The premiere of Game of Thrones Season 8 brought one new face into the mix: Harry Strickland, commander of the Golden Company.
As the war for the dawn approaches and the series winds down, there is not a lot of time for new characters to make their debut on Game of Thrones. Still, the writers did bring in Strickland, played by Marc Rissmann in the Season 8 premiere, and now many long-time fans are left wondering who this new face is.
Warning! Spoilers for Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire lie ahead!
Fans first saw Strickland in the trailer clad in golden armor standing on one of Euron Greyjoy's ships. From the back, he looked like a younger version of Jaime Lannister, but this disgraced knight is far from a carbon copy.
Strickland leads the Golden Company, the largest, most famous and most expensive of the mercenary armies working for hire in Essos. He and his men are descendants of soldiers who were exiled from Westeros after losing a rebellion several generations back. The sellsword companies feature much more heavily in the books.
In the show, the Golden Company was mentioned in Season 7, when Cersei informed Jaime that she had hired them to replace the men they had lost in their battle against Daenerys and Drogon. In the meeting between all the leaders in the dragon pit, when Jon showed them all a White Walker, Euron Greyjoy stormed out, saying he was sailing home.
In fact, Cersei later explained, he had gone to get the Golden Company. He arrived in the season premiere with 20,000 men, 2,000 horses and, unfortunately for Cersei, not a single elephant. Still, how this expensive army of sellsword knights will factor into the war against the dead is unclear.
It is also unclear what we can expect from this version of Commander Strickland. In his brief conversation with Cersei, he seems quiet and observant, not interested in politicking. In the source material, Strickland first made an appearance in the most recent book, A Dance with Dragons. There, he was described as overweight and much older, with thinning grey hair covering a bald spot.
The Strickland of the books often complains and is not generally considered a strong leader. Other main characters look down on him as a coward. However, the events of the books are much different from those of the show by that point, so we cannot take anything for granted.
Either way, the writers would not go to the trouble of bringing a new character — of 20,000 new characters — onto the show for no reason. Strickland has five more episodes to leave his mark on Westeros in the wars to come.