HBO’s Game of Thrones set to return Sunday after an endless break that lasted an interminable two whole weeks. Here at EW, we’re preparing to go ringside for this season’s big title bout — the rumble in the capitol, Prince Oberyn “The Red Viper” Martell vs. Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. Here’s our five burning questions fans might get answered this weekend (plus, six photos from Sunday’s episode here):
5. What is Tywin’s scheme this time? A few episodes ago we saw Tywin Lannister fretting about a certain dragon queen running Meereen. He ordered lackey Mace Tyrell to fetch him his quill. As we know from last season’s Red Wedding, when Tywin starts writing letters, bad things happen. We’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop in Meereen. Will he try to have Dany assassinated? (Or, nearly as bad, her dragons?).
4. Will Reek succeed in his mysterious mission? The turncloak formerly known as Theon Greyjoy now has to “pretend” to be Theon after he’s found some terrible cold servile comfort as Ramsay’s slave Reek. Ramsay has a mission for his pet, presumably to take the northern stronghold Moat Cailin for his father. Will Reek be able to role-play and pull through for his sinister master, or does he have enough courage and pride left to rebel?
3. Will Littlefinger get away with murder? (Again?): “Call me Petyr” Baelish literally dumped his newlywed bride Lysa by pushing her screaming and plummeting to her death down the mountainside (where does he think he is, Montana?). But you can’t just kill the Lady Regent of the Vale and get away with it … can you? Adding to the mystery on this subject is the fact that another character was in the room when Littlefinger killed Lysa in the George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords, a character who played a key role in the outcome of this situation, so now even book readers are scratching their heads wondering what will happen next. And does this mean young Robin will have to switch to formula?
2. Will Arya reunite with Sansa? We’ve seen Arya and the Hound trek and kill their way across the land all season, it feels like they should be on the other side of the globe by now. Just how big is that forest, anyway? And we’ve had so many teasing scenes of Stark kids very nearly reuniting (Bran was like 15 feet away from Jon, yet didn’t say a word). Will Arya and Sansa finally come together and trade some bitter cynical stories of how Westeros is a really terrible place to live?
1. Red Viper vs. The Mountain: Who will win? This is Thrones first big arena fight scene — a trope of the genre from Gladiator to Spartacus. Thrones tends to avoid big crowd scenes except when necessary because producers like to use real actors whenever possible and avoid CG effects that are not convincing. So the first question is: What is the Thrones version of a gladiatorial fight and will the show pull of the expected spectacle of the scene?
This match is also an unusual contest between a character who is basically completely a good guy (the revenge seeking Dornish Prince) and a purely evil figure (the murdering, torturing, raping Mountain). Rarely on Thrones do we get such a important face-off that’s also a black-and-white battle. So naturally we’re all on waving big foam fingers for Team Oberyn, right? Yet the track record for good guys in Westeros isn’t so hot … BUT Tyrion’s fate will be decided by the outcome of this fight, and the show wouldn’t kill him off … would it? Then again, Thrones killed the last person we thought was the star of the show, Ned Stark. Here’s one thing that is for certain: Trying to second guess the outcome of any big built-up sequence is likely futile, because Thrones always tries to come up with something we don’t expect.
On Sunday, we’re going to recap live the episode on EW.com starting at 9 p.m. ET, plus we’ll have at least one interview after the episode airs from a character who makes a big decision.
As for the comments below … we know some of you read the books, which is great and all, but please be nice and spoiler-free. Of course, if you’re truly concerned about spoilers, best stay away entirely. In the meantime, here the showrunners tease up (spoiler free) the Oberyn vs. The Mountain contest: “The fight delivers beyond our expectations.”