Game of Thrones – Recap: It’s a Nice Day for a Red Wedding
The penultimate episode of Season 3 of Game of Thrones saw blood pouring down like rain. Of course, there was an actual storm to murk up and muddy Westeros as well. On a show where everything should be taken as an omen, and it’s certainly been a while since our characters have seen a solid downpour, Jojen Reed’s (Thomas Sangsters) simple prediction that thunder would clap mere moments before the clouds actually began to crackle initially served as a bit of a comedic break; however, by episode nine’s close, we’d see things quite differently. A few beloved characters, who’ve been dragged through the mud a bit as of late, met their bloody deaths tonight. This was the moment obnoxious readers have been spoiling for fans of the HBO hit since its start. The Red Wedding was upon us, and it certainly was a dastardly shade of crimson. The eerie lyrics of “The Rains of Castamere” tell the tale of a fallen House that had dared to challenge Tywin Lannister and his family’s power. As the title of episode nine, and without a Lannister in sight, what could this mean for the first family of Game of Thrones? I’m not sure the angst-filled lyrics of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” (from which I nabbed my nifty recap title. Get it?) are enough to convey the utter devastation we would feel by the close of episode nine. Direwolves, where do we go from here?
Also, before we start the recap, I’d like to note that, aside from a rare and spectacular white walker sighting, there is no kind of moment I enjoy more so on Game of Thrones than witnessing characters who’ve been so vastly separated just barely coming into contact with one another. Of course, there are also moments when characters just barely miss that long awaited reunion, and that works too.
Samwell: Quickly, let’s review Samwell’s (John Bradley) blink-and-you-missed-it scene on our screens tonight. Sam and Gilly (Hannah Murray) finally reached the sight of The Wall. Gilly stared stunned as quite possibly the first wildling to reach the gargantuan ice block without any fear of ending up slaughtered by “crows.” Sam was a man with a plan. Through thorough reading, he learned of a certain “Black Gate,” an enchanted teleport door straight through the ice that had been created for use only by members of The Night’s Watch. Gilly has a certain way of looking up to Samwell that makes him feel like a hero, which is not a sentiment Sam is quite acquainted with. He is her “wizard,” and I’m not sure there is a label that could make Tarly any prouder. He’s so well read and intelligent, generally speaking, that to Gilly, his knowledge is magical.
Daenerys: The Khaleesi (Emilia Clarke) grew tired as her quest to conquer Yunkai dragged on. Thankfully, Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein) had joined her ragtag team of faithful followers, and the sellsword knew his way in and out of this yellow city. A back gate, one commonly used for mid-night trips to visit the sex slaves of Yunkai, would serve fine as a means into the city. From that point, Daario and two of Dany’s best warriors could unlock the front gate, admitting her army to reap the fruits of her labor. Well, Daenerys doesn’t actually have to do anything herself at this point, which makes things interesting for us as viewers. We’re not used to watching one of our heroes sit and wait on the sidelines while others battle for them. True, Cersei awaited her doom with Sansa Stark during The Battle of Blackwater Bay, but we got to watch Tyrion fight for his House in her stead.
Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) remained wearisome regarding Daario, who behaves somewhat like a character ripped from the cover of a romance novel. I’m not going to fault Daenerys for allowing his charms to woo her. The girl has had a tough couple of years, and the pickings in Slaver’s Bay are surely slim. Still, Jorah had a point, in that Daario had betrayed his partners without much consideration at all. What would stop him from betraying Dany in order to claim a reward three times that which was originally offered to him? Greyworm (Jacob Anderson) joined Ser Jorah and Daario on their quest through the desert city’s back gate, and the trio fought an onslaught of defenses before the night would end. Things were looking grim at the start, but by the end of episode nine, a bloody Ser Jorah was elated to alert Dany of her latest sacked city. The slaves of Yunkai had thrown down their spears, but had Daario truly proven himself a trustworthy? Only time will tell. Luckily, dragons grow over time.
