Well, the third season of 'Game of Thrones' is over...and now our wait begins.
If the show sticks to the schedule we've seen established for the past few years, 'Game of Thrones' season 4 will begin sometime in the spring of 2014, forcing fans to wait through a cold and bitter winter before another ten episodes arrive. With most shows, fans spend the time between seasons spitballing and speculating about what will happen when a new season arrives, but things are a little different with 'Game of Thrones.' Since the epic series is based on an equally epic series of books, fans can make educated guesses and assumptions about what's coming up next, getting excited for the arrival of their favorite scenes or characters.
So that's what we're going to do here. We're going list the ten moments that we're most excited to see in 'Game of Thrones' season 4. Of course, not everything on this list is guaranteed to happen next season, but we feel pretty sure that it will. As if it wasn't already obvious, this list will contain massive SPOILERS for both 'Game of Thrones' season 4 and the novel 'A Storm of Swords' (and one scene from 'A Feast For Crows').
So, if you're a reader, scroll on down! If you haven't read the books, this message is for you: SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! Thank you.
The Introduction of House Martell
We've been all over the massive continent of Westeros, but there's one of the seven kingdoms that we haven't seen yet. Dorne lies far to the south and is the home of House Martell (and thanks to Tyrion's machinations, Myrcella Baratheon). Since it's located so far away from most of the action, Dorne has a distinctly different culture from the rest of the kingdoms and its arid, desert landscape has created a tough people who take slights against them very, very seriously. In fact, House Martell had close ties with the Targaryen family before King Robert ousted them...and this is one family that doesn't forget a grudge or let bygones be bygones. We'll talk about more of that in a moment.
The season three finale gave us a taste of the amazing buddy cop show that is the team-up of Arya and Sandor Clegane ("Stark and The Hound: They Solve Problems"), but they're just getting started. The road trip antics of Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth were just a warm-up for these two, whose bloody trek across Westeros is one of the most memorable storylines in George RR Martin's source novels. If you don't like the thought of watching everyone's favorite pint-sized assassin-to-be and everyone's favorite disfigured, traumatized murderer going on killing adventures, why are you even watching 'Game of Thrones'?
The Greyjoys and the Kingsmoot
Although the finale presented some interesting new developments for House Greyjoy (much of which isn't present in the books), one of the most memorable scenes involving the iron family is on the horizon. When King Balon bites the bullet, his brothers Euron and Victarion return from parts unknown to participate in a "Kingsmoot" to determine who will lead the people of Pyke. In addition to simply getting to meet the extended Greyjoy clan (who make the Lannisters look downright cuddly), the Kingsmoot gives us an amazing look at the politics of one of Westeros' most dysfunctional and terrifying families. They're just as awful as the Lannisters, but without the pretense of class and money. Oh, and Ray Stevenson for Victarion Greyjoy, please.
Daenerys spent much of season three marching around Essos, sacking cities and freeing slaves...and she'll keep at it for season four as well! The Mother of Dragons finds her greatest challenge at the city of Mereen, where the city leaders have heard about what happened at Astapor and Yunkai and have prepared for her arrival. With her ranks swelled by tens of thousands of former slaves, Daenerys can't afford a prolonged siege, forcing her to take drastic action and send Jorah Mormont and Barristan Selmy on their most dangerous mission yet. It also represents the first cracks in the relationship between Dany and Jorah, which leads to...well, that'll be season five.
We all saw Catelyn Stark get her throat cut. We saw her die. But we also know a certain group traveling around Westeros who have the power to, you know, resurrect the dead. Although Robb Stark lost his head and had Grey Wind's sewn on in its place, Lady Catelyn is unceremoniously dumped in a river, leading the Brotherhood Without Banners to discover her body. Beric Dondarrion sacrifices his lifeforce to bring her back to life, but Catelyn is shell of her former self. Now a simple and cruel machine of vengeance, she renames herself Lady Stoneheart and begins a guerilla war against the men who destroyed her family. Starting with the Freys, of course.
Jon Snow has spent much of the past three seasons puttering about, making all kinds of mistakes and learning all kinds of valuable life lessons from his brothers in black and the wildlings alike. However, with Jeor Mormont dead and Mance Rayder marching on the Wall, it's time for the bastard of Winterfell to step up and prove that yes, he actually does know a thing or two. The extended battle at the Wall is one of the most exciting moments in 'A Song of Ice and Fire' and it'll pay off the past three years of Jon Snow shenanigans. Sure, he had to make a lot of mistakes to get there, but Jon was destined to command the Night's Watch and protect Westeros from an invasion from beyond the Wall.
Littlefinger's Grand Scheme, Revealed!
One of the most shocking moments in George RR Martin's novel "A Storm of Swords" is that Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish isn't just a master at the game of thrones, he's a dozen steps ahead of every other player. After maneuvering himself into a politically advantageous marriage with Lysa Arryn, the poor-kid-made-good gains control of the east from his new seat at the Eyrie, using his new power to secretly whisk Sansa away from King's Landing. And then the gut-punch comes: he's been in league with Lysa since before the events of the first book/season and it was he who convinced her to poison Jon Arryn, not the Lannisters. Yep, everything that has happened can be laid at the feet of Littlefinger, whose quest for power has left thousands of bodies in its wake. It's a HOLY SH*T moment if there ever was one.
The Murder of Tywin and Shae
'Game of Thrones' isn't shy about ruthlessly offing major characters, but one of the most shocking deaths outside of the Red Wedding is the brutal demise of Tywin Lannister and Shae at the hands of Tyrion. With Tryrion framed for the death of King Joffrey (see below!), everyone's favorite Lannister has nothing to lose when Jaime helps him escape his cell. However, he takes a quick detour on his way to freedom, stopping by his father's room...only to find Shae in his bed. He strangles his former lover and shoots his father in the groin with a crossbow while he sits on the toilet, leaving the most powerful man on the continent dead on the john with a prostitute in his bed. It's a point of no return for Tyrion and it leaves a power vacuum that everyone in King's Landing struggles to fill.
The Red Viper vs The Mountain
It's the single most intense moment in all of 'A Song of Ice and Fire': Oberyn "The Red Viper" Martell agrees to fight for Tyrion in a trial by combat just so he can kill Ser Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane. You see, Oberyn's sister, Elia, was married to Rhaegar Targaryen and was in King's Landing when Tywin's forces betrayed the king during Robert's Rebellion. Ser Gregor butchered her children before raping and killing her...and Oberyn wants vengeance. The ensuing duel is harrowing stuff, climaxing with an outcome that will leave audiences gasping and screaming.
Finally! In season four, the psychotic boy king Joffrey will finally shuffle off his mortal coil and depart from the land of the living and viewers all over the world will cheer in their seats. Poisoned by Olenna Tyrell and Littlefinger, the most hated character in TV history will slowly and painfully suffocate to death at his own wedding reception while the most powerful people in Westeros look on. Of course, Tyrion gets blamed for the murder, but even the framing of everyone's favorite character won't damper what's sure to be one of the most celebrated TV moments of 2014.