In which half-assed promo material saves my sanity.

I’ll tell you what, folks: my mental health has not been great this week. I’m wound tighter than a drum, maybe even angry at my surroundings, probably because I’m feeling even more sensitive than usual rather than because anything especially offensive is happening. (Except for my commute home last night. That was offensive.) This is probably a sign of a bout of depression coming on. So far, I’m still productive, which means I’m not really depressed, but it takes a lot of alone time in the evening to recover from being pissed off all day.

Don’t worry about me, though, because I will survive as long as HBO gives us Game of Thrones content, even when it’s as half-assed and information-free as this Wall of Faces crap we got today. We got the faces coming at us on Twitter, and we started talking about them, but while everyone else was annoyed that we weren’t getting anything that actually gives us some info on Season 6, I was counting up the faces for patterns, and then I started seeking out conspicuous absences.

Reader, I felt 100% better within an hour of those faces showing up in my Twitter feed. I owe so much of my mental health over the past year to my Game of Thrones obsession.

Yeah, and I’m especially happy that FanSided gives me space to show everyone what a compulsive nerd I am by writing about the conspicuous absences I picked up from the patterns. Seven Hells, they are the best enablers of my addictions.

I counted up the characters included in today’s poster set, and there may be a spreadsheet in my Google Drive with their names, families, locations, and other helpful information, and I may have had a little fun sorting the information along different columns, but I’m here to talk about which characters arguably should have shown up in today’s promotion, and didn’t.

Short version is: I think the conspicuous absences are Theon, Littlefinger, Brienne, the Boltons, and the Tyrells. Their faces did not show up in the poster set today, and I think those omissions warrant explanation.

I don’t think Davos is a conspicuous omission. He’s in the group represented by Melisandre.

I don’t think Sam Tarly is a conspicuous omission. We have Jon representing the Night’s Watch.

I don’t think Varys is a conspicuous omission. We have Daario representing Dany’s support system. Tyrion could also be seen as representing both the Lannisters and the Meereen crowd. We don’t need Varys, Jorah, Grey Worm or Missandei because we have Daario.

There are no living characters included who didn’t show up in Season 5, and I think this is self-explanatory. If we saw Bran Stark, Yara Greyjoy or anyone from the Freys or Tullys, that would be conspicuous.

If we saw the Hound, that would be extremely conspicuous. We don’t see the Hound.

I’m sure there are many assuming Stannis’s absence is deliberate, and there’s nothing I can say to convince them, but I think Robert Baratheon’s presence is sufficient for all three Baratheon brothers.

Renly is unnecessary for the same reason: we have Robert. And anyway, Renly never accomplished much in the first place.

There are also plenty of folks speculating that Catelyn’s presence means Lady Stoneheart is confirmed for Season 6, and again: there is no way I can change their minds. She’s one of five Stark characters present in the poster set, and I don’t think she requires any more explanation than Ned or Robb.

(Of course, my article also points to Cat and Robb’s presence as drawing our attention back to the Riverlands, so I guess I’m part of the problem, but there is literally no way I could argue against the Stoneheart Hype Train without LSH advocates responding with, “Yeah, but: Riverlands, therefore LSH on GoT,” so fuck it: Riverlands! Get hype, everyone!)

The ones who probably should be included, if we’re talking about relative importance, and weren’t included, are: 1. Theon Greyjoy, as a representative for his family, 2. Littlefinger, as a faction unto himself, 3. Brienne, the link between the Lannisters and Starks and thus a faction unto herself, 4. Either Roose or Ramsay Bolton, and 5. anyone representing the Tyrells.

We got both Oberyn Martell and Nymeria Sand, and yet no Tyrells. Nymeria is the least entertaining of the Sand Snakes, and we got her.

We got Joffrey’s pathetic dead face, but no Boltons. That warrants an explanation.

We got Melisandre, but no Theon. So many characters who took up space that could have been reserved for Theon.

We got Tormund and Daario, but no Brienne. That is also a conspicuous absence. I think Brienne is at least as important a character as Tormund or Daario.

We got so many living Lannisters and dead Starks, but not Littlefinger. I think Littlefinger is the sort of character we should be wondering about. He should be much more prominent in our minds than dead characters who are in no danger of coming back. He’s important enough to be included in promotional images. That he was left out of this set is interesting.

Again, they showed us Nymeria fucking Sand, I tell you. Some of you are now asking: wait, which one was Nymeria? Yes, that’s exactly the point: she’s the one you don’t remember. They gave us a living and a dead character to represent the Martells, yet allowed no space for the Tyrells. That’s weird. And I don’t think it was accidental.

I don’t think the Wall of Faces is a useful predictor of whether anyone will live or die. I don’t think it’s a useful measurement of which characters are more important than others. (Again, I point to Nymeria Sand being included while Olenna Tyrell is not.) I think certain characters are absent—and my list is Theon, Littlefinger, Brienne, Tyrells, Boltons—because they’re the ones meant to surprise us the most. They’re the ones where HBO is basically trying to distract us away from thinking about what’s about to happen.