Do you still miss Eddard Stark after his dramatic exit way back in Season One? Good news–he may be returning to the show–albeit briefly. In Season Five, Game of Thrones tried something new by introducing flashbacks into its storytelling and it looks like the show is going to have more in its upcoming season. This is good news for fans who appreciate the rich tapestry of back-stories that exist in the world of Westeros. With flashbacks, we get the chance to learn more about the characters we love (and love to hate) and get a greater understanding of their motivations. However, if speculation surrounding recent casting news proves true, flashbacks may also offer us an opportunity to revisit characters who have died in past seasons thanks to Game of Thrones’ infamous love of killing of fan-favorites.
At the center of the show’s murder-happy frenzy lies Ned Stark, one the first unhappy victims of George R.R. Martin’s cold heart and the first sign to show watchers that Game of Thrones would not be a show with a happy ending. The good news is that after five years, Ned may be returning to the screen, although this time he will not be portrayed by Sean Bean. What is dead may never die, right? Close, but not quite.
Many fans speculate that a adolescent Ned Stark will be portrayed in Season Six flashbacks by a young actor named Sebastian Croft who has been cast for Game of Thrones‘ sixth season. While HBO did not elaborate on the role that Croft was cast to play, recent casting calls by the show’s writers point in the clear direction of a younger Ned Stark. The role which Croft seems most likely to portray sounds quite a bit like what a young Ned would look like– a twelve year old boy with brown eyes and hair and a northern accent, who will be playing a “very good and memorable” role in the upcoming season. If this isn’t Ned Stark, then it’s certainly someone very similar.
However, the casting of Sebastian Croft is not the only evidence that Ned will be returning this season. A few months ago, HBO announced that it had “cast” several castles for it’s upcoming season, including one which closely resembles a castle which not only plays a pivotal role in Ned Stark’s pre-GoT story line, but may also hold vital information about Jon Snow’s true origins. HBO will be filming in an ancient fortress known as the Castillo de Zafr which has reminded many fans of the Tower of Joy– a location which Ned Stark revisits many times in his memory in the A Song of Ice and Fire books. The Tower of Joy is described as a lone, round tower and is the site of Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark’s death– a moment that could answer many questions for fans regarding Jon Snow’s birth. If indeed the Castillo de Zafr will be used as the Tower of Joy, this suggests that Ned will be in the show, not only as a boy but also as a young man.
While many remain skeptical of the idea of Season Six featuring flashbacks due to the show’s general habit of shying away from that method of story-telling, one character’s storyline in the upcoming season will offer the show an easy way to explore this relatively new form of narrative. After taking a hiatus from Season Five, Bran Stark will be returning in Season Six, with newly improved powers that include seeing into the past, thanks to some tutelage from the mysterious man we met under the weir-wood tree in the Season Four finale. Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and Dan Weiss have said in interviews that Bran will be far more powerful in the upcoming season then he has been before, and as we witness him explore his supernatural abilities, we will also gain insight into the past and future of Westeros, through his visions. Bran’s powers promise us a new opportunity to explore the past of Westeros and provide a natural reason to include more flashbacks in the upcoming season.
We have a lot to look forward to next April. A chance to see Ned again! Clues into Jon Snow’s past! The return of Bran! What are you most excited for? Comment below.