Benjen Stark Bryan Cogman Featured Game of Thrones Interview Season 6

Writer Bryan Cogman on the return of [REDACTED], “The Broken Man,” and Hodor

After Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones, it’s time to take a collective sigh of relief. No one was killed (no one living, anyway), there were no horrifying torture scenes, and most of all, we were treated to yet another Stark family reunion…of sorts. Thrones co-executive producer Bryan Cogman, who wrote the episode, talked to Entertainment Weekly about “Blood of My Blood,” and specifically about the return of that long-lost character.

Warning: There are SPOILERS below.

Game of Thrones

“Blood of My Blood” began right where Episode 605, “The Door,” left off. Meera is struggling to drag Bran’s sled through the snowy forest, but it gets snagged on a tree root. It looks like the end for the two remaining members of the group that left Winterfell to seek out the Three-Eyed Raven, but just as the wights are closing in, a mysterious horseman with a deadly fire-flail arrives and makes short work of them. Meera and Bran hop aboard the mystery man’s horse, and away they went, safe for the moment.

But who was this cloaked and hooded man with hands colored bluish-black? In the books, his name is Coldhands, and his identity is a mystery. But the show revealed that he was Benjen Stark, not seen since he went ranging north of the Wall in Season 1! Cogman talked about the character’s return and how it fit into the larger theme of the season and series:

The show is so sprawling and there are so many threads, but – at it’s heart – it’s largely about this good family that was torn apart. So seeing some of them connect again (Jon and Sansa; Benjen and Bran) was very satisfying to write and to shoot. It was great to have [actor] Joe Mawle back with us – it must have been a trip for him to step back into the character after so long – but he’s also decidedly not the Benjen of season 1. So that was fun to explore.

Benjen Stark official

Later in the episode, we find that Uncle Benjen and his ranging party were attacked by White Walkers, and that Benjen took a Walker sword through the gut. Before he could turn into a wight, the Children of the Forest found him, shoved a shard of dragonglass in his chest, and voilà: Coldhands was born.

Cogman also addressed the concerns of fans frustrated by the deaths of the Stark direwolves this year: so far, Rickon’s Shaggydog and Bran’s Summer have both been killed. Many fans didn’t understand why Summer just didn’t come to Meera when she called him while she, Bran, and Hodor were making their getaway at the end of “The Door.”

For me, the cave sequence was largely about Bran’s protectors giving everything so that he could move on to the next phase of his journey. Meera survived, but hard sacrifices had to be made – Hodor, the Children, the Three-Eyed Raven… and, yes, very sadly, Summer.

Horrifyingly, Cogman also hinted that a return for Hodor, who died so memorably in “The Door,” is not impossible.

As for whether or not we’ll see Hodor again… As you know, I can’t comment on anything that may or may not happen in the future.

Please, no zombie Hodor. I don’t think we could take it.

The Door

Much of “Blood of My Blood” was dominated by Sam’s painful reunion with his family. Cogman had plenty to say about that:

His mother and sister and brother are all fundamentally decent people but his father is just a cold hearted bastard when it comes to his distant son. There’s a painful part of the scene where his father just unloads on him and tells him every hateful thing he ever thought about him and Sam can’t defend himself. We found that fascinating – Sam has killed a man, he’s killed a White Walker, he’s emerged as such a great hero, but he still can’t stand up [to] his dad.

But Sam did finally stand up to his father, albeit not to his face, by collecting Gilly and baby Samwell, taking the Tarly family’s Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane, and leaving Horn Hill in the middle of the night. Hopefully Lord Randyll Tarly won’t come after his estranged son, but something tells me he’s too damned proud to allow a slight against him and his family name to go unanswered.

Randyll Tarly Official

Moving on to King’s Landing, what did Cogman think about Cersei’s decision to go along with Tommen’s plan to send Jaime away to the Riverlands?

The High Sparrow has played a long, patient, game, and played it well. Yeah, I think Cersei has never faced an adversary quite like the High Sparrow before and it’s causing her change up her strategy somewhat.

The question remains: Can Cersei eventually get that vaunted Lannister revenge on the High Sparrow, or has she been declawed?

As far as what we can expect in Episode 607, “The Broken Man,” Cogman has a nice tease. “All I can say about next week’s episode is there was a week of shooting a particular sequence/storyline that was my favorite week on set in six seasons of Game of Thrones.” Bring it on.


  • Of course we will see zombie Hobor, just so the producers can break our heart, one more time……

    • As much as I don’t want that to happen…I’d be shocked if they didn’t do it. I think Kristian Nairn would be up for that.

    • I wonder if Bran could warg into zombie Hodor and get him to kill other wights?!

  • Did he say anything about Arya’s storyline? As thats clearly one that needs some kind of justification for being so perplexing.

    • Did Arya have a prodigal son experience?

