Mon
Feb 25 2013 3:00pm
How Game of Thrones Season 3 Will Split A Storm of Swords

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Last summer it was revealed that the upcoming third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones will only depict the first half of A Storm of Swords, the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Fans of the books could readily see why: a lot happens in A Storm of Swords, even if you don’t count the shocking game-changer that appears about three-fourths of the way through.

Now that the third season premiere is nearing (and we have our first trailer) I sat down with the book to puzzle out what we’ll see and what will wait for Game of Thrones season 4.

Complete spoilers for Game of Thrones and ALL Song of Ice and Fire books ahead. Seriously, turn back now if you want to be at all surprised.

 

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Robb and Catelyn Stark

How Robb's story will be depicted was one of the first items leaked about Game of Thrones season 3. RW is coming, and because it is that means this is Robb Stark’s season to shine. With Renly dead, Stannis defeated, and Balon seemingly content to ravage the north, that leaves the war down to a heads-up between the Starks and Lannisters. That war will be finished by the end of this season, which means Robb will have to be prominent all throughout the season if his decisive actions are to have any dramatic impact.

Why stop there?: It’s been quietly hinted that the climax to Robb’s storyline occurs in episode 7, which is titled “Chains” and is being penned by George R. R. Martin. Although the show typically saves Westeros-related climaxes until episode 9, and it would be weird if this didn't follow suit.

Thematic resonances: This storyline is the spine that many of the other storylines branch out from. Even Daenerys’ serves as a parallel to it.

 

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Daenerys
Daenerys buys a ship and sets sail for Astapor, where she trades her dragon Drogon for the entire Unsullied army, only to then order Drogon to burn the army leaders to a crisp. In the books, she then travels to Yunkai and lays siege to the city until all its slaves are freed. She travels further to Meereen, conquers that city through force of reputation, links up with the Stormcrows, discovers that Jorah Mormont has been spying on her, and that Targaryen-loyalist knight Barristan Selmy has been tailing her. She decides to halt her advance and rule in Meereen.

Why stop there?: It’s possible that we’ll only see Daenerys burn Astapor and take control of the Unsullied this season, although that would result in a small screen presence from Dany in season 3, which seems unwise after her diminished presence in season 2. After posturing for a season, we need to see the Khaleesi actually take what is hers by fire and blood. But since the Stormcrows have been cast, it also seems likely we'll get Dany's full advance to Meereen.

It’s very possible Yunkai will be snipped out of Dany’s storyline and the events there combined with her taking of Meereen. This doesn’t leave her character any Storm of Swords storyline for Game of Thrones season 4, but there’s plenty of material in the latter books that can be moved up and stretched over later seasons of the show.

Thematic resonances: The more movement Daenerys’ storyline has, the better it will align with events in Westeros and events beyond the Wall. If all three stories are moving at the same pace then it will really feel like a song of ice and fire.

 

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Jon Snow, The King Beyond The Wall, Ygritte, and the advancing Wildlings
Jon Snow meets with Mance Rayder, becomes a wildling, and has basically the time of his life with Ygritte as the entire army advances to the Wall. Before the wildlings reach the Wall, Jon Snow defects back to the Night’s Watch and they set up for a protracted battle. The wildlings reach the Wall and begin scaling it, eventually clashing with the Watch. Ygritte is killed and the Night’s Watch is losing, until….

Why stop there?: This one’s a bit up in the air. We’ve seen wildlings scaling the Wall in the trailer, so the battle is definitely met between them and the Night’s Watch, but this storyline might end up as a cliffhanger, with Stannis showing up as the saving throw at the beginning of season 4. Or season 3 might end with Stannis showing up at the Wall and routing the wildlings.

Regardless, Ygritte’s going to die by the end of the season. No one makes a Stark feel good about their choices in life without paying the ultimate price.

Update: I got the wildlings scaling the Wall conflated with their battle with the Night's Watch. See the comments below for clarification! It seems very likely that we'll see them reach the Wall but not the latter battle with Stannis and co.

It could get weirder, though. As of the end of season 2, we have a host of Others and their wights advancing south. We might see the wildlings and Night’s Watch clash, with the Night’s Watch winning on their own but too weakened to take on the Others, setting up a cliffhanger or last second save by Stannis and Melisandre.

Jon might even have to kill a wight Ygritte. Because this knife? It twists so wonderfully.

