Winter came to Brooklyn at the Game of Thrones Epic Fan Experience at Barclays Center, where fans had the opportunity to stroll around and look at the real costumes, sit on the Iron Throne, hear some of the actors speak, and — perhaps most importantly — watch the first episode of Season 4 before it airs on HBO on April 6.
It surely was epic (free t-shirts! the only thing more epic to me than that is free snacks), but the most epic part of all was being in a room with 6,000 other Throneheads. (That is not a term people use, nor should they ever use. Apologies.)
To up the ante on the "you-had-to-be-there" aspect, attendees weren't allowed to take in their cellphones or any electronics, so no photos, no Instagrams, no texting your friend in line. You know, like medieval times in Westeros.
But fortunately, you have me on your side with a canny memory whose heart pounded as the iconic theme song began to play. I'm on your side, fellow Throneheads! (Ugh, sorry about that again). No matter which house you choose to side with, I'll still give you some of the D-L of this experience. I'll let you in on what you absolutely need to know from the both the Epic Fan Experience and the first episode. Don't worry, there aren't any real spoilers.
1. The Actor Who Plays Hodor Can Say More Than "Hodor"
This should be a given, but Kristian Nairn has a full-fledged vocabulary! The actor served as host for the evening, leading a Q&A session with George R. R. Martin, Sibel Kikelli (Shae), John Bradley-West (Samwell Tarley), and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark).
2. Maisie Williams Is An Absolute Delight
And she's bad with a sword, too! She commented that she's hit herself and the camera crew. BTW — if you don't love the actress who plays Arya already, check out her Vine page. It will win your heart.
3. George R. R. Martin Knows You Want Him To Finish The Books
Before the Q&A even began, he shouted out a resounding, "I'M WORKING ON IT!!" So, there you go. He knows he has catching up to do.
4. Bran Stark Is The Size Of A Petite Young Woman
This is not crucial information, but it could potentially be life changing if you're a woman under five feet tall. After standing next to a model of his costume and discovering that in fact, I could play Bran Stark (provided I was a successful and young British male actor), I realized that I had to re-evaluate a lot of things in my life. I'm okay now.
Oh, yes! The episode! Quasi-spoilers ahead!
5. The Dragons Are Even Bigger
Like, rhinoceros size. It looks like it'll be tough for Dany to control these guys.
6. You'll Be Surprised Who Has The Laugh-Out-Loud Lines
It isn't Tyrion — although Tyrion doesn't disappoint! Peter Dinklage's appearance on screen caused the audience to erupt in applause. Yes, Tyrion had some great lines (and so does Jaime), but the audience broke out in laughter several time at one new unsuspected source of comic relief. You may be surprised where you find your self laughing.
7. The War Is Definitely Not Over
There's a new potential enemy in King's Landing...a man who also always "pays his debts." The Lannisters may have something to deal with other than their own inflated egos. I could tell you more about this guy, but I'm not about to ruin April sixth for you. I care about fellow GoT viewers!
8. Jaime's Hand Changes Yet Again
Is that too much of a spoiler? Watch for a big attempt at glamour with an updated hand situation. For a more interesting story arc than "Jaime's hand," watch Nikolaj Coster-Waldau play this character to even greater depths than before, now that he's returned from prison and has had a nice royal shave. You may have trouble recognizing him in the absence of the dirt, muck, and facial hair that you've grown accustomed to, but fear not because Cersei is going to give him the metaphorical middle finger.
9. You Should Watch For A Very Funny Statue
No spoilers, but be on the lookout for a statue. The shot after the statue is also exemplar of wildly smart editing on the show.
10. There's Some Slaughtering That Generates a Reaction That's The Opposite of The Reaction To The Red Wedding
The audience broke out in a wave of applause a number of times when one character began to go on a mini killing rampage.
11. You Should Be Counting Down Til April 6
If six thousand people had such reactions — applause, laughter, shouts and screams (and "Hodor"), then you absolutely should be making sure you have access to HBO or HBO Go in the next two weeks. Winter is definitely coming.