Game of Thrones Season 6 Trailer Analyzed and Explained

We unpack the Game of Thrones Season 6 trailer with in-depth analysis, speculation, and 48 images from the next 10 episodes.

It’s finally here. No more posters, or motion posters, or supposed teasers that feature not a single second of actual footage from Game of Thrones season 6. Aye, the gloriousness that is the first full fledged trailer for Game of Thrones vintage 2016 has finally arrived and with it, there has been plenty of tantalizing new details hinted at or perhaps explicitly revealed.

Indeed, Game of Thrones season 6 is a transitional year for the HBO flagship series as showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (mostly) surpass the narrative storyline created by George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, and track their own course Beyond the Wall and into the unknown. As such, the executive producers and HBO itself have taken extraordinary steps to not even screen episodes from season 6 for television critics. Thus, as a book reader and faithful Game of Thrones analyst, I am for the first time on the same page as so many of our faithful readers.

So now that we’re on an even playing field, let’s take a look at the season 6 trailer and unpack all the many potential story threads teased, confirmed, and in some cases even spoiled with a below play-by-play analysis.

Of course the first image of Game of Thrones season 6 appears to be the last image from season 5: poor, noble, and honorable Jon Snow finding out all that and a gold dragon will get you a belly full of Valyrian steel in Westeros. Sweet Jon Snow is “gone,” as is confirmed by who I believe is Davos Seaworth’s voiceover. But you don’t even need to read our in-depth Game of Thrones season 6 everything you need to know in order to realize that he is hardly going to stay dead… but we’ll get to more hints of that in a moment.

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This is a beautiful CGI realization of the Red Keep in King’s Landing as glimpsed from Blackwater Bay. While it presumably always looked this impressive from the sea, including when Stannis Baratheon attempted to raze it in season 2, not until recently has Game of Thrones had the budget to really show it off in such exquisite detail. However, this is not a happy moment since all will recall that this is Jaime Lannister’s ship returning to make port in the capital where he will have to tell his sister that their beloved daughter has gone to the Seven.

Speaking of Jaime and Cersei, we can now see them as grieving parents in these moments. It’s also a chilling scene, because Jaime is most certainly throwing in his lot with Cersei Lannister, determined to seek revenge for the death of Myrcella Baratheon. He will also presumably be joining Cersei for her justified course of retribution against the Sparrows (more on that in a moment). In fact, the Lannisters appear besieged on all sides, and Jaime is by his sister/lover’s side to the possible to the bitter end. (Remember, Cersei is still for better or much likely worse calling the shots.)

This is also an intriguing moment, because it further indicates how Game of Thrones and “A Song of Ice and Fire” have delineated from one another. In the books, it’s fair to say at this point that Jaime Lannister never went to Dorne and in fact started distancing himself from Cersei as he increasingly regained his honor and ambition, beginning by repaying a nonverbal debt to Catelyn Stark. These threads, which were set up in seasons 2 and 3, have been ultimately abandoned, and all signs point to Jaime going on a very different path alongside his sister.

Here we have Davos Seaworth mourning who I hope is sweet, innocent Shireen. He sure as Seven Hells better not be shedding a single tear for Stannis or his equally deranged wife. I imagine that Davos has learned of their fates and given how far he appears to be from Castle Black, he may have roughly discovered the spot where the little girl who taught him to read met her demise. But why would Davos march so far down south from the Wall again? Well…

There is a battle coming—one that will determine the fate of the North (at least before the White Walkers make short work of the Night’s Watch). This is our first glimpse of it in the trailer, and we’ll explore it in-depth farther down, but I do believe that we can already tell from the crossbeams that form an “X” that this is not the handiwork of an immolation-happy Melisandre, but rather the nasty Boltons’ sigil made smoking flesh.

read more: Game of Thrones Season 8 Predictions and Theories

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That makeshift crucifix appears quite similar to the rack on which Theon Greyjoy was tortured, so I suspect this distant army has assembled to fight the Boltons. Thus lovely Ramsay Bolton, a legitimized bastard that remains ever a Snow in our hearts, has used this visual to make an intimidating example of his enemies. Aye, to take it a step further, the fact that the corpse is on fire leads me to believe that it might in fact even be Stannis’ body, and this supposed “Lord of Light” has become a mascot of mockery in death since Ramsay burns his scorched remains upside down while the remnants of his new army arrive with a different leader.

Melisandre is throwing a pity party for herself after failing to foresee Stannis’ defeat, and Davos looks poised to attempt something appropriating comfort. Ergo, he probably doesn’t know about Shireen’s fate in this scene (yet), and it is likely a preamble to what they’re about to do with Jon Snow’s corpse in the very first episode of the new season.

Ser Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis have made short work of finding out exactly where Daenerys and Drogon landed. It’s almost a little too convenient that they will probably begin the season finding this earring that Dany left for her two would-be rescuers. Still, it is nice to see Jorah not wallowing in grief and being useful… especially since his hand doesn’t look too pretty in that close-up.

