Episode nines are always pivotal episodes and this one certainly continued that trend. Head after the break for my thoughts on tonight’s episode, “The Rains of Castamere”.
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read A Storm of Swords. As such the post itself and the comments will contain spoilers. If you haven’t read ASoS yet, you can discuss this episode in our non-book reader recap. Thanks!
The episode opens with Robb and Catelyn discussing plans. Robb wants to know Catelyn’s opinion on his plan of getting men from Walder Frey and then taking Casterly Rock. Catelyn is on board. “Show them what it is like to lose what they love.”
In the North, Jon and the wildlings have come up a horse farmer. Tormunsd wants to kill him and steal the horses, Jon says to take the horses and leave the farmer alone, killing the farmer is just going to catch the attention of the Night’s Watch. Tormund says that is what he wants. They attack the farmer, but Jon smacks his sword against a stone during their charge, warning the farmer who jumps on a horse and gallops away. The wildling track him down outside an abandoned tower, where Jon is ordered to kill the farmer. He can’t go through with it and Tormund orders him killed. Jon defends himself, killing Orell in the process, but not before getting clawed in the face by his eagle. Some direwolves come to his rescue and Tormund holds Ygritte back, allowing Jon enough time to escape. Ygritte watches him go a mixture of pain and anger on her face.
Meanwhile, Bran and company are continuing their journey to the Wall. They stop at an abandoned tower for the night. The horse farmer rides up with the wildlings hot on his tail. The thunderstorm has Hodor rattled and hodoring loudly. Bran tries to silence him. “No more hodoring!” With Hodor not quieting down and Orell now suspicious of the noises coming from the tower, Bran wargs into Hodor, silencing him. Jojen is worried, however, that the wildlings will inspect the tower unless they are chased them off. He wants Bran to warg into Summer and attack them until they flee. Bran says he can only warg in his dreams, he doesn’t have command of it. Jojen counters that he just warged into Hodor and that a direwolf is nothing compared to a human. Bran concentrates and is able to control Summer and attack the wildlings, with Shaggydog following suit. With the wildlings gone, Bran makes the decision to split up, with Osha taking Rickon to the Last Hearth to keep him safe. Rickon says goodbye to Bran and then sets out as the Starks continue to scatter further and further apart.
One of those scattered Starks is currently traveling to the Twins, in an attempt to reunite with her family. Arya and the Hound come upon an old pig farmer headed to Edmure’s wedding and use the opportunity to take his wares for themselves. They arrive at the Twins but are turned away at the gates, being told that the wedding is over. During the conversation, Arya slips away and is able to find a group of northmen… who are subsequently slaughtered by some Frey men. Arya watches in horror as a caged Grey Wind is killed by Frey crossbowmen. She looks like she is about to do something rash, when the Hound clocks her on the head, knocking her out, and then carries her to presumed safety.
Inside the Twins, everything seemed to be going okay at first. Walder Frey received the King in the North and his men. Robb made his apologies to Walder and his daughters and then had a chance to leer at Talisa. The worst, however, seemed to be over and the wedding was still on. At the wedding, Edmure was surprised to discover his bride was much more pleasing to the eyes than he had hoped. At the wedding feast, the Blackfish jokes with Catelyn while Talisa tells Robb she wants to name their child Eddard, if it is a boy. All seems to be going well. But after Edmure and Roslin are taken out for the bedding, Lame Lothar Frey shuts the hall doors, the band begins playing the Rains of Castamere and the proceedings take an ominous turn. Catelyn notices that Roose Bolton is wearing mail under his shirt, but before she can say anything, Walder addresses the remaining guests. He says he wants to give Talisa a wedding gift and then all hell breaks loose. Catelyn realizing now that they are being betrayed, slaps Roose and screams Robb’s name as a warning, Robb makes a move towards Talisa, but it is too late; Lame Lothar pulls out a knife and repeatedly stabs Talisa in the belly. Other Freys are slitting throats and stabbing the Stark men still in the dining hall. The band has swapped their instruments for crossbows and are firing them at Robb and Catelyn. Walder looks on with an evil glint in his eye.
