Take a moment to consider the last wedding you went to: maybe you sat at a bad table? The DJ had the worst taste in music? The new shoes you bought gave you blisters? The catering was equivalent to dogfood? The venue was too hot?
Well you haven’t got a thing on the Red Wedding!
Let’s bitch it out…
Other things happened (good stuff, in fact), but it’s hard to put anything else in context when all I can do is think about the haunting images from the final moments of ‘The Rains Of Castamere.’ I’ll admit that the event was spoiled for me (I’ve read the books, and I’m in a different timezone). As a result, I’ve had hours to watch the interwebs tear itself apart in shock, anger and melancholy.
Like many Game Of Thrones fans, I’ve lived in dread and anticipation of this episode for some time. The lead-up to the Red Wedding has been challenging – as much as I think showrunners Benioff and Weiss do an outstanding job balancing all of the show’s disparate elements, I don’t think they did enough to prepare viewers for this moment. We’ve seen far too little of Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) this season and we’ve never really gotten to know Robb (Richard Madden) or Talisa (Oona Chaplin). For this reason I don’t think that the Red Wedding had as much impact as it could have.
Don’t get me wrong: ‘The Rains Of Castamere’ will go down in infamy along with the other ninth episodes from previous seasons. But I’m uncertain whether it’s a genuine emotion or if it’s just shock value. After all, it’s not every day you see two main characters and a host of extras taken out (Game Of Thrones has certainly proven itself unafraid of tossing away its characters – heroes and villains alike).
Perhaps this is just my initial gut-reaction? Like AV Club’s David Sims, I’ll confess that I found it difficult to remain an objective reviewer; it’s hard to be critical of something this visceral.
What stands out (and will continue to stand out) for me is Catelyn’s impassioned plea with Walder Frey (David Bradley). I’ve always loved Catelyn. She may not be everyone’s favourite, but to me she is the quintessential Game Of Thrones character: smart, ambitious, frequently in over her head and making errors but ultimately doing what she thinks is right. Was she a bitch to Jon Snow (Kit Harington)? Absolutely. Did she love and fear for her husband? Yup. Should she have taken Tyrion (an unseen Peter Dinklage) hostage or released Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)? Nope, but she did it anyways.
She’s not perfect. She effs up and makes the wrong call, even when she suspects it will hurt her children. She’s flawed, but oh so human.
So to see her desperately, hoarsely pleading for the life of the only child she knows is still alive…it’s just goddamn painful. She’s lost so much, suffered so much pain. She sees this as the only way to save the family she has left. And then Lord Bolton (Michael McElhatton) just walks up and takes that all away with a whispered goodbye from the Lannisters and a few stabs. It’s pointless to resist, but Catelyn follows through on her threat to kill Frey’s wife and then the camera lingers on Cat’s face. A beat passes, then two, and then some random soldier walks up behind her and slits her throat. End scene.
God…it just rips you apart. Makes you want to throw the remote and stamp your feet at the injustice of it. These were good people. They didn’t deserve to die at the hands of an asshole like Walder Frey or Roose Bolton. Locked in and shot down by archers like fish in a barrel after they’d been granted amnesty by breaking bread with Frey and his kin. It shouldn’t happen this way…and yet this is the world of Game Of Thrones, where good people are killed by total sh*ts and nothing can be done about it.
A few weeks ago The Kid who’s been torturing Theon (an unseen Alfie Allen) warned him not to expect a happy ending because that’s not the story that’s being told. And that, folks, is the warning from both creator George RR Martin and sadistic showrunners Benioff and Weiss: life in Westeros is hard and bad sh*t happens to good people. If you don’t like it…too bad.
What a great show.
- I’ve never been so tense watching an hour of television in my life. I just kept waiting for the hammer to drop. From the uncomfortable welcome when Frey sizes up Talisa to the moment Catelyn uncovers Bolton’s chainmail (in a beautifully realized silent moment), there’s just a pervasive dread throughout all of the Frey scenes
- We may not have known Talisa well, but that certainly doesn’t mean I wanted to see her brutally stabbed in the stomach and bled out in front of her husband
- In the other scenes, Dany (Emilia Clarke) sacks Yunkai, but in the greater context of the other stories, this storyline is my blah pick for the night
- We finally get some key developments with Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) who not only discovers he’s a powerful Warg (who can possess people!), but also sends away Osha (Natalia Tena) and Rickon so that he, Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and the Reed siblings can go over the wall
- Jon ultimately cuts and runs from the wildlings after being unable to kill a random horse breeder. I get that he’s taken vows and he’s a good guy, but seriously…just kill the guy. Heartbreak hotel: the look on Ygritte’s (Rose Leslie) face as he rides away
- Also heartbreaking: Arya’s (Maisie Williams) being thisclose to reuniting with her brother and mother. Obviously in hindsight it’s best she didn’t or else she would be dead, too
- Finally, RIP Grey Wolf. We barely knew you, but I imagine for some people this was the toughest death of the night
Your turn: what are your thoughts on the Red Wedding? How much did that hurt…or are you okay with losing Catelyn and Robb? How much do you feel for Arya losing her family after coming so close? And how does this compare to previous episode 9s? Cry, vent and applaud below in the comments
Game Of Thrones airs Sunday at 9pm EST on HBO