Early Winter in the Riverlands, Part 3: the Gruff Priest and Others

Continuing from my ideas about certain major characters coming to the Riverlands in S6, now I’ll move on to characters we haven’t yet seen on the show.

One of the first casting notices we saw for S6 included a “gruff priest” by this description:

  • Priest, in his 40’s or 50’s. A gruff ex-soldier who found religion. Now a no-nonsense rural priest who ministers to the poor of the countryside. He’s salt-of-the-earth man who has weathered many battles.

I’ll go ahead and call this guy Elder Meribald. He sounds like a composite of Septon Meribald (rural priest who ministers to the poor of the countryside, salt-of-the-earth man) and Elder Brother (rural priest, gruff ex-soldier, weathered many battles). In A Feast for Crows, both Elder and Meribald interact with Brienne and Podrick and no other major characters. Elder Brother is associated with a gravedigger who we’re all sure is actually Sandor Clegane, and since we’ve heard something about Rory McCann coming back to the show, I’ll surmise that the gravedigger will be seen with this Elder Meribald character.

In previous posts, I made some noises about how maybe Elder Meribald will interact with Jaime and Bronn rather than Brienne and Podrick, but the more I think about it, the more I think that doesn’t fit. Septon Meribald is best known for his “Broken Men” monologue, in which he tells Brienne and Podrick all about how the trauma of war causes otherwise decent men to behave like beasts. It’s a very thoughtful, nuanced, meaningful speech, and it makes sense in talking to relatively innocent people, which Brienne sort of is at that point and which Podrick most certainly is. It doesn’t really work for talking to cynical, battle-hardened guys like Jaime and Bronn. They’ve already been there, done that, worn the tunic. Furthermore, since Jaime appears to be traveling with a bunch of troops, it’ll be especially tricky for a rural priest to get that close to him.

Now, if Elder Meribald and the gravedigger instead encounter Arya, that would be interesting, in that it would be a chance for Arya to see just enough of Sandor to figure out that he didn’t die. I can’t really picture Arya sitting still long enough to listen to the Broken Men speech, though. Since her time frame for being in the Riverlands is extremely limited, she might not have time to squeeze in a conversation with the nice rural priest and his big gravedigger.

Whom else might we see in the Riverlands that we haven’t seen before?

We hear something about an outlaw band, with the following characters named:

Bower: He is a powerless servant, numb to the horror he serves. He’s filming around one of the days that below “outlaw band” members are so he may be connected to them. He is required to have a Northern or Midland English accent and appears in one episode.

Lachlan:  He’s the big leader of a group of renegades who have turned on the land that they swore to protect. They’re now extorting the poor and vulnerable.  He appears in 2 episodes in season 6.

Flynn: He’s part of an outlaw band. The group is using religion to justify terrorizing and extorting what they need from the people of the countryside. He appears in 2 episodes in season 6. He appears to be part of Lachlan’s band.

Japeth: Another member of the outlaw band is this lieutenant. He’s a “rough-and-ready type” with a strong physical presence, also appearing two episodes.

This “outlaw band” sounds a lot like what’s become of the Brotherhood Without Banners in Book 4. We’ll see the group for at least two episodes, which comprises at least half of Jaime’s time in the Riverlands and two-thirds of Arya’s time. I’ll minimize complicating factors and assume that all these guys are part of the same group, which cuts down on the amount of screen time they’ll need.

I see a bunch of other characters that I can’t associate with equivalent roles in the books. I see a Hunter, a Submissive Maester, a Green Recruit and 3 Sympathizers, but I can’t tell whether they’re associated with the Riverlands, the North, or the Vale. (Since the showrunners are seeking Irish/Northern Irish actors for the roles, I’m assuming their filming will all be in NI, which narrows likely settings down.)

We don’t know that the two episodes will be consecutive. For all we know, we might first see the outlaw band in Ep4 and then they’ll be out of sight until Ep8. Either way, they seem to have a lot of stuff to do this season. Due to the show having unlimited POVs, the outlaw band doesn’t really need to be seen through the eyes of an established major character, but we’ll need some way to tie them to the main narrative, which means they probably will have some interaction with extant characters.

Who might those extant characters be?

One big player who has interests all over the realm is Littlefinger. However, if he does appear in the Riverlands, it won’t be to deal with Harrenhal, just to pass between King’s Landing and the Vale or North. Whatever time he spends outside of the capital (and he’ll be there long enough to get his brothel back up), I think will be spent mostly dealing with the Royces and the Boltons. He’s an opportunist and a control freak, and he surrounds himself with knights, nobles, and a few trusted servants. If he spends any time with the outlaw band, the main question won’t be what he wants with them so much as how they managed to get that close to him.

We so far haven’t heard anything about Davos or Melisandre, and that is a big, heavy question mark. Whatever they do, I think it’ll be separate, because if they try to spend any time together, Davos will strangle Melisandre because of what she did to Shireen. Davos is a better candidate for dealing with the Umbers and Rickon, whereas Melisandre may be heading to the Riverlands to consult with Thoros of Myr about resurrecting Jon Snow. Thoros may or may not still be dealing with the Brotherhood, but either way, I think he’s more likely in the Riverlands or the Vale than in the North. Better weather, none of those nasty Boltons. Then again, Melisandre may have everything she needs for a resurrection already at Castle Black, and already knows more than Thoros of Myr. If she does go to the Riverlands, I think it’ll more likely be early season than later.

It would be really nice if I could hear something about what Melisandre’s up to.

There’s this one more guy, though. We’ve seen a casting notice for a hapless sly son to a cruel father:

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.

We’ve all—that includes your blogger—decided this guy is a Frey son. Based on physical description, sounds like a Frey. WotW’s additional info on the part includes:

From the combined physical and character description, I don’t think this new character is meant to be an exact translation of one of the Frey sons from the books. However he may be similar to the unlucky book character Merrett Frey. Merrett most certainly was hapless, in many ways.

It’s plain from the casting breakdown that the character is for this season only, which means he has a good chance of being killed. A Frey who is possibly short-lived and we’re getting an outlaw band this year– could this hapless son run afoul of them?

Of course the write-up says he’s in 3 episodes. If this is indeed a Frey interacting with “lots of the leading cast,” which leading cast are making their way into the Riverlands?

Don’t you just love being beyond the books?

Edit: These are the filming dates given for the role:

1 week commencing 10th August
1 week commencing 24th August
1 week commencing 12th October
1 week commencing 19th October

One of his filming weeks (week commencing August 24th) does overlap with a filming week scheduled for the outlaws Flynn, Japeth, and Lachlan so that theory is still workable.

Okay, we’ve got a Frey-looking, late-30something hapless son appearing in three episodes, with a “great storyline” including “good scenes with lots of the leading cast.” The role’s filming schedule overlaps with some of the outlaw band.

I’ve speculated on him before. Like Sue the Fury, I am interested in who those “lots of leading cast” may be.

He doesn’t necessarily need to be interacting with extant major characters in all three of those episodes, but we do know that he will have some scenes with a significant number of characters played by leading cast, which means probably, mostly, faces we already know. And that’s a good question: who are these “lots of the leading cast” interacting with this hapless son?