'Game of Thrones': Can the finale top last week's shocker?

game-of-thrones-finale.jpgAfter last week's utterly shocking (if you haven't read the book) or expected but still amazing (if you have read it) development, where does "Game of Thrones" go from here?

[If you're not up to date with the series, you might want to stop reading here. Because we're talking about the aforementioned shocker in the next paragraph.]

The killing of Ned Stark ( Sean Bean) was utterly faithful to George R.R. Martin's novel, but fans of the show who haven't read the book were taken aback (and in some cases, more than a little angry) that the series would kill such a central character. Ned's death understandably leaves the Stark family in shock as well, and Sunday's (June 19) season finale will deal in part with Robb's ( Richard Madden) assuming his father's place and seeking vengeance for his death, while Ned's daughter Sansa ( Sophie Turner) feels even more despondent over her betrothal to Joffrey ( Jack Gleeson), whose mother ( Lena Headey) had a hand in Ned's death.

A preview of the finale is below. HBO also announced Friday that Season 2 of "Game of Thrones" will begin production in Northern Ireland on July 25 -- just four days after several cast members, Martin and executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss make an appearance at Comic-Con. Season 2 will likely air in the first half of 2012.

Are you still reeling from last week's episode? What do you hope to see in the finale?

Photo/Video credit: HBO