BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD: Everything beyond this point includes spoilers from George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels.

”A Song of Ice and Fire” Speculation
All the smug bastards (our last name would be ‘Readers’) that have finished all five of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels don’t want simple recaps of the Game of Thrones’ Season 4 episodes, they want to talk about how Benioff and Weiss have adapted the source material for the small-screen as well as the future of the HBO fantasy. On that note, I should also say that I’ve only read the series once (okay, some extended sections twice) so go easy on me if I screw up and/or if there’s something I fail to mention. Now. Winter is coming. And, if it wasn’t clear by now, so are SPOILERS. Final warning…

The first thing I noticed about "The Lion and the Rose" was the amount of power Weiss and Benioff seem to have given Ramsay's huntress, Myranda. I stick by my prediction that she'll soon be on the receiving end but it's still weird to see someone not afraid of the Bastard of Bolton except for his father. The whole Theon thread is different from the books with Game of Thrones forced to deal with the events as they happen and not just catch up with the Greyjoy heir after his transformation. I may be the only one liking this but the other way relies too heavily on the book format and this is an elegant solution.

Alfie Allen is quite good as well and the razor scene was a brilliant addition to demonstrate the power dynamic at the Dreadfort. Oh, and how great was Ramsay's, "who the fuck is Jon Snow?" They will get to know each other. The show also has Locke tasked with hunting down the Stark boys and I wonder if that leads him to the Wall? My guess is he runs into the Brotherhood. Or he is the show's way of keeping tabs on Osha and Rickon. He's not finding Bran, that's for certain. Bran's vision was also really interesting and I'm sure fodder for more reader speculation. Just what the internet needs, more theories! Says the guys writing a speculation column.

Bran's ability to tap into the tree and speak with the three-eyed-crow, who looked rad with his giant white roots, allowed The Bloodraven to show us many things, from himself as three-eyed-crow to images of Dany's dragons flying over what seemed to be King's Landing. I thought the decaying horse and white-walker shown through the shattering ice was a reference to Coldhands but who knows with such quick flashes. It's all up for interpretation.The horse looked like the same one the white walker Sam saw was riding and Coldhands rode the elk but I'm still optimistic we will see the guide. I mean, if we aren't getting Coldhands, who the hell is this guy? Do you think the child in the forest was, you know, a child of the forest or the wight girl we saw in the first season? Basically, is Bran downloading new or old information from the weirwood network? Hodor.

As for the Shae business, Game of Thrones has done a wonderful job really fleshing out her character and the complex relationship she has with Tyrion. She feels less like a purchased pawn in this scenario. They've set up their love and her jealousy of his obligations to Sansa which is enough to make her skip her Lion's ship to Pentos. Just wait till the courtroom hears her call him her Lion of Lannister. And, of course, a ship bound for Pentos is exactly what Tyrion will be boarding once this is all said and done. The dwarf show was not only incredible for creating drama in "The Lion and the Rose" but it also is foreshadowing his future as a featured player in the Free Cities.

Poor Tyrion, all he was trying to do was protect Shae, what was he supposed to do after she repeatedly refused to leave the city. An invitation to the Tower of the Hand, on the other, uh, hand, is a different story. Tywin is one of the nastiest characters in the series but you have to admire his cunning and strength. And Olenna knows it because game recognizes game. Just like she can tell that Lord Mace is a moron. Olenna also brings up the Iron Bank of Braavos before suggesting that Tywin try and enjoy something before he dies. Another playful bit of dialogue that hints at what’s to come this season.

Just like Bronn dropping the comment about the Lannisters shitting gold? In general, Bronn serving as Ilyn Payne's replacement in training Jaime is a genius move. I probably would have enjoyed seeing Jaime spar with a mute who occasionally laughs as well but this banter and bromance might be unbeatable. Tyrion can't bring him along so, why not? The innocent are forced to flee while those responsible gain more and more power. Did you notice the Queen of Thorns snatch a jewel off Sansa’s necklace while offering her condolences? It happened. And it was the same necklace given to her by Dontos, the very man who takes her away from the crime scene the instant after Joffrey’s death. Littlefinger must be waiting.

There's probably plenty more to pick apart, so feel free to remind me about everything that I forgot in the comments...

Like I said, The fourth season of Game of Thrones continues with “Breaker of Chains” next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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