Game of Thrones Kicks off Season 4 at Barclay’s Center Premiere

From left to write: George R.R. Martin, Kristian Narin (Hodor), Sibel Kekilli (Shae), John Bradley (Samwell), and Maisie Williams (Arya)

Spring may have just arrived, but Winter is Coming on April 6th. After surprising audiences last year with a metaphorical arrow to the gut (and side, and leg), it is time again for those murderous, conniving, and sometimes incestuous men and women of Westeros to return.

While many fans must patiently wait for new episodes, I was lucky enough to be at the Game of Thrones Ultimate Fan Experience last night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where this season’s premiere was aired for over 7,000 buzzing fans.

Lines spiraled throughout the stadium as fans waited to receive free t-shirts, see props and costumes from the show, and of course, for their chance to sit on the Iron Throne! But at 7:15 p.m. the crowd was asked to find their seats—there were some scheduled surprises! After a video of the cast answering questions, NJ's Bergenfield High School Marching Band emerged and played the the song from the show's opening credits. But that wasn't the only musical number, as rapper Common came on stage next and performed his Game of Thrones themed song The Ladder.

The announcer then unveiled our emcee for the night, and it was none other that Westeros's renowned wordsmith Hodor (Kristian Nairn). After Hodor got the crowd excited and thanked them for their support, the biggest surprise came next—George R.R. Martin! Martin took the stage to a standing ovation and as Hodor told Martin he had a question for him, Martin jokingly responded with “I'm working on it,” regarding his long-anticipated sixth book of the series, The Winds of Winter. Hodor's next asked Martin if any of his characters were based on real people, to which Martin responded “I'm tempted to say Tywin Lannister was based on Vladimir Putin.” Martin then continued the trend of thanking the fans before teeing up another welcome surprise by calling to the stage three more cast members: Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Shae (Sibel Kekilli), and Samwell Tarly (John Bradley). All three sat on stage with Martin and Hodor and answered questions from Facebook and Twitter. They even raffled off a replica of the Iron Throne, with Mike Ross from Hoboken, NJ winning the prickly prize. (Crime HQ is unhappy not to have new office furniture.)

Here’s to hoping Mike Ross has a big house.

As Martin and the cast closed their Q&A (again by thanking the fans), the main event began. I won't spoil anything from the first episode, but you'll be glad to know it picked up in true Thrones fashion and never wavered. It strayed from the book in spots, but all decisions were made for reasons well understood.

I’ve read all five books in the Series of Ice and Fire. I’ve read the three Dunk and Egg novellas. I’ve even rewatched the Red Wedding episode multiple times. Rains of Castermere may or may not be on my iPod. I say all this in hopes of convincing you I’m no casual fan. And thus, I hope the following announcement excites you:

Starting with the airing of the first episode of season four, I will be writing a weekly reaction post.

Now keep in mind, this won’t be just another recap article. If you want that, you'll have no problem finding it elsewhere. I’ll be here to use my extensive knowledge to rank the week’s schemers, discuss the week’s props and sets, and to provide additional backstory from the books that the show just couldn’t fit in or was forced to glaze over.

And here’s where I want to open up the floor to you. Do you have anything you’d love to learn about? Does any particular backstory or part of Westerosi lore confuse you? Are you just dying to read about a specific aspect of the show that you don’t find covered elsewhere? Please let me know in the comments (or send a raven), as I am very open to improving and molding this into something that true Game of Thrones fans want to read.

And remember, Winter is Coming.

All photos courtesy of HBO.

Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element who graduated from Marist College. He spends his time obsessing equally over the Game of Thrones series and the New York Giants, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.

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