We have everything you need to know about Game of Thrones Season 5 (and maybe some stuff you shouldn’t) right here….
And another New Year has come with 2015–a calendar question mark that sparkles with new possibilities, hopes dreams, and endless optimism for a future not yet written.
But all we can say is: yeah, yeah, yeah. Is it time for Game of Thrones to come back yet?!
Sure, it’s only been about seven months since Game of Thrones’ fourth season wrapped up with Arya sailing off into the deep blue sea towards Braavos. But the fact that season five is barely less than half a year away does not mean we cannot start getting hyped and excited now. With the new season already well into its shooting schedule, and cast members seemingly doing interviews around the clock, there is a treasure trove of new information out there. Join us right here in this leaving and breathing document as we collect everything we know about Game of
Thrones season five.
Production and New Dorne Cast
Production began on season five unsurprisingly around the series’ Belfast and Northern Ireland settings in July. Indeed, production shot early at Binevenagh Mountain in Ireland’s Londonderry County. But the real interest actually began earlier that month when it was first announced that Game of Thrones would be shooting in Spain’s Province of Seville. That could only mean one thing: Dorne.
Indeed, HBO and David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the series creators and showrunners, have confirmed almost as much much. Though they only officially confirmed recently that filming in Córdoba was served to utilize the still standing Roman bridge as the Free Standing Bridge of Volantis (which will play an integral part in Tyrion’s season five journey, where he meets a surprising and familiar face).
Nonetheless, Dorne is an obvious location given that it is the last unseen party of the Seven Kingdoms on the HBO series. Plus, as Prince Oberyn (wonderfully played by Pedro Pascal) attested to in the fourth season, their culture is of an arid, and very Spanish disposition. This is made even more obvious by the plethora of casting announcements revealed during San Diego Comic-Con this year. In fact, you can see them all below right now.
Amongst those cast are Jessica Henwick, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers, and Keisha Castle-Hughes as the daughters of the late great Prince Oberyn Martell: the Sand Snakes Nymeria, Tyene, and Obra Sand. But the Martell family proper is also making an appearance with Toby Sebastian portraying Trystane Martell, the youngest ruling Prince of Dorne, and son of Prince Doran Martell, Oberyn’s older brother, set to be played by the terrific Alexander Siddig.
Doran Martell will be quite different from Oberyn. While Oberyn was fire and publicly open about his emotions, pursuits, and vengeance (ultimately to his own demise), Doran is far more underhanded and cautious in his equal disdain for the Lannisters. With his younger brother dead, and the daughter of Cersei and “Robert” in his keeping, Myrcella Baratheon who has been recast in Nell Tiger Free, Doran’s plans may have to change. The SDCC announcement also included the wonderful Jonathan Pryce being revealed as playing the High Sparrow (more on him in a bit).
Like last season, this will be adapting all of “A Song of Ice and Fire,” as opposed to a singular book. However, when creators Benioff and Weiss have said that in the past, it now more than just massaging certain details early from the beginning of the next book or saving a scene that occurs late in A Storm of Swords (book three) for the fifth season. No, for this upcoming year, it most specifically means combining A Feast for Crows (book four) and A Dance with Dragons (book five) into the fifth season.
The reason for this transition was inevitable since George R.R. Martin divided his central characters from the first three books as almost entirely separate in the two novels, choosing instead to write based on geography. A Feast for Crows chronicled the characters in the Southron half of the Seven Kingdoms, such as Cersei, Jaime, Sansa, and Brienne, as well as passages about Arya’s adventures in Braavos. The fifth book, conversely, focused on the North as well as more of Essos, centering John Snow, Theon Greyjoy, Bran Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, and Tyrion Lannister in its gaze. We were not going to go an entire season without either. Further, there is ample proof that they will be combining both books whole for the fifth season (thereby bringing the series up to date with the currently published novels). But more on that in the most spoilerish section below.
And much like characters’ locations, the effect this will have on character arcs is all over the map.
One example is Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark. When season four concluded, Sansa has proudly revealed to the Vale’s leadership her real heritage as the daughter of the late great Ned and Catelyn, and will be traveling incognito (black hair!) through the Vale as Littelfinger’s “niece.”
For anyone who has read the last two “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, this is both a major departure from the source material (only Littlefinger knows she is really Sansa Stark, and he calls her his bastard daughter), as well as nearly catching up with it. Her arc concludes on a rather dramatic journey down the mountain as “Robyn” Arryn’s glorified nanny and the beginning of a tour of the Vale. We are likely skipping that journey in season five and will be up to the last chapter of her appearances at least when season five of Game of Thrones begins. This is likewise confirmed by Sophie Turner, who in August told Hitfix that she has quit reading the books, because “now that the storyline and scripts are going away from the books, I decided I’m going to read the scripts, so I don’t get confused and read the books later.” Turner goes on to say that she’s excited, because the role is going in a completely different direction. “I think the fans will really like where her storyline is going this season.” If we had to guess, we imagine that the “game player” Martin has hinted Sansa will soon become in The Winds of Winter will blow in early during season five’s autumn.