Thematic resonances: Jon’s breaking of vows aligns perfectly with Robb’s doing of same, and they have parallel outcomes. And, as mentioned before, this storyline is the song of ice to match Daenerys’ song of fire.

It seems likely that Stannis and Melisandre will have some role to play here, since they’re both too engaging to be shut within Dragonstone or shuffled away for a whole season. It’s hard to say what that might be, however.

 

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Jaime and Brienne
The two of them travel through the countryside, dodging danger and dropping boulders on pursuing ships (seriously, that’s one of the first things Brienne does in A Storm of Swords) but are eventually captured by the Brave Companions and taken to Harrenhal. Jaime convinces them to keep Brienne as a prisoner to ransom, but they chop off his sword hand. The Red Wedding occurs and Brienne is kept as sport while Jaime is sent on to King’s Landing. Jaime has possibly his first ever crisis of conscience and returns to rescue Brienne. (While she’s fighting a bear.)

Why stop there?: The rest of Jaime and Brienne’s adventures take place in King’s Landing after the Red Wedding, and have to do with Lannister politicking and Jaime taking on legitimate responsibility. Brienne doesn’t really factor into it, so it makes sense to segment season 3 as their buddy story and season 4 showing how Jaime has changed as a result. Plus, Jaime coming back to rescue Brienne after an entire season of them being awesome—they’re probably the greatest knights in the realm and are intentionally and unintentionally hilarious—is a potent emotional scene to close a season out with.

Thematic resonances: Jaime and Brienne’s journey in A Storm of Swords provides a good deal of backstory in regards to the final days of Targaryen rule, which would serve as excellent commentary on Daenerys’ actions in season 3. In the book, Jaime also relates to Brienne the events of Robert Baratheon’s rise to power and Ned Stark’s unyielding honor, which would further cement Brienne’s admiration of Catelyn and Robb, and remind us how that honor will once again come to devastate the Starks at the Red Wedding.

While it appears that Vargo Hoat, the leader of the Brave Companions, has been cast as Jaime and Brienne's captor, there are rumors that this storyline will also involve the Boltons. Introducing Roose Bolton's torture-happy bastard son Ramsay Snow (rumored to be played by Iwan Rheon, who's character is only listed as “Boy”) is also key to allowing another character to have a presence in season 3.

 

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Tyrion, Sansa, Joffrey, the Tyrells, Tywin, Littlefinger, Cersei, and King’s Landing
Tywin rules as Hand of the King and tells Tyrion that he has shamed the Lannister name for the last time and strips him of his inheritance, but raises him to Master of Coin for the realm. Sansa is grilled by the Tyrells about Joffrey’s true nature and float the notion of her being spirited to Highgarden while Littlefinger works his own angle in regards to getting Sansa out of King’s Landing. Tywin continues to manipulate the players in the war, which includes wedding Sansa to Tyrion in the most awkward way possible.

Why stop there?: Imagine scenes of Tyrion and Sansa’s awful wedding set side by side with scenes from the Red Wedding. YEAH. My heart crumples just typing that. Sansa would be an effective primary viewpoint throughout all of these events, since she is being manipulated by all of the main characters in King’s Landing.

Giving Sansa hope and allies throughout the entirety of season 3, only to have it snatched away by her wedding to Tyrion at the end, seems like exactly the thing Game of Thrones would do. Sansa’s about to disappear from the story for a while, as well, so the showrunners might want to give the actress a more central role before that happens.

Joffrey’s own wedding takes place after the Red Wedding and Tyrion and Sansa’s, and it seems likely that it will kick off season 4, since it would overshadow the shocking events of the Red Wedding. (Plus, it would be one hell of an opener to season 4. God, you’d have to broadcast it in stadiums just to fulfill the worldwide demand to see Joffrey finally get it.) Joffrey’s wedding also kicks off Tyrion’s descent, and it makes more sense to focus on that in season 4, when Cersei, Jaime, and Tywin are all back together.

The Martells of Dorne also don’t really show up until Joffrey’s wedding, and Oberyn doesn’t seem to have been cast in season 3. It makes more sense to have him show up at the beginning of a season, anyhow, since the Martells play a much larger role going forward.

Thematic resonances: If we view the events of King’s Landing through Sansa’s perspective, then we get a much more black and white telling of the events there, which would juxtapose better with Robb’s storyline and the approach of his armies. Rumor is that Ser Dontos’ role in befriending Sansa has been given to Littlefinger, which plays into what we’ll see during Catelyn’s scenes at Riverrun early on in season 3 and gives Littlefinger’s aid to Sansa a creepy, devious tinge.

