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 Queen star grew up in Southend-on-Sea, England, a seaside town where there was a regular influx of students from France who travelled to the U.K. to study.
And she admits she spent hours brushing up on her language skills - so she could charm one of the pupils.
Dame Helen tells U.K. talk show host Graham Norton, "There was always this coterie of French students who'd come to learn English and I was a complete francofile. I thought everything French was so cool and smart and elegant. I was desperate to get a French boyfriend and I did - Jean-Louis."
And the Brit reveals she's actually still in touch with her teenage boyfriend, adding: "Thanks to the internet, brilliantly, the brilliant, wonderful internet, very recently, I thought, 'I wonder where Jean-Louis is. I'll never find him.'
"I googled him, bang! He came up immediately. I sent him an email and within 24 hours, I was back in touch with him. It was amazing! This was like 40 years later. (Jean-Louis) wasn't saucy, he was very, very well-behaved and Catholic."
UPDATE: The project has officially been greenlit, though none of the stars are attached to return. So, woo?
Looks like Summit Entertainment thinks the world needs a little more old men and women with big guns teaching all these young ‘uns how they used to do it back in the day.
The studio has commissioned Red’s original scribes Jon and Erich Hoeber to pen a sequel and if it likes the script then they may go along with the follow up. Of course, the film would need its original cast back, which means fatter pay checks for Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Mary-Louise Parker. What’s that? Why didn’t I mention Morgan Freeman? BECAUSE HE DIED IN THE MOVIE. Oh yeah, spoiler alert.
And, this being a sequel means the producers are going to have to up the number of old people with guns. May I make a few suggestions? Geoffrey Rush with a bazooka. The guy Leonerd from Community (Richard Erdman) with ninja stars. Judi Dench with a katana. More of Mary-Louise Parker doing the possibly NSFW pie baking thing seen here. Just no damn Betty White!
New Line Cinema's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the third and final installment in director Peter Jackson's fantasy epic, continued its reign at the box office in its third week with a courtly $30.7 million* over the New Year's weekend.
That's definitely good news for New Line's year-end totals. With the help of the successful The Return of the King, the studio crossed the billion mark in 2003.
With no new wide releases this week, the rest of the box office list was an almost exact repeat of last week's top 10. The comedy Cheaper by the Dozen maintained its second place status with a respectable $21.8 million, followed by the romantic Something's Gotta Give, which moved up a spot to third place with $12.5 million.
The nippy Cold Mountain dropped a spot to fourth with $11.7 million, while Ben Affleck sci-fi thriller Paycheck rounded out the top five once again with $10 million.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $124.5 million, down 24.92 percent from last weekend's $165.8 million take but up 14.47 percent from the same weekend last year's $108.7 million.
THE TOP TEN
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King kept its No. 1 stronghold in its third week of release with an ESTIMATED $30.7 million (-39%) at 3,703 theaters (unchanged; $8,304 per theater). Its cume is approximately $291.9 million.
Directed by Peter Jackson, it stars Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Miranda Otto, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan.
Twentieth Century Fox's PG rated comedy Cheaper by the Dozen stayed in second place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $21.8 million (-21%) in 3,307 theaters (+9 theaters; $6,607 per theater). The family comedy's cume is approximately $86 million.
Directed by Shawn Levy, it stars Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff and Tom Welling.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give moved up one spot to third in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $12.5 million (-10%) at 2,808 theaters (+99 theaters; $4,452 per theater). Its cume is approximately $43.8 million.
Directed by Nancy Meyers, it stars Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Amanda Peet and Frances McDormand.
Miramax Films' R rated Civil War drama Cold Mountain dropped a spot to fourth place with an ESTIMATED $11.7 million (-19%) in 2,216 theaters (+53 theaters; $5,297 per theater). The romantic Civil War drama has taken in approximately $43.8 million so far.
Directed by Anthony Minghella, it stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger.
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated sci-fi thriller Paycheck maintained its fifth position in its second week with an ESTIMATED $10 million (-25%) in 2,762 theaters (unchanged; $3,621 per theater). The sci-fi thriller's cume is approximately $38.8 million.
Directed by John Woo, it stars Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated drama Mona Lisa Smile kept smilin' steady at No. 6 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $8.7 million (-23%) in 2,714 theaters (+37 theaters; $3,206 per theater). Its cume is approximately $50.2 million.
Directed by Mike Newell, it stars Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst and Julia Stiles.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Universal Pictures' PG rated family pic Peter Pan stayed in seventh place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $8.4 million (-24%) at 2,813 theaters (unchanged; $3,010 per theater). The live-action film, based on the J.M. Barrie classic children's story, has taken in approximately $33.8 million so far.
Directed by P.J. Hogan, it stars Jeremy Sumpter, Jason Isaacs and Ludivine Sagnier.
