Season four promises to be the usual mix of violence, sex, elaborate scheming and backstabbing that has become the trademark of Game of Thrones. It sees the return of recurring characters and a few new ones. Prince Oberyn Martell is shown to be from the House of Martell of Dorne (played by Pedro Pascal).
Season three ended with Daenerys Targaryen vowing to free all slaves and acquiring their allegiance. Theon Greyjoy has been tortured sadistically and held captive by Ramsay Snow while Jamie Lannister loses his hand. Robb Stark, Catalyn and Talisa all died in the infamous ‘Red Wedding’, and Westeros is mostly under Lannister control when the fourth season starts. There are two factions still defying them as the War of the Five Kings draws to a close: the Baratheons and the Greyjoys. Daenerys remains aloof from the war as she liberates thousands of slaves in Slaver’s Bay, while her dragons grow in size.
Far north, the Night’s Watch guards the Wall as they face the advancing army of White Walkers, as well as the thousands of wildlings who are fleeing south to avoid becoming an undead. The Night’s Watch must fend off these barbarians and the Wights.
The House of Stark, almost extinct in the eyes of most, lives on in the four remaining Starks; Sansa, kept hostage and forced to marry Tyrion Lannister, Arya, travelling with her captor the ‘Hound’, Bran, chasing a vision beyond the Wall, and Rickon, who seeks the safety of the House Umber.
Joffrey is poisoned and dies and Tyrion is immediately arrested on suspicion for his murder. Despite his denial, all witnesses testify against him and Tyrion demands trial by combat. Tywin starts preparing Tommen Baratheon to be the next king. Prince Oberyn is there to seek his own revenge from the Lannisters, for raping and killing his sister.
The excessive torturing of Theon results in his changed persona; we see him as ‘Reek’, an obedient servant of Ramsay. His father Balon Greyjoy wants nothing to do with him. The next target of Roose Bolton is to kill Bran and Rickon to eliminate any chances of their claiming the right to be king.
All in all, season four of Game of Thrones is as gripping as ever, taking you to another realm where the battle for power wages on all sides. You might need to refresh your memories with a quick look at past seasons and episodes just to be sure you are following the story rightly, what with the seven kingdoms and each having its own set of characters and plot lines that are sometimes parallel and often intertwined. If you haven’t read the books, the show will always keep you tense from the suspense or dread of who might die next. This is a world where the people who show mercy and kindness are the ones to suffer the most horrible fates. Watch the new season for even more politics, plotting and bloodbaths where no one is spared.