There’s only one episode left of Game of Thrones, HBO’s most talked about series since True Blood. Last week’s episode – “Baelor” – was all things thrilling, shocking, and for many fans, devastating. With any luck, the upcoming season finale will be the climax we’re all hoping for.

If you haven’t seen “Baelor” but still intend to – or if you don’t want to know anything about the season finale, we suggest you bail on this article immediately, because…

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW!!!

After last week’s shocking conclusion – wherein Ned Stark, played by series star Sean Bean, was beheaded at the behest of the young King Joffrey – fans of the show were left reeling. The character they’d fallen in love with was abruptly dead and gone, never to be seen or heard from again. However, as it happens, that wasn’t exactly the truth and we’ve yet to see the last of Ned Stark on Game of Thrones.

According to Natalie Abrams of TV Guide:

“Although Ned Stark was beheaded on the Sept of Baelor, it’s not the last we’ve seen of Sean Bean. In fact, in the finale, two of his children will see him in a way you’d probably expect of television; a third, though, will have a shocking run-in with dear old Dad.”

Shocking? Frankly, we’d be more shocked if something on Game of Thrones wasn’t shocking. Any bets on who the child is? Arya? Robb? Snow? Bran? (We’ll thank fans of the books to NOT answer this question.)

For those who’ve read the books, there’s some speculation — from our resident Thrones book reader, Michael Crider — that Ned’s appearance relates to “The Tower of Joy” (which, apparently, is a pretty big deal in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire).

Courtesy of InsideTV, the premiere airing of “Baelor” tied Game of Thrones’ highest ratings from the previous week with 2.7 million viewers at 9 p.m. It was down slightly for the night’s overall count (3.4 million from 3.6), though the numbers are still impressive for an HBO show that aired the same time as the Dallas Mavericks/Miami Heat game.

Check out the video recap of “Baelor” below:

After “Baelor” aired, many a fan all across the Internet threatened never to watch Game of Thrones ever again (because how dare those HBO jerks kill their precious Ned Stark!). In fairness, Sean Bean’s portrayal of the honorable Northerner was so endearing, it was pretty much impossible not to be seething as a result of his execution. That said, it’s hard to believe anybody could watch all nine episodes, including “Baelor,” and just throw their hands up in the air and walk away from the finale, seething or not.

What about you guys? Will you be watching the Game of Thrones season finale, “Fire and Blood”? How about season 2? Drop us a line in the comments.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays @9pm on HBO. The season 1 finale will air on June 19, 2011.

Source: TV GuideInsideTV

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.