You read the headline, right? The following are big-time book spoilers, and if you haven’t read the George R.R. Martin novels at least through A Storm of Swords, you should get out now. I kept the descriptions slightly vague to preserve the blissful ignorance of anyone who might have arrived here by accident. But seriously, if you haven’t read the books, beat it. And if you have read the books but don’t want to be reminded of what’s coming, well, you beat it too.
In my curtain-raiser a few weeks ago, I noted that while season four may not have a single moment quite as stunning as the Red Wedding or Ned Beheading, it should have more than its share of big scenes. I’m not including anything here from A Feast for Crows or A Dance with Dragons, though it’s certainly possible showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss will bring in elements from those books. (Perhaps the scene with Daenerys and Drogon’s “sheep bones?”) Also, to be clear, I haven’t seen any episodes beyond last Sunday’s “Breaker of Chains,” so these are merely predictions—though, I think, relatively safe ones. In ascending order from intense to really, really intense:
6. Lady Stoneheart. An old friend returns, courtesy of Beric Dondarrion, and she has debts of her own to pay. If I were to guess—and that is, after all, what I’m doing here—I’d say that this might be the last scene of the season, in keeping both with its status as epilogue to the book and with the show’s fondness for concluding with supernatural reveals (dragons in season one, White Walkers in season two).
5. Ygritte and the Wildlings Storm Castle Black. The action sequence should be strong, but its conclusion stronger still. I love what Rose Leslie has done with Ygritte, and the life she’s breathed into the character will probably make this particular “You know nothing, Jon Snow” one of the most affecting moments of the entire series. I fear it may arrive this Sunday, in the episode titled “Oathkeeper.”
4. Sansa, Lysa, Littlefinger, and the Moon Door. We will presumably have a few episodes in which to build the tension of this unsavory quasi-romantic triangle before things come to a head at the Moon Door. I suspect this will happen in episode seven, “Mockingbird,” due to the title, but it may not take place until later. (In the book, it’s in the last chapter before the epilogue.)
3. The Assault on the Wall. Giants? Mammoths? We’ll see how far the effects budget stretches. But at least the Night’s Watch will get some welcome reinforcements, courtesy of a character who hasn’t had many opportunities to play the hero. Benioff and Weiss have said that they plan to make this clash even bigger than “Blackwater,” and they’re bringing back the director of that episode, Neil Marshall, to handle it. Like the earlier battle, this one will presumably take place in the ninth episode of the season, "The Watchers on the Wall."
2. The Mountain and the Viper. A couple of weeks ago, one commenter to the Game Of Thrones roundtable noted that if Roose Bolton’s vassal Locke is the Six-Fingered Man (and he clearly is), who’s Inigo Montoya? Another gave the obvious answer: Oberyn Martell. While his mantra to the Mountain is not quite “You killed my father, prepare to die,” it’s not far off, and the emotional drumbeat it will provide for their duel should make for a stunning (and ultimately, horrifying) scene. Watch for it in episode eight, “The Mountain and the Viper.”
1. Tyrion and Tywin in the Privy. What a sequence: Jaime tells Tyrion the truth about his first wife, Tysha; Tyrion lies and tells Jaime that, yes, he killed Joffrey; and then up, up, up into the Tower of the Hand for a brief visit with Shae (whose character has been screwed up, but who will presumably still reach her appointed destination) and finally Tywin. I for one can’t wait to hear Charles Dance intone, “Wherever whores go.” The only question is whether they’ll shoehorn this scene into the usual game-changer slot in penultimate episode nine (along with the battle for the Wall), or will save it for episode 10. My bet is on the latter.
That’s it for me. Feel free to share thoughts on these or other scenes you are eagerly anticipating (or anxiously dreading) in comments.
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