Since the shocking final scene of the last season’s Game of Thrones finale–and, for people who actually read their high-fantasy entertainment, since the publication of A Dance of Dragons in 2011–the question on everybody’s lips has been: “Is Jon Snow dead or what?” And while HBO’s marketing team has worked hard to quell the tension the finale brought up, there’s another, older question that the first teaser for the new season finally delivers an answer to, as well: Namely, “Did they remember that they had Bran on this show, or nah?”
The 40-second spot, heavy on flashbacks to seasons past and the various limbs removed over that time (usually heads, but shout-out to Jamie Lannister’s hand), finally answers that question with, “Oh, hey, it is Bran!” While he’s never been the most compelling of the Stark children, Bran’s nonetheless one of the show’s most important characters, with much of the magic that exists in the show’s world demonstrated by his ability to project his consciousness into the body of animals and/or Hodor. Whatever conclusion the series has been building to will obviously involve Bran and his powers, and since we’re reaching the point with Game Of Thrones where it’s time to pay all of that stuff off, that makes this a pretty solid teaser.
It’s mostly just a reminder that Jon Snow got stabbed, a reminder that a bunch of bad stuff has been happening on this show for the past five years, and a reminder that Bran is still out there, but that’s actually a pretty effective drop—because ultimately, the show (which returns in April) is without a map at this point, so rather than show fans things they’ve known would happen for years, they’re showing us how little we actually know. Bran’s voiceover in the teaser is presumably a warning to somebody, but it’s a little meta note to fans that, with the most recent book now four years old, we’re totally off the map here. “They have no idea what’s going to happen,” he says, and for the first time since Game Of Thrones hit HBO, that’s absolutely true.