The Red Viper in Game of Thrones

In a 15-minute preview special aired last night, HBO pulled back the curtain on the highly anticipated fourth season of Game of Thrones. And with it, we return to our wall-to-wall weekly coverage of everything happening in the land of Westeros. Yes, Blog of Thrones has returned and so has all the death and destruction we’ve come to expect as clans clash for that big, beautiful Iron Throne.

This new featurette goes well beyond the season four trailer, exploring some of the sets and themes that will light up the screen when the show comes back on April 6. As Peter Dinklage explains, it’s time to “pick up the pieces and top” what has come before. In picking apart the new preview, I’ve found five promises that Game of Thrones has made to its audience this year. Will they come through on these promises? So far their track record is pretty solid.

1. New faces will electrify

I’ve made it no secret, as a reader of the books, that my favorite character from A Storm of Swords is Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorne. Pedro Pascal is seen in the preview promising the payment of debts upon the Lannisters. As Masie Williams explains later in the preview, “the good guys are coming back.” It’s no spoilers that Martell is a good guy. Anyone who hates Lannisters and has a nickname like “The Red Viper” can’t possibly be bad for the business of revenge in Westeros. To his credit, Pascal has already shown in small doses (in trailers and the like) that he brings the fiery intensity we should expect from Oberyn. It will be fun to watch him match wits with the well-fortified Lannisters in King’s Landing.

2. There will be more “squiffy” Joffrey and Tyrion moments

Joffrey is still a complete and utter dick, even to his f– uncle Jaime. In fact, it will likely be the return of the handsome, one-handed Lannister to King’s Landing that will throw the entire Lion-crested clan toward internal chaos. Joffrey’s power stands to be solidified by his wedding, Grandpa Tywin will fight hard for control, Tyrion will be on the defensive as he’s not exactly the King’s best friend and Cersei will be town between her otherwise level-headed and much changed loverbrother and her batshit crazy son. King’s Landing is where the party is at this season, that much is certain.

3. The environments will be impressive

The preview shows us a number of shots from the big wedding of season four, that of Joffrey (Jack Gleason) and Margaery (Natalie Dormer). In fact, as the show’s popularity has grown, so goes the cash flow. The sets shown in this preview are bigger and more impressive than anything we’ve seen in the previous three seasons.

4. Dragons. No really, Dragons!

Let’s not pretend like you didn’t skip over my write-up and first watch the preview. And I won’t lie to myself to think that you didn’t rewind the last few seconds of the preview several times to see that sweet, delicious dragon shot. Notice in that shot the size of Dany’s baby. He’s no longer sitting on the couch next to her having to be fed by the hand of his master. He’s a big boy now. Even Butters would be impressed by that shot alone.

5. Season 4 isn’t building to one event

Season one built steadily toward the death of Ned Stark, an event that served as catalyst for every major event in the following seasons. Season two culminated in the siege of King’s Landing and the Battle of Blackwater, one of the most explosive moments the series has delivered thus far (and our best Tyrion speech to date). Season three got painful as it climaxed with The Red Wedding, much to the shock of even those who knew it was coming. What big event will be the headlining “Episode 9″ moment of season four? There won’t be one, according to the show’s producers. Rather, season four isn’t a journey toward one big events. It’s a dark and violent road littered with big events along the way. It’s been a while since I’ve re-read A Storm of Swords, but I do recall the back end of that book being absolutely crazy. Upon picking the book up off the floor and repairing the dent in the wall that was caused by me hurling it 30-feet while reading The Red Wedding chapters, I remember not being able to put it back down. The dominoes begin to fall, and do so in a fast and ferocious manner. The show appears to be willing to follow suit. It should all make for a wicked ride, only some of which will make you very sad.

For those silly enough to read my words instead of skipping ahead, here is the full 15-minute season four preview:

What is most interesting about this preview is that it seems to only scratch the surface. We see many of the actors, but get little story updates beyond Tyrion’s continued troubles and Arya’s affection for “nothing.” We don’t get much of an update on Bran, Theon or his sister, Roose Bolton and what’s happening in the North and the Wildlings. As much as this preview promises “Foreshadowing,” there’s so much more to discover. It’s promises are great, but I’m inclined to take them at their word at this point.

Image courtesy of HBO

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