Winter is coming. The Starks have been repeating that grim prophecy since Game of Thrones' first season, and now it seems one particular Stark may hold the key to staving off another Long Night.
After a one-season hiatus, Isaac Hempstead-Wright will return in Season 6 as Bran, the crippled Stark we last saw finally reaching the Three-Eyed Raven's (Max von Sydow) cave to begin his mystical training. But rather than subject viewers to, as the actor puts it, the "really, really dull" experience of watching this tedious process all last season, Thrones producers decided to keep Bran side-lined until he'd gotten a better grasp on his powers.
"He's by no means a pro yet," Hempstead-Wright tells TVGuide.com. "But he has some pretty cool stuff he can do with his power."
These abilities include warging, in which Bran projects his mind into an animal or human body, as well as the Sight, which allows him to magically witness important events from the past, present and future of Westeros. And with the Night's King and his army of dead fast approaching the Wall, any information Bran can glean about the mysterious leader of the White Walkers may be what ultimately turns the tide in the impending war.
"I think we can all tell things are going to kick-off soon enough [with the White Walkers]. Bran's power is one of the things that could be a real game-changer in one of those wars that are yet to come," Hempstead-Wright notes.
But with great power comes great responsibility - something the young Stark has yet to fully understand.
"He's still got that teenage sense of just going, 'Look, I don't care about [the Others.] I've got this amazing power and I want to experience it all and enjoy it.' And I think that will come back to bite him," Hempstead-Wright continues. "It's been made quite clear to Bran that his powers play a wider role in the scheme of things."
Bran, who was crippled in the very first episode of the show, has used his powers to experience the ability to walk again — and as Hempstead-Wright explains, his abilities are far more than a way of escaping his "horrible reality."
"It's actually a very dangerous and powerful set of skills which he's going to have to use at some point," Hempstead-Wright says. "But I think Bran's still training up to a level where he's responsible and mature enough to understand that and treat it with the gravity it requires."
In order to focus on his destiny, Bran has disconnected himself from his emotional attachments to the rest of the world - including, to a degree, his family and friends.
"That's been his main coping strategy for all the death that's been surrounding him," Hempstead-Wright says. "Bran had to almost remove himself from any kind of emotional attachment, because he's got this power and this calling, which is going to require a huge amount of responsibility and it can't be wavering with emotional instability."
This detachment has been made easier by Bran being isolated North of the Wall with only Meera (Ellie Kendrick), Hodor (Kristian Nairn), the Raven and Children of the Forest to keep him company. But according to the actor, Bran might not be secluded for too much longer.
"That's kind of what's new this season," Hempstead-Wright says. "The storylines have all gone on these vast tangents throughout [Seasons] 2 through 5, and they've gone right to the edge. Now they're just beginning their journey to one central storyline to conclude it all."
Game of Thrones returns Sunday at 9/8c on HBO.