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Game of Thrones, Episode 3.9, “The Rains of Castamere”

We were not prepared.

I mean, yes, some of us knew this was coming – ever since we threw down A Storm of Swords in tears and refused to finish it for oh, another month (just me?) [Not just you.~PoM] But it still doesn’t prepare you for the Red Wedding come to life – and death.

We’ll get to that – first, there were actually other things happening in Westeros and Essos this week.


Daenerys and her commanders – Jorah, Barristan, Grey Worm, and now Daario Noharis – discuss Daario’s plan to take Yunkai. Jorah is wary, but it’s Grey Worm that Dany defers to, and his trust in Daario gives her the excuse she needs. The three of them, minus Barristan, are to sneak into the city by a back gate used by the mercenaries to visit the slave brothels of Yunkai, kill the guards, and make for the main gates to let the Second Sons and the Unsullied in. So far, so smooth… as was their fighting. Grey Worm: disciplined and exact; Daario: quick and ruthless; and Jorah, whose sword was somehow everywhere at once. More awesomely choreographed fights, please!

For a few minutes the writers keep us guessing, with our three noble heroes surrounded and supposedly outnumbered. But the Yunkai’i guards, also slaves, crumble fast, and Dany wins the day. Yunkai is hers. What does she intend to do with it? And what does she intend to do with Daario “a man cannot make love to property” Noharis? Did you see Jorah’s face when her first question is about Daario?

Jorah can't believe what Dany just said
What, him?

North of the Wall

Sam and Gilly escaped the White Walker and have come within sight of the Wall; now all they have to do is find a way through. Sam is confident that what he’s read in books will enable them to find the secret passage through at one of the abandoned Watch castles. Gilly is simply overawed by the Wall and Sam’s ability to read. It’s lovely to see Sam realise he does have worthwhile skills, but the power differential between him and Gilly is painful to witness. Let’s hope those books aren’t hopelessly antique, eh?

Sam smiles
Sam “Wys-ars” Tarly; lit. one who, at the bottom, is very wise.

(Can we get Gilly a baby wrap of some kind? The poor woman’s arms must be killing her.)

The North

Also approaching the Wall, from the other side, are Bran and his depressed, dirty band of followers. They take shelter from the approaching storm in an abandoned tower, when they hear Wildlings approaching. Hodor panics, and to save them being discovered by his yelling, Bran does something he’s never done before: he takes over Hodor’s mind. It turns out no one’s ever done that before, not even the Wargs north of the Wall.

It seems they might be safe for the moment, but Bran and Rickon’s direwolves are still outside, and, urged by Jojen, Bran does something else he’s never done: voluntarily entered Summer’s mind.

Bran warging
Just doing a little light mind control

Jon didn’t have a good day, and he’s having a worse night – Orell’s needling and Jon’s soft-heartedness have finally gotten to Thormund, and he forces Jon to kill the man they want to steal from. At the last second, Jon is forestalled by Ygritte, who shoots the old man dead, and then Jon is fighting for his life (neatly knocking Ygritte out of the way before she can defend him, and Thormund holds her down when she tries to get up). The direwolves come to help, and Jon finally gets to do what he’s been wanting to do for a while: stick a sword in Orell. But the Warg has one more trick: as Orell dies, his eagle attacks Jon, who barely gets away. He doesn’t seem to spare a backward glance for Ygritte, who thought she could love him into loyalty.

Jon Snow kills Orell
“You were right all along”

Back in the tower, Bran, thanks to Summer, knows Jon is alive and on the right side of the Wall. But he also knows that Jojen is right; he needs to find out what he can do, and he needs to go beyond the Wall. He won’t force Osha to do so, though: he has another task for her. He wants Rickon safe, and asks her to take him to the Umbers. Osha’s not the type for long goodbyes, and after Rickon and Bran say goodbye, they take off. The last of the Starks are separated: Sansa in King’s Landing, Jon on his way back to Castle Black, Arya with the Hound, and Robb and Catelyn… well.