Sansa’s presence will also prevent viewers from seeing Tywin’s full plan while still presenting every clue from it, making the Red Wedding the surprise for viewers that it was for first-time readers of A Storm of Swords.

The presence of Tywin will hasten Cersei’s long downward spiral and begin Tyrion’s, which will give the two characters more to play against each other and continue their enthralling hate/slightly-less-hate dynamic from season 2, a dynamic that ultimately sets up the events from Joffrey's wedding and onward.

 

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Arya, Sandor Clegane, and the Brotherhood
The end of Arya’s storyline is tied to the Red Wedding, since Clegane takes her there to ransom her back to her family. Naturally, along the way Arya and Clegane run into and then away from Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, and the Brotherhood Without Banners.

Why stop there?: The Red Wedding provides a natural stopping point for Arya in season 3.

Thematic resonances: In the books, Arya and Clegane are well outside the wedding hall, but how much do you want to bet that the show will have Catelyn and Arya see each other just as Catelyn is killed? Hate-fuck, thy name is Game of Thrones.

 

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Stannis, Melisandre, and Davos
This is a weird one. Stannis, Melisandre, and Davos basically spend A Storm of Swords being, respectively, mopey and desperate. Davos lives but gets jailed for plotting against Melisandre and Melisandre wanders around trying to get Stannis to sacrifice Robert Baratheon's bastard son his daughter (corrected, thanks to the commenters below!) although that danger is being passed to Stannis' daughter in the show, to bring the stone dragon in the castle to life. Davos succeeds in spiriting her away and gets Stannis to divert his attention to the battle at the Wall. They’ll probably disappear for a good portion of the season until (maybe?) showing up (surprise surprise!) at the Wall.

Why stop there?: Melisandre, Stannis, and Davos have a pretty natural stopping point. If they do show up at the Wall at the end of the season, they might not even be in the majority of season 3, since their presence at the Wall comes as a surprise. Although this is a good opportunity to manufacture new scenes for Melisandre, whose origins and power remain mysterious.

Thematic resonances: Melisandre is trying so hard to ensure that Stannis has a role to play in the larger struggle for the world, but not much happens in their story otherwise. One wonders if scenes with Melisandre will be paired against scenes with Thoros of Myr, to underscore how the Red Priests' monotheistic religion from Essos is spreading into Westeros.

 

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Samwell
Samwell heads back to Craster’s Keep, the Others nipping at his heels. He discovers that dragonglass (obsidian) melts an Other. He arrives at Craster’s Keep and a rebellion at the Keep results in Craster’s death and Gilly coming with Sam. They are chased back to the Wall but trapped at an abandoned village by wights. Benjen “Coldhands” Stark shows up and rescues them and tells them to go to Nightfort, where they run into Bran.

Why stop there?: Sam and Gilly make it back to the Wall before the Wildling attack in the books, but they don’t have to, and Sam is the only viewpoint we have in the show of the Others and their army. It’s debatable as to whether Coldhands will be included, since he’s not entirely necessary until Bran and company pass through the Wall in later books.

It's debatable as to whether Samwell is even in season 3, as Jon could be given the dragonglass scene and we could keep tabs on the Others army by having the wildlings skirt around the army of Others. The third episode, titled “Walk of Punishment” looks like a reference to Sam, though, since he's basically chased non-stop by the Others while trying to get back to the Wall.

Thematic resonances: Honestly, there’s not much here. Having Sam run into Bran is very sweet, though, since they’re both abandoned characters.

 

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Bran, Rickon, Hodor, the Reeds, and Osha
Bran, Hodor, Rickon, and Osha meet Meera and Jojen Reed and Bran learns about his powers as a skinwalker. As a result, Bran decides to have them make their way to the Wall and go north to find the three-eyed raven. They meet Sam and Gilly at the wall.

Why stop there?: Bran doesn’t get much to do for the next few books and could easily sit out season 4 until his story begins again. He’s been seen in the trailer, and the Reeds have been cast in season 3, so we’re definitely seeing some adventures with Bran and company.

Thematic resonances: Bran learning about his powers would also provide much needed context for the looming supernatural war about to occur between the Others and the rest of the world. He could also provide a contrast to Melisandre’s viewpoint of the same conflict.

