Entertainment reporters and fans alike will have to wait until April 24 to get their first glimpse of Game of Thrones season 6 episodes as announced by HBO today. It’s the first time since the show first aired in 2011 that TV critics and entertainment reporters won’t be receiving advance copies of Game of Thrones episodes before the air date.
As rumors swirl over the internet about the direction the hit series will take, HBO brass decided to lock down any information related to the content of Game of Thrones season 6 in order to preserve absolute secrecy about the content till the air date. HBO programming president Michael Lombardo explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“We’re not sending out press copies this year, anywhere in the world.”
When a show is as popular and as highly anticipated as Game of Thrones season 6, it is standard practice to allow media to view episodes in advance to write reviews and heighten the sense of suspense. Conventional wisdom has it that the advance reviews help to generate interest, but in this case the lack of reviews may have the same effect.
— ET Canada (@ETCanada) March 2, 2016
While unusual in this case, the move was not entirely unexpected. The first four hours of Game of Thrones season 5 was leaked onto BitTorrent after media screeners had been sent out. The resulting internet chatter meant that much of last season’s plot points were already well known before they ever aired.
The ban on media screeners was suggested by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss. The move by HBO comes at a time when speculation about the show’s direction is running at an all-time high. The end of Game of Thrones season 5 coincides more or less with the end of the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series as published by author George R.R. Martin so far. That means that fans are entering into totally uncharted territory with Game of Thrones season 6 in that the plot of the HBO series now goes beyond that of the published books. With a new book coming out later this year as well, fans have multiple plot lines and endless twists to look forward to.
— Criticwire (@IWCriticwire) March 2, 2016
Among the most hotly debated plot points of Game of Thrones season 6 is the eventual fate of Jon Snow, played by Kit Harington. After leaving Jon Snow lying bloodied and stabbed on the ground at the end of season 5, fans have been wondering what will become of the beloved character. Kit Harington has been seen during filming of Game of Thrones season 6 and speculation has been fueled by comments by other cast members who have come forward in interviews. Some insist that Jon Snow is dead, including Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jamie Lannister, in an interview with the Mirror — even as Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, seemed to suggest that he’d be back, according to the Inquisitr.
Kit Harington, however, is nowhere to be seen in a just-released video giving a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Game of Thrones season 6. In it, camera operators in the Wolf Unit and Dragon Unit explain how they come up with the hit series’ signature look and talk about the difficulties of filming over sometimes harsh terrain.
While the video focuses on the crew, viewers get a good look at some of the scenes in Game of Thrones season 6 as they were shot, including a disheveled Emilia Clarke striding across the desert and the return of Lady Melisandre, played by Carice Van Houten. The sight of Lady Melisandre, the red priestess, has fueled some fans’ hopes that she may be the one to resurrect Jon Snow in the new season. Other characters popping up in the video include Meera Reed, played by Ellie Kendrick, who makes her first appearance since Game of Thrones season 4. The video includes clips from several intriguing scenes, including a Bolton army on horseback, ready for battle.
Game of Thrones is HBO’s highest-rated series of all time and is one of the most popular TV shows in the world, with season 5 averaging 20.2 million viewers in the United States alone.
[Image via HBO]