Bran and Jon: Yet another ragtag group made their way to The Gift, a long piece of land bestowed upon The Night’s Watch by Bran the Builder, one of the most prominent figures in Westerosi folklore. The area is beautiful and lush, but threats from wildlings drove people from the land years prior to Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) arrival. Jojen, Meera (Ellie Kendrick), Hodor (Kristian Nairn), Rickon (Art Parkinson), and, of course, wildling mother hen Osha (Natalia Tena) joined him on his journey north. The storm drove the group inside a tower, a tower that was most likely haunted because, well, this is essentially a group of children and Osha is quite possibly the most superstitious character we have on Game of Thrones. I love watching Osha interact with the youngins, especially Rickon, who is never short on spunk. I appreciated his retelling of Old Nan’s tale surrounding wildlings drinking blood from human skulls, only to look over and see Osha glaring, equal parts un-amused and proud guardian.
From the tower window, Meera spotted action down below. Wildlings had arrived amidst the downpour of rain. Funny enough, it was Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) own crew, fresh from surmounting The Wall. Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Orell (Mackenzie Crook) managed to spot an old horse breeder, and fresh mounts would surely make a massive difference in their journey. Unfortunately, they also planned on murdering the old man, considering that corpses can’t talk. Jon, of course, was opposed to the killing of an innocent, but eyebrows continued to be raised regarding his loyalty to their group, causing his argument to be all but muted. The old man had managed to make it all the way to Bran’s tower on horseback before surrendering to Tormund. Orell insisted that Jon do the deed, making both Jon and Ygritte (Rose Leslie) uncomfortable. Ygritte, of course, loves Jon and has, in the past, mentioned that his loyalty to her was all that mattered. When the moment actually came for Jon to prove himself to the wildlings, though, the look on her face said otherwise. Ygritte, unwilling to suffer through any sort of betrayal, put an arrow in the man’s heart before Jon could decide whether or not he could behead an innocent.
Hodor! Hodor! Hodor!
Meanwhile, Hodor swirled into a tizzy over his fear of thunder, and the blind madness of “Hodor! Hodor! Hodor!” had drawn Orell’s attention. While the wildlings focused on their execution, Bran discovered just how limitless his powers as a warg are. Without so much as trying, Bran skinwalked as Hodor, laying him to sleep before regaining consciousness. His friends sat staring in awe as he explained that what happened was more an issue of his will than an active decision. Shaggydog and Summer had been out hunting, and Jojen encouraged Bran to try actively connecting. The wildlings would be no match for a direwolf. Thus, as all hell broke loose between Jon and his former companions, Summer dove into the battle headfirst. Jon had little time to react to the sight of his long lost brother. His sword had been dying to end Orell for some time now. As Tormund wrestled a frantic Ygritte to the ground, Jon mounted a horse and road into the distance, leaving his love behind to soak in the rain.
From the tower, Bran revealed his discovery to Rickon, who was happy to hear that Jon managed to escape the evil wildling clutches. Jojen, both proud of Bran and totally fascinated by his newfound range of power, explained that no other warg had ever had this kind of boundless prowess. North of The Wall holds the key to Bran’s future, but Osha wouldn’t dare venture back. The time had come for our favorite wildling woman to bid her little prince farewell, for now at least. The land beyond The Wall was no place for Rickon, who needed her more than Bran did. Rickon gave his brother a tearful farewell before heading for the home of the Umbers, as Osha instructed the Reeds to watch over Bran, who’d become the world to her.
The Red Wedding: The King in the North (Richard Madden) continued to strategize his plan to invade Casterly Rock, the home of the Lannisters. He’d take their gold, claim their land, and prove Tywin Lannister to be entirely human and, thus, entirely beatable. Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) shared a nice moment with her son, who’d asked for her advice. The risk was worth the chance for vengeance, and Ned Stark’s head had been severed far too long to not go hard now. This is war, and Robb had no other true choice.
Meeting the Frey women and apologizing to Walder Frey was appropriately awkward. Robb had slighted the man by choosing love, Talisa (Oona Chaplin), over his sworn oath to wed a Frey girl, and he deserved to take his licks. Talisa, on the other hand, didn’t truly deserve the public assessment of her breasts, but she’s proven herself to be a soldier in her own right, and Walder Frey is the bane of Westeros. Even his family seems to cringe at his presence. Edmure Tully’s (Tobias Menzies) wedding to Roslin Frey would commence that evening.
