New Details on Season 5’s Sand Snakes

The Game of Thrones marketing department has been working overtime to ready the viewers to travel to an unknown part of the Westerosi continent this season: Dorne. Perhaps in order to make sure that the Dornish invasion of characters does not feel overwhelming, the deluge of Dornish propaganda has been going full force since July.

Which is why it was a shock to me to read today that we actually won’t meet three of the biggest faces in that Dornish charge until four episodes in. That’s right. The Sand Snakes–the “three badass women” who compare themselves to Arya and Dany, and suggest they will be characters that would scare someone like Cersei out of her wits, don’t make their first appearance on screen until nearly halfway through the season. In fact, according to The New York Post, which has an interview with all three of the Snakes–Keisha Castle-Hughes, Jessica Henwick and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers–the first time we’ll see them is that beach scene with Elleria Sand (Indira Varma.) Though The Post does not refer to her as such, Varma has revealed in previous interviews that she is actually their mother in the TV show world. In the books, she is only the mother of the four youngest Sand Snakes, who may or may not actually appear on the show. Tyene, Obara and Nymeria are daughters of Oberyn’s previous paramours, and there is even the suggestion–though it is never said outright–that Obara is of an age, or older, than Ellaria.

But that’s certainly not true on the show. Keisha Castle-Hughes is a fan of the books though, and even quotes them in describing her character:

“When Oberyn asked Obara to choose between her mother’s tears and her father’s spears, she’s the person who made a very strong choice to go in the way of war,” says actress Keisha Castle-Hughes. “She doesn’t display much emotion besides anger. She’s been taught to kill. If anything happens to [her] family, [she waits] for the right moment to get revenge.”

Ellaria does not really strike me as one for tears, but hey. The point is made. Castle-Hughes is the only who will be baring the same weapon as her father. Her sister Nymeria is the one with the whip that we keep seeing in the trailers.

And apparently practicing with it was really hard.

“There’s nowhere in London where you can use a whip without getting too much attention,” says 5-foot-7 Henwick. “I had to go to my parents’ house in the countryside. When you use the whip, it makes the loudest crack. It’s a very, very difficult weapon to use.”

She also admits that she injured Sellers, who plays the youngest Sand Snake Tyene, during one rehearsal. Sellers shrugged it off when asked though. She also admitted that though in the books Tyene’s weapon is poison, like her father, she didn’t do much with that, and her training for the show focused on dagger work.

“I didn’t have to learn about poison, but I did have to learn how to use the daggers,” says Sellers. “It was tiring and, yes, we did get hurt occasionally, but altogether it was really fun.”

Henwick sums the three of them up pretty succinctly:

“[I’m] the most observant and calculating of the sisters,” says Henwick… “Tyene’s about trying to prove herself. Obara charges in. Nymeria’s aware of the big picture.”

I’m only sorry the season is going to be nearly half over before we meet them.