 

Game of Thrones season 3 spoilers

Theon and the Greyjoys
(How awesome a band name would that be? Anyhow.) Theon isn’t even in the next few books, but considering how engaging actor Alfie Allen was as the character in season 2, it’s hard to imagine the showrunners having him sit out the next couple years. Will we see Theon be turned to Reek? Will we see him react to the Red Wedding? We never saw this happen in the books, leaving it open for the show to interpret.

The only clue we’ve been given so far is a hooded figure in the trailer, seen above.

There’s also a lot of offscreen intrigue to be found by following Balon Greyjoy’s abruptly negated claim as King of the Iron Islands, which would bring in the larger Greyjoy family, all of whom have roles to play in the ensuing seasons. This is something that could easily be kept until season 4, however.

Why stop there?: Why start there?

Thematic resonances: Theon’s redemption arc in the latest Song of Ice and Fire book was one of the more interesting threads to follow, and gives us the first taste of what may happen to others that have wronged the Starks. When the show is seen as a larger whole, Theon’s scenes could serve as a grateful reminder that these threads will come back together at some point.

 

All of this is speculation based on my read of the book, leaked and official photos and news for season 3, and my own sense of what would be more “dramatically fitting” to have in season 3 as opposed to season 4. It doesn’t take into account how much the show will change the events of the book, or how much from future books that it may show in this season!

But we’ve got a framework here. Only a few weeks left until we see how it all plays out!


Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com and almost split this post in two, but decided you couldn’t wait another year or five for the next half.

48 comments
Scott Silver
1. hihosilver28
Interesting assessment. I personally think the season will end sooner in many of the storylines than you think it will. Personally I don't think the battle at the wall will end this season, but rather will start the next one. But I could definitely be wrong on that. Two things though: Melisandre wanted Stannis to burn his nephew (Robert's bastard) for "King's Blood" not his son. Stannis only has a daughter in the books and the show. The other is that we don't know that Coldhands is Benjen. It's the Occam's Razor explanation, but we don't absolutely know that it is Benjen.
Nymeria
2. Nymeria
I am skeptical of the RW showing up as early as episode 7. For one, David & Dan have been looking forward to getting to the RW since they started developing the series...no way to they hand that episode off to anybody -- not even Martin. For another, in the past major events (Ned's execution, Blackwater) have happened in episode 9, leaving the finale for fallout and setup. And lastly, the RW happens past the halfway point in ASoS, and given that it's a major plot point around which many other events pivot, I would expect it to happen quite late in the season.
Nymeria
3. schmeis
I think you (or I) may be a bit confused. There are two battles at the Wall. One at Castle Black where Ygritte dies and then a later one where on the North side of the Wall where Stannis shows up and saves the day. I suspect the first one will be where season 3 ends and the other much bigger battle will close out season 4.
Nymeria
4. BerricDondarrion23
The wildlings scaling the wall is when Jon and Ygritte pass beyond the wall to try and sneak up on Castle Black from behind, not the battle at the wall. There is way too little left for season 4 if they cut off everything where this article is suggesting they will...very misleading title, should be "Where we THINK they will split Storm of Swords".
Nymeria
5. Nep Furrow
Personally, I think Joffrey's wedding needs to occur in season 3 not season 4. Otherwise, there is no climax to all the Kings Landing storylines.

For Jon it make sense to end the season with Ygritte's death. Season 4 can then focus on his defense of the wall and election as Lord Commander.

Not sure why you think Sam could be excluded. He's are view into the Night's Watch while Jon is with the Wilding. The Others attack on the Fist of the First Men, the NW's retreat, and the mutiny at Craster's are some of the best scenes in the book.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
I can think of several people who will quit watching when Robb bites it if they don't see Joffrey go too.

I think after this season, the seasons are going to have to blend from the books better. If we go a whole season without checking in on Dany, Bran, and Tyrion, I'll be pissed. So I think this will be the last season with moments drawn specifically from one book and I think this one will have all of the weddings, and the next season will blend with the rest of Book 3 into Book 4. Then Season 5 will blend Book 4 and Book 5.
Nymeria
7. Kallistrate
Just a minor correction: Melisandre wanted Stannis to sacrifice Robert's son in the book, not his own. Stannis has always had a daughter.
Nymeria
8. Darth_Katie
"No one makes a Stark feel good about their choices in life without paying the ultimate price."

Heh.
Chris Lough
9. TorChris
Thanks for the corrections, all. They've been added to the post. Putting this all together was like cramming for an exam. I knew I was gonna space on something.

