Monday, June 3, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.09: "The Rains of Castamere"

”Well, let's get ready. The wine will flow red. The music will play loud. And we'll put this mess behind us.”
–Walder Frey

“Game of Thrones” sure pulls no punches, right? I’m still only about a third of the way through “A Clash of Kings,” the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, but I unfortunately knew this was coming thanks to an unfortunate spoiler on Alan Sepinwall’s blog a few years back. Sepinwall makes an admirable effort to keep book spoilers for “Game of Thrones” off of his blog, but this one wasn’t removed quite quickly enough. Robb had just had a rather triumphant moment in late season one, and I was all happy reading the comments on Sepinwall’s analysis of the episode when I saw something to the effect of “well, he’s not around for that long.” That’s when I just went for broke, Wikipediaed that shit, and learned about what Song of Ice and Fire fans call the “Red Wedding.” It’s the moment that the show’s creative team has been building towards for the past three seasons, and it was brutal.

Before we get to the Red Wedding, let’s talk about some of the other, less consequential things that happened in this episode. While this episode was somewhat limited, in that we didn’t see Theonm Jaime, Brienne, or any King’s Landing political drama, I do think that the episode, since it contained such an important moment, should have been as focused on last season’s “Blackwater.” Nevertheless, there were a couple other plots going on, so we should talk about them a bit. Across the Shivering Sea, Daenerys is finally moving in on Younkai. Daario has a strategy in mind, and of course Jorah is skeptical. It doesn’t help that Daario is trying to seductively place his hand on Dany’s as she points at a map. Daario insists that the slave Younkai soldiers will throw down their swords at the first sign of trouble, however, and Dany decides to take his word for it. It ends up being the right choice, as the team led by Jorah, Daario, and the head Unsullied are successful in sacking the city.

In other non-Red Wedding but still Stark related news, Bran and Jon have a close encounter. This really is the episode of Starks almost but not quite managing to reunite. It’s quite sad, really. Anyway, both Jon and the Wildlings and Bran, the Reeds, and crew are approaching the same farm just on the Westeros side of the Wall. A storm is brewing, so Bran’s crew hides in a tower. Jon and the Wildlings approach the farm because the Wildlings want to steal the horses that are being bred there. There’s a big confrontation between Jon and the Wildlings and the horse breeder. The Wildlings want Jon to kill the horse breeder to prove his loyalty. Jon is about to, but he backs down at the last minute and Ygritte does the job instead. A huge fight between Jon and the rest of the wildlings ensues, which is only resolved when Summer the Direwolf and Bran going all warg in the mind of a raptor save the day. Jon gets on a horse and leaves all the Wildlings, including Ygritte. Bran tells the rest of his crew that he saw Jon fight and run away. Bran still wants to go beyond the wall with the Reeds, but he wants Osha to take Rickon to safety at a nearby bannerman’s castle.

So now on to the big show. After a reminder about how Robb wants to storm Casterly Rock and needs Frey’s men to do so, the Stark/Tully entourage arrives at the Twins for the wedding, and we once again are treated to the disgustingness of Walder Frey and his family. Robb and his entourage appear before Frey to make his apologies, and Frey demands that Robb apologize to his daughters and granddaughters too, because the slight was really against them. Rob complies with grace, of course. Frey then demands to see Talisa and makes some very lewd comments about being able to see what’s going on under her dress. Robb comes very close to decking Frey for that one, but he manages to get it back together. While all the pre-wedding niceties are happening, the Hound and Arya are getting closer to the Twins as well. There’s a scene where the Hound wants to kill a man to steal his cart, but Arya stops him, just knocking the guy out instead. Arya accuses the Hound of not being as tough as he seems, considering he only seems to kill kids and the elderly. The girl’s got a point.

Anyway, the wedding ceremony itself is nice enough. Edmure is kind of skeevily delighted to find out when he pulls back the veil that he’s marrying the one attractive Frey daughter (maybe granddaughter?) after all. He puts the cloak on her just like the wedding in the past episode. There really are a lot of weddings happening/being planned in Westeros right now, aren’t there. The reception is where all the real action goes down, though. At first, it’s a normal happy reception. Edmure is still happy with his pretty bride, and Robb and Talisa are getting mushy about the whole occasion and their impending baby. Frey demands that the bedding ceremony take place, and so many of the celebrants leave for that. The doors close, and Cat smells trouble. Frey says it’s time to give Robb and Talisa the wedding present they deserve. That present happens to be Talisa getting stabbed in the stomach. Repeadely. Robb and Cat are also hit by arrows. Robb shuffles towards Talisa, and Bolton kills him as Cat pleads for his life. Cat then kills Frey’s wife, and her throat is subsequently slit.

Right before things get really bad, Arya and the Hound arrive at the Twins. The guards won’t let them proceed, which is when the Hound starts to get suspicious and Arya runs off. Arya hides when she starts to see Frey men killing Stark men. The real kicker is when they kill poor Grey Wind. That brings the total Direwolf death count up to two, which is really kind of upsetting. The Hound finds Arya and drags her away before she gets herself killed, too. And so we have the second almost reunion of the episode. It’s also the second time that Arya’s been dragged away from family members being killed. I feel bad for her really, always being the one right there to witness the murders of those she cares about. This episode is going to stick in my brain for a long time. While I knew it was coming, actually seeing it all play out, especially the deaths of Talisa and Grey Wind, just made me sad. And on a lighter note, I’ll definitely miss the pretty that is Richard Madden.

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