[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for ‘Game of Thrones’ season 4.]

Game of Thrones season 4 is already one of the series’ most shocking seasons yet – thanks in part to Joffrey’s murder at the Purple Wedding – and that’s saying something considering the impact of season 3’s infamous “Red Wedding.”

As there are still seven episodes left to go, there’s still ample time for HBO’s most ambitious series to shock us even more. Book readers have been expecting this swift change of pace for some time as it’s widely acknowledged that the third book, A Storm of Swords – which season 3 and 4 are based on – is a game-changer for the series. Still, even with the foreknowledge of events to come, fans familiar with the books have been surprised by some of the television series’ dramatic deviations.

Now, to tease a few of the upcoming plot points season 4 will continue exploring, HBO has released summaries for three upcoming episodes. Each is generally vague, but they technically do contain SPOILERS for forthcoming developments:

Episode #35: “First of His Name”
Debut: SUNDAY, MAY 4 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Cersei (Lena Headey) and Tywin (Charles Dance) plot the Crown’s next move. Dany (Emilia Clarke) discusses future plans. Jon (Kit Harington) embarks on a new mission.
Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss; directed by Michelle MacLaren.

Episode #36: “The Laws of Gods and Men”
Debut: SUNDAY, MAY 11 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) set sail with a new strategy. Dany meets with supplicants. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) faces down his father in the throne room.
Written by Bryan Cogman; directed by Alik Sakharov.

Episode #37: “Mockingbird”
Debut: SUNDAY, MAY 18 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Tyrion enlists an unlikely ally. Daario (Michiel Huisman) entreats Dany to allow him to do what he does best. Jon’s warnings about the Wall’s vulnerability fall on deaf ears. Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) follows a new lead on the road with Pod (Daniel Portman).
Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss; directed by Alik Sakharov.

There are two characters who appear to be receiving most of the attention over these upcoming episodes: Daenerys and Tyrion. Currently, one is poised to attack the last standing city of Slaver’s Bay, while the other is rotting in a cell awaiting trial for regicide. Both of these threads contain dramatic and unexpected developments in keeping with the heightened intensity of season 4.

But while King’s Landing is embroiled in Tyrion’s trial and Daenerys stands outside the walls of Meereen, other players are beginning to make their moves. Stannis, for instance, is a character that audiences should have learned by now not to underestimate. The last surviving Baratheon may have been beaten back on the Blackwater, but he’s far from giving up his hunt for the Iron Throne, and where he goes next will be an unexpected move.

Lastly, two characters who now find themselves lost in King’s Landing will be given new purpose: Brienne and Pod. Almost as unlikely a pair as Brienne and Jaime, Renly’s former Kingsguard and Tyrion’s former squire set out on a quest that will rival Arya and the Hound for best medieval road trip between a seasoned warrior and a persistent youth.

But the appearance of this storyline is significant for more reasons than simply more screen time for two endearing characters; it also indicates that storylines from books four and five will begin appearing this season.

The title of episode 7, “Mockingbird,” hints at yet another major story arc from book four, one involving Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger, last seen whisking Sansa Stark out of the city to safety (or so he claims).

What do you make of this season’s already startling developments? Can the show possibly keep at this quick a pace for the rest of season 4? Sound off in the comments below!

Game of Thrones airs Sundays @9pm on HBO.

Source: HBO (via Spoiler TV)