Warner Bros.' R rated period actioner The Last Samurai held onto eighth place in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $7.4 million (-10%) in 2,401 theaters (-156; $3,109 per theater). Its cume is approximately $90.1 million.
Directed by Edward Zwick, it stars Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Tony Goldwyn and Timothy Spall.
With an expanded release, Buena Vista's PG-13 rated British comedy Calendar Girls broke into the top 10 list at No. 9 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.6 million in 745 theaters, averaging $6,174 per theater. Its cume is approximately $7.1 million.
Based on a true story, the film is about a group of older women who pose for a charity pinup calendar, become instant celebrities, and learn life lessons on their journey from England's Yorkshire Dales to Hollywood and back again.
Directed by Nigel Cole, it stars Helen Mirren and Julie Walters.
Miramax Films' R rated dark comedy Bad Santa dropped a spot to round out the top 10 in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $3 million (-33%) at 1,710 theaters (unchanged; $6,174 per theater). Its cume is approximately $57 million.
Directed by Terry Zwigoff, it stars Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Tony Cox and John Ritter.
Last year, New Line's PG-13 rated The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers stayed at No. 1 in its third week with $25 million in 3,622 theaters (unchanged; $6,907 per theater); DreamWorks' biopic Catch Me If You Can held onto second place in its second week with $21.4 million 3,170 theaters ($6,670 per theater); Warner Brothers' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice followed in third place in its third week of release with $11.1 million in 2,755 theaters (unchanged; $4,039 per theater).
An impressive list of potential U.S. blockbusters has been announced for the 45th London Film Festival, scheduled for Nov. 7-22.
They include Disney/Pixar's Monsters Inc., Novocaine, starring Steve Martin, and the John Woo-directed
Windtalkers, starring Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater. The festival's opener will be Robert Altman's Gosford Park, the first film the director has ever shot in Britain, whose cast includes Kristin Scott Thomas, Ryan Phillippe, Alan Bates and Stephen Fry. Among other offerings, the festival will feature gala screenings of the British film Last Orders with Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings and Ray Winstone; and Jean Luc-Godard's Eloge de l'amour.
Director John Woo has left Sony and signed a three-year movie and TV deal with MGM, according to Entertainment Weekly Online.
Woo didn't end up making any films with his resident studio, planning two other projects instead with MGM. The projects include "Wind Talkers," starring Nicolas Cage. For now, Woo's got another action flick on his plate: "Mission: Impossible 2," starring Tom Cruise, opens this summer.
SECRET AGENT MAN: John Dahl, who directed the noirish Matt Damon poker pic "Rounders," is in talks with Mandalay Pictures to direct "End Game," a spy flick starring Sean Connery, reports Daily Variety. Written by Adi Hassock and Stuart Kelban, Connery will play an old-fashioned CIA agent who goes on a special undercover assignment to expose illegal arms dealing. In the process, he discovers that he's been set up to take the fall in a conspiracy. Connery then teams up with a young counterpart to prove his innocence.
LET'S HOPE IT'S TEMPORARY: "Cruel Intentions" director Roger Kumble is in final talks to helm Columbia Pictures' romantic comedy "Screenplay Without a Title Yet." The story follows a club-hopping hipster who believes she's finally met her soulmate. The next morning at a wedding party, she is horrified to find that he's the groom. According to Variety, "Screenplay" was purchased for $1.5 million from "South Park" staff writer Nancy Pimental.
WHAT, NO FOUL-MOUTHED ANGELS?: As if he's just asking for "Dogma"-like religious controversy, "King of the Hill" creator Mike Judge will direct "Messiah Complex," a comedy about a pious college student who starts to believe he was cloned from the Shroud of Turin. No word on whether Beavis and Butthead will co-star.
SPELLING BEE: Catherine Zeta-Jones, who's been a busy bride-to-be lately, is in talks to star in "Traffic," a film that looks at the high-revenue industry of drug trafficking. According to EW Online, the film is based on the acclaimed British miniseries "Traffik," but American studios had to change the title. But we're still afraid moviegoers will think it's a film about the Los Angelesfreeways.
REAL TRAFFIC: Jamie Foxx, fresh from his success in "Any Given Sunday," will star in "National Security," a buddy-cop comedy. Foxx will play a man beaten by a white cop, who then teams up with the officer wrongly accused of the beating.
ADDITIONS: Liev Schreiber, a recent Golden Globe nominee for the cable film "RKO 281," will join the cast of "Pay it Forward," starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment... Tim Guinee ("Blade") has been added to Dimension Films' "Impostor," whichstars Gary Sinise and Madeleine Stowe ... Lisa Thornhill ("Ally McBeal") has been tapped to co-star with Nicolas Cage in "Family Man," to be directed by Brett Ratner ("Rush Hour") ... Alexandra Paul ("Baywatch") will co-star with Ron Silver in the independent film "Exposure," to be film in NewZealand.