Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO
As we leave Westeros (and, increasingly, Essos) this season, you might feel a little like Arya, blinded and screaming, “What’s happening?! What’s happening?!” Even if you’ve read all of A Song of Ice and Fire that’s been published so far, we’re a little in the dark about what will happen to some of the characters and stories, as neither the show nor the books have addressed every possible question, nor resolved every mystery (and we don’t mean the fate of Jon Snow.) We have some questions still outstanding from season four — Where is Rickon? What happened to Edmure Tully? Is Balon Greyjoy still alive? But these are the new ones that are keeping us up over the next ten months. Spoilers for the books and the show follow.
1. Where is Benjen Stark?
Given that this very question helped lure Jon Snow to his death, we want answers. The younger brother of Ned Stark, he was First Ranger for the Night’s Watch until he went out beyond the Wall to investigate “disturbing reports” and never came back. Granted, he may be dead — but we’d like to believe he has more to offer the story. The prevailing theory used to be that Benjen returned as the mysterious character Coldhands (at least in the books), but George R.R. Martin shot that down. So where could Benjie be? Could he have gone on the ultimate ranging, up to the Lands of Always Winter? (That’s the northernmost part of Westeros, and it’s beyond the Frostfangs and the Haunted Forest, an area that Benjen was said to know well.) Martin said that we’d finally get to explore this territory (and meet more White Walkers) in the last two books, and Benjen could have some intel on that.
2. How contagious is Jorah Mormont?
His hand does not look good. And given that he doesn’t seem to be telling anyone about his infection or seeking treatment, his secrecy seems to threaten those around him. (We noticed he was careful to offer his other hand to Daenerys in the fighting-pit scene.) In the books, it’s a different character who contracts greyscale while rescuing Tyrion from the Stone Men — Jon Connington — and that character sails to the Stormlands, causing some fans to worry about a Westeros outbreak. Mormont seems to be heading out on an expedition to track Dany and her dragon, though, so there’s less of a chance of mass contagion, right? Still, he could use a healer about now.
3. What has Bran Stark been up to all this time?
When we last left him, he was hanging out in a tree. So, how has that been going? Has he learned to “fly“? And by flying, we mean either learning to warg into flying creatures (as Orell did with his eagle) or, even better, learning to use the weirwood tree network. Bran’s lessons about greenseeing and skin-changing happened offscreen this season, so by the time he comes back, he should be full-on Jedi. This would be a chance for the show to delve into more flashback territory, as Bran should be able to glimpse any past event, so long as it happened before a watching heart tree: weddings, funerals, sacred vows, secret conversations, you name it. There’s a whole lot of Westerosi history that could be covered through Bran’s eyes.
4. What about Dany’s two other dragons?
We’re all for Drogon getting some fresh air and a nap, but what happens to his brothers Viserion and Rhaegal while Mommy’s away? Is anyone checking in on them? Feeding them? In the books, they’re no longer chained up — they’ve escaped, too. But wherever they are — in the vault, on top of a pyramid, in the night sky — they could be open to taking on riders, too, if only someone bothers to imprint with them. This is important, because Dany’s neglected children could be turned against her. Dragons aren’t just cool pets; they’re weapons.
5. Was Mace Tyrell successful with the Iron Bank?
Mace may not have noticed yet during his musical tour of Braavos, but his very own Kingsguard has gone missing. We hope he can keep better track of the crown’s finances — especially since the Lannisters owe a “tremendous amount,” and the Iron Bank has already demonstrated that it’s quite willing to back someone else to take the Iron Throne. (Good luck getting the money back from Stannis now.) With the Iron Bank calling in one-tenth of the crown’s debt and the crown being able to afford only half of that, if not less, the realm could be heading towards economic ruin. Plus, Mace might not be quite so willing to give the Lannisters any more Tyrell money once he hears what’s happened to his children. Speaking of which …
6. Are Margaery and Loras still locked up awaiting trial?
Last we left Margaery, she was in one of the Faith’s cells, awaiting trial. Same with Loras, after his inquest. If they were to confess, would they be able to “atone” as well? What are the penalties for perjury, fornication, buggery, and blasphemy? “It depends on the acts themselves, the degree of contrition,” the High Sparrow told Cersei, being about as vague as he could be. Cersei’s not off the hook, either — her walk of shame only got her out on bail. Any of the three awaiting trial will be judged by seven Septons, including the High Sparrow. (And if it goes according to custom, when a woman is accused, three of those judges might be Septas.) Trials by combat might be an option, but judging from the state of food and drink in the cells, Loras might not be in any state to physically defend himself or his sister.
7. What is Tommen doing in his room?
Considering that the High Sparrow’s powers came by the king’s decree, couldn’t the king, well, un-decree them? If only Tommen weren’t a little boy with no idea how to rule, whose response to crisis is to … starve himself. Luckily, Kevan Lannister is back from Casterly Rock, serving as Hand of the King, and he’s got an inside line to the Sparrows via his son, Lancel. The Faith Militant is but one threat to the realm, though — there’s that pesky bankruptcy, the still-coming winter (and with it, mass famine), and, of course, the approaching army of the dead. The crown’s preferred response for years has been to ignore or dismiss these things and hope they go away — no wonder Tommen does the same.