Just seven weeks from Game of Thrones’ Season 6 premiere, fans have been deprived of extended trailers, speculative spoilers, and any hope of pirating the first episodes of the new season.
HBO and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are guarding Season 6 secrets with their very lives, it seems, desperate not to spoil a season that for the first time will be a complete mystery, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
To keep Season 6 secret, HBO will not, for the very first time, provide episodes to critics and reporters before the premiere on April 24. HBO programming president Michael Lombardo confirmed the sobering, spoilsport measure in an interview with this definitive statement: “We’re not sending out press copies this year, anywhere in the world.”
Ahead of last season, the first four episodes — rife with typical Game of Thrones’ twists and turns — leaked online. Variety reported that the episodes appeared on piracy networks a day before the premiere, leading to a TV piracy record: 3.22 million downloads in 24 hours.
Game of Thrones is already the most pirated show on TV.
HBO decided not send out physical DVDs, therefore, opting instead for a password-protected digital screening site that required a thorough credentialing process.
Lombardo said that Benioff and Weiss led the charge to keep Game of Thrones Season 6 a closely guarded secret this year. Unfortunately, the network has found that they can’t trust anyone anymore — even if the reporters enjoying the season preview don’t mean any harm.
“When you have press copies, inevitably friends ask, ‘Can I see your copy?’ There are things that happen. We talked about the upsides and downsides. Some of the press are fans who might be disappointed, but they’ll understand.”
The other driving factor for all this Season 6 secrecy is that for the first time, the show isn’t following the novels on which it’s based, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Back when Game of Thrones did adhere to the “source material,” plots could be easily spoiled simply by reading the book or heading online.
Not anymore. The show is branching out into new territory, beyond the final published book in the series to tell their own story. Even after the sixth installment, Winds of Winter, is published, the books and show are so different they’ll never spoil each other again. Martin has even built in an exclusive twist the show can’t imitate.
But despite all the Season 6 mystery, fans have still been able to pick apart the scant information HBO has revealed to make some assumptions about upcoming plot twists.
Vanity Fair probed a five-minute behind the scenes production video released Monday –in which camera operators talk about how they create the perfect shot — for clues.
One Season 6 scene that appears in the video reveals three kids fighting in the courtyard at Winterfell. One of the children could be Ned Stark, in one of Bran’s Three-Eyed Crow flashbacks, perhaps. The other children are thought to be Brandon and Benjen Stark, but maybe even tomboy Lyanna.
In another, Daenerys’ long-suffering companion, Sir Jorah, and her new lover, Daario, are walking down a narrow passageway, unarmed, in what’s believed to be an effort to save their Queen. We last saw her facing the wrong end of a Dothraki horde. Reports from the set have hinted at a Season 6 scene that witnesses Daenerys burned at the stake, but then emerging unharmed. She then earns the admiration and loyalty of the Dothraki.
Footage of a group of soldiers in the North also offers a hint: at the top of a hill is a flaming cross, a part of the House Bolton sigil. This is believed to be from a battle in Season 6 — and Game of Thrones is very good at battles — that could be between bastards Ramsay and Jon Snow in a spar for Winterfell. Two characters supposedly perish in the fight.
In other glimpses, Bran and his followers leave the Northern Cave that he spent so much time trying to find, Melisandre appears to be dealing with the repercussions of burning a sweet little girl alive (Shireen Baratheon), and we get to see how faces are peeled off skulls at the House of Black and White.
For all the attempts to keep Game of Thrones Season 6 a secret, HBO can’t stop fans from speculating. After all, predicting storylines and seeking out spoilers is half the fun.
[Photo via HBO]