Daenerys has come a long way from where she started in season 1. So her transparent despair to be a slave once more underneath the Dothraki’s whip in the grassy sea is understandably frustrating. Hopefully, she will not spend too many episodes a prisoner, because the Father knows we are all DESPERATE for her to get the hell out of Essos. At least the horse statue looks nice with an increased budget?

Ah, the High Sparrow is at his Savonarola best right here. Last season he seemed pious and then scarily zealous for most of the year. Yet, in the moment where he revealed his hunger for power (and misogyny) by having Cersei literally shamed in the streets and in the nude, his real ambition came to the foreground. He wishes to bring down an “empire” with his reformist fanaticism—part Martin Luther and part madman.

In case you want to know how that worked out for Savonarola who similarly forced Florentines to cast off their “vanities” while making micro-aggressive war with the Borgia Pope in Rome… well you can read our full comparisons here. 

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The Iron Islands are back! After basically taking off the last two seasons, it looks like the knuckle-dragging Vikings of Westeros are finally being trotted out for what is the last subplot from Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” to have yet been transferred to the screen.

In the first above image, you are glimpsing at what I suspect to be a Kingsmoot. This is a part-religious and part-secular ceremony where the loudest and most obnoxious names amongst the Iron Islanders execute a crude form of democracy by shouting out who they’d like to lead them next. Granted, as last we saw these aquatic hillbillies, Balon Greyjoy (Theon’s horrible father) was the head honcho. So, it’s a bit of a mild spoiler for this to be here.

But out with the old and in with the new, including Euron Greyjoy. Indeed, the second image is that of Theon’s uncle Euron, who will be a different sort of pirating presence. Also, for book readers, it looks like Benioff and Weiss have chosen to make a certain implication explicit with the other image of Euron Greyjoy on a rope bridge. At night. In the rain.

This is our only image in the trailer of Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark. And much like last season where they hid the character away from marketing so fans would not see her head North, I think there is a definite and major reason for that lack of presence now. If you look closely behind Sansa’s head, you see what I glean to be a rather rustic and threadbare chandelier.

Granted, this could be just makeshift set dressing for any Northern locale that isn’t the relatively luxurious Winterfell, however I have a hunch there’s more to this than meets the eye. Considering Sansa’s regal expression, she very well could be newly arrived at Castle Black where she is making court with whoever is currently in charge of the establishment. And if she has arrived at Castle Black, it then more fully fuels my main theory about the trailer’s major battle (which I explain at the bottom of this analysis).

Here is Tyrion simply sneaking around Meereen’s dark corners. Really, there is not much to add to this but since it is our only image of Tyrion in the trailer, it seemed a shame to exclude it. Perhaps he will take on some of the functions this year that Barristan Selmy performed in A Dance with Dragon?

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Speaking of an image for an image’s sake, above is Drogon looking refreshed and awesome as he flies in a morning sky. Hopefully, he’ll save Dany again from another time-wasting subplot.

Personally, it takes a lot to get me to finally side with Cersei Lannister, but the awfulness of the Sparrows last season did the trick. In the above images, we get a sense that Cersei will gladly light the spark that leads to bloodshed between the Sparrows and the secular leadership of King’s Landing. Little does ever-stupid Lancel Lannister realize that Cersei has on her side Fraken-Mountain.

Remember from last season that Qyburn built for Cersei an unkillable bodyguard after Ser Gregor Clegane was mortally wounded by the Red Viper? Well, this is the result and seeing Cersei order the stomping of some Sparrow fools should be genuinely cathartic.

What we likely have here is a flashback to Ned Stark as a young man fighting to save his sister Lyanna Stark from the Targaryens who kidnapped her (notice the dragon sigil on one man’s armor?). So, as commenter Nikator helpfully pointed out, this is probably the Battle of the Tower of Joy, which will likely be revisited by Bran Stark in a Three-Eyed raven vision… and which may hold a revelation crucial to Jon Snow’s parentage.

I suspect this will be near the point where Cersei begins spilling blood with the Sparrows. Either that or it’s the most awkward reunion between mother and son imaginable. What is obvious is that Cersei and weak-willed King Tommen are approaching one another, and Tommen (as always) looks like he is about to wet himself. This might be because he knows that his mother has been humiliated before the people of his city after it was revealed she slept with her nephew… or it could be because she is pushing his limp-wrist into a confrontation with the clergy that he is too soft to handle.

This would initially appear to be a fairly innocuous image and hardly worth considering. But please recall that at this point on Game of Thrones, we are at the transition between autumn and winter in the world of Westeros. And during these turbulent days, the Narrow Sea is often rolled by storms. So, it is not a far jump to imagine that we are witnessing several ships attempting to cross the Narrow Sea in horrendous weather.

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… But who do we know that is in need of crossing the Narrow Sea at the moment? On the one hand, it might just be Arya giving up the House of Black and White and heading back to Westeros. Then again—and this is purely my own wacky, crazed hope—perhaps Dany is FINALLY entering the main freaking part of the story?!?!

Dare to dream.

Littlefinger has gone North. Considering the snow around him, he will undoubtedly learn that Sansa has abandoned Winterfell to the Boltons, and he personally surrendered his protégé/creepy obsession over to a sadistic rapist. With any luck, even Littlefinger will reach his repulsion-limit and seek to bring the Boltons down. But I have my doubts. In fact, given the wooded area around him, I bet he is appearing nowhere near Winterfell in this scene.

