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.

“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."

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.

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.

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.