I Finally Figured Out What's Happening in These 'Game of Thrones' Photos

Let's all look at these photos and pretend that we're watching the show.

by Harry Cheadle
Jun 22 2016, 9:10pm

Warning: Spoilers ahead if you're not caught up through season six, episode nine.

A while ago a man had a simple idea: What if the War of the Roses actually took place in a fantasy land where the seasons changed very, very slowly and also there used to be dragons and also there was a horrifying undead army waiting beyond a massive wall? Would that be something people would want to read? Turns out, yes. Then someone else was like, "What if we made this a TV show? Would people watch that?" And lo, they were super into it, and the show about the books about the made-up land became a cultural phenomenon, like Friends, except on Friends a big moment was "Here's Bruce Willis!" while on Game of Thrones a big moment is "A pregnant woman is horribly stabbed and so is everyone else."

Also back in the Friends days the internet was a tiny little baby internet, so it was hard to really obsess over a show. Good thing, too, because I bet all of those flashback episodes don't follow any kind of continuity, like, at all, and can you imagine the response from the blogs? Also Friends sucked. But Game of Thrones is coming at us in the age of web 3.5, a.k.a. the Too Much Is Never Enough Era, an exciting time when "Here are photos of actors and their body doubles pulled from Instagram" is a pretty decent idea for an internet article.

Fans of George R. R. Martin's books have always wanted more from him—that's the curse of telling a gripping story, people want to hear it as fast as possible—and since the TV show took off, that problem has been magnified by a million. There's an insatiable demand for plot details, spoilers, behind-the-scenes nuggets, analysis, expert commentary on the level of, "The Battle of the Bastards was kinda BS, right?" and, "How would the dragons fuck, anyway?"

Game of Thrones isn't the first glossy prestige cable drama to inspire this kind of loyalty. Mad Men skewered its fans' need for more with hilariously opaque "next on..." promos that featured mostly people answering phones and saying, "What?" But Game of Thrones plays it straighter and honestly teases plot points in all kinds of ways, even ways that seem to be a bit dickish. It comes out with a trailer every week, but it also releases photos, which are like trailers but even more incomprehensible and mostly seem to exist to say, "Here are some characters that will be in the next episode."

This is fine. If you can't have new moving images of Game of Thrones, why not settle for still images of Game of Thrones? Here are some photos that came out on Wednesday, if you want to see them:

All photos via Helen Sloan/HBO

This is literally a shot from the trailer, so we know what this conversation between Dany and Tyrion partly consists of. Basically he's telling her, "Are you afraid? Good. You're in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying." But honestly, given that Dany went from being a prisoner slated for execution to using dragons to burn a fleet of ships down in the course of just this season, it seems like she'll be able to handle herself against the Lannisters, et al. Maybe Tyrion is just trying to emphasize how dangerous Westeros is so he'll be able to stay at her side longer? The fact that they're sitting down and having a fairly relaxed conversation—check out Tyrion's wine glass—means we probably won't get too much action from this side of the Narrow Sea. Also check out Dany's dress, a far cry from the rags she was wearing when she was a Dothraki prisoner at the beginning of season six, and also a far cry from the nothing at all she was wearing when she burned her way to freedom in episode four. She, along with many of the other women on the show, are coming up in the world.

Here we see the other Lannister brother Jaime with perennial Lannister brother-buddy Bronn riding strangely and morosely from Riverrun, which they'd taken unopposed by getting Frey prisoner Edmure to pull rank on the Blackfish, then betray his Tully brethren.

Like the gang in Meereen, this group seems pretty relaxed, though there's always the potential for complications—is Ser Bronn going to stay loyal for the show's entire run, despite his mercenary origins? And where are they going?

Oh, right, they're on their way to meet everyone's least favorite turncoat minor house, the Freys. In a show full of assholes, the craggy Walder Frey towers above them all, a pretty ugly metaphor to think about. But the sight of the mastermind of the Red Wedding sitting at dinner—inside the Twins, no less!—means that maybe his story is coming full circle, and he'll be meeting his gruesome end, the only kind of end anyone gets on this show. Perhaps Jaime, who has been sympathetic to the Starks and their ilk, will play a role? And by "play a role," I mean, "Is he hiding a knife under the table right now?"

Loras Tyrell is looking the worse for wear these days. The Knight of Flowers was the Westeros equivalent of Justin Bieber back in season one, but that was a kinder, gentler era, where looking good in an ornate suit of armor was the key to popularity, not being a giant, undead, or both. There's an extremely specific group of 'shippers who is thrilled to see him on his knees before the High Sparrow, but most of us will just wonder what the priest's verdict is going to be. Like Cersei, Loras has received the buzzcut treatment, though presumably the High Sparrow has something else in store for him besides another walk of shame. But what could it be?

He's just a sideshow, of course—the big King's Landing storyline is the trial of Cersei. As one of the most loathsome characters on the show, you'd think she'd get what she deserves, what with this season's themes of righteous (or at least righteous-ish) revenge. But obviously, the fact that Qyburn verified some as-yet-unclear rumor to Cersei means that she may end up with the upper hand. (This is just a guess, but I think the rumor will turn out to be, "Actually, the High Sparrow is bad.")

Another still from a scene pretty well spelled out in the trailer, in which the Onion Knight Ser Davos is yelling, "Tell him what you did to her!" at Melisandre. The implication is fairly obvious: "Tell Jon Snow about that whole thing where you burned the king's daughter at the stake!" In the trailer, the Red Woman looks ashamed; Jon looks disturbed—but is Melisandre actually going to show shame over a fairly public action that, after all, Stannis more or less approved of? And is Jon actually shocked by anything at this point? He was buried under a pile of corpses, he was forced to kill Qhorin in order to join the Wildlings, he DIED AND WAS RESURRECTED—is he going to be surprised by anything that happens?

Wait, who is this? Fuck, sorry. Have fun watching the season finale of Game of Thrones, everyone!

Follow Harry Cheadle on Twitter.

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