The Wall is getting crowded these days.
Winter may finally come to Westeros in Season 5 of Game of Thrones (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO), and with it the threat of the White Walkers. And although the forces of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and Mance Rayder's (Ciaran Hinds) wildlings are now hunkered down with the Night's Watch, it's an uneasy peace that comes after battle. Even though it's in everyone's best interests to defend the realm from the blue-eyed creepsters, very few share that agenda.
How will these forces muddle along at The Wall? Or are they destined to destined to always play Westerosi Hatfields and McCoys? Read on for scoop of what to expect in the North.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) The bastard-born Black Brother may have lost the woman he loved in battle, but hey, at least he has duty and war to keep him busy, if not warm. Also, having both Stannis and Mance try to win Jon to their cause is a wretched position to be in, and his burdens and responsibilities will only grow when he's suddenly thrust into a position of power. It's bad enough to have to fight off supernatural foes, but brokering peace between the Night's Watch and wildlings and then marching on the village Hardhome would exhaust any man, even if he has a direwolf by his side. Is it any wonder that Jon finds himself very tempted by carnal and emotional needs this season? The man took a vow, but he's not dead yet!
Stannis Baratheon The One True King (according to some, anyway) doesn't have time for playing around with mythical creatures from the wrong side of The Wall. Nope, he's got a mission, and that's to sit on one very uncomfortable Iron Throne. Now that he's routed the wildlings, he wants to truly rule all of the North, which requires that he gets rid of some pesky social climbers.
Melisandre (Carice van Houten) The priestess of R'hllor won't be performing quite as much magic as we've seen previously (shadow baby is still an only child!), but "there is going to be nasty stuff," Van Houten tells TVGuide.com. "She's up to no good! We see her interact with Jon Snow. There's something about him that is different. You'll see a different side to her. You're going to be shocked and you're going to be confused."
Mance Rayder The King Beyond the Wall is now at The Wall, but he's not quite assimilated yet. Apparently, he still has integrity and principles, whatever good it does him in Westeros. When the wildling leader is given a pivotal choice, he makes a decision that will prompt Jon Snow to act.
Samwell Tarly and Gilly (John Bradley, Hannah Murray) The bookish Night's Watch brother remains Jon Snow's walking and talking Wikipedia with a conscience. And while Sam isn't any better at fighting, he is very protective of his wildling gal pal Gilly, with whom he shared a kiss last year. "She understands [sex] from a very, weird, dark, abusive place," Murray says. "But I don't think she understands when you put that together with love, what the could possibly mean. That's a completely new idea for her." And while Gilly's biggest priority is being a mother, "she's starting to develop secondary priorities as well," the actress adds. "For Gilly, this year is thinking about things that she might want out of life, things that she might have missed out on, and particularly thinking about education." But don't expect Sam, even with all of his learning, to be her tutor. Another well-read person steps in to help out the wildling girl.
Roose and Ramsay Bolton (Michael McElhatton, Iwan Rheon) The new Warden of the North earned his position with Stark blood at the Red Wedding, and now he has a scheme to tighten his hold on the land that involves his formerly bastard son Ramsay, who's now been legitimized. But Ramsay will have to put away his flaying tools and favorite plaything Reek (Alfie Allen) for a bit in order to embrace his new status as a young lord. "This is something he's always wanted," Rheon says. "It's a dream come true to get to be part of a family in a way because he's always been on the sidelines as a bastard... He wants to help his dad keep the power."
Reek/Theon Greyjoy The former ward of Winterfell will get a shock when he encounters a familiar face from his past. But it remains to be seen if any of Ramsay's training in terror has taken over.
Game of Thrones returns on Sunday at 9/8c on HBO.
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