SPOILERS AHEAD FOR "GAME OF THRONES" SEASON 5 & THE THIRD THROUGH FIFTH BOOKS OF THE "A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE" SERIES
There was one big surprise NOT in last night's fourth season finale of HBO's "Game of Thrones," a surprise those who haven't read or discussed George R. R. Martin's books will not be aware of.
That surprise? The first reveal of Lady Stoneheart. Both the third book's epilogue and an Instagram photo from actress Lena Headey teased it might happen, but in the end the episode opted out of including this particular shocking and unexpected cliffhanger moment.
The finale's director Alex Graves tells EW says that there never was plans to deal with the resurrected and vengeful Catelyn Stark this season:
"It's a great question, because it's all I asked about last year when I was doing [the episode with Brotherhood Without Banners leader] Beric Dondarrion - who ultimately is the person who finds Catelyn and turns her into Lady Stoneheart. But no, they didn't do it. It was never on the docket to do this season — ever.
They [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] have such a challenge adapting the books into a really focused television experience. It's very hard, it's very complicated, it's much harder then they've been given credit for, I think — and they do a brilliant job.
But to bring back Michelle Fairley, one of the greatest actresses around, to be a zombie for a little while — and just kill people? It is really sort of, what are we doing with that? How does it play into the whole story in a way that we're really going to like? It just didn't end up being a part of what was going to happen this season.
And finally one [more] reason: In case you didn't notice, a lot happens this season. To add that in is something they opted out of. But what's funny is that it was never going to be in the season, yet it took off on the Internet like it was going to happen."
With so many story threads about to start new chapters, the producers instead went with Arya's departure for Braavos, a more emotionally satisfying bit of closure. It seems Lady Stoneheart is pulling a Shelob, being kept aside for next year if at all. If they opt not to include her, one wonders what impact that will have on several characters (namely Brienne).
Graves tells THR that next season will see some characters in darker places, especially Daenerys: "Everyone she had on the way up has been banished or sent away. She is in a very, very dark place that's going to lead into next year."
As for the storyline he's most keen on returning to see? "Besides all of them, I will say Cersei.... What do you think is going to happen when Cersei wakes up?... She is going to be really pissed off. I don't think I'm giving up anything if you think about what Cersei wakes up to in the morning."