Warning: Spoilers ahead.
HBO has released a huge batch of new photos from season six of Game of Thrones, and here's what we've learned. Daenerys is in trouble, Tyrion is drinking wine, King's Landing is a mess, and although winter is coming, no one in the North has figured out that they should put on a hat.
These photos, along with teasers released a few weeks ago, sketch out the conflicts that are going to dominate the early part of the season. In so many cases, the Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen families have sown the seeds of their own destruction.
Consider Daenerys. In the recent teaser, a previously unheard Dothraki voice snarls, "You are nobody, the millionth of your name, Queen of Nothing." Now we have a picture of the Mother of Dragons to match, hands bound, standing before the Dothraki. Drogon is nowhere in sight. This all started, of course, when Daenerys's brother sold her as a bride to the Dothraki in exchange for promised military support. Everything she's experienced, as well as the carnage brought to so many cities and peoples in her wake, stemmed from that fateful decision. Note: The Dothraki did not, in fact, help her brother retake Westeros, but instead killed him, which is fine, because he was a dick.
As for the Starks, the teaser shows the tattered dire wolf banner fluttering against a stormy winter sky. Ramsey Bolton says, "Winterfell is mine. Come and see." Lightning flashes. The pictures show Sansa, red hair flecked with snow, pulling Theon from a wintry stream. Others place the Boltons comfortably in Winterfell. This all happened because Robb Stark trusted Theon to bring help from the Iron Islands, and trusted Roose Bolton with his life. Roose rewarded this trust at the Red Wedding, by thrusting a knife in Robb's heart and delivering the valediction, "The Lannisters send their regards." The pillaging of the North, the Bolton reign of terror, and even Sansa's repeated rape and torture all stem from these acts of trust.
At least the burden of the Lannister mess falls most heavily on Cersei, although plenty of more innocent individuals are suffering as well. In many ways, that teaser is the most interesting, because it reveals something about the High Sparrow's plan. As the golden lion of House Lannister flies over the lovely harbor of King's Landing at sunset, the High Sparrow, in Jonathan Pryce's distinctive voice, says, "Every one of us is poor and powerless, and yet together, we can overthrow an empire." Listen closely, in the background bells ring and the Septas' voices repeat, "Shame!"
The photos show the Septas before the imprisoned Margaery and the High Sparrow, in his rags, looking inscrutable. The Lannisters are seen mourning the death of Cersei and Jaime's daughter. Things look fine in the palace, but clearly, revolution is in the air.
Beyond that, we get glimpses of other storylines. Arya is a blind beggar. The Greyjoys are back in the mix. Tyrion, Varys, and Missandei have to reckon with Meereen (we have no hint of the status on the ground there). Bran is having visions of an old man in black rags, whom we've been told is the three-eyed raven. Other bit players spin through the chaos of Westeros, trying to grab a little peace or safety.
In season six, it looks like peace is going to be hard to come by, but that's not exactly a surprise. What's new is that the High Sparrow is calling for a revolution, the Dothraki are back, and everyone's chickens—or dragons—are coming home to roost.
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