By James Hibberd
Updated March 28, 2014 at 10:54 PM EDT

Jon Snow is different in Game of Thrones season 4.

It’s not his wild black hair, which we suspect will never change. It’s not his dour clothes in Night’s Watch black. It’s something else…

“He starts talking more,” says star Kit Harington. “This season is Jon’s biggest season. The major thing for him is he doesn’t have the usual patriarchal figure over his head telling him what to do. There’s no Uncle Benjen, no Qhorin Halfhand, no Mance Rayder. He’s found himself back at The Wall and he knows there’s an imminent threat from the Wildlings. There’s a power struggle between him and the Castle Black commanding officers.”

And Jon trying to gain control of Castle Black in order to save the Southern lands from a Wildling invasion means being more proactive than we’ve ever seen him — and, yup, being more chatty. “He’s never spoken much, he’s always been talked to,” Harington notes. “He absorbs things and I like that about him. This season he had a speech and it felt very weird and unnatural playing Jon Snow for three years — he’s such a silent character — for him to make a stirring speech. It was very well written, you can tell he doesn’t want to do it but he has no choice.”

But expect trying to gain any power at the castle to be an up-Wall battle. There’s still the not-so-minor matter of answering for killing the Halfhand last season (even though it was at the Halfhand’s own urging to convince the Wildlings he was a traitor) and breaking pretty much every one of his vows (for the same reason … mostly). And now Castle Black command includes two men that you know will not appreciate him, both of which have been off screen on Thrones for at least a season. There’s the weaselly Janos Slynt (the former King’s Landing commander of the City Watch who Tyrion demoted for his role in Ned Stark’s execution in season 2) and Ser Alliser Thorne (the master-at-arms of Castle Black who mockingly dubbed him “Lord Snow” and seemed to truly relish calling him a “bastard” at every opportunity). “He has to account with what he’s done and where he’s been to Master Thorne, who we haven’t seen since season one and never liked him in the first place,” Harington says.

Another difference this time: When shooting last season, Harington had to cope with a broken ankle that resulted in the production having to shift some of his shooting dates and necessitated using a stand-in for some scenes. But the actor says he was fully healed in time for his action-heavy season 4 storyline. “It was pretty much better by end of last season and by beginning of last year it was pretty much healed and now it’s as good as it’s ever going to be,” he says.

Between trying to ready Castle Black for war, we suspect there won’t be much time for Jon to think about his estranged Wildling love Ygritte, at least not at first. “There has been in the past — not quite rightly — from the fans a feeling that Jon Snow’s story has not been done justice and I don’t think that’s correct,” he says. “I think some of the bits have been building to this season. We get a lot of payoff for his storyline and The North storyline.”

EW’s Game of Thrones Pre-Season 4 Coverage. Catch up on what you’ve missed:

‘Game of Thrones’ handy snarky season 4 map explains where everybody is

‘Game of Thrones’: This showrunners Q&A will get you really excited for season 4

‘Game of Thrones’: Jack Gleeson reveals the meanest thing he’s ever done

‘Game of Thrones’: Lena Headey on Cersei’s twisted love life

‘Game of Thrones’: Sophie Turner takes six Sansa questions

‘Game of Thrones’: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on Jaime’s season 4 women trouble

‘Game of Thrones’ season 4 is Jon Snow’s biggest, talkiest yet

‘Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams teases Arya’s dark season 4

‘Game of Thrones’: Ygritte is super pissed in season 4

Peter Dinklage talks ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4: Tyrion’s journey, ignoring Twitter, nude scenes

‘Game of Thrones’ two more ‘final’ trailers

‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners sign on for two more seasons — EXCLUSIVE

‘Game of Thrones’: How Pedro Pascal landed season 4’s coolest, sexiest new role

Game of Thrones’: See Jaime Lannister’s new golden hand — EXCLUSIVE

Game of Thrones’ producers: George R.R. Martin’s secret ending is ‘absolutely’ satisfying — EXCLUSIVE

Game of Thrones’ team: 7 seasons is the plan

Still to come: Once the season starts we’ll have our popular recaps (find them here) and post-episode interviews with cast or producers each week.

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