@2. Nymeria. The episode 7 speculation was based on this MTV article, which is now linked in this article above. I agree that probably the Red Wedding will take place in episode 9.

@3. schemis. You're totally right. I accidentally merged the two while writing out my notes for this piece. That's been corrected. (And I agree with you. Castle Black this season = yes. Stannis = no.)

@6. Aeryl. Figuring out how Feast and Dance would be depicted on TV was actually the original inspiration for this article! I agree with you, too, that a lot of blending will have to occur in the latter seasons. I wouldn't be surprised to see Winds of Winter material in season 5 or 6, actually.
Jennifer McBride
10. vegetathalas
I suspect they'll stretch out Davos's attempt to kill Melisandre for a few episodes. Then, he'll be freed and made King's hand at the end of season 1, leaving season 2 for intrigue.
Rob Munnelly
11. RobMRobM
Interesting piece - disagree on a couple of points (I could come up with some differences on all of them but I'll stick with just the few below):

Re Dany - it should be Astapor and Yunkai this season and the taking of Mereen and early ruling issues in Season 4. Plenty of room for cool things to happen this year (arrival of Whitebeard; ship to Astapor with bigger dragons; Jorah emo fun and anger at Whitebeard; negotiations with slave trader and Missandei; big Astapor finale). NOTE - Stormcrows show up before Yunkai, not before Mereen, so no chance Mereen will be here this season.

Re Jon - will end at the Castle Black backside battle and Ygritte dying. Wall climbing happens long before Castle Black battle. Season 4 can focus on undermanned NW preparing for battle and then having it.

Re Bran - he actually has a fair amount to do this year. Hardship traveling north; meet up with the Reeds; lots of Yoda like pronouncements from Jojen; Queenscrown; meet up with Summer and Jon; split off of Rickon and Osha (which could end the season).

Re KL - I'd love to see Joff wedding and Sansa taking off to end the season but I can't see them getting so far. Reaction to RW more likely will end the season.
Chris Nelly
12. Aeryl
Like I said, I think they really run a risk doing RW without doing PW. Ned, while noble, didn't have time to grow on fans like Robb has. And fans have been waiting for Joff to get his since he attacked Mycah. If they can't do the PW, they have to at least show something that hints that Joff might get it.
Nymeria
13. KingofFlames
Sure, Jon has 'the time of his life'. Not like he has worries like makng the slightest wrong move will result in his execution, or has concerns about the massed army of wildlings descending on his colleagues, or even how his defection might get Ygritte killed or anything. Or he's upset about having had to kill his mentor.
Joseph Armao
14. joeyesq
Great speculation, some of it likely to prove spot on. The only monkeywrenches I see that make this stuff hard to predict are whatever time they decide to devote to stuff that's not from the source material at all, and also, whatever time (possibly none) they devote to important stuff they left out of Seasons 1 and 2. GRRM even said it, they're going to have to get to Rheagar and Lyanna eventually...
Eli Bishop
15. EliBishop
@9 TorChris: I still don't see anything in that MTV article that even "quietly hints" that the scene will be in episode 7. Martin does say that it will make viewers mad at him, but that doesn't mean it's in the episode he's writing; viewers are presumably aware that he wrote the books the show is based on.
Chris Nelly
16. Aeryl
Well, there really isn't much speculation in the books that Lyanna and Rhaegar were consensual until Jojen tells the story of the Knight of the Laughing Tree, which isn't til this book anyway, so I don't think they are avoiding it. Until that story all you had about that was Robert's assertion that Rhaegar was a raping bastard, and that Ned supported Robert's ascension to the throne over Rhaegar. People tend to believe that Ned must've believed that about Rhaegar as well, but knowing GRRM, it's not so cut and dry as that.
Nymeria
17. Jeff R.
I'd really try to see all three weddings in the season, honestly. It would give the entire thing a certain thematic unity. (Particularly if we're still pretending that HBO doesn't have the show on auto-renew.)

I'm also pretty sure that a lot of Feast is going to make it in to Season 4, and maybe some of Dance along with it. Tyrion and Cersei are probably the only characters who won't get out of Storm well before the end of that season.
Nymeria
18. manuelca
I also believe that Arya will meet Catelyn's eye during the RW, just before her throat get slashed.
If the RW happens on episode 7, surely the season will end with JB's wedding.
Bill Stusser
19. billiam
From what I've read, episode 7 (the one written by GRRM) will be the gold wedding (Sansa and Tyrion) and the red wedding will be in episode 9. No purple wedding for season 3.