Typically foolish Edmure was impossibly ecstatic to see his bride-to-be’s veil lifted, only to reveal a beautiful face. The Freys were not known to be lookers, folks, and Edmure had seemed to luck out. The ceremony went off without a hitch, and as the reception began, things seemed to be going swimmingly. Robb and Talisa had a fantastic moment where she revealed that she’d choose to name a newborn boy Eddard and that she’d enjoy watching Robb teach her son to ride horses. Catelyn sat smiling, finally warming up to Talisa as her daughter-in-law. Even the presence of the slimy Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) couldn’t dim her happiness, as the drama with the Freys and unrest within the ranks of The North seemed to be winding to an end.
Meanwhile, Arya (Maisie Williams) and The Hound (Rory McCann) continued to be a joy to behold. This show has an incredible way of pairing the most unlikely of characters together for our viewing pleasure. Somehow, someway, Arya and Sandor Clegane have become a dynamic duo. He admires her scrappiness and tenacity, while she maintains a sense of fearlessness while facing him, simultaneously conveying a sense of that honest childhood fear that comes from being far from home. The first scene between the two, in which The Hound considers killing a man for his cart, was stellar. Arya begged him to spare the innocent man’s life, revealing herself to be more kindhearted than she’d let on. The Hound assured her that such kindness would get her killed someday, only to watch Arya clock the waking man back to unconsciousness without a flinch. True, The Hound’s mention of Ned Stark’s beheading, following Arya’s revelation that she’d witnessed Clegane’s deepest fear of fire during his battle with Beric Dondarrion, was cold and cruel, but more importantly, he treats her like an equal. At least, as more of an equal as we’ve seen him treat anyone else. He may be a Hound, but what we have here are two lone wolves. He’s impressed with her attitude and moxie. Arya’s retort:
Someday, I’m gonna put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull.
I mean, without missing a beat! The fact that The Hound sat silent proves that the two are more so kindred spirits than they even realize. They would make their way to the wedding by nightfall. Unfortunately, the castle guard refused to admit their “cart of supplies,” as the feast was already near over. Arya, relentless in her quest to find her family, snuck in alone.
After Edmure and Roslin were carried off during the very traditional, and completely ridiculous, bedding ceremony, Catelyn Stark seemed to sense that something was amiss. The doors had been bolted shut, and the vibe had changed entirely. The band altered its tune, and a horrifying scheme was clearly being set into motion. Robb stepped forward to address Walder Frey, who had nearly forgotten to give his king a wedding present. Catelyn spotted the mail under Bolton’s sleeve before slapping him hard across his face. Crossbows began to fire before a Frey man took a knife to Talisa’s pregnant stomach with several deep stabs. Rob himself was riddled with arrows, while Catelyn fell beneath a bench.
Outside, Arya’s hopes were slashed to smithereens as she witnessed the brutal murder of Grey Wind, Robb’s direwolf, who’d been struggling to break free from his kennel. The Hound smacked her unconscious before hauling her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and making haste to escape the chaos.
Robb, still alive, clawed his way across the floor to his dead wife, whose corpse was absolutely terrifying to look at. The devastation of that brutal death sent me into shock, and the rest of the events of this Red Wedding seemed to take place in some other dimension. Robb looked absolutely out of touch, while Catelyn attempted to quash the coup, grabbing Frey’s young wife by her hair. The Stark mother pleaded for Robb’s life, offering herself as a prisoner and threatening to kill the girl if Robb was not set free. Frey would find a new wife, and The King in the North was murdered in cold blood by Roose Bolton. Enraged, Catelyn slit the Frey girl’s throat before letting out one last blood-curdling wail. Then, she too was killed.
George R. R. Martin ha,s quite obviously, received plenty of complaints from angry fans over the death of the Starks, Game of Thrones’ (and Song of Ice and Fire’s) first family, but the death of our beloved northerners serves as a fantastic example of why we love this story. Martin didn’t kill the characters, as he’s explained before, the other characters did. No one is safe. Well, except for Arya, because there is no way in white walker hell she’s not going to get her revenge.
What did you think of Game of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 9, “The Rains of Castamere”? Are you sad to see Robb and Catelyn go the way of Eddard, or had they made one too many bad decisions to deserve victory? Will Arya eventually get her sweet revenge? What does Daario have up his sleeve? Did you sympathize with Ygritte as Jon road off? Will you miss that wonderful wildling woman known as Osha?
Thanks for reading my Recap and Review of Game of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 9, “The Rains of Castamere”!