The Red Wedding occurred almost a year ago, though it feels like the traumatic event happened just yesterday. But in due time, the last stand of the King in the North will feel like a distant memory, as “Game of Thrones” is poised for even more trauma in its upcoming fourth season.
HBO teased up the new season of “Thrones” on Sunday night with an extended behind-the-scenes sneak peek, entitled “Game of Thrones: Ice and Fire: A Foreshadowing.” The 15-minute special introduced some of the new faces and plotlines we’ll see when season four begins; read on for some of the highlights.
“Where Do You Go From There?”
That’s the question put forth by Peter Dinklage, on the topic of the Red Wedding. The epic betrayal and murder of Robb Stark and his fellow northerners was not just the biggest twist of season three, but the biggest twist of “Thrones” to date.
Can the show top itself in season four? The answer is a very big “yes,” according to showrunner David Benioff: “Some of the most shocking and mind-blowing scenes of the series come at the end of this coming season. There are some very bloody confrontations.”
“I know how important the Red Wedding is to so many fans of the books,” added Dinklage. “But we pick up the pieces and top it in many ways.”
The Imperiled Imp
Speaking of Dinklage, his character, the quick-witted Tyrion Lannister, is in for a tumultuous season four. Benioff described the upcoming year as “the most dangerous season for Tyrion. It seems like every episode, he’s in jeopardy of getting his head removed from his shoulders.”
Why is Tyrion in so much danger? That way lies spoilers; suffice it to say, Tyrion finds himself in hot water as season four progresses, providing Dinklage with some of his meatiest material yet.
“Tyrion has never been faced with this much public humiliation. He usually has an answer for it,” said the Emmy-winning actor. “He’s usually center stage and is usually better at it than the people around him. But this time around, he’s left as an audience member.”
Snake in the Grass
Several new characters are set to arrive in season four, but one in particular is positioned for a breakout role: Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorne. The deadly prince arrives at King’s Landing for the wedding of Joffrey Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell — but he has another purpose, as well.
“Oberyn’s feelings for the Lannisters go beyond disdain, and then into hatred,” said Benioff. His co-showrunner, D.B. Weiss, added, “He uses the invitation to the wedding to come and seek out what he really wants, which is vengeance.”
“He’s a deeply passionate person,” said Pedro Pascal, the actor who plays the Red Viper. “He’s also very, very dangerous — but he’s also good.”
Royal Wedding, Round Two
“Game of Thrones” and marriage ceremonies aren’t always the happiest of companions. Perhaps King Joffrey will have better luck than the Starks when he’s married off to Margaery Tyrell in season four. The cast and crew spoke about the grand scale of the sets involved in the Royal Wedding, sometimes referred to in the fan community as the Purple Wedding — read into that as you like.
“It was majestic,” said Jack Gleeson, who plays Joffrey. “It just looked pristine. And that’s what Joffrey likes: something ostentatious and grand.”
But don’t expect the blissful nuptials to change your opinion of the wicked boy king. Indeed, Gleeson wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s fun to play such a hateful and hate-inspiring character,” he said with a smile. “It’s very satisfying. It’s nice to make people hate you.”
The Queen in the East
The current king of the Seven Kingdoms is about as awful as awful gets, but there are other rules in the world of “Game of Thrones” with nobler intentions — like Daenerys Targaryen, one of several parties with an eye on the Iron Throne.
For now, however, Dany’s reign keeps her in Essos, far away from Westeros. After sacking numerous cities and freeing slaves during season three, Dany finds her new rule challenged by the policies of old.
“The cities that Dany previously liberated are beginning to revolt,” said actress Emilia Clarke. “It’s all well and good to go in and cut the tie and seemingly break people free, but if you don’t leave them with any kind of structure, or a commander who shares the same morals and views as the person who liberated them, then it’s a free-for-all.”
The Fire Rises
Dany’s situation is complicated further by the continued growth of her three dragons, born at the end of season one. But in a testament to how fast children grow, the dragons are massive and deadlier than ever as season four roars on.
“When the dragons were first born, they were adorable little babies and completely devoted to their mother. They couldn’t eat without her,” said Benioff. “With each season, they grow, and become a little bit more dangerous. And now they’re at the point where they’re not babies anymore.”
“They’re outgrowing the restrictions she’s placing on them. She’s always feared it,” added Clarke. “For goodness’ sake, they’re dragons: they’ve killed her enemies, so what’s going to stop them from killing anyone? It’s a symbol of her losing control of herself and what she’s doing.”
“Game of Thrones” returns on April 6.