Monday, June 03, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.9: "The Rains of Castamere"

Good god.

Hello and welcome to the penultimate week of our Game of Thrones recap, where Christopher Lockett and I review and run down this week’s episode. So, it’s the last episode before the finale, where usually absolutely nothing happens, right? Well, except for that one time when… uh… oh.

So, where does the title of this episode come from? Remember back when Bronn was singing "the Lannister song" about Tywin's conquest of the House of Reyne, a story that was recounted to Margaery last episode by Cersei, who wanted to remind the little girl that the Lannisters are so powerful they can topple anyone. 

The song was famously recorded by The National, and the sombre tone of this anthem could be laid over the entire episode (notice just before the massacre begins, the band begins to play it):

So, how about we tune in to the Nikki and Chris discussion immediately following the episode:

Nikki: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! OH MY GOD I… AAAAHHHHH!!!! They just stabbed her in the… AAAHHHHHH!!!! And the knife and the OH MY GOD NOT THE DIREWOLF AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! :::sob!!:::

Christopher: Shhhh. Shhhhh. There, there … everything’s going to be all right.

Or … perhaps not. Once again, GRRM totally fucks with everyone’s head. The Red Wedding, as the massacre at the Twins comes to be known, makes the execution of Ned Stark look like a fratboy prank by comparison … and the body count of people we assumed to be important, pivotal characters is appallingly high. Robb! Catelyn! Grey Wind!

Obviously, this is our biggest point of discussion today—but we’ll save it for last so as to get through a handful of other rather important developments. So while Nikki struggles to regain her composure, let’s consider the rest of the episode, in which Jon Snow betrays the wildlings—and Ygritte—killing Orell in the process; Arya almost makes it home to her mother; Daenerys conquers another city; the Bran storyline finally has some substance to it; and Rickon gets to talk! I don’t know what’s more surprising, the mass murder of Starks or the fact that their youngest scion actually had some lines for a change. And guess what? The kid’s a pretty good actor. Too bad we won’t see him again for the foreseeable future.

So let’s start with Bran … or rather, let’s start with Samwell and Gilly’s five minutes of screen time, in which we get a nifty little bit of exposition disguised as yet another moment of cognitive dissonance between the civilized south and the backward north. Sam goes on at great length—professorially, one might say—about the arrangements of castles at the Wall, and their history. What I like about this moment is the guileless pleasure Sam obviously takes in relating what he knows, which is consistent with his character in the books … he is very much a reader, much preferring the company of musty old tomes to most of his brothers in black, and is possessed of a limitless curiosity. To him, it’s all old hat, but the very idea of learning things in the abstract from “marks on a page” is utterly alien to Gilly. To her, the ability to read is literally magical, and in an awed voice she calls Sam a wizard.  

But of course in this charming little interchange is buried some key information—as when Sam shows Gilly the obsidian knife, we’re being set up for something later on. We begin to glean what it is when Bran &co. start talking along similar lines—about how there are a host of deserted castles along the wall, and pondering how they mean to get to the other side. Bran discounts Osha’s seaborne method, as it would take too long; similarly, his useless legs make it effectively impossible for them to scale the Wall. Perchance this secret passage under the Nightfort described by Sam will come in handy?

After an entire season of Bran inching north, punctuated only by Osha’s petulance and Jojen’s cryptic wisdom (and the occasional “Hodor” thrown in for good measure), it was a relief to finally have something happen with that group. We see a more impressive display of Bran’s talents, for one thing—slipping his skin to briefly possess Hodor, first, in order to silence him. It was a nice little moment, and not just a little creepy to see Bran’s eyes go milky. Jojen stresses that possessing a human is practically unheard-of; and with his encouragement, Bran slips into his direwolf to save Jon in what turns into one of the better fight scenes I’ve seen on the show.

So, Nikki—what did you think of the Bran sequences in this episode?

Um … Nikki? You OK there?

Nikki: [puts down paper bag she’s been breathing into] Gasp… gasp… okay, yes. I think I can speak now. And I have a LOT to say about that final scene, but yes, let’s begin elsewhere while I attempt to compose my thoughts on the Apologetic Second-Tier Wedding massacre.

Let’s just say I wish I was limited to Hodor’s vocabulary right now. Seems so much… simpler.

I agree that it was exciting for something to finally happen with that other group, and while I’m sure the GRRM fans were all yelling, “NO! Get back to the Twins and leave this stuff til later!” I had no idea what was coming (well, some idea as I’ll explain in a minute) so I was happy just to see some side characters finally get screen time.