Bran, Hodor, and the Reeds are going north to find a way through the Wall. Why does that sound familiar?

The Twins

Arya and the Hound are within sight of the Twins, and with the prospect of reunion with her mother and brother so close, Arya’s getting antsy. The Hound understands more about her feelings than we might expect – he’s a perceptive murderer-for-hire – but he underestimates her: she knows his weakness; she’ll defend a blameless carter from death, but is happy to knock him unconscious and threaten to murder the Hound herself. She surprises him.

The Hound stares after Arya
Maybe kidnapping her wasn’t such a smart idea

Robb’s visit to the Freys starts out as expected: the guest-welcome of bread and salt, a parade of Walder Frey’s unmarried offspring (whose names he can’t remember), and his deliberate insults of Talisa:

…he betrayed me for firm tits and a tight fit”¦I’d have broken fifty oaths to get into that without a second thought.

Then it’s on to the wedding, and the bedding, which even Edmure is looking forward to once he sees the daughter Frey reserved for him.

The biggest contrast between this event in the book and here is, as pointed out on, the difference in atmosphere. In the books, Catelyn’s creeping sense of unease is ever-present and she is constantly fighting her instincts that something is wrong. Here, you get almost no sense that there is anything amiss until “The Rains of Castamere” starts playing. I’m not sure that that’s a bad thing: in reading, you get to enjoy the time for that sense of horror to build and unfold: in the time-sensitive TV format, they went for the huge emotional contrast instead. Just when Catelyn and Robb have been through the awkwardness and humiliation of Walder Frey’s audience, feeling relieved that they’ve accomplished the next stage in their plan, and safe enough to enjoy the thought of an impending Stark heir, Catelyn realises Lord Bolton is wearing chainmail… and all hell breaks loose.

Lord Bolton looks at Catelyn
Guest right? Guessed wrong!

The slaughter begins with Talisa, stabbed repeatedly in the belly – the viciousness of the Freys exceeded only by their attention to detail, as Arya sees when Frey crossbowmen shoot Grey Wind before he can come to Robb’s rescue. Catelyn, the warrior mother as she was for Bran, tries her best to save Robb’s life at least, grabbing Frey’s wife and threatening to kill her unless he lets Robb walk out. Robb, shot with arrows, having seen his bleeding wife die in front of him, and having already accepted the possibility of death with his plan to take Casterly Rock, doesn’t look much like he wants to live at all, but ever the obedient son, he gets to his feet: only to be finished off by Lord Bolton with the message:

The Lannisters send their regards.

Walder Frey, with his utter disregard for women, never would have struck the bargain Catelyn offered. A wife is a wife, he’ll just get another, but she cuts his wife’s throat anyway before her own is cut in turn, and she bleeds to death on the floor with her son and daughter-in-law.

Robb stands beside Talisa's body as Catelyn and Lord Frey look on

So, what did you think…?

A few plot questions: the murder of Talisa seems to put paid to the rumours of her being a Lannister spy, but I’m not entirely convinced she wasn’t someone’s. Will her death go unavenged? Who will survive the Freys’ betrayal: Edmure was on his way to the bedchamber, and the Blackfish stepped outside for a piss… Greatjon Umber wasn’t in this episode – is he still on Robb’s side? Will his family really shelter Rickon from the Boltons, obviously eager for control of the North? And will Davos start to believe in Melisandre’s power, now that Robb’s dead?


WARNING: if you want to talk about the books from this event in A Storm of Swords on, please preface your comment with a ***spoiler***. The first two books and first two seasons of the show are not considered spoilers.

Screencaps c/o All images are the property of HBO.

