SPOILERS: This is not a joke, parody, or satire. If you read any further you’re going to get the whole GoT story spoiled for you. I’m not kidding. The whole story — every season that’s released before the next book is published — will be spoiled by this article. A few spoilers will be very close in chronology because they are where we are at in the TV show (mainly the stuff about Tyrion), but most are longer-term spoilers that reveal the underlying fabric of the story and where it’s headed. I don’t cover all the spoilers, but still, it’s pretty bad. Don’t blame me for reading this. You are about to get very deep into stuff you haven’t anticipated.
1. Catelyn Stark becomes a vengeful zombie.
Rewind to three days after the Freys/ Boltons/ Lannisters dump Catelyn in the Trident after the Red Wedding. Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood Without Banners recover Catelyn’s dead body. Beric resurrects her via Thoros of Myr but dies for the sacrifice. Catelyn lives again, but now, understandably, looks sort of like a corpse pulled out of a river, has scratchmarks on her face from when she self-mutilated at the Red Wedding, and can’t really talk due to the mortal wound across her neck. It would make sense for this reveal to be the last scene of the Season Four finale. She takes command of The Brotherhood, as well as a new name — Lady Stoneheart — and goes on an indiscriminate murdering spree through the Riverlands, targeting anyone she suspects is associated with the Freys, Boltons, and Lannisters.
2. Brienne of Tarth is ordered to be executed by Zombie Catelyn.
After putzing around with Podrick searching for Sansa for awhile, the two are captured at a crossroads near The Trident by The Brotherhood, which we’ve established is now under the command of Zombie Catelyn. Hellbent on watching the world burn, Catelyn the Undead doesn’t buy Brienne’s whole “But I’ve been trying to find your daughter for like 5,000 pages!” story. Plus, Zombie Catelyn spots Oathkeeper (which, if you’ll remember, Tywin Lannister forges from Ned Stark’s massive Ice) on Brienne’s person and correctly discerns Brienne must have gotten it from a Lannister. And Brienne is with Podrick Payne, a known Lannister squire. So basically Zombie Catelyn just can’t even.
Zombie Catelyn gives Brienne a choice: kill Jaime Lannister or be hanged. Brienne refuses to go after Jaime. But just before they hang her, Brienne yells something unknown to the reader. Cut-scene to much later in the book’s chronology, where we find Brienne attempting to lull Jaime into The Brotherhood’s arms — we assume she was never actually executed, and now is part of Undead Catelyn’s army.
3. Podrick Payne is hanged by Zombie Catelyn.
This is just collateral damage of being captured with Brienne at the crossroads near The Trident. You can’t really blame Zombie Catelyn, who at this point really, simply can not, under any circumstances imaginable, even: Podrick has been a squire for the Lannisters since Day 1. Brienne sees Podrick hanging just as The Brotherhood is putting the noose around her neck, so we can assume this is a confirmed kill.
Update: Some GoT enthusiasts are telling me Podrick isn’t a confirmed kill. I’d trust them over me.
4. Tyrion Lannister doesn’t die.
Tyrion’s hopes of making it out of King’s Landing alive do not implode the same way Oberyn’s face does. More on this soon.
5. Oberyn Martell kills The Mountain.
Counterintuitive, but true. After Prince Oberyn fails at having his cake and eating it too, The Mountain is judged victorious in Tyrion’s infamous trial by combat. What is not mentioned or shown (but eluded to) in the TV episode is that Oberyn poisons the tip of his lance before his fight with The Mountain. The poison works its charm, and The Mountain’s death is long and painful. Qyburn attends to The Mountain while he dies, which ends up being significant much later in the story.
6. Tywin Lannister and Shae fuck — and Tyrion walks in on them (sort of).
Despite his apparent lifelong hatred for prostitutes, Tywin ends up stealing Tyrion’s girlfriend Shae after Tyrion’s trial. I’ll get to Tyrion walking in on them in a second.