Oh, and to add to what you said above, I have in my notes, “Rickon says more in his first scene than in the entirety of his presence on the show!” Wow. I’m sure there’s a casting agent out there who put the kid in the show when he was a babe who sat back in relief and went, “Whew,” after that episode.

The direwolf scene was AMAZING. The readers of the books adore the direwolves, and as a viewer I think they are truly majestic to watch, but we almost never see them. I suspect they have a bigger role in the books, since there is a spiritual connection to their guardian that just can’t be conveyed on screen. But near the beginning we see the cavalry go by and the direwolf is almost the same size as the horse. Incredible. My husband and I were both yelling and cheering when the direwolves attacked, and he said he didn’t think we’d ever seen one attack before, but I know we’ve seen a couple of smaller ones where arms and legs get bitten. But this was amazing.

I couldn’t help during this scene but watch Ygritte with some amusement after her repeated comments previously when she and Jon were travelling over the Wall, and kept doing her voice through the episode. “You know NOTHING of decapitation, JON SNOW.” But at the very end, when he leapt on the horse, I thought he was going to pause and pull her up and then… he just took off. The look on her face mirrored mine in that moment. “You know NOTHING about commitment, JON SNOW.” Perhaps this is a deliberate mislead, and he’s actually tricking the others to think he’s leaving her when in fact he’s coming back. But that was a shock.

This episode easily had the best fight scenes in it since the Battle of the Blackwater, from the direwolves to the end scene (sob). But there’s also a pretty fantastic fight scene with the Three Danyketeers: Jorah, Grey Worm, and Daario. Of course there was the constant threat that Daario was leading them into a trap the entire time, but he stayed true to the Khaleesi. What did you think of that scene, Chris?

Christopher: I thought the fight scene was pretty amazing, though there was something about it that was weirdly familiar. I didn’t put my finger on it until I read a review of the episode that said it was “very 1960s Batman.” And it was! Something about the way the bad guys encircled them and got fought off was very reminiscent of the way in which Batman and Robin always found themselves surrounded by wave after wave of assailants. All it needed was “PAFF!” and “CLANG!” being thrown up on the screen to be perfect.

Strange overtones of Adam West aside, I thought it was really well done, and it was quite satisfying to see Grey Worm fight—after all the hype about how awesome the Unsullied are in combat, it was good to see that the eunuch has some game. But the scene was also entirely different from the novel: in the book, Yunkai submits to Daenerys’ demands and allows their slaves to join her growing army. I suspect they made the change as a means of letting Daario prove his bona fides … and also because it’s more exciting than simply watching a stream of former slaves issue from Yunkai’s gates.

That being said, I found that all the Daenerys bits in the episode were somewhat flat. Perhaps I was just clenching up in anticipation of the wedding, but it seemed somewhat hurried and rote: Daario establishing himself in Dany’s inner circle; Jorah getting his alpha male hackles up; those hackles going up further when Dany gets flirty; Barristan being honourable. About the only real point of interest is the point Daenerys makes of asking Grey Worm’s opinion—emphasizing that he is no longer a slave, but a leader of his people. And the ending, when Jorah returns to tell Daenerys that all those soldiers streaming out into the courtyard in fact proceeded to surrender, it feels somewhat anticlimactic. I think it would have made for a far more affecting and dramatic scene to have seen the Yunkish soldiers throw down their weapons after a threatening moment where they just stood silently around the Danyketeers.

(Now you have me wondering: which one is Athos? Porthos? Aramis? I would have to assume Jorah is Athos, and Barristan Aramis … which would mean Daario would have to be Porthos, with Grey Worm taking on the heroic role of D’Artagnan. He certainly fights well enough).

But to return to the north: if we ignore the Red Wedding, easily the most affecting moments of the episode belonged to Jon Snow and Ygritte. The closer they get to Castle Black, the greater the tension, as we know the moment of truth is coming for Jon. I loved everything about the ramp-up to the fight, from Jon’s subtle smack on the rock with his sword to warn the horse-breeder, to the way he distracts Ygritte so her arrow misses. Rose Leslie, it needs to be said, was stellar in this episode—she did more with her face than everyone else’s words combined, wearing her fear and suspicion and love for Jon Snow all the way through. When she misses the man on the horse, the look she throws at him is so conflicted it’s heartbreaking—though not as heartbreaking as her utter shock at his betrayal when he rides off.

