Rust Cohle, Matthew McConaughey's True Detective character, memorably declared that time was "a flat circle." The latest season of Game of Thrones is out to prove the theory.
The death of Lord Commander Jon Snow was followed by the reanimation of Lord Commander Jon Snow. After persecution by Cersei, a forced Road to-style movie overseas with Varys, and a chance encounter with the Mother of Dragons in Meereen, perennial Thrones MVP Tyrion Lannister is back doing what he loves: negotiating with snark. Arya also had a minor upswing this season when she regained her sight. And in "Book of the Stranger," Daenerys Targaryen hit rock bottom only to rise like a phoenix, with literal flames behind her as if she were a Heavy Metal magazine cover star.
The recurring resilience isn't a coincidence. "Rebirth is clearly a theme this season," says Thrones co-creator David Benioff in the "Book of Stranger" post-mortem. Fellow showrunner D.B. Weiss notes that Daenerys' scorching triumph was a conscious echo of the events of the first-season finale, when the queen emerged unscathed from Khal Drogo's funeral pyre, and says, "The act of stepping out of that burning temple pretty much makes her the queen of the Dothraki in one fell swoop." Adds Benioff: "It's like a god being reborn."
The writer-producers take the concept of rebirth as both literal and figurative, and apply it both to characters falling and rising as they navigate the chaos of Westeros as well as those who die. More Throners are likely to be thrust out of tragedy's womb this season. But who? Well, not me, because I just typed the words "thrust out of tragedy's womb" and there's no coming back from that. But here are some characters who could rise again, ranked from most to least likely:
Natalie Dormer's cunning queen spent a chunk of Season 5 and 6 locked in the dungeons of King's Landing by order of the High Sparrow. He wants Margaery to repent for her sins. She wants to go back to her family. "Seeking out your family means seeking out sin," the High Sparrow insisted in the last episode. But if Cersei is successful at using the Tyrell army to rise up against the Faith Militant, Margaery could wipe away the mud and reclaim her glory. But someone has to dispose of the High Sparrow -- could it be her? Seeing her brother crippled on a prison cell floor gave even more incentive to do the deed herself.
Like Margaery, Theon's had it rough the last two seasons. After Ramsay captured, imprisoned, and castrated him, he become a shade of his former self, the humble servant known as "Reek." Now, Theon is back home at the Iron Islands, just in time for a kingsmoot, the Ironborn answer to the Papal conclave. If Theon is "reborn" this season, it likely won't be as a king -- but commanding the Iron Islands' armada and forming an alliance with Queen Daenerys on the other hand...
Sandor "The Hound" Clegane
Wait -- didn't the Hound bleed out after his duel with Brienne of Tarth? Or did he limp off to a life of mundane, manual labor? Studious Game of Thrones fans believe the latter and expect Sandor to re-enter the show by way of Cersei's trial by combat. With a zombified Mountain alive and well, the "Cleganebowl" theory stands on strong ground. Whether or not the Hound could best his brother and make his return worth the effort is an even greater unknown.
The Onion Knight is slowly emerging from an intense depression. A quick run-through of his miserable life: Davos started as a smuggler, became Stannis' right-hand man (minus four finger tips, which the Lord took for his crimes), watched his son die in Blackwater Bay, was imprisoned for pulling a knife on Melisandre, and discovered that Stannis had burned princess Shireen (a girl who effectively acted as Davos' surrogate daughter) at the stake.
When Jon Snow came back to life, Davos was at a breaking point. But Jon's quest towards Winterfell, and possibly the Iron Throne, should set Davos up for some action that could calm his inner chaos and give him new purpose. Or maybe Melisandre will bring back Shireen and we'll get two for the price of one!
With a new Red Woman being introduced on the show this season, and the writers revealing Melisandre's true age and form for the first time in the Season 6 premiere, tuned-in fans would hope for some priestess payoff this season. For Melisandre, "rebirth" could mean death -- who knows why the Lord of Light wound up imbuing her with his magic, or if her mortal presence is even a true form.
A Game of Thrones death is always grisly and momentary, a morose reminder that life can be snatched away in an instant. If Melisandre's time is up, a transcendent death, one that releases her into the Light, could fit the season's theme. Or maybe it's as simple as the reneweal of her faith in the wake of Jon Snow's resurrection.
The Three-Eyed Raven
The space-time-bending mentor has lived in a weirwood tree for 1,000 years. With Bran ready to break out on his own and (possibly) take a peek inside the Tower of Joy without his transdimensional guide, Thrones sets up a chance for the Three-Eyed Raven to snap his twig cage and roam the plains once again as his true self. Then again, something is going to go horribly wrong when Bran uses his power of greensight without permission -- can't you feel it in your bones? We'll soon see whether that's good or bad for the man currently doing business as the Three-Eyed Raven.
We've seen young versions of Eddard appear in Bran's visions twice this season, but could the full-fledged Stark patriarch -- the one played by Sean Bean -- make a return to the series? The more his gifted son toys with his history-manipulating greensight ability, the more we buy into the possibility of at least seeing Bean return, in one time period or another, to the series. Season 6 might be in too close a proximity to the Jon Snow twist for any literal, butterfly-effect "rebirth," to happen, but even Bean has hinted about his eventual return. "I've definitely got some unfinished business that needs to be resolved there," Bean said in a 2014 interview. "I'm obviously not Jon Snow's dad. And you need that to be revealed at some point, don't you?"