I don't think season 3 is going to get as far as you think with some of these guesses. Also, I hate the idea of Jon being the one to kill an other with the dragonglass, that has got to be Sam. I like the idea of Arya seeing Cat as she dies but not sure how that could possibly happen.

Agree that a lot of AFfC and ADwD will be merged together and some of it might end up in season 4 , like possibly the kingsmoot.

edit for spelling
Nymeria
20. veronicacrank
The RW does indeed occur in episode 9. Winteriscoming.net did a Q&A a few months ago and confirmed that it would be episode 9. This shouldn't be surprising since the climax of the last 2 seasons, Ned parting with his head and Blackwater, have come in episode 9 and episode 10 has been a wind up of the season and a launching pad for the next.

And the PW will be in season 4. The Martells are a large part of the story to come and with their ommission in season 3, and since they arrive BEFORE the PW, it has to be season 4. Also, it wouldn't do well to stack those deaths one on top of another. Everyone is going to be so devestated about the RW. The show needs to let the audience greive for their loss before they elate them with another one.

My best guess for the end of season 3 will be Dany laying siege to Mereen, the Wildings attacking the wall (and Ygritte's death), not knowing what has happened to Arya, Lady Stonehart (that has to happen at the end of season 3, preferrably the last shot, because people already do not care for Catelyn and will honestly forget her if she doesn't show up for another year) and Tyrion and Sansa's wedding.
Nymeria
21. zambi76
If they can't do the PW, they have to at least show something that hints that Joff might get it.

Which isn't hard. All we need is a scene with Marg and Olenna talking about "operation purple wedding".

Or as Varys puts it in the trailer: "The revenge you want, will be yours in time."
Maitrey Deshpande
22. LittleWolf
"Coldhands" almost definitely is not Benjen.

I can't remember who exactly, but one of the Children of the Forest tells Bran that Coldhands "Died long ago", or "Was killed long ago". (And the Children are either immortal or incredibly long-lived, they wouldn't call Benjen's recent death/Other-ification/Coldhand-ification long ago.)

I think the prevailing theory, and one I endorse is that Coldhands was one of those first Lord Commanders of the Night's Watch who sacrificed to the Others and even married one. He's most likely repaying a debt to the Children/Greenseers.
Chris Nelly
23. Aeryl
@21, See I hear him saying that, and I'm thinking of Varys speaking to Tyrion. Tyrion doesn't really get on the hate train until after the PW.

The could just do a lingering shot of Sansa's hairnet after its stressed to her she must wear it to the wedding, but it's been so long since we've seen the Tears of Lys used(when Maester Cressen tried to poison Melisandre in the S2 opener) that I don't think people will make the connection.
Constance Sublette
24. Zorra
... giving Littlefinger’s aid to Sansa a creepy, devious tinge.
But Littlefinger's aid to Sansa is motivated by deviousness and creepiness to the max!

The most headachy obstacle that has to be overcome in scripting the seasons is the actors' contracts. In the UK and -- if I've got this right, and I know very little of these matters -- in other European countries, television actors' contracts are for 3, or sometimes 4 years, in duration. In the U.S. those contracts can be for 6, or for 7 years.

Having a contracted actor for a primary or recurring role in a series (that's why certain important roles in series, which don't appear in every episode, are billed as Special Guest So-and-So -- like Shirley MacLain in Downton -- or Featuring So-and-So), and then not using that actor for an entire series, is not only extraordinarily expensive, but might be, depending on the clout of the actor's agency and management teams, not even allowed.

But then, to emphasize, I know little about these matters. Perhaps someone who knows more can fill us in?
Nymeria
25. Wongchi
@ 24

flashbacks? Like in Bran's story?
Nymeria
26. Wongchi
For the actors that die in flashbacks, my connection cut off unexpectedly and messed up my reply, so they can do other projects and GOT. I know the actor who plays Robb dies this season and he's also on a show on NBC at the same time who's getting a larger role.
Rob Munnelly
27. RobMRobM
As noted on the Web, the titles for 8 of the 10 episodes have been announced. The ep 10 will be Mhysa, thereby confirming that S 3 will include the Astapor dragon fest and the conquering of Yunkai (as the freed slaves come out of the City and refer to Dany as Mhysa - meaning "Mother" in Giscari). Mereen will be next season.

