‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Preview: House Stark

Above: Arya Stark
Above: Arya Stark

When Game of Thrones kicked off four seasons ago, viewers that hadn’t read any of George R.R. Martin’s source material (this writer included) immediately identified House Stark as central figures in the world being laid out before us. This was going to be the family that the show revolved around.

That is until the patriach of the family – loyal, ethical Eddard Stark – went and got his head lopped off by the boy sociopath King Joffrey after he ascended to the throne following Robert Baratheon’s death.

They’ve still be central to the last three seasons, but they’ve held no greater prominence than the Lannisters or Daenerys Targaryen, which is one of the best elements of the show.

Heading into Season 5 – April 12 people, mark your calendars – here’s a look back at what transpired in House Stark last season and thought on where things could head this season.

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Technically not a Stark, Jon Snow, the bastard son of Eddard Stark, spent last season at Castle Black, making it back to the home of the Night’s Watch at the close of Season 3. Even though he was cleared of any wrongdoing for his time with the Wildlings, the higher ups in the Night’s Watch weren’t all that interested in the advance and warnings Snow was giving them about the invading Wildling hoards.

He led a party to Craster’s Keep where the mutineers had taken up residence. Though Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt thought it would be a good opportunity to get Snow killed, he and his group ultimately slayed all the mutineers, preventing them from passing secrets on to Mance Rayder and his approaching army.

Eventually, the Wildling army arrived at The Wall and all hell broke loose, with Jon Snow in the thick of it. When the dust settled, the Night’s Watch defended The Wall and held Castle Black, but knowing it’s only a matter of time before another wave of Wildlings would attack, Jon headed beyond The Wall to discuss matters with Mance Rayder, only to be interrupted by Stannis Baratheon and his army.

Following King Joffrey’s death, Sansa Stark was smuggled out of King’s Landing by Petyr Baelish (a.k.a. Littlefinger), who promises to take her to The Vale where her Aunt, Lysa Aryn, resides with her bratty, coddled son. Posing as Littlefinger’s niece, Sansa is initially welcomed, but “Crazy Aunt Lysa” quickly got jealous, believing she was there to seduce Littlefinger and take him from her.

The situation escalated after Lysa watched Littlefinger kiss Lysa in the courtyard, leading to her threatening to throw the eldest Stark daughter through the Moon Door, a giant opening in the center of the room in The Vale. Littlefinger intervened, talked Lysa off the ledge… and then kicked her out of the Moon Door.

While her older sister was partnered with Petyr Baelish, young Arya Stark was strolling through the coutryside with “The Hound,” Sandor Clegane, as his new plan was to take Arya to her Aunt Lysa in The Vale in order to collect some kind of ransom or reward.

Early on, Arya reclaimed her sword, Needle, from Polliver and used it to kill him, her first kill. Throughout their travels, “The Hound” tried to wisen up the feisty Stark girl, explaining to her that the world isn’t the just and fair place her father believe it to be and that she’d need to get tougher in order to survive.

They got into a couple more scrapes and scraps, including one where “The Hound” refused to let Arya cauterize his wound. When they finally arrived in The Vale, they were informed of Lysa Arryn’s death and looked to start another trek, but they crossed paths with Brienne and Podrick, who had been sent by Jaime Lannister to find her and her sister. A fight ensued, Brienne mortally wounded “The Hound” and Arya bolted, landing on a boat bound for Braavos after handing the ship’s captain the coin she was given by Jaqen H’ghar in Season 3 and whispering the words, “Valar Morghulis” to him.

After crossing paths with his half-brother in Season 3, young Brandon Stark ended up in the same place as Jon Snow again in Season 4, eventually arriving at Craster’s Keep where they were held captive and Bran was forced to reveal his identity to the mutineers.

During Jon’s attack on the mutineers, Bran killed Locke by taking over Hodor’s body. Eventually, Bran and his party of travellers arrived at the Heart Tree from his visions and although Jojen was killed, the children of the forrest protected the rest of the group for their attackers and brought them to the three-eyed raven.

What Can We Expect This Season?

One thing we can definitely expect is no Bran and no Hodor, as their story will not be part of this season.

As for the remaining three Starks – Two Starks and a Snow officially – they should all have pivotal roles this season.

Sansa feels like more of a pawn at this point, a chess piece in Littlefinger’s on-going game to gain fortune and favour from whomever is in power. She grew up a great deal last season and showed that she’s willing to play the game by going along with Littlefinger’s story about Lysa’s death, so perhaps this season will lead to even more growth and Sansa taking a larger role in what is happening in The Realm.

From the very beginning, Arya felt like someone that was going to be integral to the overall story being told in Game of Thrones and that remains the case as Season 5 draws near. We know she ends up in Braavos this season, but who she’ll align with and what the city holds for her is unknown.

We do know, however, that her character gets a bit of a makeover, ditching the shabby threads she’s been wearing while running the roads for more stylish attire. She’s still my top pick for who ultimately ends up on The Iron Throne.

Jon’s season will likely be spent trying to decide between two masters, the Night’s Watch and Stannis Baratheon, as well as continuing to deal with the Wildlings and the hazards beyond The Wall. As a bastard, he won’t ever rule The Realm, but he sure would make a good Hand of the Queen should Arya or Sansa ever ascend to power.

Next week: House Targaryen

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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