Executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and ex-lead star Michelle Fairley (who played Catelyn Stark in Seasons One-Three) have this month confirmed the first details on the planned narratives of the fifth season of HBO's hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones. Rest assured that there are SPOILERS for the final episodes of Season Four within, but those worrying that anything concrete will be revealed about future storylines set to be adapted from the novels can breathe a (brief) sigh of relief here and now.
Let's dilly-dally no longer, and instead dive straight into what Benioff, Weiss and Fairley (all of whom spoke to Entertainment Weekly) have to say on what we can expect to see from the series in around nine months' time:
- BENIOFF AND WEISS ON THE QUALITY OF SEASON FIVE'S STORYLINES- "For Season Five, again [as was the case with Season Four], the fear started to dissipate when we outlined it and realized how much story we had to tell. Now that we're nearly finished with the first drafts of each episode, we see no reason why the coming season shouldn't be the strongest yet."
- BENIOFF AND WEISS ON MOVING TO DORNE- "There will be Dorne [the home kingdom of Oberyn Martell, where Mycella Lannister is currently situated], and we're excited about it. Who wouldn't want to hang out in Dorne? They have admirable values and priorities. And have you seen Oberyn's coat?"
- BENIOFF AND WEISS ON LITTLEFINGER AND VARYS- "Littlefinger [...] wants everything. He wants to sit on that throne. By necessity, his path there will be twisted and indirect. [...] As for Varys: early in the season, when speaking with Tyrion, Varys claims to be concerned primarily with self preservation. At the end of the season, though, his actions prove otherwise. He throws away the entire life he's built for himself in King's Landing to save Tyrion's life. Now what? ... "Now what?" will become eminently clear in Season Five."
- BENIOFF AND WEISS ON SEASON FIVE'S FANTASTICAL ELEMENTS- "The White Walkers aren't going away. The dragons aren't getting any smaller. Melisandre's still sorceressing, the giants are more pissed than ever, and Jaime's almost done building his jetpack. So...yeah, the fantasy's not going away. It is a fantasy show."
- BENIOFF AND WEISS ON THE CHARACTER DYNAMICS AND ADAPTATION STRUCTURE OF SEASON FIVE- "[Season Four] almost feels like this is the midpoint for us. If we're going to go seven seasons, which is the plan, Season Four is right down the middle. [...] It's been an expanding universe and will now start to contract. Which doesn't mean we won't meet any new characters in Season Five, because we will. But it's going to start to shrink for sure. We're not going in strict order [when adapting the novels' various story arcs] because we can't. We can't adapt Feast [A Feast for Crows] and leave out half our characters. We'll be drawing heavily from Feast and Dance [A Dance with Dragons] in Season Five."
- BENIOFF AND WEISS ON THE CONCLUSION OF BOOK/TV NARRATIVES- "There are some characters who will die that [we] don't think people will predict.And as George has said, we're killing off more characters than in the books and will continue to do so."
- BENIOFF AND WEISS ON POSSIBLE GAME OF THRONES TV SPIN-OFFS- "We have not talked about that. If that happens, it's up to HBO and George. It's not something [we] would be a part of. We're interested in A Song of Ice and Fire."
- FAIRLEY ON HER CHARACTER'S POTENTIAL RESURRECTION [A LAST-MINUTE TWIST IN THE SEASON THREE/FOUR NOVEL A STORM OF SWORDS]- "Yeah, the character's dead. She's dead. You respect the writers' decision. I knew the arc, and that was it. They can't stick to the books 100 percent. It's impossible - they only have 10 hours per season. They have got to keep it dramatic and exciting, and extraneous stuff along the way gets lost in order to maintain the quality of this brilliant show."
To be honest, the Lady Stoneheart omission reveal from Fairley took us (and a lot of other fans, by the sounds of it) more than a little off-guard, since the character's surprise appearance just a dozen or so chapters after Catelyn Stark's death in A Storm of Swords was amongst the novel's finest twists. The necessary change in circumstances will probably make sense with hindsight, especially if George R.R. Martin begins to decide that even bringing back Catelyn in the books was a step too far into fantastical territory, but for now, RIP Lady Stoneheart (Unspecified Fictitious Westerosian Year-Also Unspecified Fictitious Westerosian Year).
Game of Thrones will return for its action-packed fifth season on HBO and Sky Atlantic in Spring 2015.