Season 5 through many book readers off, especially with regards to Jamie Lannister’s storyline which took him to Dorne. While he does go off in the novels, Jamie departs King’s Landing to settle matters down in the Riverlands while getting away from his increasingly insane sister. In season 5, he veered off with Bron to Dorne to return his daughter, Myrcella, back after Cersei received a threatening gift from Dorne. In addition, season 5 jumped the gun a bit (perhaps) in what appears to be the end of Myrcella via poisoning from Ellaria Sand. At this point, the only thing we can say for certain is that the Lannisters will not take this act lightly and Dorne most likely will be thrust into the middle of this.
Before going forward with my own theories on Dorne’s involvement, we have to examine a few key changes between the TV show and books in regards to these storylines. First, one notably absent character is Arianne Martell, who plays a critical view point character in the book. Seemingly, the TV show has swapped her role in reusing Ellaria Sand’s character to play the vengeful daughter, whereas in the novel Ellaria is more or less cast to the shadows. Both TV show and novel have a rebellion but the names are shrunken to be easier in the TV show to just Jamie, Bron and the Sand Snakes. Bron partly seems to be taken up Arys Oakheart’s role and is seduced by Tyene Sand rather than Arys being seduced by Arianne. Also, notably absent is Arianne’s brother Quentyn who seems to be replaced by Trystane Martell. Here, Trystane is betrothed to Myrcella which remains the same but the novel goes one step further (of course) as Arianne plots to have Myrcella named ruler of the Seven Kingdoms under Dornish law.
When you look at how the TV show gutted the chapters on Dorne, you might think that it was unfair because a huge section of the plot is left out. I feel that the writers didn’t want to occupy too much time developing new characters who are unfamiliar to the strictly TV audience and simply wanted to narrow the focus down a bit. So the basic flavor of Dorne is kept minus the more complex subplots and excess names.
The big thing though is that Myrcella has been poisoned and that Trystane is accompanying Jamie Lannister back to King’s Landing. It’s uncertain at this point if Trystane was privy to Ellaria Sand’s plot to murder Myrcella. However, we can assume there was a reasonable connection between the two. While the show had imprisoned the Sand Snakes once, it wasn’t in the same manner as in the books. I’m going to assume that Ellaria will be like Arianne in being imprisoned and forced to read up on Dornish law and history, which will lead to Doran unveiling his master plan.
Of course, the master plan is to reclaim the kingdom via the secret marriage with the exiled Daenarys Targaryen. However, the TV show has a huge hole in that originally Quentyn was sent in the novel to fulfill that role after Doran learns of Viserys’ death. As Myrcella now is presumably dead though, that does leave Trystane the opportunity to seek out Daenarys and help his uncle fulfill that scheme.
The only thing in Trystane’s case that would work against him in this situation is his obligation to sit upon the Small Council in place of the deceased Oberyn. Also, Quentyn’s story in many ways has been passed in the TV series because of where Daenerys is within the plot. He may still find his way into Daenarys’ side down the line but not in Meereen.
I think what might be exposed more in season 6 is Doran’s character as a master schemer. Thus far, he’s only been displayed as the most rational, least hostile and political of the rulers. But we have not truly tasted his power yet and have not discovered how big of a threat he can be. Some theorize that Doran may be working alongside Illyrio Mopatis (again absent in the later TV series) since Illyrio was custodian to Daenarys and Viserys. If that’s the case, then Doran also is connected to Varys who has been helping Daenarys from the side and now is once again next to Tyrion.
While I do believe Varys will supply information to Daenarys regarding the situation of King’s Landing and the chaos that Cersei is conducting (which she might not be aware of as manipulation from everyone around her), it will be Doran and Dorne supplying something else, possibly a fleet of ships that Daenarys has desperately needed.
Despite this master plan, I feel that the Sand Snakes and Ellaria aren’t predictable and are too bent on revenge out of love for their fallen Oberyn. So while the supplying of Daenarys may be Doran’s method for revenge, it’s not satisfactory enough for the Sand Snakes and Ellaria. They want more blood, meaning the rest of the Lannisters, which may include Tyrion.
Tyrion is a very interesting case because we see him as a strong willed, highly intelligent and conniving person. One deadly flaw that I think he has is that he trusts Varys. I think Varys knows Doran’s master plot and has been maneuvering Tyrion towards abetting this plot. But it makes sense in how Doran’s foremost desire is to wreck House Lannister. Tyrion merely happens to share that name.
But the fact that Tyrion even named Oberyn as his champion, a Martell, may awaken him to the fact that someone had been pulling his strings all this time. Perhaps, he’ll try to reunite with his brother Jamie. However, because Tyrion slew their father, Jamie may not forgive him, which again could be part of Doran’s master plot in fracturing the Lannister family apart.
What about the Sand Snakes and Ellaria? I think Ellaria will become placated once Doran unveils his master plan, which would have made Arianne the ruler over Dorne down the road. The Sand Snakes might turn up in King’s Landing where Tyene in particular will continue to manipulate Bronn while keeping watch over Trystane, assuming he does not go after Daenarys.
I’m hoping that a lot of this happens early on in the season so that they can fully utilize Dorne rather than just have Ellaria and the Sand Snakes hold up in some cells. I feel most of this will be executed just around season 9 where the cliff hanger of the season will be the inevitable winter.