What Game of Thrones readers want in season 5

Tyrion must return for season five of Game of Thrones. When it comes to Melisandre we are all rooting for Jon Snow, quite literally. The Wall is cold, and a man needs a burning desire.

Remember Gendry? Surely he will play a part in the Lady Stoneheart plot.

Daenerys’ storyline needs more action, and fast.


(Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read all of the Game of Thrones books, do not read on.)

On mourning the loss of Game of Thrones for another year (April, 2015 just can’t come quick enough), thoughts immediately turn to next season and why there are certain elements of George R.R. Martin’s books that devoted readers want to see come to fruition on the screen, and quickly.

For example it became blatantly apparent on Twitter shortly after the season-four finale ended that book fans were disappointed that Lady Stoneheart did not make her entrance in what would have been a pretty amazing teaser for next season.

But on reflection, I can see why showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff didn’t want to introduce her just yet. Don’t forget there is still that tantalising element for TV viewers of not knowing who Lady Stoneheart is, and the series will get to draw out the terror that Lord Walder Frey’s men experience at the hands of some mysterious bunch of murderous bandits. Followed by the big unveil to Brienne of Tarth.

That’s a whole series there, so my bet is that Stoneheart will help launch the new season.

Interwoven with that is the reintroduction of Gendry, who we last left sailing away in season three while escaping from Dragonstone, and where he will be placed going forward. I suspect he has a greater role in the story than even the books have alluded to yet. He, Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton are the bastards upon which a great number of plot lines can still be centred (claims to the Iron Throne, anyone?). And before you start commenting that Jon, like most of the Starks, will meet a bloody end, I disagree.

Hasn’t Lady Stoneheart taught us anything?

Getting back to season five, Jon Snow’s ascension to Lord Commander is clearly next, now Stannis Baratheon has arrived at the Wall. But as a fan of both book and the show, I really want to know whether Weiss and Benioff plan on making Melisandre a complicating love interest. It was only a look, but what a tantalising look she gave Jon through the smoke of Castle Black’s burning bodies during the finale. And we know Jon has a thing for women who have been ”kissed by fire” – Melisandre comes straight off a Redheads match box.

Although the book never goes there, we know how much sex and naked bodies have been a staple of the show and there were plenty of hints coming from Sam Tarly, as well as possibly Wildling-king Mance. Sam pointing out that the vows taken by men of the Night’s Watch never explicitly meant celibacy (although this could just be in reference to his own desire for Gilly), but when coupled with Mance’s suggestion that Ygritte was not enough to turn Jon, suggests Jon’s days of naked romps may not yet be over (challenge accepted Melisandre?). Which will certainly make for an interesting dynamic with Stannis, although knowing him he might condone Jon spending a little time in a (ahem) bushfire in exchange for ensnaring him as Warden of the North (I’m not sure if they’ll bother with Mance’s Wildling sister-in-law).

Then there are the Stark girls, who we can see from Sansa’s new dark do are going to really come into their element rather than being led around by men in their lives. The trouble is that the books don’t really offer much in the way of Sansa’s story going forward, except that Robin seems to accept her as a surrogate mother. The TV show has already fast-tracked Littlefinger’s creepy crush and added her bad-ass element, which for many of us who have defended Sansa’s character (based on the books’ insights) is a welcome twist. So she may not return for season five but perhaps season six (by then Martin may have written another book (fingers crossed) but I have to acknowledge that three more TV seasons have been commissioned without him publishing another word.

Or, going off plot and thinking outside of the box, could Sansa eventually lead the northern revolt against Ramsay Bolton (instead of Lord Wyman Manderly)? She has declared herself publicly to the Vale, and reminded them of their failings to her family. And I’m guessing that Ramsay needs to carry out the charade of marrying Arya Stark, who is really Sansa’s friend Jeyne Poole (returned from the dead), to continue the plot line, as well as give him something sadistic to do. The role of Jeyne is the salvation of Reek (aka Theon Greyjoy) and the motive for Jon to send a rescue team to Winterfell. I doubt Ramsay’s sicko girlfriend (randomely introduced in the show) can fill that void.

But really Arya is where all the visual fun and excitement is at, especially upon landing in Braavos. Yet I suspect that her introduction to the Faceless Men of the House of Black and White may still  be a way off, as it was in the books, which will allow her to simply become a street urchin for a while. A murderous one, don’t get me wrong, but she has a language to learn and a new port city to explore (although in the books she wasn’t quite in Braavos – but surely that would be too confusing for watchers).

And when it comes to new things, there are a plethora of new characters yet to be introduced. Which leads me to disagree with Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson, who wrote that next season the show will morph into something unrecognisable, and not as good.

“Certain beloved characters will stay stuck and stagnant (anyone hoping that Daenerys will get out of the dang slave desert anytime soon should probably stop holding their breath), while a bunch of new characters are introduced who, as far as any of us have read anyway, really don’t have anything interesting to do,” Lawson claims.

“Will viewers be happy to meet more salty, stolid Iron Islanders? Will various antics involving other Dornish folk intrigue them as much as Oberyn’s plotline did? I’m just not sure they will.”

Shame on Lawson, for dismissing all the action in Dorne so swiftly. The repercussions of Oberyn’s death on the Sand Snakes and Cersei Lannister’s daughter, Princess Myrcella, provide a great deal of new political intrigues, sex scenes and betrayals. Which in turn spawns some of Martin’s most-inspired material since the Red Wedding – revenge plots on the House of Lannister.

Enter Young Griff (although strictly speaking he’s not the only Martell iron in the fire). This new character had me jumping up and down with glee, made all the more delightful that it is through Tyrion that we get to meet him. And let’s face it, I don’t think any TV fan can go without Tyrion for a whole season, so I would stake my fictional character’s life (if I had been so lucky as to have won Martin’s offer of being written into one of his books) that we will meet Young Griff in series five. And Tyrion’s adventure is so action-packed that it would no doubt take three seasons to play out.

I only hope (unlike the books) Varys plays a part in guiding Young Griff into the lives of TV viewers, because the eunich, played brilliantly by Northern Irish actor Conleith Hill, was well missed in season four.

You also have all the developing fun of King’s Landing as Margaery and Cersei wrestle for control of Tommen (of which I relish the day that Cersei makes that famous walk through the city). But there is much to come in the way of Cersei befriending and bedding Taena Merryweather, empowering the Faith Militant and losing Jaime, as he is once again road-bound for Riverrun and eventually Brienne.

I also can’t imagine Lady Oleanna sitting idly by as Cersei self-sabotages (as she mostly did in the books) since the Queen of Thorns is Highgarden’s Tywin Lannister (a real prick). I think her’s will mostly be an Agatha Christie plot, full of mystery and twists, as Cersei digs further into Joffrey’s death.

Not to mention the fact that season four did not kill off the Martell’s sworn enemy, The Mountain – who at the hands of Qyburn-Frankenstein sounds like he’s about to become a monster. To what end, who knows?

And just for the blood and gore factor there is always the rebellion against Daenerys Targaryen. But I have to admit her storyline needs to ramp up radically, even if it means fast-tracking the action of much later chapters. In that much, Lawson and I agree.

Iron Islanders be damned, they will just be a pawn in the much bigger chess game that Game of Thrones thrives on and has kept us hooked from the begining. Because in the game of thrones you win or you die. Valar Morghulis!

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