Every year, Game of Thrones introduces a few new characters to their story. Some characters who arrive make a major impact on the story going forward, like Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell in Season 2. Others are so slight, we forget they ever existed, like Richard E. Grant as Izembaro last season.
The show may be winding down, but the new characters are still arriving. This year, one of the new characters we'll meet early on is Alys Karstark, played by Megan Parkinson. What will be her role in the story to come?
Back in Season 3, Robb Stark beheaded his vassal, Lord Rickard Karstark, for the murder of a couple of young Lannisters. He did this because he took after his father in believing in "honor before good politics." It lost him a good segment of his army, and arguably was one of the decisions that helped put his fight for the crown on the path to the Red Wedding.
As part of the fallout from Robb's choices, Harald Karstark sided with House Bolton during the Battle of the Bastards. Unlike Smalljon Umber, his death did not happen on screen, and his fate is currently unknown.
This close-up, taken from the above promotional photo, shows a young redheaded girl sitting in the court of Winterfell. We believe this to be Alys. But who is she?
For those who haven't read the books, prior to Jon Snow's being betrayed and stabbed to death, while he was still Lord Commander, Alys Karstark arrived at the Wall. There's a whole extraneous plot of an evil Uncle and plans to marry her off to an awful relation who she's on the run from, but nevermind all that.
The upshot is Jon Snow decides to marry her off to a wildling (in this case, Sigorn, Magnar, of Thenn), and creates a new house. The plan for her and the wildlings to head to House Karstark to ride out the winter.
Now, in the show, the Magnar of Thenn died in the Battle for Castle Black. Jon Snow has been to Hardhome and knows the real deal of what's coming this winter. He's also resurrected, no longer Lord Commander, and taken back Winterfell.
But! He still has a host of wildlings he needs to put somewhere strategic for the battle to come. (Which House Karstark just so happens to be.) He also has a good friend, an unmarried wildling, who needs settling down before Brienne busts him in his mutton-eating mouth.
These clues suggest the show is planning to hit the "wildings marry into the Karstark household" plot point this season. The Karstarks are defeated, and with only a female heir, marrying Alys off to someone who has shown loyalty to him would be a priority for the new King in the North.
This might explain the synopsis that Jon will face a "revolt" for his decisions this season. Though marrying Alys to a wildling is, on paper, a totally reasonable choice, northerners can be unreasonably racist when it comes to those who live beyond the Wall. Bestowing huge tracts of land to Tormund would not sit well with Jon's vassals.
This would also jive with Kit Harington's recent statements that he and Sansa are at odds from the very beginning of this season. We should not forget Sansa has been married off, more than once, to men that other men decided were a good choice for her. Do you really think she's going to sit there and watch her brother do the same to another poor, young, innocent red-headed girl?
The only mystery is Alys herself. Will she be the type to acquiesce to an order of marriage from the man Lyanna Mormont had everyone declare King? Or will she have something to say about her own fate?
We'll find out, maybe even as early as the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 7. That airs this Sunday, July 16, on HBO, at 9 p.m. ET.