** Spoiler for Game of Thrones season 6 episode 5 **
As almost everyone on the internet now knows, at the end of “The Door”, a fan favourite character died defending his friends: Hodor. The innocent, lovable giant was seemingly torn apart by White Walkers, leaving Meera running for her life while dragging Bran along.
Thanks to episode six’s preview, we know that’s not the end of the White Walker onslaught as we see Meera struggling to escape the Whites' terrifying charges. However, it seemingly looks like another person comes to their rescue. But who?
Ever since the release of the first A Song of Ice and Fire novel, fans have been speculating about the return of Benjen Stark.
Ned’s brother was last seen heading North of The Wall with a group of rangers. However, once he heads out, Benjen never returns. In the show, his horse manages to make it back to Castle Black, but there is no sight of Jon Snow’s uncle.
There are a couple of theories surrounding what happened to Benjen, but most people agree that he is still alive, somewhere in the North. Last week’s episode actually helps clear up a few things, mainly that Benjen is definitely not the Night’s King (which was a popular theory, but disproved as we saw the Children of the Forrest creating the Night’s King thousands of years ago).
So, is Benjen the person saving Bran and Meera? Could he still be around, roaming The North, perhaps having watched over Bran ever since he passed The Wall?
This theory doesn’t sit that well with many people; you have to ask how Benjen survived all those years and why he only turns up when Bran is about to be torn to shreds. There's also little evidence he is still around, with very few hints (unless you count Jon receiving a fake letter from Benjen as foreshadowing).
However, many book theorists believe that Benjen may no longer actually be Benjen; he may now be Coldhands.
In the novel, Coldhands is a ghostly figure who rides a great elk; he dresses like a ranger, even calls Sam Tarly a ‘Brother’, but we never see his face. When Sam is chased by Whites after escaping Craster’s Keep, Coldhands saves him, takes Sam and Gilly to the wall, and then asks for Bran.
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The mysterious creature - who cannot pass The Wall because of its magical powers - then guides Bran to the Three-Eyed Raven, along the way killing members of the Night’s Watch (these members are actually traitors, but Bran doesn’t know this). It is soon revealed he is undead.
There’s little else to know about Coldhands except that the Children of the Forrest state he is hundreds of years old and “died long ago” - a piece of evidence people often use to discredit the theory Benjen is Coldhands. (One theory explaining this is that Coldhands is a spitit who died long ago and has resurfaced through Banjen. this explanation would not be needed in the show as Coldhands has yet to be mentioned.)
Could Coldhands be about to enter the show? The showrunners have so far ignored many undead characters, such as Lady Stoneheart, but with Jon Snow’s resurrection and more fantasy elements entering the fray, could an undead saviour be about to enter? Perhaps they will just ignore Coldhands altogether and just have Benjen enter as himself, without having become Coldhands?
Of course, someone completely unrelated could save the duo, perhaps even someone we haven’t seen in a long while. While there's not much evidence pointing towards anyone in particular, Benjen or Coldhands seem like pretty safe bets. (Another note: episode six is titled 'Blood of my Blood' which could very well imply a family member for someone is about to return.)
Meanwhile, we’ve been theorising about Bran, Hodor and Time-travel, pondering upon how the events of “The Door” could affect the entire history of Westeros.
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