WARNING: Some small "Game of Thrones" book spoilers ahead.
Disappointment, like winter, is on its way to Westeros. Rumor has it that the green-seeing Bran Stark and his friendly giant companion Hodor will not appear on the new season of "Game of Thrones." For their part, HBO would not confirm or deny that Bran/Hodor have been cut from "Thrones." Their official response: "Hodor."
Our official response? Not. Cool. And here's why.
Bran's story is a difficult one to translate from the page to the screen. There's a lot of trekking through the lonely white winter beyond the Wall. There's a lot of angst. There's a lot of warging. It's a slow-burning story, with a big payoff in the form of Bran finally meeting the fabled Three-Eyed Raven.
After slogging through four seasons of "Thrones," we're finally there. We're finally at the most interesting place in Bran's story. Granted, we're also more or less caught up with the character's status in the books — but not all the way. There's one pivotal chapter in Bran's story that remains unadapted, and several other potential appearances to tease out. It's absolutely acceptable for Bran and Hodor to fade into the background for "Thrones" season five, but to sit out entirely would completely undercut one of the most alluring and, potentially, important stories threading through the Westeros lore. Bran, and less so Hodor, needs to appear in at least one episode of "Thrones" season five; he cannot sit out of the season entirely.
Unless, of course, "Thrones" is really moving away from the books. And maybe it is. The show is well within its rights to do whatever it wants, and to deviate however it wants from the source material. Visions and prophecies are not and never have been the show's priorities — even though they are very much priorities in the books, and seem to be critical in how all of the central conflicts will resolve. Bran is right at the heart of all that, given his place at the side of the Three-Eyed Raven. In the books, he's a power player. And maybe he won't be a power player on the show. Maybe the show doesn't have plans to explore Bran's story further.
But if the show does plan to return to Bran — if it's merely putting Bran on the sidelines for now, only to return to him later — then this feels like a mistake. Many casual fans are already lukewarm on Bran's story, at best. Now's the time to turn the tide. He's at his most important point in the story. There's room to craft visually compelling, emotional stories with Bran right at the core. Unless Martin publishes "The Winds of Winter" in the next two years, "Thrones" will have to start carving its own path forward anyway; why not start here by embellishing Bran's story, rather than running away from it?
And as for ditching Hodor? Well, that's just Hodor, and we all know it.
How do you feel about "Game of Thrones" ditching Bran and Hodor?