If Ygritte’s shock is the most affecting moment, I’d say the most satisfying one is when Jon Snow kills Orell, murmuring “You were right about me all along.” Cold comfort for the wildling, I suppose (poor Gareth. Always getting the short end of the stick). It’s dueling wargs, though, and Jon has no time to take satisfaction in his victory as Orell’s eagle proceeds to dive-bomb him. These pets … so, so protective of their humans.

The other storyline in this episode, of course, was the continuing buddy comedy starring Arya and the Hound … not nearly as entertaining as Jaime and Brienne, but with some funny moments. My favourite bit was Arya preventing him from killing the cart man. Their exchange is worth quoting in its entirety:

“You’re so dangerous, aren’t you? Saying scary things to little girls. Killing little boys and old people. A real hard man, aren’t you.”
“More than anyone you know.”
“You’re wrong. I know a killer. A real killer.”
“Is that so?”
“You’d be like a kitten to him. He’d kill you with his little finger.”
[indicates unconscious man] “Is that him?”
“Don’t kill him! Please! Please don’t.”
“You’re very kind. Some day it will get you killed.”

And then as the cart man struggles back to consciousness, Arya matter-of-factly thwacks him across the skull again. And for all of the Hound’s show of being unimpressed, the look he gives her as she walks past him is appraising.

What I loved about this is it shows two sides of Arya—on one hand, practical and fearless, unfazed by neither the Hound’s looks nor his brutality; but she is still a lost little girl, and in a moment of weakness reaches for the memory of the last person who impressed her—Jaquen. Her description of him is funny but also vaguely pathetic, like some phantom big brother she wishes could rescue her.

What did you think of the Arya moments, Nikki?

Nikki: I realize GRRM clearly has a penchant for killing Starks, but seriously, if he touches one hair on Arya’s head…

I thought Arya’s scene definitely had some of the comic highlights, as did the scene where Robb stood before Walder and apologized for not marrying one of his female descendants. VERY funny, actually, which is something that tipped me off that things were about to go VERY BADLY.

Tip #1: When Robb Stark said to his mom (I might be paraphrasing here), “So, I’d like to ask for your advice out of the blue and make amends with absolutely no lead-up to it whatsoever after locking you up and treating you like a prisoner forever, BECAUSE you counseled me on something else that I’d completely ignored, and of course by saying this I’m reminding viewers of that OTHER thing you counseled me on — marrying Walder’s kid — and therefore hinting that something very bad is about to happen. Oh, and just to drive that point home, let’s put this little chiseled model of the Twins here on the board…”
Me: “Oh shit… Robb’s going to die.”

Tip #2: When Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter says to Robb, “And we shall name him EDDARD!!”
Me: “Oh crap. That kid is doomed. So… she’s going to die. And Robb. And baby makes three.”

Tip #3: Arya looking out at the Twins while the Hound is totally wasting time eating pig’s feet and not moving for god’s sakes!!! and he says, “You’re worried you won’t make it in time.”
Me: OH MY GOD they’re going to kill all of them.

Tip #4: The merry little wedding band begins playing “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” during the celebration.
Me: WTF they’re going to lock them in with a bear?! Or… they’re going to slice off a hand. Last time I heard that song Bolton’s men had just sliced off Jaime’s hand.

Tip #5: Bolton’s sitting there.
Me: I’m going to be sick.

So… was it worse than what happened to Ned in season 1? Yes. Three Starks and an unborn child is pretty darn awful. (And methinks Edmure isn’t going to fare well down the hall there…) But was it as shocking as Ned’s? No. For weeks fans had been talking about a Very Big Thing that was going to happen. I had no idea it was going to be this. But I figured someone was going to die. And by the time the wedding was in full swing I knew it was going to be a Stark or three. My stomach was in terrible knots. Seeing the end was like knowing I was about to step into a boxing ring, and then having to deal with pain that’s much worse than what I could have possibly imagined. But with Ned? There was no way they were going to kill him. Major character… most famous person in the cast… the guy on the freakin’ season 1 poster and all promo materials… yeah, they won’t kill him. They’re going to go up there, and bend him over on the thing and Joffrey will be a prick and Arya will run up there just in time and OH MY GOD THEY KILLED HIM WTF?! To go back to the boxing metaphor, it was like I was walking down the street enjoying the beautiful day when I suddenly got walloped in the gut so hard it knocked me unconscious.

