This post is for Game of Thrones fans who have read A Storm of Swords. If you haven't read the book stop reading this post immediately. I refuse to be held responsible for any spoilers that may result by failing to heed my warning.
Fans of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series are well aware that A Storm of Swords (the third installment) is a doozy. Main characters are slain with wild abandon and the novel's events fundamentally alter the course of the series — in the span of roughly 1200 pages, we lose two kings, a queen mother, a Hand of the King, and an actual hand (just to name some highlights). How on earth is HBO going to pull that all off?
The easy answer is: they're not. It's widely known that A Storm of Swords will be covered over the course of two seasons — which is great news, considering not only how much ground they have to cover, but also that a main criticism of Season 2 was that there was too much stuff in each episode. With Season 3 we will hopefully have a little bit more room to breathe.
But let's get down to it. What exactly can we expect in Season 3, and where will the big finale leave us? Of course, I don't know exactly what executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have in store, but there are some clues (this list of episode names being a big tip-off) and I do have some opinions.
To tackle the big question mark first (and then work a little bit backwards): Where will Season 3 end? We know that Episode 9 is called "The Rains of Castamere," so I would put money on seeing the Red Wedding — and the demise of Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, and a hefty portion of the Northmen — in the penultimate episode. I'm thinking, therefore, that the finale will feature the other disastrous wedding, that of Joffrey Baratheon to Margaery Tyrell, and all the scratching, clawing, choking, and screaming that goes along with it.
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That means all of the glorious Tyrion/Tywin drama, as well as Sansa's time in the Vale, will be left for Season 4. I'm already anticipating the wonder that will be that final scene of Tywin on his chamber pot.
Now, if you've read A Storm of Swords — which, if you've gotten this far into my article, you must have — then you already know what happens in the book. Therefore, I'm not going to rehash plot points here (Wikipedia does that amazingly well), but rather raise some of the major questions I have in regards to how the show will handle things this season. While Season 1 used Martin's A Game of Thrones as its gospel, we began to see quite a bit of deviation from the source material in the show's second season. How will these changes effect things going forward? Here's a character-by-character breakdown of my predictions for Season 3.
The LannistersIf Tyrion's big showdown with Tywin is held for Season 4, as I predict, then this season will have to get Tyrion to a place where he is capable of killing his father. Season 2 left Tyrion maimed and forgotten after his heroic charge at the Battle of the Blackwater. As Tywin refuses to acknowledge not only Tyrion's competence as interim Hand of the King but his mere existence, Tyrion will grow increasingly frustrated, angry, and, ultimately, murderous. Of course, the final straw will be when Tyrion is arrested following Joffrey's murder at the end of the season.
The wildcard in the Tyrion/Tywin plotline, I believe, will be Shae. The Shae the show has given us is smart, perceptive, and — most importantly — compassionate. She also has a budding, protective friendship with Sansa. For Tyrion's murder of Tywin to play out as it does in the books, Shae is going to have to spiral into darkness. I just don't see the Shae we know thus far as capable of testifying against Tyrion and taking up with Tywin — she seems to be above that. Could Sansa's marriage to Tyrion be enough to sully Shae against her lover and ward? Perhaps.
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Season 3 finds Cersei Lannister losing increasing control of her son, King Joffrey. I believe Cersei's storyline will stay fairly close to the books this season, as there's really no reason to switch things up here. However, if Cersei comes to hate Joffrey enough, then maybe the audience will be left to think that she was the one who poisoned the monster king at his wedding. This could make a great, suspenseful, whodunit atmosphere for the finale, as nearly everyone would have a motive to kill off Good King Joff.
Jaime Lannister (one of the strongest characters in the books as well as the show, thanks in large part to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's superior acting chops) will remain with Brienne of Tarth for the majority of the season. However, I wouldn't be surprised if things are sped up a bit for them and their capture by the Brave Companions comes sooner rather than later. At which point we will be treated to the tragedy of Jaime's severed hand. I firmly believe Coster-Waldau will make this one of the most memorable moments of the season, if not the entire series. Losing his hand shakes Jaime to his core, and this could very well shake up the audience's allegiances as well.
