Features and Columns · TV

Meet Your Next Favorite Game of Thrones Character

By  · Published on September 2nd, 2015

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Early yesterday, it began to circulate that a potentially major new character for Game of Thrones season 6 had been not only cast, but spotted on set in Ireland. Today, it has all been confirmed.

Before we get into the spoilery details of what this all means for season 6, let’s get the news out of the way. Today, Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibberd confirmed the news that Thrones had cast its Euron Greyjoy:

Confirmed: Pilou Asbæk playing Euron Greyjoy in ‘Game of Thrones’ season 6

— James Hibberd (@JamesHibberd) September 2, 2015

Who is Euron Greyjoy?

Euron Greyjoy is one of the many brothers of Balon Greyjoy, the King of the Iron Islands and father of Theon Greyjoy, played by Patrick Malahide. Even though we haven’t seen him since the end of season 3, it’s assumed that he’s still kicking around with his gritty, sea-fairing people back on Pyke. The backstory on Euron is that he’s the eldest of Balon’s brothers, a much-feared pirate whose ship, Silence, is crewed entirely by mutes whose tongues were cut out by Euron. He’s a somewhat dashing, yet completely insane warrior of the high sees. Not to give anything away from the books just yet, but he’s a real motherfucker.

He’s a more violent, grittier character, but he’s also a handsome, charming warrior who could very well steal the hearts of audiences in a manner similar to the season 4 presence of Oberyn Martell, played perfectly by Pedro Pascal. This is what has us excited about his inclusion in season 6. On top of that, the show has yet again nailed the casting.

Who is Pilou Asbæk?

Pilou Asbæk is best known for his work on Borgen, a political drama from his native Denmark. It’s available currently on iTunes and it’s so good that my Storm of Spoilers co-host Joanna Robinson gifted it to me. As it turns out, she was absolutely correct. Asbæk plays a spin-doctor for the recently elected Prime Minister of Denmark, a cunning political operator with a loose moral code. He’s great in the show and stars alongside Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, who Thrones fans will remember as Karsi, the Wildling chieftainess who stole scenes in the “Hardhome” episode of season 5 only to be dispatched well before her time. As you can see from his image above, Asbæk has a ruggedly handsome, Joshua Jackson sort of thing going on. He also looks like he could be kin to Alfie Allen’s Theon Greyjoy.

Here’s a clip from Borgen, in which Asbæk’s Kasper Juul is explaining what makes a political speech great:

If you are sensitive to Game of Thrones spoilers, including some book knowledge and some insight into what season 6 will bring, you may want to turn back here. Following this visit from Walter White Walker, Lord of Spoilers, we’ll explore the reasons why Euron is coming into the picture and where his character might be headed.

The emergence of Euron Greyjoy to the Iron Islands in the show can only really mean one thing: season 6 will have a Kingsmoot. This means that a long-overdue death will happen, likely early in the season.

We all remember Melisandre’s leeches. Three leeches meant to kill off the remaining three usurpers from The War of the Five Kings. There was one for Robb Stark, who died at The Red Wedding. Another for Joffrey Baratheon, who was poisoned at The Purple Wedding. And a final leech for Balon Greyjoy, King of the Iron Islands. In the books, Balon’s red magic death comes pretty swiftly after the other two. In the timeline of the show, he should have been long dead by now. It’s possible that he is, but the show chose to focus season five on the other areas of Westeros. Not only did it skip over Bran’s storyline North of The Wall, it ignored the Iron Islanders almost completely (we’re not counting Theon at this point.)

In season 6, it seems likely that Balon will perish early on, just as he did in “A Storm of Swords.” As my colleague Joanna Robinson wrote over at Vanity Fair, there’s word of a set that involves a scene on a rope bridge already being filmed for season 6. This sounds a lot like Balon’s place of death in the books, where he fell from a bridge during a storm. In the books, Euron shows up not long after Balon mysteriously dies, leaving some to believe that he sent an assassin to kill his brother so that he might gain control over The Iron Islands. There are also some wild fan theories out there about who that assassin might be, some even involving the Faceless Men of Braavos.

Following the death of Balon, the Iron Islands holds a Kingsmoot to decide their next leader. Among their candidates to rule are Euron; his brother Aeron, a priest of the Drowned God; his youngest brother Victarion, the Lord Captain of the Iron Fleet; and Balon’s daughter Asha (Yara in the show). Euron ultimately emerges as the victor and begins to wreak havoc upon the shores of The Reach (the land ruled by the Tyrells in the western half of Westeros).

It will be interesting to see if the show also casts Victarion, as he has an interesting role to play in the larger story. Euron gives his youngest brother a dragon horn, said to give the user the power to command dragons, and sends him on a quest to Meereen to bring Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons back to Westeros.

All of this is story that would have happened alongside what we saw in season 5. It gives us an indication that the show isn’t completely going to be plowing ahead into non-book territory in season 6. Even though I’m sticking to my prediction that George R.R. Martin’s 6th book, “The Winds of Winter,” will be on bookshelves by the time season 6 airs, it’s also clear that the show isn’t done telling the stories of the fourth and fifth books in the series. While we may have thought that things like The Kingsmoot and the Stonehearted happenings in The Riverlands were cut from the show, it appears as if all of these stories are still on the table. Perhaps even as front-loading for season 6 to buy Martin just a little bit more time for the book.

The other very interesting thing about the filming of Balon’s demise is that it gives further credence to Melisandre’s magic, which has been theorized to be back in play for the resurrection of Jon Snow.

We will know more as season 6 continues to come into focus, so stay tuned.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)