The Red Wedding was horrific and awful and the scope of it was inconceivable, but it wasn’t quite the shock that Ned’s death was. Was I still shocked? Holy hell, yes. DAMN I thought Filch was awful when he was at Hogwarts, but that was nothing compared to what he’s like now.

But the one thing I absolutely didn’t see coming… was the direwolf. Catelyn was shot and Robb was shot and Talisa was stabbed repeatedly in her gut and my hand was over my mouth to stifle my screams (even if you see it coming, you just can’t imagine how horrific it’ll be). But when they cut to outside, and Arya senses something is terribly wrong and runs to the direwolf, I was begging her to get there. And she didn’t. When the dog rolled onto the ground and she saw its face as it died, I lost it. Tears. Everywhere. We had just seen how powerful those animals were (and perhaps the warg scene was there just for that foreshadowing), and to watch the light go out of its eyes was devastating. And then we cut back to the Red Wedding, and I began to think that Catelyn had a chance. That she was going to watch her son die, that she was going to slit the throat of Walder’s wife (which elicited no more than a “meh” from him) and then her punishment would be to go on living, having witnessed all of it. The camera slowly pans in as Catelyn looks like she’s had a lobotomy: she just stands there, eyelids heavy, mouth agape, like her mind just can’t take all of this pain and horror. And then, silently, Walder’s guard steps up and with one movement, slits her throat, and she falls. Fade to black, silent credits.

One of the most powerful moments I’ve ever seen on television.

And, just as she did two seasons ago, Arya arrived just in time to find out that one of her parents has been killed, and before she can do anything, a large man has grabbed her and stopped her, probably saving her life.

They have totally turned her into Batman.

So, tell me how the scene on screen compared to the books. Were you disappointed? Pleased?

Christopher: I was very pleased—if that’s a word I can use to describe my reaction to such a horrific scene. I think they did an excellent job in dramatizing it. They made a handful of changes, all of them minor and none of which affected the scene adversely. If anything, some of the changes were to greater effect: for one thing, in the novel it’s not Walder Frey’s wife that Catelyn threatens and kills, but his grandson—a simpleton who has been given the role of court jester and renamed Jinglebell. It is utterly unsurprising that Walder Frey is indifferent to his idiot grandson; it’s a whole lot colder when he says of his young wife, “I can get another.”

The other significant change is that in the novel Robb is more circumspect and does not bring his wife with him to the Twins. Thus, the fact that they went for Talisa first should not have surprised me as much as it did … but I was shocked, horrified really, for when the Frey henchman stabbed her repeatedly in the belly, it was one of the most brutal moments I have seen on this show—and that’s saying a lot, I think you’ll agree.

I’ve spoken to a handful of people today who have read the books, and the consensus seems to be that knowing what was coming created its own unique tension leading into the last ten minutes. Speaking for myself, as soon as we were past the actual ceremony and into the feast, I could feel my stomach start to clench up in anticipation. I rewatched the episode this afternoon, and tried to see the massacre scene as if I hadn’t read the novels. I found myself deeply impressed with the pacing; the first go around I didn’t notice it as much, as I was just bracing for the midden to hit the windmill, but on returning to the scene I was struck by how well they built the tension. At that point, you didn’t need all of us GRRM fans gleefully saying “just wait!” And you didn’t need the copious foreshadowing that you pointed out … just a few hints, and Catelyn’s wary expression as she senses that something is amiss. And when the song starts playing … I’d forgotten that in the novel the signal to start the killing was “The Rains of Castamere.” It’s even more haunting to hear it on the show, that mournful threatening melody, and Michelle Fairley does a lovely job of registering the slow realization of their danger.

I’m with you on the direwolf. The cut from Catelyn’s face as the song starts playing to where they’ve penned up Grey Wind—with the strains of the melody still audible—reminds us of how vulnerable Robb and the others are. We’ve already seen direwolves come to the rescue of one Stark son, but the camera tells us now that that won’t be repeated. Grey Wind’s agitation mirrors Catelyn’s.

In an odd way, the killing of the direwolf gave the scene its finality before Robb and Catelyn died. At this point there isn’t really any hope that they’ll live—the shocking death of Ned Stark in season one taught us there are no miraculous rescues on this show—and the cruel and efficient slaying of the animal who is Robb’s protector and the symbol of the Stark family reminds us of that fact.