During a lull in the slaughter, Catelyn seizes a knife and pulls Walder’s wife out from under a table, holding her at knife point. She tells Walder to end this or she will kill his wife. Walder ponders the offer for a minute, “Then I will find another.” Robb rises to his feet, weakened from blood loss. He looks at Catelyn and says, not as the King in the North but as a scared boy, “Mother”. Roose Bolton steps up to him and plunges a knife into his belly. “The Lannisters send their regards.” Catelyn screams in agony then follows through with her threat and kills Walder’s wife. She stands there, in a stupor brought on by grief and pain and anguish, her heart completely broken and her will to live gone. Black Walder Frey comes up behind her and slits her throat, ending her life.
What I Liked
Red Wedding – This is a moment that many have been both anticipating and dreading for years. Reading it in the book was a gut punc, so how did the TV series do in managing to capture that feeling? Short answer: they nailed it. First they lull you into a false sense of security with what looks to be a happy wedding. But then the band starts playing “The Rains of Castamere”, the doors are closed and all of a sudden a huge sense of foreboding falls over the proceedings. The actual “red” part of the “Red Wedding” was as gruesome as one would imagine. Stabbing Talisa in her pregnant belly? The crossbow bolts pumped into Robb? Throats being slit? The rest of the Stark men being butchered? “The Lannisters send their regards.” Bloody and intense and emotional.
Catelyn – What a performance by Michelle Fairley in Catelyn’s final moments. The strength in those moments of terror. The raw emotion in her face and in her voice. The pain as she saw her eldest son die right before her eyes. Just an amazing death scene.
Arya – Poor Arya. So close. I liked all of the bits with her and the Hound. They are going to be a fun pair to watch heading into next season. But her seeing what was unfolding outside of the castle was gut-wrenching. First the Winterfell soldiers getting slaughtered and then Grey Wind (although the shot of his final breath was really fantastic). I knew they wouldn’t trick the viewers into thinking that Arya died as well though. That would just be too much to handle. (I’m pretty sure every single person who read her chapter in the book, skipped ahead to see if she was really dead or not.)
Queenscrown – Some other stuff happened in this episode! The Queenscrown sequence was, I thought, well done. It’s a tough sequence to film, with two different sets of characters in the same space but not directly interacting at all. Add on to that the action and warging and everything else. But I thought the staging was handled well and the stuff with Bran having to warg, first into Hodor and then into Summer, had the right amount of suspense. The only bit that was sort of cheesy was the bird attacking Jon. But really, how do you make a bird attacking someone NOT look cheesy?
Bran and Rickon say goodbye – So they finally split these two up. A great bit of acting by Art Parkinson in this goodbye scene; my heart was breaking for poor Rickon. I wonder about where they are going though. Will they really go to the Last Hearth? Or will they end up somewhere else? And will they show us their travels or will Osha and Rickon be off-screen for the foreseeable future?
The taking of Yunkai – While the bulk of the battle happened off-screen, the part they did show was pretty damn awesome. Jorah is a still a boss with a broadsword, Daario is a swashbuckling mercenary who kills as easy as breathing and HOLY SHIT GREY WORM WITH THAT SPEAR!! Knowing what was coming at the end of this episode, I loved that we got this bit of fist-pumping action.
What I Didn’t Like
Coldhands? – Still no Coldhands and it is certainly looking like they may not show him at all, what with Sam knowing about the door beneath the Wall already. Hopefully they are just waiting to show him as a bit of a cliffhanger-y ending for Bran’s storyline in the season finale.
What else is there to say? As usual, the show absolutely nails the big moments. I got sick to my stomach once Lame Lothar shut those doors and stayed so all the way through the end credits. The rest of the episode was really good too, but this episode will forever be remembered for the Red Wedding.
What did everyone else think? Commiserate in the comments and rate the episode in the poll.