The show of shows is back: A guide to Game of Thrones season six

So many plots, so many characters? Colette Keane offers a recap on the major strands in Game of Thrones and speculates on some of the double acts who could be crucial to season six

THE show of all shows is back next Monday and its millions of fans around the world couldn’t be more excited. Daenerys is ‘Dancing with Dragons’, Cersei is in the midst of a ‘Storm of Swords’, and anyone left standing in the North is in no doubt that ‘Winter is Coming’.

Having caught up with the epic world created by George RR Martin, the juggernaut that is HBO’s ultimate sword, sandals, and scandals sexfest, Game of Thrones will carve out new ground this season as it outpaces the books — leaving everyone guessing what will happen to all those characters they love to hate.

It is a show that has created some truly outstanding double acts, who spark off each other to deliver some of the most quotable one-liners of any show. Take a typical showdown between sworn enemies Tyrion and his sister Cersei when he says to her: “You love your children. It’s your one redeeming quality — that, and your cheekbones.”

But given the massive shakeup at last year’s finale where many of our favourite double acts were separated either by distance or death, we take a look at some of the new relationships that are sure to have us on the edge of our seats this season.

Sansa and Theon

We have watched the relationship between Littlefinger, played so well by Peter Gillen, and Sansa, with a growing sense of trepidation. We have never quite been sure if he was going to take the last known remaining Stark for himself having been spurned by her mother years ago. And the more time Sansa spent with him the more she lost her rose-tinted princess glasses and started learning the tricks of power play from the master himself.

Having rescued Sansa from the Lannisters, murdering his new wife to protect her, he then sells off his prize to the Boltons to be wed to the psychopathic Ramsey, who gives her a wedding night neither she nor Theon are likely to forget. Being back at Winterfell seems to have given Sansa a chance to grow a Stark backbone and realising that she can either die as Ramsey’s plaything or on her own terms, she chooses to die while she still has part of her self left.

Her dignified courage ignites a spark in Theon who has been stripped of his name, his flesh, and even his manhood by Ramsey and he saves Sansa from an arrow and pushes the crossbow-wielder to her death.

The last we see of the pair is as they leap from the castle battlements into the snow drift below. Sophie Turner, the actress playing Sansa, says this is her season. Just might be Theon’s too.

Tyrion and Daenerys

Tyrion is the star of every scene he’s in, with the best lines and the best putdowns of any character in the series, but even he must play second fiddle to a dragon.

Tyrion and Varys, the master of secrets, have been one of the most memorable double acts throughout the five seasons, with Varys rescuing him from certain death after he took a crossbow to his father who was sitting on the privy and sets him on a path to meet the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen. His brother Jaime killed her father, known as the Mad King, which sent her on a path to exile and poverty, and saw her sold to a horse lord at the tender age of 13 so her brother, also blessed with the insanity gene, could hire an army to seize back the throne of the seven kingdoms.

He was crowned with molten gold for his trouble and Daenerys hatched three dragon eggs on her husband’s funeral pyre. She has wrestled with controlling her offspring, just as she will wrestle with controlling Tyrion.

Despite his links to the Lannisters, or maybe even because of them, she hires Tyrion as an adviser so she might go about reclaiming the Iron Throne. A mighty double act has yet again been forged. But after an another attempt on her life in an arena, Drogon, her black dragon, swoops in and saves her, only to leave her miles from her armies where she is surrounded by a rival horse lord’s horde. Might be the shortest double act in the history of the show — or the greatest.

Jon Snow and Melisandre

Just how many swords does it take to kill Jon Snow? With the internet ablaze with theories as to whether or not he survives, one thing seems certain: The fates of Jon and the Red Witch Melisandre are tied if he is to come back. After getting Stannis to tie his daughter to a stake and watch her burn in order to secure a victory in a battle in which he was not only defeated but also apparently lost his own life at the hands of Brienne of Tarth, Melisandre fled back to Castle Black.

It was in Castle Black she met the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow. She seemed strangely drawn to him — uttering one of the creepiest chat-up lines in history — “Are you a virgin? Good” — which may give a hint to his true parentage as she only has eyes for those with king’s blood.

He has always had a thing for redheads, or those ‘kissed by fire’ as the show puts it, having abandoned his vows of celibacy when he fell for the Wildling Ygritte. Melisandre even utters the same catchphrase as Ygritte — “You know nothing, Jon Snow” —when he refuses her offer to tempt him with power. Having birthed Stannis’s shadow killer baby, is it beyond her power to bring Jon back — and if she does, just how changed will he be?

Cersei and The Mountain

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any stranger, an 8ft muscle-bound giant killer zombie creature comes to Cersei’s rescue. After the most powerful woman in Westeros is forced to endure a naked walk of shame through the streets of her city covered in spit, excrement, and rotten fruit after her plan to curb Margaery Tyrell’s control on her son backfires spectacularly, a bloody and tearful Cersei is scooped up in the arms of man simply known as The Mountain.

The Mountain is, or was, Gregor Clegane, who once held his young brother’s face over the fire and scarred him horrifically because he had played with his toys without asking. He has been a key bodyguard in the Lannisters’ household for years. He has killed a prince, his children, and raped their mother all in the name of the Lannisters, but was mortally wounded by Oberyn when he acted as champion for Cersei, until Qyburn brought him — or something of him — back.

With Cersei hell bent on revenge for the indignities she has suffered and with a super-strong silent psycho at her disposal, all in King’s Landing better watch out.

More burning questions for fans: Will Ayra be blinded permanently for her bloody revenge on Meryn Trant or can she do enough to convince the assassins of her remorse? What will Ramsey do to recapture his favourite playthings? Did Brienne really kill Stannis and will she be able to find Sansa to fulfil the vows she made to her mother? Is Bran the only one now who can stop the White Walkers and their leader the Night’s King? Is Jon Snow really dead?

Get the popcorn at the ready because GoT is back and the storylines promise to be more gripping than ever.

  • Season six of Game of Thrones begins on Sky Atlantic on Sunday at 2am; and Monday at 9pm


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