Game of Thrones Season 3 is here! Need to catch up? Don't miss Regina Thorne's Season 2 refresher or her recap of episode 3.01, episode 3.02, episode 3.03, episode 3.04, episode 3.05, episode 3.06, episode 3.07, and episode 3.08.
And now, onto last night's episode 3.09, “The Rains of Castamere."
***MAJOR SPOILERS FOR LAST NIGHT'S EPISODE***
In last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, the Freys hired Dothraki wedding planners (Motto: at least three deaths or your money back!) and threw a party at the Twins that no one in Westeros will ever forget. We focused on the Starks (and Dany), though the Lannisters certainly made their presence known. And we also found out that Roose Bolton likes fat girls, killer one-liners and sobriety at weddings.
We open with Robb asking Catelyn’s advice about his plans to attack Casterly Rock, the seat of House Lannister. Considering how rocky their relationship has been since Cat released Jaime Lannister, she’s a bit surprised that Robb is even talking to her, let alone asking her what she thinks. He tells her that her advice about not sending Theon back to the Greyjoys was absolutely correct and that because he ignored her, Winterfell, Bran and Rickon are lost. Cat nobly refrains from saying “I told you so!” and instead says that Robb’s plan is dangerous, though he thinks he can succeed with the help of the Freys. If the Lannisters catch Robb’s forces between Casterly Rock and the sea, “we’ll lose the war and die the way Father died. Or worse,” Robb says somberly, in a chilling bit of foreshadowing. Catelyn tells Robb that she wants the Lannisters to suffer by losing what they love.
We get a nice shot of Robb’s bannermen headed to the Twins, the seat of the Freys. Leading the pack is Robb’s direwolf, Grey Wind. Remember him?
At the Twins, Lord Frey is all fake courtesy, giving his guests bread and salt and then salting their wounds. First he lines up his daughters and granddaughters (and a plain lot they are, much to Edmure Tully’s dismay) and makes Robb apologize to them all for not picking one of them to marry. Then he insists on getting a closer look at Talisa, and uses this opportunity to make some gross lascivious comments about Robb’s wife, which Robb has to endure without responding because he really needs those Frey troops. (Sidebar: Given that they know Lord Frey has reason to feel touchy about Robb’s marriage, wouldn’t it have been smarter to leave the missus back at Riverrun where her mere presence wouldn’t annoy the man whose troops Robb wants?) At the end of this course of humble pie, Lord Frey says that the wine will flow red and the music will play loudly and they’ll put the whole mess behind them. Oh, so that’s why it’s called the Red Wedding!
Meanwhile, in the warmer climes of Essos, Daario Naharis, sellsword, hair-conditioner model, and new member of Team Targaryen, tells Dany about his plans to take the city of Yunkai by slipping in through the back gate. (I get the feeling that he has a lot of experience with slipping in through the back gate, if you know what I mean). Daario will take Jorah Mormont and Grey Worm with him, work their way through the city, and open the front door to Dany’s army. Jorah doesn’t trust Daario, mostly because he senses Dany’s attraction to the guy. Barristan offers to come along for the infiltration, but Jorah reminds him that his place is beside Dany because he’s her Queensguard.
We cut back to Sam and Gilly, who are still fleeing the White Walkers in a very relaxed and carefree fashion. One might say that they are strolling away from danger, in fact. Sam takes a moment to share some history about the Night’s Watch and their abandoned castles with Gilly since he’s aiming to get them through the Wall at the Nightfort. Gilly is impressed that Sam remembers all the stuff he read in books (I bet she’d be even more impressed by all those George R. R. Martin fans who remember minute details about fictional genealogies!) She tells Sam that he’s like a wizard, and thus makes one of his childhood dreams come true. Awww, they are so cute together! They catch a glimpse of the Wall through some trees, and Gilly tells Sam that her father always told her that no Wildling ever saw the wall and lived. “Here we are, alive!” she tells her baby, and I want her to hush now, because that kind of talk totally gets you killed on this show.
Meanwhile, Arya and Sandor come across a man with a broken-down cart laden with pork products for the wedding at the Twins. Sandor wants to kill him and steal his cart, but Arya won’t let him. She just knocks him out so they can steal his cart instead. Sandor tells Arya that she’s kind and that will get her killed someday. I guess growing up with Gregor Clegane probably messed up Sandor’s scale of “kind” but that’s definitely not how I would describe Arya at this point. And she’s only going to get even more messed up in this episode.
Bran, Rickon, Osha, Hodor and the Reed siblings take refuge from an enormous storm by ducking into an abandoned tower, perhaps the very same windmill that Ygritte found so marvelous when she saw it. I’m disconcerted by how Bran’s voice has dropped three octaves since the beginning of the show.
The Wildling band led by Tormund Giantsbane and including our Romeo and Juliet pairing of Jon and Ygritte comes across the isolated homestead of an old man who breeds horses for the Night’s Watch. Despite Jon’s objections, the Wildlings decide to kill the old man, though Jon manages to warn him by frightening the horses. The old guy flees, and the Wildlings view Jon with even more suspicion.
