The last few weeks of Game of Thrones have been all about all of the characters coming together in new and interesting ways. It’s a brand new Westeros, guys. It’s a world where Yara and Theon Greyjoy can take a little joyride to Meereen for an audience with Daenerys, The Hound can do a little stint working for Habitat for Humanity, and Sansa Stark can attempt to try and manipulate the shit out of Littlefinger. This raises some questions, though. A lot of the new people this season are actually old characters who are showing up after spending entire seasons off screen. We’re now going to get into who some of those guys are.
The Blackfish is probably the biggest question mark as of last week, since nobody’s seen him since he had the luckiest bathroom break on television back during season 3. His timely call from nature came right before Walder Frey gave the signal for the Red Wedding, which resulted in the deaths of Robb and Catelyn Stark, Robb’s pregnant wife Talisa, and everyone who was on team Stark at that wedding. He disappeared right afterwards, and has apparently bided his time until now, so he could wreck House Frey’s shit, which he’s done quite successfully.
In the books, the Blackfish is basically in the same position. He’s taken Riverrun back from the Freys, and he’s still getting the measure of Jaime Lannister there. Incidentally, Robb’s wife in the books, Jeyne Westerling, is not only still alive, she’s from a family that’s pledged to House Lannister, and pregnant. Jaime even gets to see her in person. Obviously, the show is not taking that route here, but this is going to be great.
I was really excited to see Edmure Tully back last week. People just love to forget all about him, but he’s actually really, really important. Since the death of Catelyn, Lysa and Edmure Tully’s father and the Blackfish’s brother, Hoster, Edmure, as the only son in the family, is the official lord of Riverrun, not the Blackfish. Sure, he’s kind of reckless and you could just tell Catelyn wanted to smack him sometimes, but he was pretty great. That’s what makes him the perfect candidate to marry one of the Frey girls in Robb’s place after Robb decided to marry the wrongest girl in the history of wrong. He’s not happy about it, but since Robb’s the king and Walder Frey was trying to get his kids married to the Tullys for decades, he’s basically the only option.
People tend to forget the details of the Red Wedding: all everyone seems to remember is the feeling of deep seated trauma. The Red Wedding wasn’t Robb’s wedding, it was Edmure’s wedding to Roslin Frey, one of the few conventionally pretty girls in the Frey family. Robb actually got married in a really sweet and small ceremony back in season 2. Edmure’s wedding doesn’t take place until episode nine of season 3, aptly named “The Rains of Castamere.”
Regardless, Edmure’s in the marriage bed with Roslin when his family is being murdered, and he’s been held prisoner in both the books and the show since then. In the books, there’s at least the pretense that the Freys need him for something: Walder Frey isn’t actually the lord of Riverrun in A Storm of Swords. Rather, Edmure still is, but the Freys need him and Roslin to conceive a son who can inherit Riverrun, therefore eventually bringing the castle under the control of the Freys. We actually get to see Roslin in the books, and you can tell she and Edmure genuinely care about each other. She doesn’t even want to have a son, because she knows once she does, her husband in dead. In the show, people really do not care about Edmure, not even the Blackfish. To be fair, the Blackfish might have simply assumed Edmure was dead from the jump, but still, that was cold, man.
I just have a lot of feelings about Edmure Tully, okay? Protect Tullys at all costs: there aren’t too many fish around these days.
The first two characters are from House Tully, a house that’s generally well loved among the fans. This guy is very much not. He’s kind of the Dolores Umbridge or Argus Filch of the Game of Thrones universe, which is fitting because he actually is Argus Filch. He’s not vile in the way Joffrey Lannister or Ramsay Snow are vile, but he’s truly vile in his own way.
Walder Frey is the head of House Frey, and he has two jobs: collect tolls for his bridge at the Twins, and procreate. He hasn’t gone full Craster and had kids with his own kids, but he’s had nine wives, the eighth of whom died at the Red Wedding (his response to Catelyn threatening her was “I’ll just marry another one” so that’s a good idea of who you’re dealing with here), and the ninth of whom is actually a child. God, that’s gross.
Regardless, back in season one, Catelyn Stark made a deal with Walder Frey to allow Robb Stark’s army to cross the bridge at the Twins that involved Robb marrying one of Walder Frey’s daughters. Robb wasn’t happy about this, but he gave the okay, because there really wasn’t anything else for it. Nobody really worried about this until Robb met and subsequently fell in love with Talisa Maegyr, a nurse from Volantis, and married her against all counsel because they genuinely loved each other. When Robb needs Walder Frey again, he’s annoyed by it, but accepts a deal so that Edmure Tully, lord of Riverrun, can marry one of his daughters instead. While he had that deal going on, he had a shadow alliance with the Lannisters that Roose Bolton (RIP) was in on, and engineered the entire Red Wedding. The only thing he didn’t count on was losing the Blackfish. He’s currently on Arya Stark’s kill list, and is just an all around asshole.
This badass ten year old girl is the current head of House Mormont. Her uncle is Jeor Mormont, the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch before Jon Snow eventually took up that title, which means that her cousin in Ser Jorah Mormont, former advisor to Daenerys Targaryen and current seeker of the cure for greyscale. She was ballsy enough to send Stannis Baratheon a letter telling him where he could go when he asked her for fealty back in season five, and she’s clearly only gotten more ballsy as she’s grown up. Then again, her namesake is Lyanna Stark, so that could have a lot to do with it.
Lyanna Mormont is a kid unlike most of the others that have found themselves in positions of leadership, because not only is she ferocious enough to handle herself, she’s wise enough to listen to her advisors, which is a quality that would make Tywin Lannister proud.
Sandor Clegane is an enigma. He’s a character that’s simultaneously loved and hated, because he’s done some horrific things, but it’s impossible to really hate him because it’s just so easy for him to endear himself to you. He’s been around since season one, when he was Joffrey’s personal bodyguard. He’s very, very afraid of fire because his brother Gregor Clegane, who is currently being Cersei Lannister’s personal zombie bodyguard, burned the hell out of his face over a toy, so he deserted King’s Landing back in season 2, at the Blackwater. In the books, he’s even got a weird thing going with Sansa Stark, to the point where she had actual dreams about him, so who knows if that’s going to end up in the show somehow.
After he left King’s Landing, he found himself schlepping Arya Stark all throughout Westeros, where they eventually grew to understand each other. The Hound had also been on Arya’s kill list because of the whole incident with Nymeria and Mycah the butcher’s boy, but according to Arya, the Hound had taken himself off of that list and she didn’t hate him anymore. She still wanted him dead, but she wasn’t about to be the one to kill him anymore. So when Brienne suddenly happens across them, Arya doesn’t take Brienne’s help (a move that would have saved her a stab wound and us two seasons of watching the Waif beat her ass), but still leaves the Hound for dead at the end of season four. Now, it’s two seasons later, and he’s back.