HBO Released 15 New Game of Thrones Photos From The Upcoming Season. Let's Break Them Down.

HBO in their slow-build run-up marketing campaign for this July’s new season of Game of Thrones released 15 new photos from the highest-anticipated show of the summer. 15 relatively screenshots generic screenshots should probably go completely unnoticed and ignored to most normal people, but not so for Game of Thrones fans, the most obsessive fanbase on TV this side of Arrested Development maniacs, Simpsons superfans and the absolute lunatics who shape their lives around Doctor Who. As much as want to act like we won’t fall for these cheap ploys for our attention every time, we will. HBO is like an ex who has the upperhand: Sure we can act like we’re mad at them for postponing the season to mid-summer, but one late night text and we’re going to be running over there like the sad little floozies we are.

The link to all 15 photos is HERE but here are the nine I think have actual, substantive significance:

9)

While Cersei on the Iron Throne and Jaime being nearby isn’t surprising, the real story of this picture are the facial expressions. The subtle acting Nikolaj Coster-Waldau when he saw Cersei take the throne for the first time in the show finale was his best acting moment of the show. It was an odd mixture of emotions like dread, happiness, realization and a million others that is impossible to describe but unmistakeable and identifiable when you see it. Here you see him looking even more dead inside, someone who is now fully aware and coming to terms with what kind of person he’s dealing with on his right. And someone who knows (from experience) what he might have to someday do about it.

8)

Oh good, this season is going to have a lot more Sam and Gilly romance storyline and Sam learning how to be a maester at the Citadel!

Hey HBO writers: We know that Sam is going to learn something useful at the Citadel about White Walkers or Dragons or probably both which he’ll relay to Jon just in time for that knowledge to be triumphantly used. We also know that he’s going to use the Valaryian steel sword he stole from his father to put up his White Walker body count to a very impressive 2 en route to the most surprising K/D ratio of the entire show. We can skip 90% of the middle part you might want to throw in there.

7)

Lyanna Mormont! She’s back! That’s awesome! The ten-year old girl who showed more balls than all the other lords of the North being a featured character again is a total no-brainer now that I know it’s happening, but I thought there was a pretty good chance she’d be just a very memorable one-off. I’m glad she is back though, and really happy for Clem because I’m 78% sure she’s his favorite character.

6)

Hell yeah baby, the North’s steamiest romance is back!

I wish I could tell you that I’m not rooting for these two to hook up just out of curiosity to see if HBO would be willing to get absolutely outrageous enough to show it to us. Again, I wish I could tell you that.

5)

The cat’s out of the bag that Varys has this entire time been working in the interest of the Targaryan dynasty, a revelation that if you watch Season 1 again, starts to make some very curious decisions happenings in Kings Landing to fall into place. Last we saw of the Spider he was in summery Dorne rallying support for the new Queen, then on a ship headed to Westeros. His political acumen and spy network can serve Dany well, but your first instinct would be that it’d be in a capacity that’d bring him elsewhere besides by her side. So why is he dressed so warmly to suggest that he’s in the North?

4)

Davos sitting at the head table in Winterfell, his natural place as Jon Snow’s advisor. But Jon Snow isn’t in this picture, Davos is alone. And that’s what Davos is, alone. He’s watched his son die. His son died for a lord he swore absolute loyalty to, who is now also dead. Before he was killed, that lord burned alive the girl who Davos saw as his daughter. And a man who struggles with his doubts about religious faith, he asked what Jon Snow saw on the other side, and Jon Snow simply replied “nothing” leaving his face looking devastated. Davos serves Jon Snow. But what does he truly have to fight for anymore?

3)

Every season Bran has taken a larger and larger role, not-so-coincidentally proportional to the role of the White Walkers. I expect the trend to continue and we see more of him this year than any other. Poor Meera is going to have to keep dragging him around, and from the look of this picture, things aren’t about to get warmer or cozier for either of them for quite some time. Which puts them in a huge (and exciting for us!) amount of danger.

2)

The Hound is going North with the Brotherhood Without Banners, but for what purpose? The Brotherhood didn’t even say what they’re doing, it could be anything from fighting for the Starks (remember, they were originally started as a rebellion movement against Lannister/Frey control of the North and the original member were Ned Stark loyalists) or against the White Walkers (their leadership is deeply devoted to the Lord of Light, a natural enemy of the White Walkers given the whole Song of Ice and Fire thing). But even if we knew what they wanted, the Hound has always been his own man. What does he do when he sees Sansa, or Brienne or Arya? Clegane going North is gonna have more awkward encounters with women he never hoped to see again than a high school reunion.

1)

Sansa looks like she’s judging the distance Baelish would fall if she threw him off that wall right there and then, and I don’t blame her. She was used, lied to, manipulated and abused by the one person who claimed to save her and want the best for her. She now is a hardened strategist who understands the game of thrones, and now has the traumatic life experience to ruthlessly play it. Baelish might still think of her as a little girl he can toy with, but that’ll be a severe and perhaps fatal underestimation. Sansa and Petyr will be in a chess match of political wits this season, and they are not going to both come out unscathed from it. Make no mistake, this is THE biggest interpersonal storyline of the season this summer.

I’m on Twitter @CharlieWisco