Mark your calendars: Winter returns this spring.
HBO has announced the premiere date for "Game of Thrones" season four, returning with the first of 10 new episodes on April 6. But you can get your first look at the new season of "Thrones" as soon as this weekend, as HBO has promised to air the season's first full-length trailer on Sunday (January 12), right before the premiere of "True Detective."
Season three of "Thrones" was based on "A Storm of Swords," the third novel in George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, culminating in the traumatic Red Wedding, which occurs about halfway into Martin's book. Nothing could ever touch the Red Wedding in terms of sheer shock and horror, but the second half of "Storm of Swords" is a crazy ride nonetheless, filled with big moment after big moment after big moment. In other words, if season four sticks to the script and adapts the remainder of "Storm of Swords" faithfully, then there's no reason why the coming year shouldn't be the best season of "Thrones" to date.
With that excitement in mind, here are a few things from "A Storm of Swords" we very much hope to see in the upcoming "Game of Thrones" trailer. Look away now, if mild spoilers from the books aren't your thing.
On the show, Bran Stark and his fellow travelers are finally north of the Wall, well before they get there in the books. There's a sense of urgency to Bran's story on the show that doesn't exist in the books, thanks in large to actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright's rapid growth from young child to young man. It seems likely that writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss want to get Bran to the Three-Eyed Crow as quickly as possible for all sorts of reasons, but I hope they don't gloss over the enigmatic Coldhands, one of the most intriguing characters in Bran's entire story. If Coldhands has a role to play in the coming season, here's hoping the trailer offers at least a minor tease.
2. Battle of Castle Black
Director Neil Marshall returns to "Game of Thrones" this season for the first time since his season two episode, "Blackwater." Most show-watchers who've also read the books agree that Marshall will be at the helm of the Battle of Castle Black, the biggest battle scene this side of the Battle of Blackwater Bay, albeit set in the wintery north of Westeros. Not that we want the entire sequence ruined, but it wouldn't feel right to air a full-length trailer without at least a glimpse of the season-ending slaughter.
3. Joffrey's Wedding
Speaking of slaughter, few characters are as loathed as the Boy-King of Westeros. But even his biggest detractors will find something to love at his upcoming wedding to Lady Margaery Tyrell, set to occur early on in season four. The so-called Purple Wedding isn't as heartbreaking and gut-wrenching as the Red Wedding, no, but it's climactic and massive in its own right, and well worth a tease in the new season's first trailer.
4. Lady Stoneheart
It's hard, borderline impossible, to talk about this one without getting into spoiler territory. But let's give it a whirl, shall we? The wheels are in motion for Lady Stoneheart to appear, even though the show missed an opportunity to set her up even further in the season-three finale. If she doesn't appear in season four, it's reasonable to assume that the show isn't interested in the Stoneheart story. If she does appear in season four, some kind of tease would be a delicious bit of fan-service for folks who've read the books.
5. Oberyn 'The Red Viper' Martell
Of all the season's new players, there is no one more anticipated than the Red Viper of Dorne. He's something of an Inigo Montoya figure, albeit with some of that signature GRRM grit and grime. The Red Viper's scenes with Tyrion will be some of the season's most buzzed-about, but it's his encounter with The Mountain That Rides that will command everybody's attention. We don't want to see too much of that encounter, of course, but a little glimpse would go a long way.
What are you hoping to see from the new "Game of Thrones" trailer?