies coldly “I choose violence”. It’s like they can’t even see that giant armoured zombie Mountain standing behind her…
Margaery has so far refused to admit to her ‘crimes’ – which, in this case, were not telling a bunch of homophobic religious fanatics that her brother Loris is gay – so she’s still languishing in the same dungeons (which Cersei basically put her in) with dirty feet and nothing but thin gruel as far as the eye can see. Respect for not giving into them Marge, you’ve clearly got the toughs to back up that political wiliness. But what happens next? It doesn’t look like Margaery’s husband King Tommen is going to do much about it – he may have the energy of a 14 year old boy in the sack but as a ruler he seems completely impotent.
Dorne: Jaime Lannister, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, Myrcella Lannister
Jaime and Bronn’s mission to Dorne to reclaim Jaime’s ‘niece’ Myrcella had apparently been successful, but after the head-squishing death of her husband Oberyn Martell at the giant hands of the Mountain, Ellaria Sand is intent on starting a war with the Lannisters. On their ship back to Kings’ Landing, just as Myrcella reveals she knows that Jaime is her dad, and that she’s happy about it, a poisoned farewell kiss from Ellaria takes effect. Myrcella is dead. But unlike with Jon Snow, nobody really cares.
The North: Stannis Baratheon, Ramsey Bolton, Sansa Stark, Theon Greyjoy, Brienne of Tarth
So it’s safe to say things didn’t go quite according to plan for Stannis or his witchy sidekick Melisandre. That horrible sacrifice of his daughter Shireen apparently wasn’t enough to convince Melisandre’s Lord of Light to back Stannis, and with his troops fleeing in all directions, his depleted force was quickly overcome by Ramsey Bolton. When we last saw Stannis, Brienne was swinging a pretty big sword straight at his head. All signs point to her having achieved her mission of avenging the murder of Stannis’s brother King Renly.
With Ramsey out having fun on the battlefield, Sansa and Theon/Reek grabbed their chance to escape, holding hands as they jumped from the walls of Winterfell, Thelma and Louise-style. Except, after turning up in countless preview pics and trailers, we can only assume they landed safely in a pillowy snow drift and are now on the run. You wouldn’t bet on them to get far with Ramsey and his dogs on their trail – although we do at least have the kick-ass Brienne in the vicinity, and with her first quest ticked off, she can now concentrate on her second: saving Sansa.
Castle Black: Melisandre, Davos Seaworth, Jon Snow (sort of), Sam Tarly
After Stannis’s defeat at Winterfell, we saw Melisandre slinking back through the gates at Castle Black, feeling sorry for herself. Davos is also back in Black, ostensibly sent on an errand to seek more troops for Stannis from the Wildlings, but actually – we very much suspect – because Stannis knew his right-hand man would be utterly outraged at what he was proposing to do to Princess Shireen. And Davos will presumably soon get the awful truth out of the Red Woman.
Jon Snow is dead… for now. Yes, the trailers show that his body is cold and lifeless after the mutiny of Ser Alliser Thorne and his Night’s Watch cronies. But of course no-one’s expecting this state of affairs to last, with theories about how Jon might be brought back including that he has warged (like his half-brother Bran) into the body of his Direwolf Ghost and that Melisandre might raise him from the dead in the same way that we’ve seen Red Priest Thoros of Myr bring back the excellently named Beric Dondarrion (if you remember him). But first, Davos and a couple of mates will have to defend Jon’s body from Ser Alliser and co. Let’s hope Davos can kick ass a bit better than he’s suggesting in the trailers…
Oh, and if you’re trying to remember what happened to Sam Tarly, he had just set off with Gilly and their baby to the Citadel to learn how to be a Maester. Bloody student slackers…
Braavos: Arya Stark
In the course of the past five seasons, Arya Stark has gone from innocent little girl to would-be-assassin-who-spends-her-spare-time-repeating-a-kill-list-under-her-breath. So it was a nice piece of luck for her – and very, very bad for him – when she happened across Ser Meryn Trant, the senior Kings Guardsman who was involved in her father’s execution and who, it turned out, was also a brutal paedophile. Without going too deeply into the gory details, after Arya reveals herself, Ser Meryn certainly gets the point – several times, in the eyes.
But… karma, baby: after stealing one of those spooky disembodied faces from the temple of the Many-Faced God in order to take a life that was not hers to take (not my words but the words of Jaqen H’ghar), Arya herself has been struck blind.
She’s going to have to listen very carefully if she wants to identify the next person on her list…
Somewhere: Bran Stark
Remember him? Crippled Stark boy, hangs out with Hodor (“Hodor!”)? Can transport his spirit into wolves and Hodor (“Hodor!”)? Last seen in a cave talking to an old man covered in cobwebs and leaves? Well he’s back – and this time he can stand up! Well, possibly – it might just be that this is Bran in one of his wargy flashbacks / premonitions / cheese dreams. But that is the Three-Eyed Raven (old cave dude) with him (even if he is played by a new actor – the great Max von Sydow) so perhaps he really can walk. Or perhaps the Raven’s in a dream with him. Perhaps this whole thing’s a dream. Or a TV series.
Beyond the Wall
Just a reminder: there’s an army of White Walkers out there. And winter is coming…