Finally, the name of the season's seventh episode is "The Bear and the Maiden Fair," and this is indeed the only episode in the third season that was written by Martin himself. Like the "Blackwater" in Season 2, I think we can expect some pretty spectacular things from this Brienne/Jaime-centric episode.
Joffrey... well, we all know what happens to Joffrey.
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The StarksThe show veered from the book quite a bit in Robb Stark's storyline in choosing to marry him to Talisa Maegyr, rather than Jeyne Westerling. Having Robb marry anyone who is not from House Frey will surely make the Red Wedding possible, but I wonder if the political nuances found in the book will remain. We learn down the line in A Song of Fire and Ice that the Westerlings had a secret alliance with the Lannisters and therefore a hand in the Red Wedding. My guess is all this behind-the-scenes political plotting will fall by the wayside in favor of more straightforward action. Speaking of, is anyone else morbidly curious about whether we will see Grey Wind's head sewn on Robb's body?
While there is no way Catelyn Stark will survive Season 3, I think we will be forced to wait until at least Season 4 to see her horrific return as Lady Stoneheart.
Arya Stark, escaped from Harrenhal, is on the road once again. Arya's role in A Storm of Swords is minimal, although it is through her that we meet Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood Without Banners. As Arya is a fan favorite, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a bit of deviation with her plotline; as proven with her Season 2 conversations with Lord Tywin, her story could benefit from some beefing up. Arya's unlikely alliance with The Hound will be one to watch, so it wouldn't surprise me if they join forces early in the season. However, the Season 3 finale is called "Mhysa," meaning it will most surely end with Arya boarding a ship to the Free City of Braavos. [Editor's Note: I originally mistook "mhysa" to be a Braavosi word, rather than High Valyrian. It's clear that this is a reference to Dany. I must have been on crack. Sorry about that...]
Season 3 means more moping for Sansa Stark in King's Landing, who is forced to wed Tyrion after her betrothal with Joffrey is cast aside in favor of Margaery. I'm excited to see more scenes between Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) and Sophie Turner (Sansa), a talented young actress who has thus far been given few opportunities to show off her skills (the scene of Sansa on the wall with Joffrey after Ned is slain remains one of my favorites). I don't believe we will see Sansa journey to The Vale until the season finale — she doesn't make her escape until Joffrey's wedding — but that will give us plenty to look forward to in Season 4. Lady Lysa is one of the series' most unhinged and upsetting characters, and I eagerly anticipate her dramatic exit via the Moon Door next season.
Bran Stark and his brother Rickon have escaped from Winterfell (with Asha and Hodor), but they have not yet met the Reeds. Actors have been cast as Jojen and Meera Reed, but it remains to be seen how this introduction happens. Will Bran be able to trust Jojen without having previously formed a friendship with him at Winterfell?
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Stannis BaratheonI anticipate (and hope) we will see much less of Stannis and Melisandre in Season 3. He has returned to Dragonstone to lick his wounds before advancing another attack on King's Landing, and I hope he will fade into the background. As much as I like Davos Seaworth as a character, I'd be happy for this clan to take a back seat in Season 3 before getting their big moment on the Wall in Season 4.
Jon SnowA Storm of Swords means sexytimes for Jon Snow. Woo hoo! With a serious dirge of prostitutes and incest in the third book, I think HBO will take full advantage of Jon's tryst with Ygritte. Raise your hand if you're excited for that cave scene!
That being said, Jon's story this season is one of the biggest question marks for me. I'm still bitter about how Jon's killing of Qhorin Halfhand was handled last season — come on, Benioff and Weiss, it's more powerful if you know that the Halfhand wanted him to do it! — so I wouldn't be surprised if Jon's journey beyond the Wall continues to be watered down this season. I'm also torn as to whether we will see Jon return to the Wall and reunite with Sam and his brothers this season. That, I'm afraid, will keep until Season 4.