7. Varys and Jaime free Tyrion from the dungeon below The Red Keep.
Since Jaime still isn’t convinced that Tyrion had much to do with Joffrey’s death after Tyrion’s trial, he forces Varys to arrange Tyrion some kind of escape.
8. Remember Tysha, Tyrion’s first “lover” and wife, who was actually a whore? She wasn’t a whore after all. Tywin made that up.
When Varys and Jaime go to free Tyrion from the dungeon below The Red Keep, there’s one last thing Jaime wants to tell his brother. That whole thing about Tyrion’s first “lover” and wife Tysha actually being a whore Jaime hired? That was a lie that Tywin forced Jaime to perpetuate. Tysha and Tyrion had legitimately been in love. (Remember: Tywin forced Tyrion to watch as his men gang-raped her, then forced Tyrion to have sex with her after the last of his men finished.)
9. Tyrion murders Shae.
The Tysha revelation pretty much blows Tyrion’s mind for a minute, but since he’s in the middle of escaping from a dungeon, Tyrion doesn’t have a whole lot of time to process this information. Still, at this point it’s safe to say that Tyrion can’t even. Visibly upset, he strikes Jaime and says he’s glad he killed Joffrey (even though he didn’t). To salt the wound, Tyrion tells Jaime that Cersei took to fucking Lancel Lannister, their cousin, while Jaime was busy getting his sword-hand cut off. Tyrion storms away, led by Varys to a passage that leads directly into the Tower of the Hand’s bedchamber. (Will get to Shae’s murder now. Sorry. But first!)
10. Tyrion murders Tywin.
When Tyrion gets to Tywin’s bedchamber, he immediately notices: (1) Tywin isn’t in bed, (2) someone that isn’t Tywin is in Tywin’s bed, and (3) the person in Tywin’s bed is Shae. Shae is naked. So for sure, now, Tyrion CAN. NOT. EVEN. He would never to be able to even if he tried. The seven gods wouldn’t be able to make him even. His ability to even is simply, incaculably so far removed from his capacity that it’s just unimaginable that he could (maybe ever again). Tyrion goes to the bed and strangles Shae to death.
He then finds a crossbow, discovers Tywin sitting on his chamber pot, has some words with him about the Tysha scandal, and shoots Tywin to death. Kill definitely confirmed. In the very end, from the smell of it, Tywin Lannister does not shit gold. This is all probably going to happen in the season finale of Season Four.
11. Brandon Stark, Meera and Jojen Reed, and Hodor make it to where they’re going.
I hear a lot show-watchers hating on Bran because his story seems like it’s not going anywhere in the show. I have found that Bran is more of a long game; he turns out to have one of (if not) the most epic character arcs in the series. Anyway, for the sake of brevity, all you really need to know about this spoiler is that Bran, Meera, Jojen, and Hodor make it to where they’re going, and on the way are guided by a non-evil dead person show-watchers haven’t met called “Coldhands” who rides an elk and has powers humans don’t (and cold hands).
11. Bran turns into a tree.
I think readers with more knowledge of A Song Of Ice And Fire than me may take issue with characterizing Bran’s ultimate form as “a tree,” but my interpretation is that’s basically what happens. Bran turns into a tree. Or trees. That can see the future maybe. Also, take all that with a grain of salt.
I will try to give you some sense of this. Once Bran and Co. get “north enough,” they stumble upon a mysterious cave where the children of the forest live. I’m not going to explain the children of the forest. They’re magic, though, and know Bran has been traveling north to meet The Three-Eyed Crow, who, awesomely, happens to be in the cave.
The children of the forest introduce Bran to The Three-Eyed Crow, who is actually a very old dude named Brynden Rivers, and who, coincidentally, happens to be Aegon IV Targaryen’s bastard, former Hand of Aerys I, and former Lord Commander of the Nights Watch. There is so much significance and implication here that I’m not even going to try to explain it. (I can’t even.)
