Monday, June 3, 2013

Game of Thrones Recap and Review

Season 3, Episode 9 "Rains of Castamere"

Written By: Amanda Lowery


The Red Wedding. For those of us who have read the books – we’ve been anticipating this horrible event all season. For everyone watching the show who heard your book worm friends talk around the ‘thing’ that’s going to happen that changes everything (so as not to spoil it), or perhaps you’ve even heard them call it ‘The Red Wedding’ and in between their knowing nods and solemn faces you gathered that it was going to be bad -- welcome to the land of the know, where Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark are butchered by the Freys at Edmure Tully’s wedding. Just as shocking as Ned Stark’s beheading, but even worse because of what it means.


There is a custom, a handshake law, a gentleman’s understanding, if you will – that once you partake of a host’s bread and wine that no ill can come to you. That’s why we see all of them eat the pieces of bread upon arrival. However, the Freys choose to disregard this custom. I think it’s important for viewers to understand that - besides the obvious horribleness that occurs -  this action changes things for everyone in Westeros from here on out. The Red Wedding becomes infamous, and because of the breaking of this very old custom no one is ever safe under anyone’s roof ever again. This tactic changes the culture of imposed civility upon all the different Houses.  

The reveal that Talisa is pregnant surprised readers for the obvious reason – we knew Robb was soon to die, but I had a feeling that it was a television tactic to heighten the dramatic effect of The Red Wedding. In the books Robb Stark marries Jeyne Westerling and when he leaves her at Riverrun to attend his Uncle’s wedding at the Twins she is not with child. So I had a feeling that having Talisa with Robb at the Twins while with child meant that she would suffer the same horrible fate. Only it was worse than I imagined because she was the first to be attacked and they stabbed her in her stomach which is just awful especially after having heard that if the child was a boy they would name him Ned. But I think the show creators also chose this avenue with Talisa to symbolize the absolute finality of the action. There is no lingering hope that a child of Robb’s might be born and raised to one day seek vengeance against the traitors – it’s just a dead end line for the Northern rebellion.

The wedding was an excuse for everyone to get drunk and celebrate, so the wine was flowing and when Lord Bolton remarks he isn't partaking because wine “dulls the senses,” I felt my stomach twist because I knew it was coming. Drunk soldiers are easier to kill, so the advantage was manipulated in favor of the Freys. The army of the North is dead, their King is dead and his heir is dead.

Catelyn told Robb back in season one when she first met with Walder Frey to gain passage through the Twins that he was a vengeful and prideful man. But, due to his demeanor upon their arrival they are lulled into a false sense of security especially because they believe they are protected under his roof. We could all see Catelyn grow uneasy when after the bedding ceremony the doors to the hall are closed and the band begins playing ‘The Rains of Castamere.’ Then she discovers that Roose Bolton has dressed in chain mail and she strikes him to call attention to the situation. She knows they’ve been betrayed – in fact, I think she began growing suspicious as soon as Lord Bolton tells her that Walder Frey paid him in silver twice what his fattest daughter weighed if he agreed to marry her. It was telling of a marriage alliance between the two houses, and a dishonorable one at that. Later, Lord Bolton speaks the words, “The Lannisters send their regards,” before
the killing stab to Robb’s gut which means that the Lannisters are also involved in this horrible ordeal (as if we had a doubt). I won’t superimpose book details here because I don’t know how the show is going to handle it.

At least Catelyn and Robb made a small peace in the beginning of the episode. He asks her advice having recognized the value in it and we get a taste of the anger that burns inside Catelyn against the Lannisters. After arrows have been popped through them both and Talisa dies on the floor Catelyn makes one last desperate attempt to save her son. She threatens Walder Frey claiming she will slit the throat of his wife if he doesn't cease the attack. Walder just says he'll get another wife, but it is Robb who says the only thing that matters in that moment when he says, "Mother" and the two make eye contact. It's a just before death utterance, not of fear or
anger, but peace - like maybe he sees that after all this there is peace for them all in death. After Roose Bolton finishes him off, Catelyn slits the throat of Walder Frey's wife and stands frozen in her grief. Her throat is slit by some nameless Frey, it's not a noble death, but it is a Game of Thrones death. It's also in direct contrast to when she was attacked in Bran's room and caught the blade at her throat with her hands and nearly lost her fingers. She was desperate to survive at that point in the series, but it's obvious that watching the death of her eldest child in such a horrible betrayal after a long line of grief - she has lost her fight, there is no will left to live as her hands stay at her sides and the slice of the blade ends it all.