It was a hugely powerful ending. Catelyn’s final despairing cry and her vacant expression as she allows her throat to be cut was heartrending. Even knowing how it ended, even having girded myself beforehand, it was devastating. I sat in the silence of the credits digesting it all.

One last thought: in the novel, the death blow is dealt to Robb Stark by a nameless Frey who says “Jaime Lannister sends his regards” as he slides the knife in. On the show, it was Roose Bolton who finishes Robb off, saying, “The Lannisters send their regards.” In the novel, the Boltons aren’t in the thick of the betrayal, but Roose is happy to let it play out and claim the North for himself. Here, he’s the co-architect of the scheme with Walder Frey, and seems to take a perverse pleasure in it—letting Catelyn realize that he is wearing armour under his clothes, and thus revealing his complicity.

Did I say he and Walder were co-architects? Perhaps I should be more specific—they were sub-plotters. The true architect, of course is back in King’s Landing. Remember when I said those letters Tywin was writing would play a major role later?

Any last thoughts, Nikki?

Nikki: Just this afternoon I was sealing an envelope (everyone I know has a birthday this week, it seems) and suddenly stopped and thought, “Oh my god, Tywin’s letters. He was orchestrating all of this.”

I joked on Twitter that last night’s episode had two camps: the one going, “OMG! OMG! SOB!” and the other saying, “BWOOHAHAHA! WE HAVE WAITED FOR THIS MOMENT.” But like I said above, I certainly believe you when you say that as a reader, the suspense and adrenaline were probably almost unbearable, while we non-readers were watching all the other stories, “Oh look, Hodor’s talking! And oh hey, Rickon’s talking, too!! Ooh, they killed Orell, and did you see—” and the readers are going, “OH BLOODY HELL ENOUGH WITH THIS JUST GET TO THE BLOODY RED WEDDING THIS IS KILLING ME.” So perhaps there’s a bliss to our ignorance.

But no longer. As soon as next week’s episode is over, I’m reading these books. Chris and I have already discussed doing blogs where I read and discuss with him, our own book club of two. I just can’t take it anymore. GRRM is a mastermind, a genius, a sadist, a very evil man, and I want to read his words before I see them transformed for the screen.

I just can’t imagine what the fallout for this will be, but DAMMIT I can’t believe after next week I have to wait a whole year. Argh. Bring on the books, baby. 


The Question Mark said...

I agree completely with Christopher's comment about my "Stomach clenching up". Knowing it was coming didn't diminish the shock AT ALL.

What really got to me was the abruptness of the final few seconds, how that Frey guard just walks on screen, calmly slits Catelyn's throat, and then stomps away without a second thought. Just like a real-life tragedy, it's over in a split-second even though (to most involved) it feels like an eternity is going by.

I just finished the latest book a few weeks ago and I'm itching for Book 6. Here's hoping it comes out sometime this millennium!

Also, a question for CHRISTOPHER and NIKKI: having just finished all the Ice & Fire books to date, I started Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, which I hear good things about. Have either of you read it? If so, what were your thoughts?

Winter is coming.

humanebean said...

I began reading the books between Seasons 1 & 2 of the show, and believe the third book in the series to be the best. While reading "Storm of Swords", I was completely blown away at the events of the Red Wedding, actually putting the book down briefly and saying something profound and articulate, such as "HOLY SHITEGEIST!".

In almost any other novel or series that I can think of, the events depicted in the final episodes of this season on TV would be the absolute show-stopper. It is a tribute to GRRM's skill that the rest of Book 3 (slated for next season) and the remainder of the as-yet-incomplete book series are as worthy and compelling as these shocking developments.

Heroism and treachery. Innocence and Evil. The wages of Peace, and the devastation of interminable War. The virtues of the Righteous, and the vices of the Self-Righteous — and vice-versa. The abrupt and spectacular demise of characters with whom we empathize and closely identify, and the endurance, or casual fade, of villains on whom we have fixed our enmity and desire for revenge.

Character arcs so well-written on the page are understandably difficult to dramatize on the small screen, especially plot lines involving dozens of major characters, eons of backstory, and multiple points of view across a series that stretches towards the double-digits when all might be said and done. While I have objections both major and minor as regards the HBO adaptation, I will be forever glad that the showrunners chose to take on this impossible task.

They've created some indelible characters, brought some tremendous performances into the limelight, and introduced millions of viewers to the existence of this towering series of novels. Thanks again to Chris, and to you, Nikki, for taking the time to share your thoughts on the show and the books so that we all have the opportunity to reflect anew on our enjoyment of this epic tale.