Similarly, the sisterly Arya Stark may also be jumping ahead some pages. While none of her storyline from A Feast for Crows or A Dance with Dragons appeared in season four, that doesn’t mean things could not be sped up. At the end of season four, we saw Arya sailing to Braavos, much like how her arc ended in A Storm of Swords. And actress Maisie Williams told me in July that while she had not read the scripts, she is aware of Arya’s future at the House of Black and White. However, if any have read the sampled Arya chapter from The Winds of Winter, then the new set photos from season five that features Arya in disguise while Mace Tyrell visits what appears to be the Iron Bank in Braavos, may seem familiar in a surprising way. Arya is most certainly going to Braavos, and her storyline from the fourth and fifth book will appear…and possibly the unpublished sixth as well.
Arya’s hapless brother on the other hand, Bran Stark, will not be appearing in season five at all. Actor and DJ Kristian Nairn, better known to Game of Thrones fans as simply “Hodor,” in September said, “We have a season off. We have a year’s hiatus…I imagine our storyline is up to the end of the books.”
In actuality, there are still several Bran centric chapters left from A Dance with Dragons left unadapted. However, the largest story pieces from that novel for Bran were already put in the show for season four when Bran, Hodor, Jojen, and Meera reach the Three-Eyed Raven’s Tree…and Jojen is very much alive in the book. Quite honestly, while Bran and Hodor are lovable, their storyline in the fifth book is fairly dry, and we have seen all the most important bits to date. My guess is that Benioff and Weiss feel the same way and will just skip ahead to the end of Bran’s wizard training for season six.
Other surprise casting slip-ups include last month when Charles Dance revealed that he will be returning for season five. “Well, I’m not completely missing out on the next series,” Dance said.
Could this mean that Tywin is alive? No, I’m afraid that Tywin is as dead as poor Ned’s head, and I highly doubt Benioff and Weiss would depart from that aspect in the source story. However, they are likely departing from their own previous storytelling techniques, as they revealed this month that season five of Game of Thrones will be the first to include flashbacks. This is none too surprising though since we already know that “Maggy the Frog,” a character from Cersei Lannister’s past revealed via A Feast for Crows, has been cast for season five.
Which brings us to Cersei, who is the dominant figure in the fourth novel, and whose storyline’s climax in season five has been thoroughly spoiled for non-book readers. Yes, in case you missed it, Lena Headey’s Queen Mother will appear in season five in her royal birthday suit when she is forced to commit a walk of shame in the streets of King’s Landing. This was first revealed because the Croatian Church of St. Nicolas protested to the Croatian Film Commission for allowing the scene to be shot in the streets of Dubrovnik. Bishop Anthony IV especially objected for any nudity to be shot on the front of his church. For the record, the scene was shot this month (using a set for the “Steps of Baelor”) with a body double doing much of the nudity.
Spoilers and the Rest
And this Cersei unrobed Croatian drama is very telling for the series as a whole. At this point, some fans are still expecting Game of Thrones to spend two seasons on adapting both published books, even if they are melding them together. However, the Cersei reveal completely contradicts this expectation.
In what will undoubtedly be a terrific part for Pryce as the High Sparrow, this Westerosi version of the Pope sentences Cersei to this disgusting and vile shaming, because she confesses to having slept with Lancel Lannister, amongst others. While she denies carnal knowledge of Jaime, which on top of being incest would be treason since he begot the three children pretending to Robert Baratheon’s spawn, she is still forced into a corner during the final chapters of A Dance with Dragons that causes her to “seek forgiveness” for her sins. And this walk of shame through King’s Landing is her penance.
It comes after her entire arc of the fourth book, involving an Anne Bolyen-styled witch hunt after Margaery Tyrell (oh the irony for Natalie Dormer must be obvious) blows up in Cersei’s face. The men she seduces to conspire in “knowing” Margaery (in the biblical sense) are tortured by the Church and by the High Sparrow’s command, upon which they confess having slept with Cersei. She is arrested at the end of the fourth book, and in A Dance with Dragons, she admits it all (save for encouraging them to lie about Margaery). The result is this sequence, which is the climax of the King’s Landing drama in the fifth book.
Again, this leads me to believe that Benioff and Weiss are more than aware of the season five problem that we documented last June. And they are solving it by combining the two books. This mean wholesale changes, including the rumor about the deletion of the Iron Islands subplot from A Feast for Crows. There has certainly been no casting announcements about all the various Iron Islanders who appear in both the fourth and fifth books.
Further, when recently asked about whether we will see events from The Winds of Winter in season five, as indicated at the very least by the Arya picture above, Benioff and Weiss reportedly remained non-committal in their answer, which all but most certainly means yes.
When put together, it would appear that Game of Thrones season five will not only merge the fourth and fifth books, but complete most of storylines from them, not unlike how Bran, Sansa, and Theon’s storylines in season four started pulling from the later books as well.
Of course, words are wind, and Benioff and Weiss could go in a different direction. And we’ll be here to keep you updated about everything else we will or could know about Game of Thrones season five. Also, be sure to check out all of our Game of Thrones coverage by clicking here.