Danaerys TargaryenDany, while a fan favorite, is in very little of A Storm of Swords; her chapters are few and far between. Benioff and Weiss will surely be tempted to take liberties with her thread in order to increase Emilia Clarke's screen time, but my fingers are crossed that the negative feedback regarding the invention of Dany's stolen dragons and the completely botched House of the Undying will make them think twice.
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That said, we do have the fierce Unsullied to look forward to, as well as rising sexual tension between Jorah Mormont and Danaerys — that kiss is long overdue.
The biggest reveal in Dany's story in A Storm of Swords is that the elder swordsman who has taken up with her and the Dothraki is one Ser Barristan Selmy, exiled Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. As we know Selmy's face (Ian McElhinney), will he be able to remain in disguise without the mystery wearing thin? Dramatic irony is a hard thing to perpetuate for any length of time on television, so I would put money on an early reveal of Selmy's identity.
Theon GreyjoyTheon is completely absent for all of books three and four. Will the show skip ahead to book five to continue his plot, or will he remain missing in Season 3 as well? As much as it pains me to say it, my money is on the former.
Follow Abbey on Twitter @AbbeyStone
[Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO; Keith Bernstein/HBO]
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The film and television nominations for the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards have been released, recognizing achievements in both individual performances and the strengths of ensemble casts. This year's television award nominations are listed below, including many worthy recipients, but there are also a few surprising absences. Among the hard-hitters listed below are dramas like HBO's Mildred Pierce and Boardwalk Empire, AMC's Breaking Bad and comedies such as ABC's Modern Family (which swept the Emmys this year) and NBC's 30 Rock. However, some might be surprised not to find the new Showtime drama Homeland or NBC's secret weapon Parks and Recreation.
The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Jan. 29, 2012 on TNT and TBS.
Click here to read the list of this year's film nominees.
18th ANNUAL SAG AWARDS NOMINATIONS: PRIMETIME TELEVISION
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Laurence Fishburne - Thurgood (HBO)
Paul Giamatti - Too Big to Fail (HBO)
Greg Kinnear - The Kennedy (Reelz Channel)
Guy Pearce - Mildred Pierce (HBO)
James Woods - Too Big to Fail (HBO
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Diane Lane - Cinema Verite (HBO)
Maggie Smith - Downton Abbey (PBS)
Emily Watson - Appropriate Adult (Sundance Channel)
Betty White - Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Lost Valentine (CBS)
Kate Winslet - Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Patrick J. Adams - Suits (USA)
Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Kyle Chandler - Friday Night Lights (DirecTV)
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad (AMC)
Michael C. Hall - Dexter (Showtime)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Kathy Bates - Harry's Law (NBC)
Glenn Close - Damages (DirecTV)
Jessica Lange - American Horror Story (FX)
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife (CBS)
Kyra Sedgwick - The Closer (TNT)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock (NBC)
Ty Burrell - Modern Family (ABC)
Steve Carell - The Office (NBC)
Jon Cryer - Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family (ABC)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Julia Bowen - Modern Family (ABC)
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
Tina Fey - 30 Rock (NBC)
Sofia Vergara - Modern Family (ABC)
Betty White - Hot in Cleveland (TV Land)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire (HBO) - Steve Buscemi, Dominic Chianese, Robert Clohessy, Dabney Coleman, Charlie Cox, Jose & Lucy Gallina, Stephen Graham, Jack Huston, Anthony Laciura, Heather Lind, Kelly Macdonald, Rory & Declan McTigue, Gretchen Mol, Brady & Connor Noon, Kevin O'Rourke, Aleksa Palladino, Jacqueline Pennewill, Vincent Piazza, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Van Wagner, Shea Whigham, Michael Kenneth Williams, Anatol Yusef