Anyway, Brynden Rivers, The Three-Eyed Crow, is so old that he resembles a skeleton. He is missing an eye and has white hair that touches the floor. He sits upon a sort-of-throne made of weirwood, and weirwood roots grow throughout his body, including through his empty eye-socket. He is like, one with the tree, literally. He is known as “the last greenseer,” meaning he can predict the future, see through animals’ eyes, and shares his soul with all the weirwoods in the ASOIAF world. I hope you are still with me.
Bran enters into a sort of apprenticeship with Brynden and pretty much becomes a tree-man, or like, just a tree, as well. He has a bunch of prophetic visions that foreshadow the future of the ASOIAF epic, and the overall message seems to be that Bran will have a major hand in whatever reckoning Westeros approaches, via his new one-ness with nature.
12. Arya escapes The Hound and leaves him to die.
The chronology of the Arya/ Hound plotline is much different in the books than it is in the show, so I’m uncertain how the directors are going to manage it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s in the Season Four finale and/or the first half of Season Five. In any case, somewhere along the way, The Hound is going to get drunk again, start another bar fight, get seriously injured in the bar fight, and be too weakened to travel with Arya and keep her as his hostage. Arya, making a conscious decision to deny him the gift of mercy that would be a quick death by Needle, will leave The Hound to die. This one is not a confirmed kill — there is a theory.
13. Arya ends up in Braavos and goes blind. Her direwolf Nymeria is probably still alive. She becomes even more badass.
There is a lot I can’t even cover about this because it takes place over hundreds or thousands of pages of text, but I can even attempt a brief rundown. After escaping The Hound, Arya gets on a ship to Braavos via the Jaqen H’ghar coin she acquires in Season Two or Three.
In Braavos, Arya encounters a group of people who specialize in all sorts of weird shit: the art of lying, changing your appearance, assassination. The group is known as The Faceless Men, and they agree to take her in. Like her brother Bran and The Three-Eyed Crow, Arya takes a sort of apprenticeship with these Faceless Men, and basically learns how to be a murderous spy.
Part of her training with The Faceless Men involves being suddenly blinded, as a sort of punishment, and having to deal with that while learning the tools of their trade, which just makes her more of a badass. Arya is without sight for some time, maybe months, during which she starts having Bran-like wolf dreams that imply her direwolf Nymeria is still alive, and that she is on her way to becoming a full-on warg. Weirwoods begin to appear in her dreams. At one point it is implied that she watches over her room through the eyes of a cat in the rafters. The Faceless Men eventually grant Arya her sight back and order her to assassinate someone, which she pulls off successfully, confirmed kill. At the end of the most recent ASOIAF book, she is still in Braavos, more or less on this same journey.
14. Cersei is put on trial.
After Tywin dies on the toilet, and Tyrion’s out of the picture (more on this below), Cersei is HBIC in King’s Landing again. There is no one around to fuck with her claim to rule as Queen Regent, and Tommen just does anything Cersei says. Long story short: the power gets to her head, she turns into a more evil, alcoholic version of Cersei than show-watchers have ever seen, and becomes super paranoid that the Tyrells are trying to usurp her.
A bunch of stuff happens over a very large number of pages that I can’t really explain, and then Cersei goes so rogue that she starts refusing to pay the debt The Crown owes The Iron Bank of Braavos. Instead, she uses the borrowed money to build a super fancy naval war fleet. This angers The Faith of The Seven, a religious group that’s gained a ton of power in King’s Landing during Cersei’s rule, which plot itself is significant enough that show-watchers will hopefully see. But I have to leave that out right now.
The Faith is so powerful, though, that the High Septon (their leader) puts Cersei Lannister on trial, finds her guilty of incest and conspiracy, and sentences to her to atone by walking naked through the streets of King’s Landing. Her walk is relatively mild, however, as she only gets hit in the face with human feces one or two times. The readers of ASOIAF still do not know her fate — only that she’s safe, and maybe absolved of her crimes, and maybe, unfortunately, in a position where she can assume power once more.
