Game of Anticipation: Winterfell!

I’m gonna put this pic of Sam and Gilly here because I can’t fit it anywhere else.

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We see Sam, and Gilly, in what looks like the hold of a ship. We don’t see Baby Sam.

Sam looks like he’s about to blow chunks. Gilly looks unamused. That, or he’s talking to someone who’s just out of view. Gilly still looks unamused.

Below I have pics of Sansa and Theon. See, I told you they survived the jump.

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That wet dress does not look like any fun to wear.

Little Bird’s having a rough day. Where’s Theon?

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They’re holding hands! I can’t tell what’s going on below the frame.

There are two things that could be going on in this pic, and both options confuse the shit out of me. One is that they found a boat, with Theon is going to row down the river until he can sail out to the Iron Islands.

And yet…Sansa looks like she’s trying to help him up. She looks like she’s saying to him, “No, don’t leave me,” and Theon’s saying, “you have to leave me behind.”

And if he’s in a boat, why is the boat not included in the picture? If he is indeed in a boat, then the publicity folks deliberately selected, cropped and included this picture in order to confuse us.

No, seriously, I look at the pictures they’ve given us of Sansa and Theon, and I really feel like they’re fucking with us. There’s no new and exciting information in any of this set, but in this part, they’re deliberately fucking with us.

The other option, which was my first idea when I saw this, is that Theon hurt his leg in the jump and he can’t walk anymore. She’s trying to help him up, she wants him to stay with her, and he’s telling her to leave him behind.

Based on Theon’s arc up to this point, I can believe he’d take that position: they’re out, she needs to find Bran and Rickon, and if he dies there, at least he’ll die knowing he did the right thing.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I like the boat idea. I should probably just give up trying to make specific predictions right now, but now that I’m really comparing ideas side by side, I think I see what’s happening: they’re been running away from Winterfell for an hour or two, they reach the river, they happen to come across a rowboat (or maybe Theon knew where a rowboat was stored based on his time with Ramsay), and Theon wants to make for the sea. He says: you could come with me; Ramsay won’t find us in the islands. She says: no, Theon, stay with me here, we can’t go for the islands, help me find Bran and Rickon.

(According to this map, the river nearest Winterfell actually flows to White Harbor, which is at the opposite side of the continent from the islands. It’ll be quite a long trip.)

Eventually they agree to part ways.

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Sansa is all done taking your shit.

First off: that’s not the same fabric we see in the pic with Melisandre. Besides, it’s a long hike up to Castle Black.

Second: the new theory going around the Throners on Twitter is that Sansa looks pregnant. I don’t think so. I think Sophie has a little tummy, because some of us have tummies, and the costume designer neglected to cut the dress so that it makes her tummy look 100% flat all the time. That’s it. We’re not seeing a baby bump.

And if she is pregnant, she won’t stay that way for long.

Anyway! The combination of photos they’ve given us for Sansa and Theon sort of look like this is the part where they separate, yes? Just a little? Wherever Sansa goes from here, it seems like she won’t have Theon with her. And however Theon manages to get to the Iron Islands, his journey starts right here. If there’s no boat and he’s on the ground because he’s injured, and she leaves him behind, how the fuck does he stay alive long enough to get to the islands?

Now what happened to Brienne and Podrick?

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Brienne looks like she’s had better days.

At first glance, this is just, “okay, Brienne’s standing there looking disappointed/frustrated/exhausted/whatevs, so no useful information here.” But actually, the more I look at it, the more I think the publicity peeps at HBO chose this pic, also, just to fuck with us.

She has made it back into an indoor space. I want to say that building looks like a stable, but I could be way off. It doesn’t look like a place where people live, unless those people are extremely poor. There’s probably a stable near the inn where she and Podrick were staying, so for now I’ll say it’s a stable.

Her armor is dusty, which could be a result of burying Stannis’s body. Also, there’s a fresh wound on her right arm. See the gash in her doublet, and the blood? If that tear were a leftover from her fight with the Hound, I think she would’ve cleaned it out by now, maybe even mended it. No, I think that tear is new, and she’s bleeding. She got into a little combat situation between killing Stannis and showing up here.

Even so, it was a combat situation that was resolved quickly. Her face is mostly clean; there’s a little cut on her cheek, but I don’t think it’s fresh. Her hair is in place. It looks like someone just managed to get a jab at her sword arm before she killed him quickly. Unless someone can find some sign of her having that wound before she went for Stannis? I looked at my old screenshots of the finale, and I don’t see it there.

Either way, she doesn’t appear to have been through a vicious, thuggish, up-close fight just yet. Remember how she looked after fighting the Hound? That hasn’t happened here.

She seems to be interacting with someone, but there’s no sign of who it could be. Her expression is basically: “This is a situation I have to deal with.” Maybe she’s just been told about Sansa’s jump from the wall…or maybe she can’t find Podrick, and no one at the inn’s seen him.

And where’s Podrick? He doesn’t show up in this picture set. We might say they left him out because he’s not that interesting, but I disagree: he got a cliffhanger in the finale, and we need an answer to that cliffhanger. We need to find out what he was doing with that axe. Rather than leave him out because he’s not important, I think it’s more likely they left him out because they don’t want us to see what he was doing with that axe. If Gilly is important enough to appear, I think Podrick warrants as much exposure.

Another possibility is that they left him out because all of these photos are from the first episode, and Podrick doesn’t appear in the first episode. Littlefinger and Olenna are omitted, Jorah and Daario are omitted, and I suspect that’s because none of those characters show up in Episode 1. If Podrick isn’t in the first episode at all, that is significant all by itself.

My latest idea of the scenario in which Brienne finally makes the connection with Sansa was something about Podrick coming to the rescue just after the jump, and Brienne showing up to bail him out. That clearly isn’t happening. Sansa and Theon have obviously been walking for a while without meeting anyone who’ll help them. Brienne looks like she hasn’t exerted herself much, even if she’s taken a minor wound.

And I’m frustrated that the photo set isn’t doing anything to support the idea of the protection assignment finally coming together, but the photos don’t rule it out, either. They don’t offer any alternative answers to my questions. They still leave us to wonder how exactly does Sansa manage to get to where she needs to be without some help. The girl looks like she’s having a rough day, and she’s not rowing out to the islands with Theon. No horse, no weapons, no disguise, no money for food, no skills for taking care of herself in the wilderness. Now it looks like she doesn’t even have Theon with her. How does she survive while getting away from Ramsay?

Furthermore, I keep trying to think of some alternative scenario for what Brienne does with herself in the first half of the season, that tracks with what we already know and doesn’t make a complete shaggy-dog story of her presence in the fourth and fifth seasons. So far, I haven’t seen anyone come up with a better idea. I’m operating under the assumptions that a) D&D do not suck at storytelling and b) Brienne’s role in the overall story is slightly more substantial than just being Jaime’s love interest.

I’m still prepared to die on this hill, in other words.

Seriously, where the fuck is Podrick?