Game of Thrones Season 4 will be much bigger in scale and scope than the previous three seasons. Season 3 was based on the first half of A Storm of Swords, and Season 4 will not only cover the next half of book three but will introduce elements from books four and five. Both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons pick up immediately after the events in A Storm of Swords. A Feast for Crows focuses on King’s Landing, Dorne and the Iron Islands. This book was the first to introduce chapters from Jaime, Brienne and Cersei’s point of view, among others. A Dance with Dragons takes us back to the Wall, the North and across the narrow sea to Pentos. So to follow the chronology, elements from all three books will be combined.
Game of Thrones producers have promised ‘four to five climatic episodes’ in Season 4. “Some of the most shocking and mind-blowing scenes of the entire series come at the end of this coming season,” says executive producer David Benioff.
The Queen Across the Water
The Khaleesi has a lot more on her plate this season. Emilia Clarke says “The cities that Daeny had previously liberated are beginning to revolt…it’s all well and good going in and cutting the tie and seemingly breaking people free, but if you don’t leave them with any kind of a structure…or a commander who shares the same morals and views as the person who liberated them, then it’s a free-for-all.”
It’s not just the men and women in Daeny’s camp that are giving her problems, her dragons, as we have seen in the teaser trailers, are growing immense. “They are outgrowing the restrictions she is placing on them,” says Emilia “She’s always feared it…they’re dragons. They’ve killed her enemies, what’s going to stop them from killing anyone?”
House Lannister is falling apart at the seams, and we won’t be shedding any tears for them. This season will see the biggest conflict between Cersei and Tyrion yet.
“There’s no boundary between her and Tyrion, of inflicting emotional damage,” says Lena Headey.
As we can see from the ‘Dungeon Tease’ Tyrion is not going to have an easy time of it this season. Benioff calls this ‘the most dangerous season for Tyrion, it seems almost every episode he’s in jeopardy of getting his head removed from his shoulders’. Peter Dinklage adds “Tyrion had never been faced with this much public humiliation.”
Jaime has returned to King’s Landing, minus a hand. Cersei has been longing for this reunion with her brother, but their little brother may be causing some tension. “Tyrion and Jamie definitely have a love that Tyrion doesn’t have with the other members of his family ,” says Peter Dinklage “He helps Tyrion a great deal this season.”
And what of Queen Cersei? Cersei’s journey is going to take some very unexpected turns. “I believe at her core she is very frightened and paranoid,” says Lena Headey. “She’s a f— gambler. I always feel she’s carrying water in a basket with holes in it.”
Brienne of course accompanied Jaime to King’s Landing. She has a very involved storyline coming up. Discussing the relationship between Brienne and Jaime, Gwendoline Christie says “Those two with their relationship, only they know what has gone on. Only those two share the experience. And what I find so attractive about it is it is so unspoken.”
Did their relationship have a positive impact on Jaime? “Brienne is a woman that has dedicated her life to honor and to the moral good, and is altruistic. And she sees that in him [Jaime] also and wants him to maintain it,” says Gwendoline “She’s a very pure character. It will be interesting to see the journey that she goes on. It will be interesting to see if she remains that way, if it’s possible for any human being to remain that way.”
Brienne will be among the guests at the wedding of Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell. Episode Two, The Lion and the Rose should see the long-awaited nuptials. David Benioff says the wedding takes up half the episode, and Charles Dance joked that it was like shooting a short film. Along with Brienne, we have some new characters introduced this season that will be attending the wedding.
The Red Viper and Ellaria Sand
The first members of House Martell will appear this season. Prince Oberyn Martell arrives for the wedding with his paramour Ellaria Sand, but celebrating is the furthest thing from his mind. Executive Producer Dan Weiss says “He uses the invitation to the wedding to seek out what he really wants, and that is vengeance.”
Prince Oberyn’s sister Elia Martell was Rhaegar Targaryen’s wife, who was murdered along with her infant children in the sack of King’s Landing. Elia’s daughter, Rhaenys, was killed by Ser Amory after he broke down their door. He dragged the screaming toddler from under her father’s bed and stabbed her over fifty times while Elia was raped and killed by Ser Gregor Clegane after Gregor murdered her son, Aegon, in front of her. Elia’s and the children’s bodies were wrapped in crimson Lannister cloaks and presented to Robert Baratheon as a token of fealty.
Peter Dinklage calls Prince Oberyn “the one wild card.” Will the Lannister’s be forced to pay their debts?
Pedro Pascal, who is playing Oberyn describes him as “A very deeply passionate person…very very dangerous but he’s also good.”
Queen of Thorns Oleanna Tyrell describes her son as “a ponderous oaf”. The head of House Tyrell, the Lord of Highgarden Mace Tyrell, will arrive in King’s Landing to see his daughter wed to Joffrey. Mace was previously named Hand of the King for Renly Baratheon during Renley’s rebellion. What he lacks in political savvy he of course makes up for in money. The Lannisters are certainly running short of funds, which gives Mace the upper-hand.
The Queen of Thorns Olenna Tyrell will return this season along with Loras. But the real power behind House Tyrell may lie with Margaery. Expect to see much more of the Little Queen this season.
Maisie Williams says “The good guys are coming back this year and that’s nice to see. We’re making a stand.”
Don’t expect to see a victorious House Stark yet though. In the aftermath of the Red Wedding, House Stark is scattered. We’ve lost four senior members of House Stark now, Ned, Catelyn, Robb and Maester Luwin, and three of the Stark direwolves. Our youngest Stark, Rickon, is in Shaggy Dog and Osha’s safe hands, but his story has yet to be told in the books. We don’t expect to see more of him until much later. Bran, Hodor, and the Reeds find another companion on their quest to find the three-eyed crow. Bran will learn a lot more about his greenseeing abilities as he travels further north of the Wall.