JS said...

Oi! My head still hurts.

thanks for a great write up - I am even less articulate than usual.

I had heard the term Red Wedding, and actually had a pretty good idea Robb would die, expecting that it would be as the result of witchcraft from Mellisandre's leeches. But, damn.

My stepson insists I read the rest of the books - I have only read the first one. I guess I can no longer put it off. I know what I am reading this summer.

Phrases I am hoping we will see payoff from - The North remembers. And. Winter is coming. I have a feeling greater horrors are in store.

Anonymous said...

I started reading the books after a marathon of catching up on two seasons. I like knowing that I can shut my eyes at certain points watching. Reading is less stressful than viewing for me. That being said, my eyes were glued to the knives and swords on the screen. wow.

Joel said...

While I've read the books, I did enjoy the non-RW scenes in this episode. So many were pivotal moments - Bran warging Hodor and Summer, Jon's running away... The Red Wedding itself was more like getting a needle - hurts a bit, but it's good for you in the long run. Though I would have preferred a bit more of a fight. Not having the Greatjon there was a slight disappointment. As was the lack of discussion regarding hospitality rules. When the Starks first arrive at the Twins, Frey presents bread and salt - which is a sacred vow that they are under his protection. I believe way back in Season 1, Catelyn makes a big deal of this for Robb when visiting Frey the first time. Basically, the Frey name is mud. Not sure if that part was clear - Nicki?

There were a few other interesting deviations:

Where's the Blackfish? He slipped away thanks to his bladder. I'm surprised he was allowed to leave.

Are the Umbers still alive? They're mentioned by Bran as Rickon's safe haven.

It's been a while since I read a Storm of Swords, but (Christopher) wasn't Bolton in on it? Wasn't that part of letting Jaime go and abandoning Harrenhal (and Vargo Hoat/his TV counterpart)?

I thought Catelyn's murder of an innocent girl was interesting. I had forgotten Jinglebell (couldn't really think at all as that scene was unfolding). Catelyn has been all about honour, she has sworn a vow to kill Frey's wife, he has broken his vow of hospitality, and as far as Cat knows - all her sons are dead and her daughters captives. Her final act in killing Frey's wife seemed like a suicide of sorts, a bitter acceptance of it all being over. I don't know - would Frey have kept her for a captive otherwise? But keeping her arms at her side while her throat was slit... There was silence in our house after that. Haunting.

That was a lot to take in - and I'm not sure if I really want to go re-watch the Red Wedding. Thanks for the recap - fantastic as always!

Teebore said...

I've not yet read past the first book, but I was far more shocked at Catelyn's death than Robb's. Even putting aside the fact that he is, in his father's image, the most traditionally-heroic character on the show (which automatically makes him a target to GRRM, for whatever reason), I've had a bad feeling for him ever since he got married. Which was compounded when he (seemingly) got off easy for breaking his word to Frey. Then compounded more when he made amends to his mother in this episode. Then REALLY compounded, to the point where he may as well have stabbed himself to death, when he started talking about his unborn baby at the wedding reception.

But Catelyn, wow. Mind=blown.

Not only was she a POV character in the books, but she was the last representative of that older generation of Starks, and really, the last of the older "good guys", and I figured that made her safe.

Even after Frey dismissed her threat to his wife, I figured, "this is it, this is how she survives. They'll kill Robb then she'll be kept alive as a prisoner, forced to live with the knowledge of all those deaths, truly, a fate worse than- oh, nope, they slit her throat. She's dead."


You win this round, show.

Gretchen M said...

What I find interesting is the sort of spoilery bits someone gets who has read the books. Because I assume anything they change they clear with GRRM-"Like hey is Robb's wife going to do anything in books 6 or 7?" otherwise it would cause huge issues if they want to stay faithful to the books down the road.
So Talisa's death makes me think nothing much interesting will happen with Jeyne Westerling down the road...

paleoblues said...

Regarding Jorah and the "Batman" scene. Seeing the set during the "battle", I first flashed on a different iconic '60s series, the original Star Trek.

Michele said...

Harper Collins UK has posted the "A Storm of Swords" chapter that contains the Red Wedding online in a PDF format to allow curious fans to see how the famous sequence played out originally. Very interesting reading. Here is the link:

Anonymous said...

