Editor’s note: David Caplan is an entertainment journalist and the founder of GossipDavid.com. Previously, he was a senior editor at People magazine and has worked at publications such as TMZ, Us Weekly, Star Magazine and HollywoodLIfe.com. He is on Twitter.
Oh, bloody hell.
That pretty much sums up the Season Three finale of “Game of Thrones,” which kicked off its fourth season Sunday. Judging by the first episode, blood will continue to flow, and feuds, rivalries and war will rage on.
In the past, the HBO series has had a bit of a slow build, but don’t expect that in the new season, which follows most of “A Storm of Swords,” the third of seven planned novels in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series.
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First off, the Lannisters are pretty much winning. The Starks? Not so much. Fans of the series are still traumatized by the horribly-graphic bloodbath at the Red Wedding from last season’s conclusion. Matriarch Catelyn Stark, along with her son Robb and his pregnant wife Talisa were all knifed -- to the tune of “The Rains of Castamere,” of course -- leaving the clan in a state of disarray. But don’t count on the Starks to take this act of savagery lightly: All eyes are on Arya Stark, who is expected to exact revenge.
“It’s a coming-of-age season for Arya,” says Toronto Star TV critic Rob Salem.
TVLine.com staff editor Andy Swift says, “’The Red Wedding’ was the biggest event of Season Three -- the deaths tip the scale of power in ‘Game of Thrones.’”
John Semley, who writes about TV for NOW magazine, says the slaughter of the Starks means other members of the clan will now step up to the plate. “Season Four is going to pull in a bit more of two Stark clan members: Bran and Sansa. Season Three began exploring Bran’s supernatural abilities, while Sansa has been a long-suffering captive for most of the series. Season Four will provide her character with more depth.” Sansa is expected to finally escape King’s Landing, where she’s been locked away, thanks to her father’s betrayal.
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Another spoiler alert: According to Martin’s book, King Joffrey won’t be around much longer. “Season Four features one of the most shocking deaths in ‘Game of Thrones’ history,” says Swift. Poor queen hopeful Margaery Tyrell!
Of course, it goes without saying to expect more on the warfront -- particularly with Mance Rayder’s Wildings. Jon Snow has escaped back to The Wall, and the trailer for the fourth season implies an all-out battle with the Wildings is inevitable. Though the Wildings aren’t the only ones hungry for battle: The spooky and terrifying White Walkers are heading down from the North, and they don’t mess around.
But Season Four won’t be all doom and gloom. “I’m most looking forward to the next royal wedding,” says April Bernard, the deputy editor at Us Weekly covering TV. “The groom, King Joffrey, is so sneeringly arrogant, he’s going to demand maximum pomp and circumstance. It’s going to be showstopper,” she adds.
This season will also see some new blood: Actor Pedro Pascal plays the war-hungry Oberyn Nymeros Martell -- also known as the Red Viper -- a member of the House Martell and Prince Doran’s hot-tempered younger brother. “He’s a vengeful prince who shows up bearing a major grudge against the Lannisters,” says Salem. “Get in line.”
Swift adds of Oberyn, “He’s going to be the guy everyone is talking about. Not only is he a beast on the battlefield, but he’s one of the show’s most sexual characters. He’s an equal opportunist in the bedroom: Women, men -- all are welcome.”
Bernard agrees that Oberyn’s hedonistic ways will add to this season’s buzz. “The most interesting new character is Oberyn,” she says. “He’s a man who indulges his carnal appetite to the fullest.”
And we can’t forget about the dragons! Expect Daenerys Targaryen’s growing creatures to have more of a starring role. “Daenerys is a force to be reckoned with, as her dragons grow from pet to threat,” says Salem.
Off-screen, “Games of Thrones” fans are salivating over Martin’s release last month of an excerpt called “Mercy,” the next installment in the “Song of Ice and Fire” series, “The Winds of Winter.” The excerpt -- which follows the character Mercy -- begins with, “She woke with a gasp, not knowing who she was, or where."
Sounds intriguing. Here’s what Martin wrote on his blog about the chapter, “It’s a cracker.”
It is indeed. And a delicious one at that.
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