After the shocking revelations of last week’s episode, you’d think Game of Thrones might have taken a week off from pulling the rug from under us.
But instead the show pulled off another surprise twist at the end of this week’s episode, showing off the return of an old character last seen in season three and radically changing Jon Snow’s storyline for future episodes.
Naturally, the whole thing left us with a few queries.
1. Is that Rickon Stark?
Yep, Irish actor Art Parkinson – last seen in the series back in season three, above left – has returned as the youngest of the Stark children after a sojourn with Northern house the Umbers.
It remains to be seen what will happen next for Rickon, but one thing’s for sure: in the hands of Iwan Rheon’s Ramsay Bolton, it’s bound to be pretty horrific.
2. Have the Umbers really broken their oaths?
An interesting one, this. During this week’s episode the long-loyal Umber family finally turned their back on the Starks, handing over Rickon and teaming up with the Boltons after centuries of fealty to the former Wardens of the North.
The betrayal seemed underlined by the fact that the Umbers (led by Dean S. Jagger’s Smalljon after his more loyal father died) had beheaded Rickon’s trusty direwolf Shaggydog, with his severed head acting as both proof of the youngest Stark’s identity and the Umbers’ commitment to the Bolton cause.
However, some fans have expressed doubts that the severed head actually belongs to Shaggydog, noting that it appears a lot smaller than the last time we saw the direwolf (and a lot smaller that the head of Robb Stark’s wolf Grey Wind, which died when younger).
Perhaps, they reason, this is all a long con by the Umbers to gain the trust of the Boltons before turning on them at a crucial moment. Smalljon refused to give them an oath, after all.
Then again, actually handing over Rickon to a man who fed his baby brother to dogs might be a bit risky, especially given that Ramsay had no idea what Rickon looked like and they could have given him literally any kid. For now, we’re marking this one as undecided.
3. Who is Arya going to kill?
The training montage of Maisie Williams’ feisty other Stark included an interesting edge this week, with the Waif (Faye Marsay) particularly interested in the young apprentice’s brothers and “Kill List” (aka the names of people she was planning to off, recited nightly before she went to bed).
Some of this might have been an aid to help the audience remember Rickon existed before his return later in the episode (he never really did much, to be fair) or that Arya watched the Hound die before his own rumoured resurrection later this series (fans believe he may fight the zombified version of his brother Ser Gregor Clegane).
Alternatively, it could be that one of the people the Waif asks about is someone the Faceless Men want dead: perhaps someone like Gregor, who has robbed the Many-Faced God of a death, or even someone closer to home who has “cheated” their way back among the living
Though we’re hoping that not even Game of Thrones could be that cruel.
4. Will Daenerys now have to spend the rest of her life in the Dosh Khaleen?
Nah – we’re betting that Jorah and Daario can get her out pretty soon, and if not, her dragon Drogon (who appears attacking a Dothraki settlement in one of the trailers) will come to her aid.
5. What was going on in that flashback?
Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) latest trip into the past saw a younger version of his father Ned (Robert Aramayo) and some other soldiers take on two Knights of the Kingsguard, who for reasons unknown had taken Ned’s sister Lyanna hostage on the orders of royal heir Rhaegar Targaryen.
It was this kidnapping of Lyanna that led to the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty, sparking a rebellion by Lyanna’s betrothed Robert (Mark Addy in Game of Thrones season one) and his eventual ascension to the Iron Throne. However some fans believe it was no kidnapping at all, with Lyanna going with Rhaegar for love and later bearing his child (hence the screams briefly heard in this week’s episode).
That child, incidentally, is thought to be none other than Jon Snow (Kit Harington), hidden as Ned’s bastard son at the insistence of Lyanna as she lay dying in childbirth in the Tower. Perhaps there was a reason this episode aired on the US date for Mother’s Day…
6. And who was that amazing dual-wielding knight?
That was Ser Arthur Dayne, a legendary Knight of the Kingsguard for the Targaryen dynasty and the so-called “Sword of the Morning”, an honorary title given to men of his family who were great warriors.
In the show he was played by Luke Roberts, and while lacking his book counterpart’s famous Valyrian steel sword Dawn, his double-wielding TV style still got across his reputation as Westeros’ greatest-ever swordsman.
7. Where is Littlefinger?
Apparently, Aidan Gillan’s arch-schemer has spent the last few episodes just hanging out in the Vale, but based on the next time trailer for this week he’ll soon be rejoining the action. And with the formidable forces of House Arryn at his disposal, whichever side he chooses to back could find the balance of power tipped in their favour.
8. What’s next for Jon?
Kit Harington’s Lord Commander has resigned from his Night’s Watch post, which means he could be heading back into the world to bring order to the North. Think about it – what better way to prepare for the White Walkers than to get rid of Ramsay Bolton and take over the North on behalf of the Starks, perhaps reuniting with his sister Sansa (Sophie Turner) as she arrives at Castle Black in the next episode?
In fact, we may have spotted some of this campaign (via Jon’s ally Ser Davos standing in front of a Stark banner) in one of the trailers already.
Anyone ready for another King in the North?
Game of Thrones continues next Monday at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic