Three weeks, two days and 18 hours. This is the approximate amount of time it took me to watch the first 30 episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones. I mention this because it would be a disservice to the experience that is Game of Thrones for anybody to jump into Season 4 without watching all of the previous episodes, so plan your life accordingly. The wealth of the show is in its diverse characters who maintain elements of empathy and gradually develop throughout the series in a way that feels natural and unforced. That’s really the essence of Game of Thrones’ success; it encapsulates this fictional world of dragons and “white walkers” while fixating on human interaction and emotion. If you haven’t seen any of the first 30 episodes, (and by any, I really mean all), watching the fourth season premiere is the last thing you should be doing. Catch up and catch up soon; it will all make sense and your enjoyment of the show will grow exponentially.
For instance, there’s an ongoing joke about Game of Thrones that urges viewers not to have a favorite character because he/she will probably die. The writers are relentless in acknowledging that nobody is indispensable and if Season 3’s “Red Wedding” is any indication of things to come, they are just trying to break your heart. To say “there will be blood” is in an understatement; it’s better stated by the High Valyrian words of valar morghulis, or “all men must die.” Expect a higher death toll.
The new season is geared to pick back up where the last season ended. Bran and Hodor continue to journey deep beyond the wall, Jon Snow is reunited with Sam while Arya dreams of vengeance as she journeys through the land accompanied by Hound. The Wildlings remain on the prowl, Ygritte is still shaken up over Jon Snow’s betrayal of her and the “true” Queen of Westeros, Daenerys, is building a little empire of her own as her dragons are starting to grow and becoming less dependent on their mother.
Another royal wedding nears as Joffrey is set to be wed to Lady Tyrell. Oberyn Martell is out to avenge his sister Elia’s murder while under the Targaryen regime. Everybody’s favorite dysfunctional, sometimes incestuous, family the Lannisters are finally reunited and with a new shift of power comes turmoil. Last, but not least, we can’t forget: Winter is coming.
It would be a crime to not mention the strong female characters that make up the land of Westeros. We’ve seen Daenerys build her army and empire little by little, all the while doing it her way. We’ve seen scrappy Arya break the mold of gender archetypes and kick ass. Until her untimely demise, we watched as Lady Stark commandeered her family in the aftermath of Ned’s beheading. Season 4 looks to continue this tradition of dynamic women doing big things as Cersei has more than a few tricks up her sleeves. Tyrion puts it best in the trailer for the premiere: “Sooner or later, Cersei always gets what she wants.” If captivating stories and rich human emotion is what we, as an audience, want, then Game of Thrones’ Season 4 shouldn’t disappoint.
Premieres 8pm Sun, April 6
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