“Game of Thrones” is not going to be following its traditional format in Season 4. Unlike the previous seasons, where the episodes have built up to a huge climax in episode 9 and the finale wrapped up the respective storylines, this season will be diving head first into the action.
According to John Bradley, who plays Samwell Tarly in the hit HBO series, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were realizing that viewers were getting wise to the formula in previous seasons. Because of that, Bradley says, fans shouldn’t expect Season 4 to start off as slow as others have.
“This season they’ve completely thrown that template out of the window, and they’re determined to put as many surprises in as possible when people least expect it,” he tells Zap2it. “There’s usually lots of chat and lots of setup and lots of exposition in episodes 1 and 2 that blossom into fruition later on as the season reaches its action climax. But the action really does hit the ground running in this season. There’s no kind of easing into it. You’re right into the thick of it straight away, and I think that’s going to catch people off guard a little bit.”
It’s not just one big episode this season, either. Bradley shares the exciting news that four or five episodes in Season 4 are “contenders for ‘episode 9’ status.”
“There’s so many really accomplished brilliant pieces of heart-stopping action that I think [fans are] going to be kind of exhausted by the end of it just with the sheer amount of high-octane, huge events and huge sequences and lots of lots of action — more than we’ve ever put in it before,” Bradley says. “I think you’re looking at four to five episodes that could easily stand as centerpieces to any other season that we’ve done so far. ”
Meanwhile, Sam is going to have an increased role in Season 4. As book readers know, Sam and Gilly arrive at Castle Black later in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels than they do in the show. Because of that, Sam has a completely new role in the events of Season 4.
Sam turned into something of a hero in Season 3, even if he would be the last character to admit it. Because of that, viewers can expect to see a more confident Sam at the beginning of the new season.
“There are some times this year where Sam has gained a confidence as anybody would who’s found something out that nobody else in the world knows. Your self-esteem is bound to be elevated by that,” Bradley says. “There are some instances where Sam and Jon really kind of bump heads this season, and they do have genuine arguments. It’s not a case of one of them having an argument with the other and the other one not responding; they’re very 50-50 arguments that go on.”
He continues, “I think at the start of Season 4, Sam, on personal terms, is kind of in one of the most comfortable emotional situations that he’s been in so far. … In [the past two seasons], he’s literally escaped death twice — at least twice, because if you count the mutiny at Craster’s it was three times. During those times where he was so frightened, I think it was only the thought of staying alive to save Gilly’s life or to keep his relationship with Gilly going or to protect baby Sam. I think that was the only thing that kept him going during those periods, and I think he found a kind of reason to exist.”
“Game of Thrones” Season 4 premieres April 6 on HBO. Stay tuned to Zap2it for more excerpts from our interview with Bradley as the season continues.