Plenty of cruel fathers and hapless sons to go around.

I can’t seem to stop blogging about Game of Thrones. Trust me, it can get worse. It can ALWAYS get worse. Just wait and see what I come out with once the audio commentaries are available. Oh dear.

Anyway.

They’re already filming S6, and still casting. The latest casting call is for a “really good actor” to play a “very good part” with a “great storyline.” Specifically:

This is a very good part in this season who appears in three episodes.
We need a characterful-looking guy – long nose and skeletal features and perhaps a bit sly – to play a son who is unable to live up to the demands of his savage father. We need a really good actor for this part – he has good scenes with lots of the leading cast. The character has a great storyline. There are no options and this is a one-off opportunity for a good clever actor to come and make his mark on this major hit show.

Summarized as “hapless sly son to cruel father,” and in his late 30s.

Based on this description, I won’t hang my hat on any particular theory. But, because I need something to distract me from shooting down a much deeper rabbit hole…

The first theory is Merrett Frey, who is the right age for this description, but I agree with the Winter is Coming folks that Merrett is not a good fit:

There’s certainly something to this. The long nose, skeletal features, and slyness make this sound like Walder Frey’s son, and Merrett could certainly be described as hapless.

The description of him being “sly” puts this into question, however. In A Feast for Crows, Merrett is stupid and lumbering, a sad sack and a drunk. Also, casting Merrett is asking for trouble, as his biggest role in A Feast for Crows is being executed by Lady Stoneheart and her crew, an unlucky end to an unlucky life. I thought it’d been established that she wasn’t going to show up—are David Benioff and Dan Weiss prepared to open that Pandora’s Box back up?

It’s basically impossible to cast any Riverlands or even potentially Riverlands characters without opening up the Lady Stoneheart box. We might as well get used to it.

Based on appearance, I think this guy is most likely a Frey, but based on disposition, I don’t think they’re casting Merrett. If they were looking to cast a big, brutish, self-pitying drunk, that would be Merrett, but he was hardly “sly.”

(This is the way Jaime Lannister remembers Merrett Frey, from when they were both squires for the same lord, and Merrett made a habit of bullying the younger boys: “Then he tried to bully me.“)

This character could be in a similar position to Merrett Frey, but he’s created as a composite of several of Walder Frey’s sons. Or maybe a grandson. Walder’s old enough to have grandchildren who are well into adulthood. Also, I don’t quite agree with a characterization of Walder Frey as “savage.” Cruel, yes. Treacherous, abusive, greedy, callous, but savages have some integrity. One of his first 3-4 sons could possibly be described as savage, though. His children and grandchildren are hardly a monolith.

Another possible idea is an older cousin of Theon and Yara’s: the Greyjoys tend toward a savage reputation, and they’re not known for being good fathers to their sons. If he’s a younger brother to Balon, then he’s not struggling with his savage father’s demands, as that father is long deceased, but he could be a cousin in a lesser Greyjoy branch.

The last theory brought up in the Winter is Coming article is a Tarly son, but I find that very unlikely. Randyll Tarly is aptly described as a “savage father,” but a man in his late 30s is probably not Samwell’s older brother. First off, Samwell is supposed to be the oldest son in his family; his joining the Night’s Watch makes sense in light of his otherwise being first in line. Second, a man in his late 30s is basically old enough to be Samwell’s father. This one’s a very awkward fit, at best, for the Tarlys.

The tricky thing is, Game of Thrones suffers no shortage of hapless sons who struggle to meet their vicious, abusive fathers’ demands. Take out the physical description and you’ve just described the heirs to half the lords in the Seven Kingdoms. Seriously: how many decent fathers have ever appeared on the show? Ned Stark was a loving father, but he didn’t survive the first season. Mace Tyrell seems to love his children, but it was his idea for his daughter to marry Joffrey. Jaime Lannister tried to be a good dad to Myrcella, and he actually succeeded for about 10 seconds. Hoster Tully was a loving father to Catelyn (kind of fucked up with Lysa), but we never saw him on-screen except at his funeral. I suppose Jeor Mormont was a good father to Jorah at some point. If we need a hapless son with a shitty father, there are plenty of noble Houses to choose from.

What I think is most significant about Mr. Sly Hapless Son is that he has “good scenes with lots of the leading cast.” If there are several other, leading cast members present, that suggests something about location. Probably a fairly central location, relatively convenient to a lot of already-familiar characters. I’m thinking, most likely Riverlands, followed by Crownlands. Which means the Freys are a good fit. They could also be showing us another noble House in the Riverlands that so far hasn’t appeared on-screen, but we do need a follow-up on the Freys.

And like I’ve said before, about expectations for S6: there’s plenty of trouble for everyone to get into.

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