Here are all of our Arya moments in the trailer. The first and last one show her unsurprisingly in a damned bad spot with her blindness. Also, the House of Black and White is being unusually cruel for her disobedience from last season where she revealed herself to still be very much a Stark (an increasingly sociopathic and dead-inside one at that).

However, the more tantalizing tease is the middle image where Arya is showing off some of her parkour moves. On the one hand, Maisie Williams might be auditioning for an Assassin’s Creed movie sequel, and on the other, it could be an indication that Arya gets her sight back and is ready to jump the canals of Bravvos. Either that or she is becoming a Daredevil-styled assassin.

Poor Margaery Tyrell. For defending her brother’s life and right to love whoever he wants, the young Tyrell queen has been brought low by the High Sparrow. And unlike Cersei, who is far guiltier of adultery and treason, Margaery has been left inside the belly of the beast. However, Margaery is a much more cunning woman than Cersei—for starters she would have had the foresight not to surrender authority in the capital to a religious cult!

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So perhaps in this aggrieved state, we will see Margaery at her most desperate and calculating as she will attempt to persuade the High Sparrow to spare her and her brother’s life. This sequence also confirms our suspicion that Natalie Dormer will have a lot of scenes this season with the wonderful Jonathan Pryce since Ms. Dormer revealed to me last year that she would have a new scene-partner for much of season 6.

It looks like Tyrion’s stewardship of Meereen will not be an entirely peaceful or successful one. Seriously, that seems to be the Queen’s private chambers getting blown apart. So either the dragons are loose, or the insurgent forces are leaving Tyrion’s coalition of power in tatters.

It would seem that some unscrupulous men have found Theon Greyjoy and Sansa Stark taking a wintry walk through the wood. Luckily, if we juxtapose this image with another one in the trailer, it would appear that Brienne of Tarth will arrive just in time to save the day. And doesn’t it look like it could be connected to that Littlefinger image from above as well?

This will likely be near the end of the season when Cersei Lannister and the High Sparrow’s power games will come to a natural conclusion. It is also the quintessence of power struggles in the Middle Ages. The secular rule of the king vs. the inherent divinity of the Church. It often did come to bloodshed, and in this moment, the hammers are falling on the same Steps of Baelor where poor dead Ned lost his head.

Implicit gratuitous nudity is gratuitous. It’s obvious what this image is selling to Game of Thrones viewers. However, if anybody has any theories as to who these characters are (or if they’re important), then I’m all ears.

The Dothraki in battle. The only question is who they’re charging. If I had to guess, Daario and Jorah are getting close to their khaleesi at this point.

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And here are all of the images collected in a string for what is almost certainly the big battle of the eighth or ninth episode from Game of Thrones season 6. The image of a burning and upside down man (and possibly Stannis?) was a prelude to this clash of steel, horse, and arrow.

On a purely spectacle level, Game of Thrones’ budget must continue to grow since this will be the first major battle in the series to include heavy usage of horses. Additionally, it looks like a stunning battle for Winterfell that will probably be much more fully realized than Stannis’ mostly off-screen defeat last year. And as to who is fighting: my theory is that this is a battle between a resurrected Jon Stark and the remaining forces of the Boltons’ armies.

To explain my reasoning, I think Sansa and Theon will be rescued by Brienne of Tarth, who will then escort them to Castle Black. When Sansa gets there, she will have thought her half-brother dead and will be shocked to learn that he yet lives.

Thus if she finally ascends to Robb Stark’s proverbial throne as the Queen in the North, she will have the capacity to make Jon Snow an actual Stark. His oath is already fulfilled, and his watch is ended since his brothers in black betrayed him and sent him to the hereafter. Returned from the dead, Jon Snow will feel less loyalty when he reunites with his family name and takes up sword alongside his beloved Free Folk (wildlings) to take back Winterfell in the Stark name.

This is where I think Game of Thrones season 6 is headed.

Also, for Jon Snow to do any of this, he must first be brought back from the dead. Hence my collection of images related to the inevitable resurrection that will occur in either the first or second episode of season 6. Hopefully, Melisandre’s use of blood magic to bring Jon back will not involve doing anything unholy to the body besides disrobing (this is Melisandre, after all). As for why Davos is threatening to do something grim with Longclaw? I haven’t the faintest idea what that’s about unless he is protecting Jon Snow’s body so Melisandre can do her thing before the bastards of Night’s Watch try to burn it.

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As for the much more ambiguous image near the end of the trailer, I too am at a loss for anything save for dread at the prospect of the Night’s King being in the same space as Bran Stark. However, one should also note that Bran Stark also stands upright in that image. So, there is a good chance this is a vision Bran has of the White Walking fiend (or perhaps a psychic connection). Still, either way it’s not a pleasant thought. Also, to know more about the Night’s King’s history, we explain it all here.

read more: Game of Thrones Season 8 – Everything to Know

So that is everything I took away from the Game of Thrones season 6 trailer. Did I miss anything or do you think my theories are way off? Let me know in the comment section below!