Westeros came to San Diego on Friday afternoon for the San Diego Comic-Con Game of Thrones panel.
Moderated by Seth Meyers, the panel featured cast members Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Alfie Allen (Theon/Reek), Jonathan Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Carice Van Houten (Melisandre), Conleth Hill (Lord Varys), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Hannah Murray (Gilly), director David Nutter, and executive producer Carolyn Strauss.
While no new footage was revealed, the panel opened with a montage of GoT's impact on pop culture that started with Meyer's Late Night skit with Kit Harington, and showed references from The Simpsons, Sesame Street, Saturday Night Live, South Park, Supernatural, and more. There was also an amusing audition reel from many of the actors on the show, including one from Christie that garnered the biggest audience reaction.
Not much in the way of news broke on the panel, but the topical issues of female representation on the show and the sexual violence against Sansa did come up.
Meyers asked if Strauss was surprised by the responses from viewers who thought the show had been too "rough" on some characters.
"I think people like to be involved in a conversation," she answered. "And the more you know your characters, the more painful it is when something bad happens to them."
An audience member asked about the criticisms leveled against the show about its treatment of women, and asked if Season 6 will more overtly address "patriarchy, rape culture, and other forms of oppression."
In response, Strauss said, "They're trying to put together what's best...for the difficult time that the show takes place; things were not great for a lot of people, male or female."
Hill added levity to the response, accurately, by saying girls are not the only ones who lose things on the show.
Another fan said the Sansa rape scene focused on Theon's viewpoint, and that he believed it diminished the strength of the character.
Turner gave a lengthy, insightful answer.
"There's one thing that Sansa still is, despite what happened to her, is strong."
She joked that the writers have to be asked about the viewpoint, "because I was doing great!"
"I think she has gone through a lot, but she has developed skills that have served her and others. She is still just as strong as she was as before. What she's been doing this while series is just getting by without doing anything totally radical because that could totally change her situation. She could die...she's not stupid. She didn't just think, 'This is going to happen.' She thought it through in her head. She could've fought back if she wanted to, and she didn't. She is one of those characters who does her scheming in her head."
So, should Sansa forgive Theon for his deeds? Turner said she thinks she will always trust him a little bit because they grew up together.
"I didn't 'almost' kill Bran and Rickon," replied Allen. "I killed two peasant boys. Only two peasant boys!"
Christie also spoke about her character's treatment on the show, and defined it as modern and powerful.
"I found it very interesting when I read the books before, and obviously the scripts, about the basis of that relationship, about how we, in a mainstream TV show, we got to see very unique, very unconventional woman enduring abuse from a man," she said. "And the power lay in the fact that got turned on its head, and the two found a begrudging respect for each other that's became intense and close – and doesn't have it's roots in sexuality. I am spoiled to see that at last, and it is a very powerful modern representation."
The actress also said that, if she were to change one thing about Brienne from last season, she "would wait for the candle."
Meyers joked in reply, "Was it so hard to take a little responsibility?" Cunningham said, "If she had waited for the candle, I'd still have a boss" – which somewhat settles any lingering question about Stannis' survival.
When asked about how little Margaery accomplished in Season 6, compared to acquiring power and achieving her goals in Season 5, and what might be next for her, Dormer said she is in the dark.
But she did state, "Grandma ain't around to look after her anymore, and she is in a situation...where they really don't know how they're going to play their next move; I think Margaery is in quite a bit of trouble."
After the big reveal that Arya was blinded in the season finale, Maisie Williams said the contacts she had to wear were uncomfortable. But said, "I'm worried if I'm going to have to do any fighting because 1) I can't see, 2) they're uncomfortable."
Conleth Hill was such a standout quip-maker on the panel that Meyers said Season 6 Varys should do standup at the Mereen Comedy Cellar.
"I do all my own stunts" as Varys, Hill said. "Apart from Hodor, I have the least physicality to do." He also said Varys is good, ultimately, at his core.
Speaking of Hodor, Christie suggested Hodor should take the throne and Carice was rooting for Sam to end up ruling.
A couple interesting tidbits:
Based on Meyers' question to the audience, most in attendance were fans from the show, and less the books. Now that the show is caught up with the books, the cast agreed there is even more secrecy surrounding the scripts. Strauss said the conversations with George R.R. Martin are happening as frequently as before.
Strauss also said that actors get entire scripts, and not just segments based on cities or groups. Also, Theon's outfit whilst giving Sansa away at her wedding was Robb Stark's, courtest of the really nasty Boltons.