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It was recently revealed that the second season finale of HBO's Game of Thrones will run ten minutes longer than the average episode. The extended runtime is obviously great news but let's not forget that, after the 64 minutes of "Valar Morghulis," it's going to be a long, cold wait for Season 3. Going by the previous two seasons, it's likely to be another nine months before D.B. Weiss and David Benioff's series resumes with "A Storm of Swords." Winter is coming. One consolation, especially for those who have read the George R.R. Martin "Song of Ice and Fire" saga, is that the off-season will be filled with casting rumors and believe it or not, there are still many fan favorites that we've yet to see on-screen.
EW caught up with David Benioff and was able to procure a small list of characters that would definitely be joining the largest ensemble on television come the third year (as well as hinting at a few more surprises). Before getting to the list, it's worth noting that the descriptions given by the article are spoiler-free unless names and family ties are too much of a reveal. Actually, I can't see this list being of much excitement (or at all meaningful) for non-readers except for perhaps the first name. POTENTIAL SPOILERS...
– Mance Rayder: We’ve heard about him all season. A former member of the Night’s Watch who became the “King Beyond the Wall,” the leader of the Wildlings.
Like I said, not that exciting for non-readers - except perhaps for the mention of the King Beyond the Wall - but for those of us who have read the series it's pretty cool to see who they are going to bring on board (and even get the fantasy casting ball rolling). Almost a month ago, the Season 3 casting rumors started flying and all the characters speculated about then are on the list including Shireen Baratheon, The Tullys (Blackfish and Edmure) and Tormund Giantsbane. However, the most interesting names to make the call have to be Jojen and Meera Reed as well as Beric Dondarrion.
The Reeds, without saying too much, should have technically already been introduced but, as Benioff rightly notes, "if you hurl 300 characters at an audience, the story collapses under the weight of too many faces, too many names, and too many subplots." We were definitely introduced to enough fresh faces this season, already bordering on an overload, with the co-creator adding, "we need to be just as mindful of the audience members who have never read the books as we are of the readers." This is a struggle with any adaptation - who to introduce and when - but with Martin's sprawling tomb it's an exceedingly difficult and delicate exercise, so stretching out the story is smart move and the best way to please readers and non alike.
The Beric Dondarrion news is interesting only because we've already seen the Lightning Lord in Season 1 when Ned Stark dispatched him after the Mountain. Of course, the Mountain (Gregor Clegane) was also recast, so this isn't anything new for the series and most people probably didn't even pick up on his brief appearance anyway. Too bad for the actor's contract not being resurrected though, because it's a pretty juicy part. The second season finale, "Valar Morghulis," airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Game of Thrones is based on the “Song of Ice and Fire” saga by George R.R. Martin.