Given GoT's tendency to pack multiple meanings into a title, I'd expect to see Ep. 10 include Arya/Nymeria saving Cat's body from the river and Lady Stoneheart make her first shocking appearance; something interesting happen with Cersei (some type of pre-Joff wedding confrontation?); and perhaps even some good Stannis' wife issue with their daughter (who will be appearing this season).

For the same reason, the mid-season "Kissed by Fire" episode not only will include the full-on Jon Snow-Ygritte romance but, likely, the Astapor dragon scene as well - Kissed by Fire indeed.
Nathan Martin
28. lerris
@12 : Like I said, I think they really run a risk doing RW without doing PW. Ned, while noble, didn't have time to grow on fans like Robb has. And fans have been waiting for Joff to get his since he attacked Mycah. If they can't do the PW, they have to at least show something that hints that Joff might get it.
A reminder from today's reread: Stannis' casting the leeches onto the fire and reciting the names of the usurpers Joffrey, Robb, and Balon could serve this purpose well, particularly if Balon's death is either shown, or if Stannis is shown reflecting on the deaths of two of three usurpers before the end of the season.
Nymeria
29. ashlry
New trailer showed asha/yara so you were definitely right about showing more of the greyjoys,which i'm happy about because I like the greyjoys
Dave West
31. Jhirrad
Some interesting information just came out, which if you know how to read it, gives some answers.

http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/game-of-thrones/24679/charles-dance-accidentally-confirms-game-of-thrones-season-4

Charles Dance plays Tywin Lannister in the series. If he's right in this, which I have no reason to believe he isn't, that means that HE is in S4, which means that at the very least, Tyrion will not be killing his father this season.
Chris Nelly
32. Aeryl
Wel, Oberyn has yet to be cast, so that kinda puts Joff's wedding out of play for this season.
Nymeria
33. Margaret Garside
Jhirrad just dropped a MAJOR spoiler! Remember, some viewers haven't read the books (although it seems the posters on this thread have). It's a scene I'm looking forward to.

I'm not going to worry too much about what does or doesn't happen this season. So far the show hasn't disappointed me at all. I'm sure everything that needs to be told will be, but we must be patient.

My mother, who hasn't read the books, is particularly eager to see Joffrey get it.
Nymeria
34. Kip
I think most viewers haven't read the books, I didn't at least. I actually didn't know that the story comes from a series of books until after finishing season 1 (oops). But man, I love it so much, can't wait until the 31st when GoT3 will air!!
Nymeria
35. Scottttt
I didn't read every comment. But I want to comment on what you said about Catelyn seeing Arya before she dies. I think it would be a horrible idea only because Catelyn believing Arya is dead is a huge plot point in Book 4 (Especially with Brienne's story and what happens to her. Stoneheart.
Nymeria
36. Margaret Garside
This week's Entertainment Weekly does confirm that the Tully/Frey wedding will be the social highlight of the season. We all know what that means on this show.
Nymeria
37. the red viper
prince oberyn has been cast they will show him coming to kings landing i hope they show alot of the red viper cuz he is awesome in the book his fight with the mountain that rides will be epic but will not come until season 4... damn
Chris Nelly
38. Aeryl
As who, cuz I've been looking and all I've seen is dreamcasting(Oded Fehr, PERFECT!!!)
Nymeria
39. tears_of_lys
In the UK, A Storm of Swords is split into 2 books anyway...could've saved yourself the time spent writing this article! :)
Nymeria
40. Varamyr Fourskins
Good predictions for how the season is going to be set up. I don't think you can really say at this point that Benjen is Coldhands. Most evidence definitely points towards the Night's King who was the 7th Lord Commander. But i think 'LittleWolf' covered that theory already
Nymeria
41. Varamyr Fourskins
13th*
Nymeria
47. Brad C.
*This reply contains spoilers!*

As a bit of backstory before making my point or giving my opinion, I am someone that unfortunately never read the books before stumbling on the TV series Game of Thrones. For me this is typically a good thing as I normally prefer to watch a movie or television series first before reading its counterpart. Why you ask?

Typically I prefer books to movies/tv for obvious reasons: one being that the book is almost always better. I also find in nice sometimes to put faces with the characters as a lot of novels often don't go to length in describing what each character looks like.

When I discovered the HBO series, I was immediately blown away by it. Quite frankly it may have been one of my favorite stories of all time. Notice I said "may have been".

