TV & Radio
The release of a mini-teaser trailer for Game of Thrones season four has spurred our Westerosi raven on to examine frame by frame just what lies in store.
So let's don the leather jerkins, ignore the heat and pretend winter is coming for a while.
Of course, we must issue the regulation spoiler warning. What follows are merely theories. And remember, this is for TV-first consumers, so those ahead in the books please don't spoil our speculative fun!
Now given that this five second trailer is teensier than whatever Lord Varys has left downstairs, we're going to need to break it down frame by frame to make some wildly bold judgement calls.
First we see a horse galloping towards a towering sandy wall, below which stands the still dark figures of what surely must be Daenerys' freed slave army. The horse's rider appears male, carrying a spear or lance, with a yellow scarf streaming out from his head. He seems too sprightly to be Jorah Mormont or Barristan Selmy, but the fact he's wearing pants goes against the idea of it being Daeny's saucy new lover, 'Faabio' Naharis.
My guess is a new character - another recruit to Daeny's cause coming to warn her or something, or an enemy heralding an attack? Of course, the horse itself is white, as is Daeny's mare. Could Daeny be dragging up? And that wall is massive; are we going to see another Free City conquered?
The next shot is of perennial favourite Tyrion - in shackles! - flanked by two soldiers, or perhaps bodyguards, walking towards something. Is it the great hall in the Red Keep? We can see rows of onlookers sitting in on the moment, looking of reasonable social standing (as in, not filthy Fleabottom types). More importantly, what is Tyrion in trouble for? Not bedding his young and unwilling wife Sansa? Perhaps his great love Shae has been uncovered; Big Daddy Tywin never liked her. Whatever it is - touch a hair on Tyrion's beloved golden head and I WILL END YOU.
Next up, Joffrey. BOO HISS BOO HISS GRRRRR. King Smug Git Face is seen sitting at a table, wearing his stupid crown, surveying some marquees. Is this prep for his wedding to Kate Middleton? You can see some sort of acrobat practising/performing in the background while others scamper around. Joffrey's wearing poncy finery, but then he always wears poncy finery, so that's not much of a giveaway. What's not in doubt is how much he still deserves a crossbow shot to the nads. Bring that on, season four.
The next shot confused me and I had to go back and pause to realise that seven hells, that was Jaime "High Five" Lannister. Cannot believe he's ditched the raggedy handsome scruff beard from seasons two and three. Who gave that man a razor? Was it the same person who GAVE HIM A NEW HAND?!? Yeah, that's right, I noticed it.
Looks like Game of Thrones is continuing the grand tradition of fantasy genres replacing limbs willy nilly. Not willies themselves of course, although I'm sure Theon would be grateful for that. I reckon it was the ex-maester who first fixed Jaime up after he got the chop. That guy had a touch of the experimental mad scientist about him. Wonder what Cersei will make of it all? Also, I can't tell you how many really inappropriate jokes about "Goldfinger" I want to make right now.
Finally there's a brief image of Sansa, in dark clothing, auburn hair tumbling free, staring out at something with her marvellous green eyes. The room seems dank and claustrophobic - a prison cell? Is her predicament related to her husband's, as mentioned above? Or is she somewhere else - in the clutches of Littlefinger at the Eerie, perhaps?
After the shock and awe of the Red Wedding (howl! howl!), season four will have to pull out guns the size of Roose Bolton's betrayal to fulfil our expectations.
We'll have to wait at least three more months until the season gets underway.