Since his abrupt death in season five, all Game of Thrones fans can seem to talk about is whether prodigal Stark son Jon Snow will return for the show’s upcoming sixth season.
The rumours and speculation have bordered on fanatical and the show’s cast members have teased and tantalised us with a variety of cryptic answers.
For now, at least, the rumours have been put to rest by a fed-up Kit Harington, the actor who plays Jon Snow.
In an interview with Time Out, Harington has admitted to filming some scenes for season six but insisted they’re all of him as a corpse.
“Look, I’m not in the show anymore. I’m definitely not in the new series,” Harington said.
“I filmed some scenes of me being dead – it’s some of my best work.”
While this explains why Harington has regularly been spotted on set in Northern Ireland, it doesn’t explain why he’s been spotted wearing Stark armour and looking very alive.
LEAKED PHOTO OF JON SNOW FOR SEASON 6!! I FREAKIN KNEW IT!! AND HE’S WEARING A STARK ARMOR?? TO RECLAIM WINTERFELL?? pic.twitter.com/qCrgSjqgA3
— arya! (@1975arya) October 18, 2015
Indeed, he certainly looks dead in this newly released full-length trailer for season six:
All we really know is that we won’t have an official answer on Jon Snow until HBO want us to – the show’s April 24 release date.
A few other familiar faces who’ve been spotted hanging around set are Rory McCann, who plays Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane, and Sibel Kelkilli, who plays Tyrion Lannister’s former love interest Shae.
Both have been presumed dead for an entire season, but who knows at this point?
There is, however, a bit more clarity regarding other characters and plot points in the upcoming season.
Thus, here are seven things we know to be true about season six.
It won’t have much to do with the books
“Right now in season six, what we’re shooting currently isn’t based on anything in the book,” season six director Jeremy Podeswa revealed.
“It’s fully based on discussions the writers have had with George Martin, because the series has now surpassed the books in terms of what’s available. The writers have been diverging off the books for the past couple of seasons, knowing full well that they have to take the story beyond the books.”
George R.R. Martin already revealed that the showrunners have ruined a major plot twist he had planned for the books by killing off key characters.
He’s decided to push on with the twist anyway because he’s George R.R. Martin and he does what he likes.
“I have decided to do it,” he told IGN.
“Will you know it? I don’t know. It is fairly obvious because it is something that involves a couple of characters, one of which is dead on the show, and not dead in the books. So the show can’t do it, unfortunately, because they have killed someone I have not killed. At this point there are like 15 characters who are dead on the show who are still alive on the books.”
Ian McShane is joining the cast as someone important
The British actor will play a peaceful figure who likely possesses healing powers and might even be responsible for Jon Snow’s resurrection.
“My character is an ex-warrior who has become a peacenik,” he said.
“So I have this group of peaceful … sort of a cult, a peaceful tribe. I bring back a much loved character who everyone thinks is dead. I’ll leave it at that.”
There is speculation McShane’s description fits a particular brief on the casting list of “a man in his 40s or 50s. A gruff ex-soldier who found religion. Now a no-nonsense rural priest who ministers to the poor of the countryside. He’s salt-of-the-earth man who has weathered many battles”.
Things finally start to look up for Sansa Stark
After being raped and having half of her family murdered, it’s time Sansa Stark got a little revenge.
According to Sophie Turner, the actress who plays Sansa, season six is her time to shine.
“This season is a really, really big one for Sansa,” Turner said.
“It’s probably her best season yet. It’s her really coming into her own. She, this season, really commands the respect that she deserves and she grabs hold of it and she runs with it and it’s really good. [Fans are] finally getting that storyline that you’ve been craving for the past five seasons.”
Bran Stark is back … with special powers
He was absent for all of season five after disappearing into a cave, but Bran Stark is returning to the show with psychic abilities.
“Previously Bran’s seen tiny glimpses of future or past but never has he been very much in control in the situation,” actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright revealed of his character’s journey.
“Now we’re given looks into very important events in the past, present and future of this world and Bran is beginning to piece them together like a detective, almost as if he’s watching the show. Equally, he’s now discovering how crucial he could be in the Great War. It’s quite Inception-y.”
Bran will be mentored by a mysterious figure known as the Three-Eyed Raven, who will be played by Swedish-born French actor Max von Sydow.
Cersei is taking on the Tyrell women
Possibly the only people ferocious enough to take on the inimitable Cersei Lannister are Olenna and Margaery Tyrell.
Diana Rigg, who plays Olenna, has already promised a showdown, saying: “I’ve got a head-on with Cersei coming up and it’s really good.”
Meanwhile, Margaery is currently sitting in a jail cell after she was thrown in there by the Faith Militant on Cersei’s command.
Things don’t look great for the new Queen of King’s Landing, who is played by British actress Natalie Dormer.
During an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Dormer said Cersei “is the least of Margaery’s problems” in season six. And that’s saying something.
We’re going to Riverrun
Based on several sightings of film sets in Northern Ireland, part of the new season will be set in Catelyn Stark’s hometown of Riverrun.
You might remember, Riverrun is the seat of the House Tully and it’s located south of The Wall in the Riverlands. After the horrendous Red Wedding in season three, House Frey claimed Riverrun for its own.
Clive Russell will return in his role as Catelyn’s uncle Brynden Tully, aka The Blackfish, who we last saw at the Red Wedding.
Actor Tobias Menzies, who plays Catelyn’s brother Edmure Tully, has also been sighted on set. He hasn’t been seen since the Red Wedding, when he married Roslin Frey.
Are Catelyn’s family members finally ready to avenge her death? Let’s hope so.
But guess who else has been spotted filming at Riverrun? Hodor! Plus Brienne and, unfortunately, some White Walkers.
So you can pretty much guarantee something big will go down at Riverrun. Pray the Freys come out worse off.
We get to meet Samwell Tarly’s family
When we last saw Sam he was on his way to Oldtown to train to be a maester and replace Maester Aemon.
Interestingly, all of Sam’s family members are on the cast list for season six which means it’s more than likely we’ll get a family reunion.
Freddie Stroma has been cast as his brother Dickon, Samantha Spiro will play his mother Melessa Florent, Rebecca Benson will play his sister Talla and James Faulkner of Downton Abbey fame will play Sam’s dad Randyll Tarly.
As Sam has told us in previous episodes, his dad is not exactly a top bloke. A skilled soldier, he was forever disappointed that Sam was not one for the battlefield and thus exiled him to The Wall.
While it would be nice for him to discover Sam’s achievements, particularly when battling the White Walkers, we have a feeling Papa Tarly will still be a raging jerk, because now that Tywin Lannister is dead the ‘nasty father figure’ gig is wide open.