15. Daenerys Targaryen flies on the back of a dragon.
The people of Meeren (yes, she’s still in fucking Meeren) are pissed about the dragons eating up all their livestock and, justifiably, worrying about their own safety, and so, in a way, set out to kill Dany’s dragons. In a very tense sequence of events in which Drogon, her most impressive dragon, almost gets slaughtered, Dany’s protective instincts kick in and she jumps on his back and flies him “thousands of leagues” away. Not sure we will see this in Season Four, but successfully mounting her dragons seems like something on the checklist of things that need to happen before she can go over to Westeros and divide/ conquer/ unite/ etc.
16. In the books, Dany still hasn’t returned to Westeros.
Readers of ASOIAF still have not seen Dany return to Westeros. Her last book-scene is the Drogon one described above, a thousand leagues away from Meeren, discovered by Khal Jhaqo’s khalasar.
17. Jon Snow becomes Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and is maybe assassinated.
With the Jon Snow arc, the chronology between between overlapping book arcs and TV show arcs is all out of whack. But at a certain point, Samwell Tarly rigs a Lord Commander election and Jon Snow is elected Lord Commander. According to the books, (spoiler alert) I think Stannis is supposed to have shown up at The Wall by now, and The Wildlings should have been allowed south of The Wall already, too. At another point, his brothers make an attempt on his life. George R.R. Martin has left his readers wondering whether Jon Snow survives this attempt.
18. Jaime breaks up with Cersei forever.
As Cersei awaits the trial I mention above, she freaks out a little and sends Jaime a pleading letter, writing that if there has ever been a time she’s ever needed him, it’s right the fuck now. Jaime, away from King’s Landing, receives the letter, reads it, and burns it. We can be comfortable thinking of this as a confirmed relationship kill.
19. Tyrion will likely cross paths with Daenerys. Jorah Mormont and Tyrion hang out for awhile too.
Tyrion really has no options in King’s Landing after he kills his dad, so he flees across the Narrow Sea to an unknown destination. The journey is a super long one that spans the real estate of over three books, so I’m not going to try to tell it here. All you really need to know is that GRRM hasn’t killed Tyrion off yet, Tyrion ends up in The East, and, at the very end of Book Five, the sellsword company that’s captured him decides to side with Dany (and not whoever is fucking with her). And as it happens, Jorah Mormont gets Tyrion this far — serendipitously, earlier, Jorah captures Tyrion in his quest to get back into Dany’s friend zone.
20. Ned Stark isn’t Jon Snow’s dad, and Jon Snow probably shares blood with Daenerys Targaryen.
This isn’t something that’s explicitly revealed in the books, but there’s enough foreshadowing throughout to substantiate a whole lot of speculation about the idea that Lord Eddard Stark is likely not Jon Snow’s father.
There are a number of different versions of this theory in hardcore GoT fandom, but the most compelling one is that Jon is the child of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (who Robert Baratheon slayed) and Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark (with whom Robert Baratheon is obsessed — recall the crypt scene early in Season One). Rhaegar and Lyanna were in the same location early in King Robert’s rebellion, “disappearing together” to The Tower of Joy, a structure in Dorne that Rhaegar used to hide Lyanna during the rebellion.
A year into the rebellion, when Robert all but won the war, Ned Stark, Howland Reed (Jojen and Meera’s dad!), Lord Willam Dustin, Ethan Glover, Martyn Cassel, Theo Wull, and Ser Mark Ryswell traveled to the Tower of Joy for unknown reasons. There, they encountered three Kingsguard, and there was a fight. The only survivors were Howland Reed and Ned Stark. Lyanna, who was still there, died “in a bed of blood,” and Ned made her an unknown promise right before she perished.
The rest of this is for you to look up, but if we choose to accept the idea that Ned has selflessly borne the shame of having a bastard to protect his dead sister’s legacy, it really changes the whole Stark family dynamic, as well as how we think about the future of the GoT world.
21. Winter actually does come.
It’s really insane. Lots of people die.