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And this one was also nearly a single frame, too. This is Ned with men holding ropes around his neck, and a figure in back. What are they sitting on? The Iron Throne, I can say that much.

But what is this scene?

A mystery. We’ve a guess or two, but our guess right now is that this is a nightmare in which Ned is imagining himself as present at the deaths of his brother and his father at the hand of the Mad King. He may even be dreaming himself as being in Brandon’s place, for that matter.

At the time this was aired, we were asked not to speak much about this scene, because it was something they wanted to keep under wraps for awhile. Since GRRM and the producers spoke a little bit about it at TCA, however, I suppose I can discuss what I know. Yes, that’s the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, and yes, this flashback is provided to us by way of a nightmare in which Ned dreams back to the brutal murder of his father and brother at Aerys’s command. Now, I remain of the mind that this person here is Sean Bean, either dreaming himself as being present, or possibly suffering with or suffering in the place of his brother as Lord Rickard is killed, but it’s possible this is some other actor who’s playing Brandon.

The other thing, of course, is that from the last I heard (back in December), the producers were not sure that this scene would actually make the final cut. I’m not sure that this has, in fact, changed. So consider it an example of “what may be” rather than anything set in stone.

(And yes, before you ask, I know the identity of th actor playing Aerys. He’s not a well-known actor. He does, however, very much look the part from the head shot I saw.)

I’ll add that this would be a “new” flashback in a sense—we never learn the details of Rickard’s and Brandon’s deaths until A Clash of Kings, and then it’s simply told to us by a witness—but it’s filling in background detail. Does this nightmare include more details of the war? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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