You may have heard the expression: when you ASSume, you make an ASS of U and ME.
Remember when we got that raft of gorgeous production stills from HBO, and I assumed they were all from the first two episodes? I made that assumption based on certain characters being omitted; somehow I figured that if they were showing us that big a set of photos taken throughout the season, they’d give us at least one instance of each of the major character sets. Since there was no Littlefinger, for example, I figured they were only showing us shots from the first two episodes, and he wasn’t there. No sign of Jorah or Daario? I guess they don’t show up until maybe Ep3.
However. My editor Dan Selcke reported at Winter is Coming that he’d heard from an attentive reader who pointed out something more relevant, which is that many of the photos gave away episode numbers in their file names. The good people at HBO have since altered most of the photos’ file names to take out the episode numbers, but a few are still intact and some sites have posted most of the photos with their previous file names still giving us the relevant information.
With that in mind, it seems that while the production stills are heavy on the first episode, they’re actually spread throughout the first half of the season.
The ones they showed us of Dany camped out with the new khalasar, for example? Those are all labeled EP601.
All the ones of Sansa and Theon are also from Ep1, which is further corroborated by the new clip of their escape. Arya, blind and ragged, is also Ep1. Cersei talking with Jaime is from Ep1, also corroborated in the new HBO-sanctioned clip. The ones of Tyrion and Varys looking at stuff, are from the first episode. The ones with the High Sparrow and Septa Unella are Ep1 material.
I can’t find that information for the one with Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven, however. Still not sure when that scene takes place.
When we see Missandei and Grey Worm meeting with Tyrion, that’s from Episode 2.
The ones showing the Boltons are labeled 602 in the filenames, which suggests these are not the images of them just having heard the news of Sansa and Theon’s escape.
Checking in with the Greyjoys is in Ep2. Myrcella’s funeral is Ep2.
Sam and Gilly on the ship is from Ep3.
There’s one from Ep4, and that’s the one with Davos.
With that information in mind, are we quite sure the setting is Castle Black? It could be, but there could be plenty of other Northern castles that look like this. Since it’s later in the season, he could be meeting with a Stark bannerman by now.
And we get two shots whose file names include 605. They both warrant a second examination.
Now that have reason to believe we see Mel here mid-season, I have the same question as I did for the one with Davos: are we quite sure this is Castle Black? That little bit of brocade fabric in the lower left quadrant also takes on new meaning, if this is Ep5. If that’s Sansa, then she’s had a chance to change her clothes. But depending on where this is, the lady could be any one of many Northern ladies.
Then there’s Brienne, and with her pic apparently being taken also from Ep5, a lot of new questions just opened up. If this is halfway through the season, this isn’t how she looks immediately after busting up the Bolton hunters, this dilapidated indoor space is probably nowhere near Winterfell, and she could be interacting with any of a huge number of characters. If that wound on her sword arm is still as fresh as it looks here, it’s probably not a dog bite. (My bad.) Nope, she’s probably been in at least one other combat situation since Ep1, and she needs to get that wound cleaned and bandaged. Knowing it’s that far into the season, her armor could be looking worn and scuffed, rather than dusty.
Her facial expression still doesn’t tell us much about what’s happening, but this is a bit too far into the season to be the part where Sansa screams at her for not having shown up earlier. I think they’ve had that conversation already. This is just the right stage in the season for Sansa to have met up with Davos, and for him to have taken up her cause, which means it’s just about the right time for Sansa to give Brienne a new assignment that takes her and Podrick back to the Riverlands. Something like: go south and look for Arya. Don’t come back until you’ve found her. At which point Brienne realizes: Seven Hells, now we’re back to square one.