      Like many, I found myself frustrated with the tediousness of Arya’s beatings and blindful wanderings around the streets of Braavos. However, I am glad for the turn of events. Through watching Lady Crane’s performance and being treated as a human being by a mother figure, Arya’s heart melts and she realizes what it means to love, to trust, and be noble. Though she was the Hand of the King’s daughter in King’s Landing, she was treated as “No One.” Her training with Syrio and first encounter with Jaqen at Harrenhal was the start of a journey on her own terms. Along the way, she lost touch with Nymeria, saw her brother’s decapitated corpse, could not stay with the BwoB, and walks away from the Hound. She sets sail for Braavos with nothing really left for her except to embrace a new identity and a new calling.

      Arya deep inside is still a Stark. Her heart is hardened, but she is also mature enough to realize the pain of losing people you love. She needs to be back in Westeros — not because she has to commit mass murder in order to restore her family name, but because Arya (like Jon and Ned) understands that a world without justice is a world in chaos. She (like Jon and Ned) will always be an outsider. But hopefully, her time away from home will help her realize that no place is really home, and no one can really be “No One.”

      • I hope she’s still part of the Faceless Men, as a Black Opps, special agent 00 kind, she could only go to missions where the wicked deserved Death.

      • The thing that I find interesting about Arya’s storyline is the reaction of the Waif. The Waif’s reaction to Arya is totally out of character to that of a Faceless Man. The Waif is clearly holding some kind of resentment towards Arya and seems to be gleefully looking forward to the opportunity to kill Arya. My question is whether or not Jaqen has decided that the Many-Faced God should determine through a sort of “trial by combat” between the Waif and Arya if the Waif herself should continue in the Faceless Men. The Waif is too eager to kill Arya. It shouldn’t be that way.

        • Go back to Waif’s story, told to Arya. Listen closely to what’s said.
          When Waif asks about ‘Arya Stark’s list’ (note the emphasis on Arya’s name), watch for Waif’s reaction to a name.
          In this episode, listen to the exchange between Waif and Jaqen after Waif rats on Arya.

          Who is Waif now? Is she really No One? Obviously, she looks Westerosi, as Arya does. Which family is she from?
          Let’s see if you come to a conclusion similar to mine.

          • I’ve come to the same conclusion and believe now that the Waif was the target all along, for she has too much pride and hate to truly be “no one”.

            Arya will use her time as blind girl and her training with Needle to put an end to the Waif in the darkness, then she will go on with her life for she has served her purpose with the Faceless Men.

        • I totally agree! I thought the same thing, the Waif seems to be committing the sin of having her own motives and desires, which is in direct violation of the rules of being No One. I also immediately wondered if Jaqen might also know this and might be letting it play out between the two of them. I wonder if he is secretly rooting for Arya.

  • Loved that fire flinger weapon Benjen Coldhands had. Pretty fun to watch that sequence. Looking forward to seeing more scenes featuring Benjen Coldhands. I wonder if he and Bran will be able to go south of the Wall. I’m sure Jon would love to know that Benjen is (mostly) ok.

  • Cogman has a nice tease. “All I can say about next week’s episode [Broken Man] is there was a week of shooting a particular sequence/storyline that was my favorite week on set in six seasons of Game of Thrones.”

    Predictions? Theories? Speculation?

    • Maybe Arya’s fight with/escape from the Waif? Expecting a lot of great action, parkour style. I for one am looking forward to Arya STARK kicking some Waif ass.

    • The man we most want to break is Lord Frey, I think. I hope the dead do return, starting with Stoneheart.

    • Riverrun. It took a lot time to shoot on that location. If it’s something even more complex it’ll be great

  • We found that fascinating – Sam has killed a man, he’s killed a White Walker, he’s emerged as such a great hero, but he still can’t stand up [to] his dad.

    I was one who believed after all Sam had been through, that he would finally stand up to his father. So I was a bit disappointed UNTIL I heard Sam’s explanation. I admit that Sam could’ve said this just to save face with Gilly but, the fact that he said he didn’t say anything to his father because he was concerned that his father would not accept Gilly and the baby if he said something back to his father made me feel a little bit better. It was like he took the abuse one last time for the sake Gilly and the baby, not so much because he was still afraid of his father. Of course, the writer of the episode (Cogman) sees it differently, but, I still think it comes across that maybe Sam was just playing the long game with his father.

  • It seems kinda pointless in Arya’s/FM arc if she goes through all that training then is on the outs with them just like that. I think Jaqen gave her that specific mission and knew how she would react to the plan’s depiction of her family’s tragedy. I think he anticipated that even though she wants to be ‘no one’ and follow orders she cannot bring herself to kill a good person. I think/hope this was a test given to her by James to see about her integrity, and that he has in fact been setting up the Waif and testing her eagerness for hate killing which is not supposedly a FM trait.

  • For all you fanboy/girl book purists out there, I would hope that you can grasp the union of Benjen/Coldhands.

    Kinda like Sansa/Jeyne Poole. Only better. :)

    A tv show simply cannot include every character that a mad hatter writer comes up with.