Back in King’s Landing Sansa is still married to Tyrion, still a prisoner of the Lannisters and still in danger. Expect to see Sansa make her biggest decision yet. This should be an intriguing season for young Sansa.
“I think [Sansa]’s a bad ass in a very different way [to Ayra Stark, her younger sister],” says Sophie Turner “She’s like a sponge – she’s absorbing everything she’s learned from Cersei and Margaery. She’s put on the facade of her former self for this past year and she’s finally going to drop that and begin to manipulate some people.”
Back in the Riverlands Arya is still travelling with the Hound. Her last attempt to find her family ended in a narrow escape from the Red Wedding. Arya assumes all of her family is now dead and her fight for survival is not yet over. There are some big changes coming for Arya. I know she’s a controversial figure with many viewers, and some readers, considering her age. Well, expect to get a hell of a lot more uncomfortable. Arya lives for vengeance.
Not everyone was slaughtered at the Red Wedding. Some are held prisoner. The Blackfish escaped. And there will be another face, although not-so-familiar now, that will blow you away.
In the North
Roose Bolton is now Warden of the North, thanks to his new pal Tywin Lannister. Ramsay really comes out of his shell this season – because you actually have no idea how evil Ramsay is yet. You are also allowed to feel sorry for Theon at this point. Will Theon redeem himself? Maybe not this season, but perhaps Theon is not truly lost yet.
Theon’s sister Yara will re-appear, last season we saw her determined to save her brother from Ramsay. We should also see Uncle Euron of House Greyjoy introduced this season. This will probably be a bit later in the season, but the Greyjoys will have a bigger role to play soon.
At the Red Wedding, newly-married Roose Bolton tells Catelyn Stark “Lord Walder let me choose any of his granddaughters and promised me the girl’s weight in silver as a dowry, so I have a fat young bride.” Walda Frey is the fifteen year-old daughter of Merrett Frey, although she has been made decidedly older for the show. Walda will be played by Elizabeth Webster. She won’t have a big role but I am rather looking forward to seeing the dynamic between her and Bolton, who in the books becomes rather fond of her.
Lady Anya Waynwood, the Lady of Ironoaks and head of House Waynwood will be portrayed by Shakespearean veteran Paola Dionisotti. Lady Waynwood is widowed and has three sons: Morton, Donnel and Wallace, and an unspecified number of daughters and grandsons. Her wards include the young Harrold Hardyng, her cousin and the heir-presumptive of the Vale, and Cynthea Frey, whose mother was a Waynwood. We’ll meet more new nobles from the Vale in the next season or two.
Jon Snow is back at Castle Black. “He’s in a very bad place as far as how he feels he treated Ygritte and his honour” says Kit Harrington “not only breaking his vows to the Night’s Watch but breaking his vows to her.” Jon is going to have a very interesting season, along with his best friend Samwell Tarly.
“Sam and John’s relationship this year is as even and equal as it’s ever been’, says John Bradley. “There’s more confrontation between them this season…it’s a very different relationship we find them in” adds Kit. “But still a loving one, still a caring one, and I think without Sam Jon would crumble.”
The White Walkers and Mance Rayder’s wildlings are on their way from the North. After Jon’s time with the Wildlings, some of the Night’s Watch still consider him a traitor, and tensions at the Wall will be at their peak. Castle Black also needs a new Lord Commander after the mutiny at Craster’s Keep.
We will meet more wildlings, including Styr, the Magnar of Thenn, who will be portrayed by Joseph Gatt. Thenn is a region located in the northernmost area Beyond the Wall. The Thenn people consider themselves the last of the First Men.
Last season we saw Davos present Stannis with a message from the Night’s Watch explaining the threat of the White Walkers. It was Melisandre who really decided that the war brewing in the North was more important than battle for the Iron Throne. Stannis has responded to the call to arms from the Night’s Watch, heading North with his army and Melisandre in tow. Look forward to the meeting between Stannis and the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. And expect some unexpected alliances to develop.
Carice Van Houten says that we’ll see a lighter, more human side to Melisandre this season: “I like to approach the heavier scenes in a light way. Any moment I can feel there is irony, I will take it. In this coming season, Melisandre’s telling a joke. I love that. I really enjoy the more human side of Melisandre. You probably won’t agree with me seeing the first thing I do this season, but there will be scenes where you see her in her natural environment. You see her take a bath, talking, having dinner — more normal stuff.”
We have one more new character arriving North, Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank of Braavos. The Iron Bank is richer and more powerful than all the banks in the other Free Cities combined and has a fearsome reputation when collecting debts, and the Iron Throne is heavily in debt to the Iron Bank.
Mark Gatiss will be playing Tycho, and although I think Mark could easily pull of Tycho’s garb, they may not dress him in his customary brimless three-tiered hat of purple felt and purple robes trimmed with ermine and a high stiff collar.
We’ve seen several shots of Daeny travelling to Meereen, but just one glimpse of Braavos. You might recall two of Arya’s allies, her sword master Syrio Forel and the mysterious Jaqen H’ghar are Braavosi. Braavos is the greatest and most powerful of the Free Cities. The ruler of Braavos is known as the Sealord and it is from the sea that the city’s power and wealth flows. The city’s main channel is defended by a massive statue called the Titan of Braavos, which serves as landmark, lighthouse and defensive fortification. You can see the Titan astride the channel in the shot above. Who will be going to Braavos? I think it will be fairly late in the season, but there will be more than one traveller arriving in this amazing city.
So what are you looking forward to the most this season? I am definitely looking forward to the wedding. George always writes a great wedding.
Watch a recap of Season 3 below.