**SPOILERS** Two days on, Game of Thrones fans are still reeling from the shock ending to season five of the nihilistic swords and sorcery epic. Jon Snow is dead, stabbed by treacherous urchin Olly (yes, boo Olly). Arya has been blinded by the Faceless Men, Sansa and Theon have jumped to their possible doom in an attempt to escape Ramsay Bolton.
It's a lot to take in. And that's without even getting into Myrcella's poisoning, Cersei's Walk of Atonement and the fateful meeting in the woods between Stannis and Brienne.
What does all this portend for season six? Already rumours are swirling, much as the fake snow swirled as Stannis torched his daughter Shireen. Most of the speculation centres on Jon Snow. Is he really, truly dead – as actor Kit Harrington has insisted. Or, as Game of Thrones author George RR Martin has hinted, might the Bastard of Winterfell return from the void in time to lead the fight against the White Walkers?
In a flourish of sadism that could have been dreamt up by Ramsay Bolton we are going to have to wait a year – yes, an entire TWELVE MONTHS – for answers. To help you cope, here are some predictions as to what lies in store. Much of what is outlined below came to us in a vision – be aware that if you press us as to its veracity we are liable to steal a horse and gallop back to Castle Black.
Game of Thrones has killed off one of its best characters, Jon Snow, and divided fans by doing so. But series finales have got to pull out all the stops - as the writers of the top shows know.
Even as you read this, the Internet is agog with rumours that Harington is in Belfast secretly filming scenes for next year's series. The veracity of this speculation is impossible to confirm and Harington sounded definitive when he told Entertainment Weekly on Monday that his stint on Game of Thrones was at an end (notwithstanding that he has signed a contract guaranteeing a major pay rise for GoT season seven).
On the other hand, Snow isn't merely another hokey hero to be cruelly cut down at the whim of showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss. Unlike Ned or Robb Stark, the Bastard of Winterfell is arguably central to the entire arc of the Game of Thrones. If you've spent any time at all online you will be familiar with the conspiracy theory regarding Snow's lineage – and understand that, if true, it has the potential to rock the balance of power in Westeros off its axis.
Plus, there's the small matter of an army of undead shortly to invade the Seven Kingdoms. Snow is our point-of-view character on the Wall – scrub him from the picture and who are we to root for as the Night's King marches his legions on Castle Black? Melisandre? Ser Davos? Olly?
Granted, George RR Martin demonstrated considerable relish in sending Snow to an early grave in the most recent volume of A Song Of Fire and Ice. However, Martin has been at all times clear that there was more to the assassination at the hands of the Night's Watch than met the eye– “If there’s one thing we know in A Song of Ice and Fire is that death is not necessarily permanent.”
The potentially temporary nature of death has also been sign-posted in the TV series, with Beric Dondarrion confirmed to have been raised from the beyond on several occasions courtesy of Melisandre's Lord of Light. The Red Witch arrived at the Wall hours before Snow's death – hardly a random happening in a show where there is no such thing as coincidence.
Ser Jorah and Daario Will Be The Latest GoT Odd Couple
Having required Cersei to walk naked through King's Landing while a power-trio of nuns shadowed her intoning 'shame', it is fair to say that the High Sparrow is not top of the Lannister Christmas card list.
Indeed, the expression of barely-contained fury that flickered across Cersei's face as she was embraced by her new henchman, the undead Robert Strong, at the Red Keep suggests that vengeance is uppermost in her thoughts.
With creepy Qyburn and Uncle Kevan at her side, and Ser Robert (the reincarnated Mountain) in her service, expect her differences with the Sparrows to erupt into bloodshed in season six.
Who knows – things may get so out of hand that sulking King Tommen might even leave his room.
It is increasingly clear that George RR Martin is delaying Danys' voyage to Westeros for as long as possible.
How else to explain his decision to whoosh the character, via Drogon the Dragon, back to where it all began for her – the distant homeland for the barbarian Dothraki?
Benioff and Weiss have suggested GoT will run a further two seasons (HBO would like to stretch it even longer). Should that be the case, rest assured Daenerys will, in fealty to the novels, be kept well away from the Seven Kingdoms until series seven at the earliest.
There were many highlights on Game of Thrones this year. Alas, one element of the storyline was impossible to warm to: Jaime and Bronn's dreary faffing about in the southern territory of Dorne.
However, the arc had a sting at the end, with Ellaria Sand taking vengeance against the Lannisters (whom she held responsible for the death of her lover Oberyn) by poisoning Princess Myrcella via an inappropriate kiss on the lips.
It is unimaginable that Jaime and Cersei will let the death of their daughter pass (and let's be clear: she IS dead). So yes… more Dorne in 2016. A treat for fans of hokey production values and rickety fight sequences. Not so great for the rest of us.
Stannis Will Be Confirmed Dead While Sansa and Theon Will Be Alive
Devotees of noted child-barbecuer / grammar Nazi Stannis Baratheon are hoping the final cut-away from his execution at the hands of Brienne means the head of House Baratheon still lives.
But, speaking after the finale, Gwendoline Christie, the actress who plays the Maid of Tarthe, insisted Stannis was no more.
In contrast it is unlikely the desperate leap from the battlements of Winterfell by Sansa and Theon has led to a sticky end.
There are so few Starks left in Westeros, it is unthinkable GoT would dispatch Sansa while Theon, having suffered so much, will surely have an opportunity to extract revenge against Ser Ramsay Sociopath.