Instead of breaking my back to come up with new jokes for the same situations, I have forwent doing a Season Four Recap for Dem Thrones. You can find all my episode recaps (1 – 3) on Tumblr and episodes (4 – 10) here on the site after the launch.
Also, you should be caught up with the TV series to read this as there are some season 4 spoilers, but there are not any book spoilers for the story beyond that point.
Let’s do some fuzzy math together, shall we? A Song of Ice and Fire, by author George R.R. Martin’s declaration, will be seven books in total. Five are already written (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, The Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows and A Dance of Dragons) with two more coming (The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring). Do not ask me when, Martin doesn’t even know (seriously). On the TV side, in four seasons, the show has explored up through book three now with some elements of books four and five, but not wholesale. The show has been renewed for two more seasons already, but since this show will never be in danger of being cancelled, we could actually go by the showrunners desire for this show to run no more than six or seven seasons. I’m guessing they’re going to need seven.
I say all of that to say that both by book standards and show progression, we’re more than halfway through this story and are now on the down slope of the mountain (spear or skull crushing strength not accounted for). I know, it’s a scary thought, but there is plenty of awesome stuff on the horizon, despite what your snobbish book reading friends may say. And yes, I am assuredly someone’s snobbish book reading friend. I have detailed a few things that you should be excited about specifically as we head into the second half of this epic tale.
It’s time to get familiar with Essos
If you are wondering what the hell Essos is, it’s because you have probably only heard of a few cities or locales in it, namely Qarth, Mereen, Pentos or Bravos. However Essos is the continent that is opposite Westeros and it too, is huge. With POV characters (or characters that get their own chapters in the books) Arya and Tyrion both crossing the Narrow Sea, Daenerys will no longer be the only person of interest that is removed from the action in Westeros.
Westeros Still Bangin
Just because we get another continent to flesh out doesn’t mean that you have seen all there is to see in Westeros. The showrunners have already said we will be seeing a lot of Dorne, former home of our dearly departed Prince Oberyn and current home of Myrcella Baratheon, sister to the King and daughter to the Queen Regent. Also, don’t forget about the Iron Isles in Pike, where we have only met Asha (Yara) Greyjoy and Poppa Greyjoy thus far (well, and of course Reek), but that family tree is huge and I’m sure we’ll see more of them.
You don’t even know what you don’t even know
Let’s just say this, there are a lot of important characters that will figure largely into the overall plot that you haven’t even met yet. It’s natural that we will add new characters when we expand to some of the locations I previously named, but there will be plenty of new and important characters arriving in locations we’re already familiar with. I understand that Thrones is already difficult to track as even for all the people that get killed, the show still adds more people than it beheads. This will not get any easier. You’ve been warned.
Winter really is coming. Like, for serious
For the first time in the show, actual climate will start to play a role as a lot of the Starks might be dead, but their words still carry weight. The snow is coming to places south of the wall bringing Lord knows what else with it.
Cersei will be appointment viewing
If you’ve read any of my recaps or listened to Carrie and I discuss Thrones on the Vibranium Stacks podcast, you know how much we love us some Cersei Baratheon. In book 4, A Feast for Crows, for the first time Cersei gets her own chapters, meaning that she should actually get her own arc on the show compared to just being part of someone else’s. We left season 4 with her being in a weird place with Jaime (and let’s face it, it’s ALWAYS a weird place with him), her other brother who she blames for her son’s death on the run, her son as king and about to marry the woman that was married to her oldest son when he was killed, her daughter still in a far off land and her father, the most powerful man in Westeros, dead as all hell. Let’s just say, things could go a lot of different ways. And they do. And I feel more confident in Lena Headey to pull it off than anyone else.
Your book friends are Haters
Ok, forgive me if I am breaking this un-spoiler commentary to you that book readers have been loving to say to non-book readers. There are some Thrones aficionados that will tell you that all the big jaw dropping moments are over such as the Red and Purple Weddings or dating back to Ned’s head nod back in the first season. There’s two problems with that narrative to me. For one, I don’t believe it’s wholly true. Whether be it by books or the show (or the internet, posers), when you first come across those big death moments they are shocking and everlasting. I pushback against saying those moments are completely gone. I can’t elaborate without giving spoilers (so I won’t), but I will say there are still some very cool moments on the horizon. Some with characters you know and some with characters you don’t know yet. The second reason I don’t like that commentary is that there are still two books being written. Do we really think everyone we met is making it out of this thing alive?!?! I doubt Martin has spent five books tossing us around like a ragdoll just to get predictable in his final two books. Also, as another un-spoiler, Martin has already said that he didn’t get to put two big battles in Dance of Dragons (the fifth and last completed book) that will show up in the next one, so we don’t exactly have a shortage of carnage coming.
The Rise of Jon Snow
You could make an argument that this past season was the official rise of Lord Snow. He made it back to Castle Black with intel vital in the defense against the Wildlings. He led his own wetwork squad north of The Wall against the traitors. He assumed command during the fight at the Wall after Ser Alliser was gravely wounded and Ser Janos Slynt escaped back to his mother’s womb. And his hair was immaculate. I’d say it’s a good time to buy some Bastard Boy stock. There’s been a shuffling of the deck in the leadership in the Night’s Watch with so many things in doubt and Stannis “Do you know any good jokes” Baratheon being there with his army only complicates things. And of course, Jon will be at the middle of all of it.
The Great Unknown
This past season (and season three with the Theon stuff), more than any other season, Benioff and Weiss (the showrunners) began deviating from the source more than they had previously. A lot of people were mad about some of the changes and I get it to some extent because the third book (that blankets TV seasons three and four) is so damn good, you’d rather not see it tampered with. But it’s only going to happen more as time goes on and as we begin digging into book four, I kind of welcome it. I know this may sound blasphemous to some but I actually think that the showrunners have an opportunity to improve upon some source stuff upcoming, especially as it relates to A Feast for Crows. Regardless, because of the exploration of the showrunners to tell their own version of this story, we are entering a territory where neither the book readers nor the TV viewers will always know what’s coming next. You can pick the times that the showrunners being left to their own devices didn’t work as great (the Jaime / Cersei “not-rape, ok actually it is rape” scene) but there are far more examples where their created scenes have been some of the best in the series (the Brienne / Hound fight, Arya / Tywin scenes, etc). I’d say we’re in pretty good shape for the future. A pity we have to experience our winter first before it comes back.