Evidence piles up for a scene at the Tower of Joy in Season 6


Okay, so we have quite a few months to kill before Game of Thrones returns to the airwaves. How will we fill that time? With speculation, discussion, and no small amount of wishful thinking. Such is the way of the off-season.

Case in point: recently, there’s been a lot of buzz around the idea that Season 6 will finally feature a flashback (of sorts) to a pivotal scene at the Tower of Joy, a Dornish edifice where Ned Stark, his friend Howland Reed, and a bunch of his other companions faced down and killed three knights of the Kingsguard. This was toward the end of Robert’s Rebellion, the conflict that put Robert Baratheon on the throne years before the series began. This is also where Lyanna Stark, Ned Stark’s sister, died, but not before making Ned agree to some kind of nebulousl promise. If conspiracy theorists can be believed (and when can’t they?), she died in childbirth, and the promise Ned made was to keep her baby, the love-child of herself and Rheagar Targaryen, safe.

Who was that love-child? None other than this guy.

He’s as shocked as anyone.

Allegedly, anyway. Fans have been circulating this story since reading the first book in the series, in which Ned frequently reminisced about what went down at the Tower of Joy. (Incidentally, he tore it down after Lyanna died, so if we do see it, it’ll have to be in a flashback.) We bring it up now because there’s an article by BuzzFeed’s Robin Edds currently making the rounds that lays out what some consider to be convincing evidence that the Tower will make an appearance in the upcoming season. Let’s look at it.

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

This is the Castillo de Zafra, a 13th century fortress located in Guadalajara province, Spain, not far from Madrid. It’s one of the new locations the Game of Thrones production team will be shooting Season 6. Here’s another angle on it.

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

Viewed this way, and you can see why some people are thinking this could very well stand in for the Tower of Joy, a single tower located in the Red Mountains of Dorne. Sure, it’s described as a round tower in the books (that’s illustrator Uros Obradovic’s depiction of it in the header image), but when you find a location this close to perfect, you work with what you’ve got.

By itself, this location probably wouldn’t convince anyone of anything. After all, people have guessed we would be getting a Tower of Joy scene after looking at shots of new locations before, and they’ve turned out to be wrong. There’s something else adding to the speculation, and it has to do with a description of a new role HBO needs to cast.

"Legendary Fighter:  A man in his thirties or forties who is a great swordsman and a paragon of knighthood. He carries a hugely famous sword on his back.  The show is seeking a very impressive swordsman for the role- the best in Europe, for a week of filming fight scenes for a season 6 role. His ethnicity/race isn’t specified, unlike many other roles."

Speculation has it that the “legendary fighter” is Ser Arthur Dayne, one of the Kingsguard knights Ned Stark and company fought at the Tower of Joy. The description does seem to line up. Ned once described Dayne as “the finest knight I ever saw,” which is another way of saying that he was “a paragon of knighthood.” Catelyn Stark remembered that Dayne was thought to be “the deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys’s Kingsguard,” and Jaime Lannister recalled that he “could have slain all five of you with his left hand while he was taking a piss with the right.” In other words, he was a good fighter, which explains why HBO is looking for the best swordsman in Europe. Finally, Dayne carried a sword named Dawn, which was “forged from the heart of a fallen star.” Sounds “hugely famous” enough to me.

Okay, so this all seems to line up, but what about the producers’ well-known reticence to indulge in flashbacks? Well, to start, they already broke that rule in Season 5 when they flashed back to a young Cersei’s encounter with a woods witch, so who’s to say they can’t do it again? Also, one of the reasons the production gave for not having flashbacks—budgetary constraints—isn’t really a problem anymore, not after the success the show has had. Finally, considering what happens in A Dance with Dragons, the show may not need to use a flashback to show this particular scene, thanks to this fellow.

After sitting Season 5 out, Isaac Hempstead Wright recently confirmed that he would be returning to the role of Bran Stark for Season 6. Last we left Bran, he had found the three-eyed raven (or the three-eyed crow, if you’re talking about the books), and discovered that the mysterious figure who had guided him since his journey began was a guy with tree roots growing out of him. How fun. The show didn’t give viewers a lot of information about him, but book-readers know that he is a greenseer, a mystic who can view the past, present, and future of Westeros by looking through the eyes of the ubiquitous weirwood trees that dot the landscape.

In A Dance with Dragons, the three-eyed crow begins to teach Bran these skills, and the young Stark even has some success hopping into the weirwood tree at Winterfell and watching what transpired there in years past. If there happened to be a weirwood tree near the Tower of Joy, it stands to reason that Bran could see what happened there through its eyes. Frankly, that seems unlikely, as many of the weirwoods in the southern parts of Westeros were cut down long ago. (Also, what are the odds a weirwood could grow in the rocky soil around the Tower of Joy?) Still, it’s possible, and it would allow the producers to get around their “no flashbacks” policy.

Even if all this sounds reasonable, there’s still one more question that needs to be answered: what purpose would a flashback to the events at the Tower of Joy serve? If the fan theories are right, it could provide a way to reveal that Jon Snow is actually Jon Targaryen, not a bastard of Winterfell but the secret crown prince of the realm. Season 5 did seem to bring that idea back into play when Littlefinger and Sansa discussed the relationship between Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen in the crypts beneath Winterfell. But even if it’s true and Jon is a secret Targaryen, what would it matter now that he’s, y’know, dead, murdered by his own lieutenants in the Season 5 finale?

Well, one option is that he’s coming back. The theories on how this might happen are legion, although we can’t be sure of anything yet. Another is that something else happened at the Tower of Joy that it’s worth flashing back for. Maybe the promise Ned made to Lyanna has nothing to do with the child she may or may not have had, but will still have an impact on the story going forward. It would be just like Game of Thrones to tell us it’s leading us to water only to push us over a cliff.

Or maybe none of this will happen. Perhaps the Castillo de Zafra will stand in for a nameless ruin and the “legendary fighter” will be Gerold “Darkstar” Dayne. That’s the fun of the off-season. Any and all of this could be true, or none of it could be. Until Season 6 finally rolls around, it’s all true and all false all at once.

H/T The A.V. Club

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