Guessing game as no sign of Snow at 'Thrones' premiere
With a level of frenzied anticipation among fans matched only by the unprecedented, ultra-tight reporting restrictions, the sixth season of 'Game of Thrones' premiered in Los Angeles.
The only audience to see the season opener ahead of its television premiere packed into Hollywood's famous Chinese Theatre.
Stars Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) and Aidan Gillen (Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish) walked the red carpet at the event.
Because this is the first season in which the show dramatically departs from the narrative published in George RR Martin's series 'A Song of Ice and Fire', even the most avid fans of the books have no idea what's coming next. And that's the way the show's creators want to keep it.
Precious few press were given access, and those that were, were given a stern warning: anyone revealing spoilers or plot points would face excommunication, or, worse, be married off to Ramsay Bolton.
Following on directly from the final scene of season five, season six opens back at the snowy spot where the last tragic, bloody episode ended.
And it's a melancholy, mournful curtain-up, dark in visuals and tone, suffused with sorrow, grief and loss.
Heavy on violence and brutality, but lighter than many episodes on sex and nudity, the opener features epic scenes of armies on the march, along with defiant declarations to avenge the dead.
'The Red Woman' of the episode's title, the mystical Melisandre - who was left at Castle Black along with Jon Snow's corpse as season five closed - in no way dominates the action, but by the hour's end, with a luridly surprising twist, sets the scene for some powerful sorcery to come.
Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, has promised that audiences will see "Sansa take command" this season. And judging from the first hour of action, she's certainly on her way, the long-suffering lady no more.
Meanwhile, Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, has said that fans will "hate" this season. Certainly, in regards to her own much-loved character, the opening episode is not an easy watch.
The burning question on every fan's lips, of course - is Jon Snow really dead? - cannot be answered here.
Kit Harington, who plays Snow, had reportedly been spotted filming on set in Northern Ireland, but was notably absent from the red carpet.
"The man's had about 25 knives in his chest - how much steel does he need to have in his body to be confirmed dead? He's dead, dead as a doornail," Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos Seaworth, said.
Coster-Waldau said Snow's demise was yet to be properly seen by fans: "It's going to be interesting to see when people find out what happened, how dead he is. He's dead. Dead, dead."
Word among the assembled was that producers Benioff and Weiss have declared it the best season opener the HBO series has had so far. And with 12 Emmy wins last year, this season has a lot to live up to. In two weeks' time, millions of 'Thrones' devotees the world over will finally be able to decide for themselves. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Series six of 'Game of Thrones' starts on Sky Atlantic on April 25