There were also a lot of missed connections in this episode. The most heart-breaking of course is Arya as she came so close to being reunited with her mother and brother. And this is the thing we want – we want Arya to find her family and experience a bit of joy, but George R.R. Martin doesn’t write to give his readers what they want. The Hound was right when he observed her increasing fear that even though she was so close her fear that she wouldn’t get there was increasing the closer she got. Arya witnessed the killing of Grey Wind, but was once again spared the sight of her family’s slaughter. Just as Yoren prevented her from seeing Ned beheaded, the Hound sweeps her away before she can run into the hall to see what has been done to Robb and her mother.

Bran, Rickon and Jon also narrowly miss connecting with one another on the Gift. We now know that Bran is a very powerful Warg; he slips into Hodor’s body to calm him down. According to Jojen this is an uncommon gift and proves that they are on the right path to find the three-eyed crow beyond the wall. Unfortunately, we have to say goodbye to Osha who leaves with Rickon to seek out the Umbers. This separation occurred much earlier in the books, but I was glad to have Osha around. So now the Starks are even more dispersed.

Jon finally shows his true crow colors (not that there was ever really any doubt) when he refuses to behead the old horse breeder protected by the Night’s Watch. How very ‘Stark’ of him – Arya also saved the life of an old man in this episode. Jon uses the distraction of Bran’s wolf to attack the Wildling’s and gets away, but not before stabbing Orrell. Here we got to see another Warg at work as Orrell skin walks inside his hawk, attacking Jon’s pretty face. Ygritte is obviously unhappy; she shoots the horse breeder in lieu of the beheading and we wonder if she did this in protection of Jon and if she would have turned against her own for him. It appeared as though she took a stance to do so but Jon pushed her out of the way.

And on the other side of the world Dany is obviously smitten with Daario. He, Jorah and Grey Worm kick some Yunkai tail and capture the slave city for their Dragon Queen. But I saw Jorah see that Dany has eyes for Daario and it looked as though he was jealous, what did you see?



4 comments:

Stephanie said...

Interesting that you mention the difference between when Cat was attacked in Bran's room vs. here - I think you're right, in that moment she had everything to live for - she had to protect her son - but in last night's episode, she thinks she no longer has anything left to fight for. As far as she knows, all her sons are dead, and the Lannisters have her daughters. She gives up, and it's heartbreaking. I was glad she killed Frey's wife anyway…is that wrong? She was just a girl, and an innocent, but she had threatened to kill the wife if Frey didn't let Robb go, and Cat is nothing if not a woman of her word.

Nautius said...

Nice write up!

Robb's wife Jayne, was just a plot device in the book. I am glad they made her an empathetic character. It made that scene all the more loathsome.

I don't think they could have done that episode any better. Honestly, was there any part that wasn't palpable?

From Grey Worm showing off his killing prowess, to Arya watching Gray Wind die, to the look in Ygritte's face as Jon rides off and finally, to the deafening silence of the credits at the end.

There was so much in the details that when they came together, it was probably the finest episode of television history. Yeah, I know. That's saying a lot. But can you pick a television event that is even remotely akin to what we all watched last night?

Nautius said...

Nice write up!

Robb's wife Jayne, was just a plot device in the book. I am glad they made her an empathetic character. It made that scene all the more loathsome.

I don't think they could have done that episode any better. Honestly, was there any part that wasn't palpable?

From Grey Worm showing off his killing prowess, to Arya watching Gray Wind die, to the look in Ygritte's face as Jon rides off and finally, to the deafening silence of the credits at the end.

There was so much in the details that when they came together, it was probably the finest episode of television history. Yeah, I know. That's saying a lot. But can you pick a television event that is even remotely akin to what we all watched last night?

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading your recap. Still stunned and even though I am a non book reader I think I can see GRRMs patterns, like i knew dany would have no issue taking the city, i have had a bad feeling about rob and knew he was most likely the big death this year. Just too many signs and too many poor choices. But his wife and the way it happened and Cat, stunning. The follow up better be perfect or they will lose viewers hand over fist.

This show does the most amazing thing when it makes you rethink your attitude toward certain characters. Pity for Cersi and Theon, admiration for the hound and jamie, acceptance of the greyjoys and even the wildlings. Its amazing writing and im not sure tv has seen anythign like it til now or will ever see anything like it again.