HUHH. Hwuhh. HUHH. Hwuhh. The soundtrack to the latest Game Of Thrones trailer is a war song. Ominous bass notes, thumping drums and guttural grunts crescendo to a silence broken by the low rumble of a dragon’s fiery roar. Pain follows violence follows threats of pain and violence.
Welcome back to Westeros, is the unspoken message, where life is a double scoop of suffering with agony sprinkles and injury sauce.
Bad for them, good for us. The uninterrupted torrent of suffering is Game Of Thrones’ major draw. Watching men, women, children and horses get stabbed in the throat really puts your own stuff into perspective. The show functions as our Two Minutes Hate against life’s unpredictability, bespoke distraction from our comparatively trivial worries. For an hour a week, Game Of Thrones makes it impossible to fret about the dishwasher leaking. That is its greatest gift.
Season six promises violent distraction by the bucketful. In this trailer alone, a young girl is struck and falls to the floor, another is forcibly stripped naked, a knife blade draws a red line across a dead man’s scalp, a sword emerges bloodily on the south side of a man’s chest, someone is stabbed artily in silhouette, someone else’s head, it’s suggested at 1:31, is pulled clean off. Game Of Thrones characters are treated worse than the celebrities on The Jump.
This latest trailer is the usual morass of menacing threats and promises of revenge. Sansa’s on the war path in a direwolf-embroidered top, Cersei’s pissed (both in the American and British sense of the word), Arya’s scrapping with the Waif and messing up Jaqen H’ghar’s pound shop highlights.
Everyone else is fighting everyone else: The Night’s Watch Vs The Night’s Watch. The Boltons Vs the Wildlings. The Tyrells Vs the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant. Someone in a dark, snowy forest Vs someone else in a dark, snowy forest. The Sons of the Harpy Vs anyone wearing Dany’s blue and yellow team strip.
All of which is irrelevant, we’re reminded, because the real problem is the inexorable army of the dead hell bent on making blue-eyed skeletons out of every last one of them. That’s the take-home headline, Davos suggests. That’s what needs to be flagged up moving forward.
Before he can get to that, the Onion Knight has to protect Jon Snow’s corpse from the men who killed him. Aiding him in that task are a smattering of Jon Snow’s mates, Jon Snow’s sword, Jon Snow’s snarling direwolf and nature’s armour: a Geordie accent.
Does Davos make it? It seems so by his later appearance trying to impress the importance of the White Walker attack in front of some Mormont banners and facing down the Bolton army alongside the Wildlings. How long he makes it is another question. Liam Cunningham’s been doing an unusual amount of press for season six, which rings alarm bells survival-wise.
Appearing similarly outnumbered is the High Sparrow’s Faith Militant, which, having made enemies of the wealthiest families in Westeros, now faces the combined might of the Tyrell army and Ser Mace in a particularly frivolous hat (1:10). Having taken the precaution of setting up headquarters at the top of some impractically high steps though, there’s every chance Jonathan Pryce’s boys will survive.
Except, of course they won’t. Neck-licking Cersei Lannister with her pet zombie Mountain will make sure of that. And then she’ll die. Horribly. They will all die horribly.
And if they don’t, that doesn’t matter either remember, because the drummer from Lordi and his army of wights (1:14) has bought a one-way family ticket south of the Wall and is currently making sandwiches for the trip. The sandwiches of the undead.
Over in Essos, Ser Jorah is continuing his greyscale transition into The Thing out of Fantastic Four while Dany is reliving season one by being mistreated in a Dothraki tent. As one of The Main Ones, Dany is bound to survive this season, and with Jorah, Daario and Drogon (now roughly the size of Cardiff) tracking her, it can only be a matter of time before help arrives.
Things in Meereen aren’t looking peachy for Tyrion, Varys and Missandei either. A Red Priestess has done something unspecified but that she looks very pleased about. It’s never good news when someone on Game Of Thrones smirks (see: Ramsay Bolton). Rarely does the surprise turn out to be a lovely cake.
As ever, Tyrion gets the best line (or does Peter Dinklage just make his all the best lines?). How does he know dragons don’t do well in captivity? “That’s what I do,” he wryly replies, “I drink and I know things.” Brilliant. You could be describing me, Tyzza, except for that second part.
Still in the East, Arya’s work placement at The House Of Black And White isn’t really working out. She’s on her last warning and it’s starting to look as though she’ll never get her BTEC National in slicing off dead people’s faces and riddling. Still, judging by the impressive fight she gets into (1:25) and the literal blood on her hands as she escapes into a Braavosi alleyway later on (1:45), she gets her own back and not just by sassily filling in the feedback form: “Did A Man provide adequate explanation during tasks? Strongly disagree.”
Brother Bran is at least fulfilling time-honoured tradition by spending his gap year off his head having visions under a tree with a man who thinks he’s a crow.
Their sister Sansa has shed the Littlefinger-mimicking cloak of season five in favour of a Stark makeover. Flanked by soldiers, it’s hard to tell whether Sansa is in command or captivity here, but one thing we do know is that she’s bent on revenge for what was taken from her. Her personal shit list flashes up on the screen: Ramsay Bolton, Walder Frey and Littlefinger. Oh-oh here she comes. Watch out boys, she’ll chew you up. That or she’ll die unfairly and you’ll all expire by other means.
Unlike the Starks, heretofore separated siblings Yara and Theon Greyjoy are due a reunion in season six, as glimpsed at 1:30.
Speaking of which, it looks like Sam is either about to be reunited with his lunch aboard the Citadel-bound ship he’s on with Gilly at 1:22, that, or he’s just heard the bad news about Jon Snow.
Mopping up the miscellanea, we’re also shown a fair few shots of the siege on the Tully stronghold of Riverrun, where we can expect to see Jaime, Brienne and Pod this year. There’s also the same flashback to the Tower of Joy battle between Ned Stark’s men and the Targaryen kingsguard as we saw in the previous trailer. Wun-Wun’s back too (1:44), and bashing down a door to wherever Meera Reed has been hiding, unless we’ve been misled by editing, as are massive dragons.
What did we learn? Nothing you’d call new. It’s going to look as brilliant as it always does. Its cast are going to act up a storm. And there will be pain. Oodles of it. Miles of unfair, sadistic, usefully distracting human misery and death.
In other words, perfection.
Game Of Thrones starts on Sunday the 24th of April in the US on HBO and Monday the 25th of April in the UK on Sky Atlantic.