Last night on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” a character who hasn’t been seen since the first season makes a surprising appearance. Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle), Ned Stark’s brother and former Night’s Watch First Ranger, came in from the cold to save Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Meera (Ellie Kendrick) from the wights. Though he was presumed dead, Benjen explains he was stabbed by a White Walker and left to die, only to be revived with dragonglass by the Children of the Forest. Naturally, his appearance asks more questions than answers, leaving fans of the series to speculate about future events. EW sat down with “Game of Thrones” co-executive producer Bryan Cogman, who also wrote the episode, to expand on the secret behind his return, the reaction to Hodor’s demise, the theatre troupe scenes, and more.
Regarding Benjen’s return, he says that it’s hard for him to talk about it “without getting into the nitty gritty of the adaptation process” but that it’s been very heartening to track the Stark reunions with fans. “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,” Cogman says. “So seeing some of them connect again (Jon and Sansa; Benjen and Bran) was very satisfying to write and to shoot.” Cogman also says that it was great to have Mawle back with the cast, even though he’s “decidedly not the Benjen of season 1.”
Cogman also said that he expected the strong reaction to Hodor’s death because “the character is so beloved by the fans” and because “the sequence moves the story and mythology into such a new and mind-bending direction.” As for the theatre troupe scenes, he says he comes ” from theater and being able to comment on the show and the reactions to the show through the players were so much fun.” He also says that while the show is accused of being gratuitous, the theater scenes demonstrate they’re able to “lovingly spoof ourselves but also play with ideas about how audiences view the show, good and bad, and how a perspective of a story changes.”
For more of Cogman’s thoughts on the episode, follow the link above. “Game of Thrones” airs at 9pm Eastern on HBO. Episodes are available to stream on HBO Go and HBO Now.