To all of you who haven't read the books - just until next season when Sansa kills Dany in single combat and takes the dragons and claims the Iron Throne for herself!!! (of course I kid).

Even knowing what happened I was still shocked by the brutality.

On a lighter note I did love the little look Walder and Rob exchanged after the bride turned out to be attractive. See Rob could've had the hot wife and the Frey army.

Even though this was a great episode I missed the Lannisters. They will always be my favorites.

Tim Alan

Anonymous said...

Remember the two Freys who met with Robb and Edmure at Riverrun to negotiate the wedding? Lame Lothar Frey is the one who murders Talisa, and Black Walder Frey ("Do you want to count her teeth?") is the one who murders Catelyn.

Roose Bolton is as involved in the Red Wedding in the books as he is in the show. Robb isn't killed by a random Frey, but by Roose himself:
>>A man in dark armor and a pale pink cloak spotted with blood stepped up to Robb. "Jaime Lannister sends his regards." He thrust the longsword through her son's heart, and twisted.<<

The Bolton soldiers join with the Frey soldiers in butchering the loyal northmen who had been drunkenly celebrating.

Roose had apparently been planning a betrayal for a long time. It's not mentioned in the show, but Roose had also previously sent infantry loyal to Robb (Glover, Tallhart, Cerwyn, Hornwood etc.) to Duskendale near King's Landing, which was not a strategic target of Robb's. These loyal northerners are crushed in battle by Sam's father Randyll Tarly. Roose then tells Robb that Robett Glover was to blame for the disaster, but his real objective was to weaken Robb's army.

Blam said...


That was devastating — especially the repeated stabs to Talisa's abdomen, given her just-revealed pregnancy. I can't deny being glad in a way that one of the storylines has come to an end, however, notwithstanding that it will eventually impact other characters. And for all that Robb was a decent guy, I also can't deny that he was not the best military tactician nor that he probably deserved to pay (in some form; not like this, of course) for reneging on his pledge to Lord Filch.

@Christopher: Jon Snow betrays the wildlings

I was really mad at Jon Snow for seeming to abandon Ygritte. My assumption in the moment was that he was beating a strategic retreat with some plan in mind and will come back for her, but she clearly doesn't know or think anything of the sort; this may be completely wishful thinking on my part.

@ Christopher: Rickon gets to talk! ... Too bad we won’t see him again for the foreseeable future.

You don't think he and Tonks stumble upon the Red Wedding aftermath in the season finale and exact some righteous vengeance by killing everyone at the Twins? Oh, right: You've read the books.

I totally wanted Hodor to mumble "Hodor" in his sleep, by the way. And for all the love we have towards the big guy, when Jojen mentioned that it was a tremendous leap from being able to possess animals to posessing Hodor, I can't be the only person who thought "Welllll..."

@ Christopher: the very idea of learning things in the abstract from “marks on a page” is utterly alien to Gilly

I loved, loved, loved that, and not in a "Go readers!" Church Lady Superior-Dance kind of way. Her concept of eliciting information based on scrawling in a book as wizardry makes complete sense.

@Nikki: Let’s just say I wish I was limited to Hodor’s vocabulary right now.


@Christopher: I didn’t put my finger on it until I read a review of the episode that said it was “very 1960s Batman.”

Yes! Star Trek too, Paleoblues.

Blam said...

@humanebean — I think you mean Schei├čegeist, which I've been told is the bogeyman German parents use to frighten their children into potty-training, and I do not ever want to encounter one. (It's also the Von Trapp Family's least-requested song.)

Suzanne said...

Joel, as viewers who have not read the books, my husband and I completely missed the significance of the salt and bread. I noticed it being passed around and wondered why the camera was focusing on it. I came to the incorrect yet funny conclusion that it was meant to show the stinginess of the Freys. My husband said he didn't even notice the salt and bread. I do think this could have been explained better for those who haven't read the books.

Of course, I liked this episode a lot, but I found myself much more interested in Bran and Joh Snow's story line than the red wedding. The part of the red wedding that got to me most was Arya having to witness the aftermath while intuiting what had happened. I guess I just wasn't that into Robb, Talisa, and Catelyn.

On the other hand, John leaving Ygritte behind and missing an opportunity to meet up with Bran really got to me. I hope that some of you are right when speculating that John will go back for Ygritte. I can't see her trusting him now, though.

Did anyone else wonder why seeing the two direwolfs didn't tip off John to Bran and Rickon being nearby?

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