The problem I am realizing with Game of Thrones or rather the Song of Ice and Fire series is that I find it next to impossible to route for anyone other than Robb Stark. There are so many characters in this series that you love to hate, yet so few that you empathize with or are encouraged by. Robb Stark was that one character I found I could get behind.

Is he the best strategist? Not really. However, he's that just and charismatic character you get behind in this type of story, much for the same reasons you would imagine men choose to follow him.

Sadly, we find out that George R. R. Martin kills Robb off at the 'Red Wedding'. With all due respect Mr. Martin, while this is great for 'shock value', unfortunately it leaves fans of you show with no one left to root for or follow. Now all fans of the series are left with is the same tragic story we’ve had since the beginning with no hope left to encourage fans like me to continue to watch or read your series.

If all I want is depressing, then I all need do is tune in to the latest current events on the evening’s world news.

It is a shame Mr. Martin chose to shamelessly kill off the one good thing this series had going for it. For this fan, there is no longer a protagonist. I couldn’t care less about anyone left, aside from perhaps
Daenerys and even then I can’t be bothered (to care).

Without question, this may have been the greatest story of all time, and for me may have even surpassed The Lord of the Rings. However, it now has fallen far short of that and for me has become just another story alongside the many in the ‘better than your average’ group. For me it no longer has that ‘EPIC’ feel.
Chris Nelly
48. Aeryl
@47, Really? You can't get behind Jon, Bran or Arya as protagonists, heroes you can get behind? I love the fact that an illegitimate bastard, a cripple and a young girl are poised as the people to save the realm, which is so much better than the tired standard trope of handsome eldest son of our wronged hero.
Nymeria
49. AngieTH
I agree with Aeryl's #48 comment. The underdog theme is important in this series. Arya becomes even more of a little badass as the series evolves, Dany bides her time as a queen and Jon changes the way an ancient institution functions while the Lannisters falter in major ways. Also, Jaime Lannister becomes a more sympathetic character if you're still looking for heroes/protagonists. And in terms of beyond-the-wall action, even in the last book Coldhands is mentioned in, we still don't know for sure he's Benjen Stark. I'm anxious to see if he'll make his appearance to Sam in the last couple episodes left on HBO.
Nymeria
51. Brad C.
@48 - Well, I could get behind Jon, Bran or Arya. However, not having read the books myself for the reasons I mention in my post and having heard certain spoilers, I'm not sure if that is possible either ;)

As the saying goes, nobody is safe in Game of Thrones!
Nymeria
52. Abel Julio
QUOTE: "Sadly, we find out that George R. R. Martin kills Robb off at the 'Red Wedding'. With all due respect Mr. Martin, while this is great for 'shock value', unfortunately it leaves fans of you show with no one left to root for or follow. Now all fans of the series are left with is the same tragic story we’ve had since the beginning with no hope left to encourage fans like me to continue to watch or read your series." AGREED SIR ! Following the books was not a great idea... This is TV .. They will loose audience after the 1st episode of the 4th season if they don't fix it somehow( it's looks impossible, Robb lost a huge part of his army, Arya is too young, Bran is nowhere close to the fight with Tywin...Geez the north lost before it could really fight, I must say I admire this great mind of Tywin)
Nymeria
53. chez rose
@48 - completely agree

@51 - Jon, Bran & Arya are all alive as of the end of Dance of Dragons and have huge roles in the series. Robb was NEVER our protagonist of the show/books - Jon is the main male character of the whole lot, Dany the female main character - I'm not going to spoil anything for you but these are our two big heroes, but the other great characters are - Tyrion, Arya, Bran, and even Jamie get really good
Nymeria
54. WillyWonkaKills
Um, why do you think Benjen is coldhands? Remember, "They killed him long ago,".... not 6 months ago... Coldhands is not likely Benjen unless the children of the forest are liars or pranksters...
awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Coldhands/Theories
Nymeria
55. LJH
Wow. You think the RW and Robbs death ends the story. OMW. I just started book 3 and can't wait to get to Joffrey's wedding. The dragon saga is pretty captivating. Maybe I'm weird but I can't believe how young these characters are to be doing all this. HBO does a terrific job with their programming. I have the season 1&2 videos and will be getting all the rest of them. I can't wait to see how the play this out.
Who said no one liked Cat? I sure did. Sorry to see her die. I want to go stick a sword in Waldor Frey myself. Oh would that I could...

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