Breaking Bad (AMC) - Jonathan Banks, Betsy Brandt, Ray Campbell, Bryan Cranston, Giancarlo Esposito, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte, Dean Norris, Bob Odenkirk, Aaron Paul
Dexter (Showtime) - Billy Brown, Jennifer Carpenter, Josh Cooke, Aimee Garcia, Michael C. Hall, Colin Hanks, Desmond Harrington, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Rya Kihlstedt, C.S. Lee, Edward James Olmos, James Remar, Lauren Velez, Peter Weller, David Zayas
Game of Thrones (HBO) - Amrita Acharia, Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, Josef Altin, Sean Bean, Susan Brown, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Ron Donachie, Michelle Farley, Jerome Flynn, Elyes Gabel, Aiden Gillen, Jack Gleeson Iain Glen, Julian Glover, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill, Richard Madden, Jason Mamoa, Rory McCann, Ian McElhinney, Luke McEwan, Roxanne McKee, Dar Salim, Mark Stanley, Donald Sumpter, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams
The Good Wife (CBS) - Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, Alan Cumming, Matt Czuchry, Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Archie Panjabi, Graham Phillips, Makenzie Vega
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
30 Rock (NBC) - Scott Adsit, Alec Baldwin, Katrina Bowden, Kevin Brown, Grizz Chapman, Tina Fey, Judah Friedlander, Jane Krakowski, John Lutz, Jack McBrayer, Tracy Morgan, Maulik Pancholy, Keith Powell
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - Mayim Bialik, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch
Glee (Fox) - Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Ashley Fink, Dot Marie Jones, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Heather Morris, Matthew Morrison, Mike O'Malley, Chord Overstreet, Lauren Potter, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Mark Salling, Harry Shum Jr., Iqbal Theba, Jenna Ushkowitz
Modern Family (ABC) - Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Julia Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Nolan Gould, Sarah Hyland, Ed O'Neill, Rico Rodriguez, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara, Ariel Winter
The Office (NBC) - Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Creed Bratton, Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms, Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Angela Kinsey, John Krasinski, Paul Lieberstein, B.J. Novak, Oscar Nunez, Craig Robinson, James Spader, Phyllis Smith, Rainn Wilson, Zach Woods
The majesty of the Emerald Isle is on full display in Leap Year an opposites attract romantic comedy starring Amy Adams (Julie & Julia Enchanted) and Matthew Goode (A Single Man Watchmen). Director Anand Tucker (Shopgirl Hilary and Jackie) shooting entirely on location in Ireland takes us on a whirlwind tour of the country’s breathtaking landscape reveling in its fabled fairy-tale charm.
Pity then that such a magnificent setting is so mercilessly defaced by Leap Year’s unrelenting mediocrity. The film’s dubious premise testing the already loose limits of rom-com believability casts Adams as Anna a type-A career girl who flies to Ireland intending to pop the question to her feet-dragging boyfriend on February 29th aka Leap Day. Why Leap Day? Because according to some idiotic old Irish tradition that’s when women are allowed to do such things. (Click here to watch Adams herself try to explain the plot.)
Unfortunately for Anna weather problems force her plane to land far away from Dublin and her would-be fiance. Trapped in a tiny coastal town with no reliable transportation at her disposal she enlists the help of a scruffy abrasive barkeep named Declan (Goode) to drive her cross-country so she can reach her destination by the 29th. And thus begins the traditional rom-com mating ritual of sexually-charged bickering followed by moments of abrupt awkward intimacy.
While watching Leap Year I swear I could hear the Irish countryside quietly weeping as it witnessed Goode and Adams slog through the film's succession of trite misadventures the talented actors straining in vain to manufacture some semblance of romantic chemistry as an assortment of jolly Waking Ned Devine types futilely spurred them on. Oh if only Greenpeace could have intervened and put a halt to such wanton environmental desecration. It's the worst thing to come out of Ireland since The Cranberries.