Most fans of Richard Madden probably got their first real introduction to him when he showed up looking all ready to rule the North as Robb Stark on Game of Thrones. Spoiler alert! Since that character's untimely and devastating death at the Red Wedding (it is still is too soon, guys), Madden has been busy appearing in a slew of mostly period projects like Cinderella, Lady Chatterley's Lover and Netflix's Medici. Most recently, however, he took a trip into a dystopian future for his role as Agent Ross in Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams. Although Richard Madden's Electric Dreams character is strikingly different than Robb, there are a few things about him that may have Game of Thrones fans missing the eldest Stark heir.
To properly examine the connections and disparities between the characters of Agent Ross and Robb Stark, it is important to first take a look back at Robb, considering it has been more than a hot second since he was on anyone's television screens. In Game of Thrones (executive producer: Carolyn Strauss) Robb was a strong character. As the oldest son of Catelyn and Ned Stark, he was suddenly and rather unexpectedly forced to become the leader of the clan after Ned lost his head (the unintentional rhyme makes its less awful, right?). In arguably one of the best scenes from Season 1, the Stark bannermen dramatically bend a knee and declare that because of his leadership and role as the "Young Wolf", Robb was the true King in the North. He was doing pretty well, getting things done and wearing a lot of intense fur stoles.
His downfall began when he met and fell in love with Talisa, the battlefield healer who was attending to the men battling for Robb. This would have been delightful and they would have in all likelihood become a serious power couple but there was a problem in the whole arrangement. In a move to maintain and nurture an alliance with House Frey, Robb was initially promised to marry one of Walder Frey's various daughters. When he and Talisa eventually married and Talisa ended up pregnant with Robb's first child, House Frey took it as a supreme betrayal. The result of which was the formerly mentioned Red Wedding. For those of you who missed it, it was awful and RIP to half of the Westeros population, because it seemed like that many people bit it at the blessed affair.
Major spoilers for Electric Dreams, "The Hoodmaker"! Agent Ross, however, is a pretty different beast altogether. His character is tough like Robb but he is also modern and has a gruff, snarky, detective vibe about him that is different than what fans are probably used to seeing from Madden. In Electric Dreams, viewers see a dystopian future. In an interview Madden gave to What's On TV, he expounded on the circumstances of his episode. "There’s been a meteor shower 30 or 40 years ago, which wiped out all electronics and rendered them useless," he said. Aside from wiping out all of technology, the meteor's radiation caused some people to be born with telepathic abilities. These people, referred to as "Teeps" by the "Normals" in society, bear a striking birthmark across their eyes that as Madden points out, is "a little bit Ziggy Stardust." Obviously, no one likes to have their thoughts read without their permission or knowledge, so the Teeps are treated like mutants and forced to work for the Normals. Since the government keeps complete control over society, there is a law created that enables anyone's mind to be read at any time, if necessary.
This particular episode focuses on an issue that arises when it is discovered that special hoods are being manufactured by some Normals to block their minds from being read. Agent Ross ends up partnered with a Teep named Honor to aid him in catching this chink in the government's armor. After they fall for each other, Honor finds out that Agent Ross has a special ability of his own, where he is able to block a Teep from reading his mind. Basically, he used her and she discovers that it was his plan all along to make her fall for him in order to gain her complete trust. The last thing viewers see is Agent Ross trying his best to convince Honor that although he was initially assigned the task of gaining her trust via any means possible, he was being sincere about his feelings for her. She locks him in a room as a fire rages behind him and an impending mob of Teeps kill the man responsible for creating the hoods. The last words heard are that of Agent Ross pleading with Honor to believe him, while she just looks out into the night.
Although viewers can deduce from some context clues that Agent Ross probably does meet a pretty grisly death at the end of his episode, it is largely left open, whereas Robb was paraded through the grounds on a horse with his direwolf's head sewn in place of his own. It is interesting though, that both Robb and Agent Ross end up falling for someone who is not seen as suitable for them, and those situations both eventually end up leading to the characters' deaths. Also, Agent Ross praises his father many times throughout the episode, and Robb also showed immense admiration for his father in Game of Thrones.
While he'll always be linked to his famous GOT character, Madden is definitely stepping into a different world in Electric Dreams (executive producer: Maril Davis). His character has some traits that Robb Stark may have possessed, but Agent Ross is more deceptive and brusk with the way he does business. After all, Robb took a deep dive into full-on risky romance, while Agent Ross' true intentions with Honor remain unclear up through the end.