While the cast and crew of HBO's Game Of Thrones is probably resting pretty happily on their giant mound of Emmy nominations, us fans over here are already antsy for more details on Game of Thrones Season 6. Anticipation for the new batch of episodes is probably the highest its ever been, thanks to the fact that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have all but exhausted George R.R. Martin's source material. Next year we'll all be heading into uncharted waters, so there are lots of unknowns when it comes to the future of our favorite characters. But, I really need to know: Will Daenerys finally get to Westeros in Thrones Season 6?
Thanks to leaked casting reports and new filming location announcements, we can start to piece together an idea of who we'll meet, and where we'll be going next season. But, that doesn't tell us much about the fates of well-loved characters like Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, or Jon Snow. (Or even not-so-well-loved characters like Cersei Lannister or Ramsay Bolton.) Ever since the freshman season of Game of Thrones, viewers have been waiting (im)patiently for Dany to hurry up and conquer Westeros like she's always talking about. Will next year be the season she finally does it?
I'm not only asking out of a selfish desire to see the Mother of Dragons reclaim the Iron Throne in her family's name. There's a bit of altruism here, too, seeing as how the lives of every man, woman, and child in Westeros may depend on Dany's arrival. The Season 5 finale saw the (presumed) deaths of the last two defenses against the invading White Walkers and their massive army of wights. Stannis Baratheon was routed in battle against Ramsay Bolton and then felled by Brienne's vengeful sword; and Jon Snow was hacked to death by his traitorous Night's Watch brothers for daring to ally himself with the wildlings.
Together, Jon and Stannis were literally the continent's last line of defense. Without them, the Seven Kingdoms are prime to fall to the wintry wrath of the Night's King. But, who better to fight a horde of ice zombies than a Targaryen and her three fire-breathing dragons? Assuming that Benioff and Weiss are still on track for the proposed seven-season plan, next year will be Game of Thrones' penultimate season. They can't hold off the inevitable clash of ice and fire forever.
So, how will Daenerys finally get across the Narrow Sea? Sadly, Martin's books hold no clues since A Dance With Dragons left off in precisely the same spot as Season 5: with the young queen stranded in the wilderness outside Meereen with an uncooperative Drogon, ominously surrounded by a Dothraki khalasar. Do they intend to take the Breaker of Chains captive and return her to Vaes Dothrak to live out her days with the dosh khaleen, as all widows of fallen Khals are supposed to do? Or, will they be so awed by the sight of her dragon that they renew their allegiance to their former khaleesi?
As satisfying as it would be to see Dany invade Westeros with an army of screaming horselords at her back, it would render the past four seasons of the show strangely moot. Seasons 2-5 would suddenly feel like little more than wheel-spinning if Dany were to suddenly do exactly what she set out to do in Season 1. Sure, her dragons have gotten bigger and she's learned some valuable lessons in ruling, but is that enough to justify four years of wandering aimlessly around Essos?
But, listen — when it comes right down to it, I'm all for whatever gets Dany to the Seven Kingdoms the fastest. If it's with her old Dothraki pals, then so be it. If it involves another plot twist entirely, then I'm all for it as long as Season 6 ends with Daenerys on Drogon's back, burning the cesspool of moral decrepitude that is King's Landing to the ground.
So, how else could Mhysa suddenly find herself in Westeros next season, other than at the head of a khalasar? The introduction of a new character might hold the answer to this riddle. Book readers assumed the entire subplot of the Greyjoys from A Feast For Crows had been cut when the Ironborn failed to appear in Season 5. But, now that we know the show is likely casting the dread pirate Euron "Crow's Eye" Greyjoy, we have another hint at Dany's future.
In the books, after Euron wins the kingsmoot to become the new King of the Iron Islands (following his brother Balon's death), Euron dispatches his brother Victarion to Meereen to woo Daenerys as his bride. Euron gives Victarion a powerful weapon for this purpose: a giant horn from an enormous dragon, engraved with Valyrian glyphs and called Dragonbinder. With a name like that, I bet you can guess what it does. Indeed, Dragonbinder supposedly has the power to tame any dragons that are within earshot when the horn is blown. (Of course, it also has the slightly awkward side effect of killing whoever blows it by completely incinerating their lungs.)
There's no word yet on whether Victarion is being cast for Season 6, but, if not, the show's version of Euron could easily head to Essos himself in pursuit of Dany and her dragons. With the young queen unable to control Drogon and her other two unruly children still locked in a dungeon, all three are prime targets for someone seeking to control them.
Perhaps Season 6 will set us up to expect a triumphant invasion by Dany and the Dothraki, only for Euron to arrive and wrest control of the dragons away from her. How ironic would it be if, when Daenerys Targaryen finally returned to Westeros, it was a captive rather than as a conquerer? I would hope that wouldn't be the case, but we'll have to wait until spring 2016 to find out.