Tonight, Game of Thrones returns for its fourth season. The episode airs at 9pm ET/PT on HBO, Sunday, April 6.
Because executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have requested that we don't spoil any plot twists or spoilers, our review of tonight's episode must be curtailed. So here, I present the most spoiler-free GoT premiere review I can manage.
Is alive and making weapons. Or rather, paying others to make weapons for him. (See also: 7 Secrets of a Game of Thrones Weapons Artist.)
Is doing odd jobs for his dad. It's not easy being the Hand's errand-boy (sorry, I mean Master of Coin), being married to a distraught child bride, and having to manage his increasingly bold mistress Shae.
The Dornishmen (and Women)
Are coming. (Kind of like Winter, but with more characterization.) Well, they're pretty much here now, and that could be a problem in the long term. There's some lightweight sexposition featuring these new characters.
Has dragons that are growing up. And is surrounded by various men who want to give her advice and/or date her and/or impress her. She is not impressed.
Ser Jorah Mormont
Has two lines.
The Red Wedding
Was not a dream, and has bummed out a bunch of people. On the bright side, there's a new wedding coming up in King's Landing in a fortnight! Yay, weddings!
Sansa Lannister (nee Stark)
Is extra-bummed due to the recent death of most of her remaining family in the aforementioned Red Wedding. She could really use a break. Will she get a break? Magic 8-Ball says: outlook not so good.
Ser Dontos Hollard
Is drunk. (You'll be forgiven if you don't remember this fellow when you see him.)
Knows nothing. And is about to go on trial for all the crazy nothings he's done on the wrong side of the Wall.
Know plenty, but are freaked out by the arrival of the Thenns. (Because everybody knows the Hornfoots hate the Thenns.)
All I'm saying is that Jon Snow had better watch out because his ex is manufacturing an alarming number of arrows.
Has two lines, and one's a zinger.
The Commanders of the Night's Watch
Are ticked at Jon Snow for pulling the various hijinks he's been up to.
Brienne of Tarth
Is "just marvelous." Has made various promises/vows regarding Renly and the Stark children in previous episodes. She's looking to keep them.
Ser Jaime Lannister
Has a new haircut! Is still missing a pretty important hand. He's not a confident lefty yet, but he's trying. His dad is still tough on him. Will he keep his promise to protect the Stark girls? Is that even possible? Also, he's in charge of security for the upcoming wedding. That sounds like fun.
King Joffrey Baratheon
Is still a jerk. He's even mean to his uncle/father Jaime. He's getting ready for his wedding. Yay, weddings!
Is getting ready for her wedding. But she needs a new necklace! Who will find her a necklace befitting a queen? (Tune in next week to find out.)
Is helping sort out this necklace business.
Drinks more than she used to.
Sandor Clegane (The Hound)
Is a stupendous badass.
Is rapidly becoming a stupendous badass. Who wants her very own horse.
Arya Stark's Enemies
Should watch out, because, you know, "Valar Morghulis."
Bran and Rickon Stark, Osha, Jojen and Meera Reed, etc.
Presumably exist. Can't really tell ya.
Hodor? Hodor. (Spoiler: Hodor?)
All in All
Game of Thrones has so many moving parts that it can be hard to keep track of all the subplots and familial relationships. This first episode is mainly about establishing where the various major characters are (notably excluding the Greyjoys and the non-Arya Stark kids) and what they're up to.
This episode is an appetizer sampler offering a little bit of everything, but not too much. The episode runs long, filling out a full hour, because we have to see at least enough of each of the above-listed characters (except Hodor, because Hodor) long enough to establish their current position on the global chessboard.
Relatively speaking, this episode is light on sex and violence, but heavy on exposition. Having said that, there is still sex and violence, the latter being the most interesting development in the episode. But, this being ultra-spoiler-free, you're just gonna have to wait and see. Here are some trailers to help you while away the few hours between now and tonight's premiere:
And if you need to refresh your memory, consult The Game of Thrones Viewer's Guide, including episode recaps, character studies, and plenty of maps.