23 replies on “Game of Thrones, Episode 3.9, “The Rains of Castamere””

I was shocked. And a little depressed, if I can be a little melodramatic. And what gets me is that I felt what Catelyn felt in the books. I kept waiting for a shoe to drop. I knew something was coming when Talisa was all lovey dovey about naming the baby after Ned! The #1 favorite TV trope: when a character or characters seem to resolve their issues, expect death. I mean, I knew the Starks were gonna die (I have not read the books). They just aren’t as interesting as Dany or the Lannisters. (I’ve already forgotten about Stannis and the Greyjoys) But I was expecting it on the battlefield or later! Please excuse me while I continue in my GoT depressed haze now..

I haven’t read past the first book, though I’ve long ago read pretty much all the spoilers. So seeing Jon Snow (who, frankly, in the show doesn’t live up to the hype book readers seem to have for him) ride off at the end of that fight scene was a serious WTF. He had already killed everyone there but Thormund, and that would have been Ygritte and Jon against him, so galloping off seemed to make no sense.

Even though I knew what was coming in the Red Wedding, I was totally shocked by the brutality of the Frey’s murder of Talisa. That’s the part I cried out during.

He has to get back to the Night’s Watch – that’s been his goal all along, since Qhorin orchestrated that Jon kill him. It wouldn’t make sense to take Ygritte – they couldn’t be together – and if he went back for her it would just be more difficult for him to leave again. Also, she might kill him.

I picked up “impending doom” all through the wedding but then again, I knew what was coming so maybe that explained it.

I was very impressed with how the show carried out the carnage, especially the absolute silence at the end. Credit roll in a vacuum….well done, Show. Well done.

(Also and kinda funny…I saw a tweet from Joss Whedon after the episode basically saying that now people could start yelling at GRRM and stop yelling at him. I chuckled. :-D)

I was constantly looking for double meanings to everything… so I winced when Frey said “let the wine flow red…” because wine = blood, and when Bolton doesn’t drink. But I genuinely think if you hadn’t been watching for clues and hadn’t been told to expect something you would not have known.

He’s a perfect example of the phenomenon. At least to himself. Dany just does not fancy him, what can he do? Ironically I think Daario and him don’t look that dissimilar… here’s a younger Iain Glen… they could be brothers (he also looks somewhat like Theon, oddly)

I have not been reading the books, but Boyfriend has been and he just got past the Red Wedding in the books before the episode came on. So he knew what was coming (and has been really good about not spoiling anything for me. Regardless- by the end of the episode I was all manner of stunned and basically shouting “What the hell! Worst everyone-dies episode ever! I am SO UNHAPPY with everything!” (A friend on FB posted that he snapped at his girlfriend “I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at George RR Martin!”)

I think what kills me the most is that, Catelyn doesn’t have the opportunity to find out that Bran and Rickon (and Arya) are actually alive! And Arya essentially watches MORE of her family die! She seems to be the only one who continually watches family members die without dying herself. [sidebar: I’ve liked The Hound since he saved Sansa from being raped and I think he and Arya are a totally adorable and badass pair.]

Based on Bran’s new powers, I think it would be absolutely fitting and full of awesome if Dany came back to Westeros to take over the throne, but Bran comes sweeping in, brain-controls the dragons, and exacts revenge. I know that’s not the kind of story that GRRM writes (the kind where it comes out happy and neat), but I do think that would be a totally amazing turn of events.

Yup, Arya really gets the short end of the stick in that regard. And it is heartwrenching that the Starks are so close to each other in this episode – Jon to Bran and Rickon, Arya to Catelyn and Robb – but only one person in each setting knows they are.

Kudos to your boyfriend for being able to keep that a secret so soon! I was so upset when I first read it!

I would be rooting for that ending too, but there are all kinds of clues/hints in the books about how “the dragon needs three heads” so it’ll probably be more complicated than that.

I read the books and was waiting for this and it was still brutal to watch. And no, it wasn’t just you who threw the book across the room and didn’t pick it up again for weeks!

Having said that, the reactions to the episode from people on Facebook and Twitter who hadn’t read the books were hilarious. This gif sums up my feelings.

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