[Warning: potential spoilers, below. Read at your own risk.]
Game of Thrones season 3 reemphasized the idea that in the land of Westeros, no one's safe from harm whether they're principal characters or supporting players. With "The Red Wedding" a month behind audiences, the shock has hopefully started to wear off, and viewers may now be looking ahead to next year, wondering where season 4 will take them and their favorite cast members.
The good news is that the powers-that-be behind the blood-soaked fantasy franchise are starting to do the same, and have already courted a familiar name to return to the director's chair for the final season 4 episode.
Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent), who helmed one of the series' most iconic episodes, "Blackwater," has reportedly been asked back to orchestrate the season four finale, according to Empire. (The news comes from a source that's "close to the production", so take it with a grain of salt.) This represents a nice change of pace for Marshall, whose authorship over "Blackwater" wound up being a close-to-last-minute decision; this time around, he actually has the luxury of being able to scout locations, and indeed he's already bouncing between Ireland and London as part of his preparations before he begins filming his second contribution to the show later on in 2013.
For those who have previously burned through George R.R. Martin's massive series of sword-and-sorcery books, it's easy to accurately guess what Marshall will be up to in season 4. Those details are best left out for non-readers, but even so, nobody hires Marshall to choreograph scenes of underhanded political scheming; he's an action director, and based on his efforts in season 2, anyone should be able to intuit the purpose of his renewed involvement in the show.
Marshall, of course, keeps himself busy as a habit, but assuming the information is legit, then he's probably quite happy to have the chance to serve as a director for Game of Thrones once more. Marshall's attached himself to a large number of projects in the last couple of years, from The Last Voyage of the Demeter to the pilot episode of Starz' pirate-themed program, Black Sails; little news is available on most of them, though that doesn't necessarily truthfully speak to their statuses. That said, "Blackwater" remains one of the best entries in the HBO adaptation of Martin's books to date, and the show in general is right in his wheelhouse. Expect him to hit the ground running with the season 4 finale and turn out another classic episode.
In the meanwhile, keep one thing in mind: Game of Thrones season 3 only represents half of the third novel in the Song of Ice and Fire saga, meaning that season 4 will (at least) cover the other fifty percent of the omitted text. While that doesn't put the series on-track to tie things up by the end of season 8, it should give viewers fair warning that none of the events that began in season 3 have truly met their conclusions just yet. In other words, buckle up, because season four is going to be a wild ride- at least if Marshall has anything to do with it.
Season 4 of Game of Thrones will air in 2014 on HBO.