Mystical ice creatures, fire-breathing dragons, and the people caught in between return when the Emmy Award-winning drama series Game of Thrones unsheathes its fourth season tonight on M-Net, channel 101, at 9.30pm, with an exciting opener that lays the groundwork for drama and intrigue to come in the world of Westeros.
But before all of you get comfortable in your seats, take a look at our list of four things you need to know before you watch the season four premiere.
- More people are getting killed off in the show than in the books: Those of you who are avid book readers of the TV series, if you thought you knew it all, and could foresee what’s going to happen this season – you are dead wrong. Most of you might be pleasantly surprised.
- The character of Daario has been recast: Remember that handsome guy who played Daenerys’s protector in season three? Well, looks like the series has made an upgrade to an even more dashing fellow – Michiel Huisman. Some of you may recognise him from his role as producer Liam McGinnis on Nashville.
- Arya and the Hound are the new Jaime and Brienne: Some of you might be thinking Arya Princess Of Winterfell needs to catch some kind of a break. I mean, it’s just been bad all around. Well, there might be one coming as she’ll now be travelling with her sworn enemy turned “friend” – the Hound.
- There is a new prince on the block: He’s a new face in Season 4. Prince Oberyn Martell will be played by Pedro Pascal (Graceland). Prince Oberyn is the brother of Prince Doran and is known as the Red Viper of Dorne. Not a bad name for someone making their first appearance.
We’re scared already! In the first episode of Season 4 we should find out what his agenda is. Wink wink!
Here are a few things to expect this season:
Daenerys’s Dragons Are Taking Over
The youngest characters of Game of Thrones are growing up – unfortunately for Daenerys, that means the dragons too. Emilia Clarke chatted about the upcoming season and revealed that her character doesn’t quite have the same control over her “babies” as she used to. Are fiery times ahead?
Up until now, Daenerys Targaryan’s dragons have been an outright competitive advantage in her quest to liberate Meereen and eventually seize the Iron Throne. They burned Pyat Pree in the House of the Undying, they turned Kraznys into overcooked barbecue in the Season 3 – pretty much any time anyone’s given Daenerys a hard time she’s set her dragons on them. But heading into Season 4, those cute little fire-breathers are growing up – and Daenerys doesn’t quite have as much control over them as she used to.
Emilia explained how things will be changing in the new season for her and her scaly brood.
“They’re getting bigger and it’s simple logistics,” Emilia said, explaining why Daenerys’s authority as a mother is slumping. And she’s definitely right about the dragons growing – the Season 4 premiere enforces that these things aren’t just slightly dangerous cute pets, they’re fire-breathing monsters. And they don’t bow down to anyone. (That’s one mini spoiler we’ll give you.)
“They’re harder to maintain,” Emilia continued. “They’re harder to keep fed. They’re like rowdy teenagers – that’s the best way to describe them. They have a mind of their own and they breathe fire, so (Daenerys has to) kind of fire-proof the world.”
That also means that Daenerys is going to have to find away to fire-proof herself. Okay, we know that she’s a Targaryan who can’t be hurt by fire, but if she loses control of her dragons, she’ll lose everything. Think back to Season 1, before Daenerys hatched those bad boys on Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre — she was not in a good place.
So is fiery chaos on the cards for Daenerys this season? Watch her try to keep her “babies” on their leashes as she continues her quest to liberate and conquer Westeros.
Arya is out for revenge!
In previous seasons of Game of Thrones, it’s been easy to consider Arya Stark a favourite character on the show. She’s got spunk, she’s got backbone, and she isn’t afraid to speak her mind or pick up a sword to defend her family.
But something changed in Arya in Season 3. After she saw the Starks being slaughtered at the Twins and realised her mother and brother had been betrayed by Walder Frey and murdered, she closed off. She murdered Frey’s soldiers in cold blood in the Season 3 finale – a move which shocked even her travelling companion, the Hound.
In Season 4, that darkness in Arya continues to grow. According to the actress who portrays her, Maisie Williams, Arya is “spiralling” after the events of Season 3, and her arc won’t have happy results.
“She gets herself into a lot of sticky situations, but they’re really good situations for her. Old Arya would be nervous about it and wouldn’t push things as far as new Arya pushes them,” Maisie said.
She doesn’t keep her mouth shut. She says a lot of things that old Arya wouldn’t. You thought Arya was kind of outgoing and blunt, but the new Arya is just a lot less aware of that, almost, and isn’t trying to be cheeky; (she) just purely doesn’t care. I think that’s the one thing to take away from Arya this year: She feels nothing. She’s not happy, she’s not sad, she’s not grieving, she’s not vengeful. She’s just nothing.”
She’s also given up on trying to reunite with her family. One of Arya’s main goals after she escaped King’s Landing following the death of her father, Ned Stark, was to find Catelyn and Robb, or make it to the Wall with her half-brother Jon Snow. But she’s done looking out for the rest of her family.
“She’s completely given up on (reuniting with her family), and it almost feels like they’ve given up on her because she’s like, where were they?” Maisie says. “She’s angry. She feels like she’s the only one who’s been trying. Where’s the search party looking out for her? Why did no one recognise her?
She’s angry at the fact that she’s trying so hard and she can’t see any of it coming back.
“Where’s Jon? Why has he not come back? And obviously no one knows (where she is), and there’s reasons for that, but in her head (she’s thinking) ‘You’re all being really, really selfish and I’m the only one, so now I’ve given up.
“‘Good luck, have fun, hope you don’t die’. That’s literally it. And she’s like, I won’t. I know I can do this, because look how far I’ve come already without you guys. Whereas you, I don’t know you anymore. I tried to help you. I tried to get back with you, but (shrugs).”
That mindset might come as a shock to fans who considered Arya one of the characters on Game of Thrones they could continually root for. But Maisie wants people to start seeing Arya for who she really is in Season 4.
“I don’t want people to like her anymore, almost. That sounds really, really bad,” Maisie admits. “I want people to realise that actually she’s not the same any more. You can’t root for her forever, because she’s not there to be your favourite character. That’s not what she’s there for. She’s real.
“People go down bad paths and they make bad decisions, but it’s always justified in their head. I want the audience to differentiate that and not just be like, ‘Oh, it’s Arya, we love her’. Because actually look at what Arya’s doing. She’s being eaten away from the inside out, and she’s not stopping it.”
So could Arya one day become a villainous character on Game of Thrones? Maisie thinks so.
“I think she is done,” Maisie says. “I’m so fed up of red carpets and being like, ‘So this year Arya’s trying to get back home. Oh, we start to see this change in Arya where actually she’s more determined to get home’. I’m so done. I’m so fed up. Maisie as well.