The recent conclusion to Game of Thrones’ fifth season not only left the television storyline mostly caught up with the source material from George R.R. Martin’s novels, but in some instances, it has deviated from it radically. Thus, Season 6 could very well be a plunge into the unknown for all fans. It’s a scenario that one of the newly-announced Season 6 directors compares to the mystery of the late Lost.
In an interview with Variety, Jack Bender, who has been appointed to direct the fifth and sixth episodes from Games of Thrones Season 6, discusses the show’s current state, which involves working without the narrative safety net of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels. While Martin has laid out a roadmap for showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff, the onus is now, more than ever, on the creative personnel to interpret their notes properly. Comparing the dynamic to his 38-episode directorial run on Lost, Bender states:
This is how I look at it. As a director on Lost, for example, I liked to say we get recipes from (Lost showrunners) Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. Then, me and the writers and the rest of the team, we’d cook the meal. That’s always how I saw the metaphor.
It is possible that George R.R. Martin might be able to put the finishing touches on the next entry in the Ice and Fire novel series, The Winds of Winter, having it out before Season 6 begins its run next year. However, production will inevitably predate even the book’s most ideal target release. Thus, directors like Bender must tackle a similar dynamic to the per-episode construction of Lost, which, half a decade after its ending, still has some viewers reeling in the aftermath of posing tinfoil hat theories about its expansive metaphysical complexities. That show started in 2004 with a plane crash and the continuing struggles of survivors on an uncharted island. By the time it reached its end in 2010, it had evolved into a piece of philosophically-heavy science fiction fantasy in which former enemies finally put differences aside to tackle a powerful existential threat in the nihilistic ambitions of the island’s Smoke Monster.
Having already run five seasons with several battles over the Iron Throne, Game of Thrones likewise now seems to be slowly but steadily shifting focus away from Westeros’ political struggles and towards the mythos’ true existential threat represented by the Night’s King and the army of the dead in the far north. In that sense, the seemingly radical juxtaposition to Lost is valid in the sense that both shows, having spent their first handful of seasons working off seemingly conventional genre playbooks, look to evolve the intrigue of their respective mythologies; moving well beyond the petty squabbles of the human condition towards an encompassing struggle that would prospectively put the identifying thematic stamp across the series as a whole.
Game of Thrones Season 6 will be chronicling the continuing colossal carnage of Westeros and Essos without the “constant” of George R.R. Martin’s novels when it premieres on HBO in April of 2016.