Arya and Sandor draw ever nearer to the Twins, and Sandor decides that Arya needs him to psychoanalyze her, telling her he can tell that the nearer she gets to reuniting with her family, the more afraid she is that somehow she won’t make it. Can you really blame her, though, considering all the people who’ve died or changed their faces in order to get her to this point? Arya tells Sandor that she’s going to put a sword through his eye and out the back of his skull. So who’s afraid now, huh, Sandor?
At the tower where they’re sheltering, Bran wonders how they will climb the wall. Their musings are interrupted by the arrival of the Wildlings who are chasing the horse farmer. Hodor gets really upset by the thunder, and everyone is worried that his shouts of “Hodor!” will tip off the Wildlings to search the tower. In the absence of Xanax, Bran wargs into Hodor’s brain and puts him to sleep. Though necessary, I find that a bit disturbing!
Below the tower, Orell has heard the shouting and tells Tormund about it, but Tormund dismisses the noise as part of the storm. The Wildlings have captured the old man from the horse farm, and plan to kill him so he can’t tell the Night’s Watch about their presence south of the Wall. Tormund is about to kill the guy himself when Orell suggests that they make Jon Snow prove he’s one of them, and not still a Night’s Watchman at heart (yeah, because he isn’t wearing any hat, and that is a dead giveaway!) Jon puts his sword to the old man’s throat, but he truly can’t bring himself to kill an innocent, so Ygritte puts an arrow through the old man instead. The things she does for love! Orell argues that Jon’s hesitation proves he’s still a “crow” and Ygritte is a “crow-wife” for helping Jon. Tormund agrees and orders Jon killed, even though Ygritte tries to defend him. Tormund holds her back, saying that he won’t let her die for one of “them.”
Up in the tower, Jojen urges Bran to warg into his wolf and ensure that the Wildlings don’t start searching the tower for them. Bran wargs into Summer, making him attack and kill the Wildlings (which would, I believe, be the first time he’s used his wolf to kill someone). The intervention of the direwolves helps Jon in his fight against Orell, whom he kills, saying that Orell was right all along about Jon. The dying Orell wargs into his own eagle, which attacks Jon and scratches up his face. No, not the face!!! At least Jon’s hair remains intact. Jon jumps onto a horse, abandoning Ygritte, whose face turns from sorrow to fury as she watches the man she loves gallop away from her. Remember when she promised she’d wear Jon’s cock as a pendant if he betrayed her? Be afraid, Jon Snow, be very afraid.
Daario, Grey Worm and Jorah infiltrate Yunkai, where they get a chance to show their mad fighting skills against a large number of opponents. They kill a bunch of Yunkai’s soldiers, but they appear at one point to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of people trying to kill them. This is not the last time someone will be overwhelmed in this episode.
At the Twins, Walder Frey leads a heavily veiled girl down the proverbial aisle to the waiting Edmure Tully, who looks extremely nervous about the prospect. When he lifts her veil, though, Roslin Frey is very pretty and Edmure looks relieved to see her. Meanwhile, I’m wondering if she really is Lord Frey’s daughter. Robb looks surprised, and Lord Frey gives him a hilarious look that says “see what you missed out on?”
At the tower, Bran tells Rickon that they have to part now, because Bran, Jojen and Meera have to go north of the Wall. Poor Rickon is heartbroken, quite understandably, since everyone he loves who goes away never seems to come back. (And little Art Parkinson was really great in this scene!) Bran tasks Osha with getting Rickon to the home of the Umbers, Stark bannermen who will protect him. It’s not like any Stark bannermen would ever betray the Starks...oh, right. Osha tells the Reeds to keep Bran safe because he “means the world to me.” I love that in this episode where high lords commit such grotesque and terrible betrayals, it’s Osha, the Wildling, who chooses to be loyal and trustworthy because the Starks treated her kindly when they didn’t have to.
At the Twins, the wedding reception is in full swing. Catelyn is seated between her uncle the Blackfish and Roose Bolton. Catelyn and the Blackfish talk about how happy Edmure looks, and the Blackfish dismisses Edmure as a fool, though a beloved one. Roose Bolton refuses the wine, saying that he needs to keep his senses clear; Jaime Lannister was right—it does look highly suspicious when someone doesn’t drink at a wedding! Bolton mentions that he’s married to a Frey daughter, one he chose because he would get her weight in silver. He picked a fat girl so now he’s very rich.
Talisa and Robb share some banter, with Talisa saying that if Catelyn had her way, Talisa would be back in Volantis and Robb would be the one to whom Roslin Frey was feeding blackberries. “Perhaps I’ve made a terrible mistake,” Robb tells her. Oh, Robb, if only you know! In fact, House Stark’s unofficial motto could very well be “I’ve made a huge mistake.” Talisa tells Robb not to kiss her so as not to insult the Freys further.
Walder stands up and says its time for the bedding, a quaint Westerosi custom where the men strip the bride and the women strip the bridegroom and then put them into bed with each other. I’m sure that doesn’t affect wedding-night performance at all! Edmure looks like he’s enjoying himself, but Talisa is pretty turned off by the custom, and Catelyn tells Roose Bolton that Ned wouldn’t let them do the bedding at her own wedding.
There’s lots of laughter and gaiety and lovely music from the musicians in the gallery above Lord Frey’s head. Talisa tells Robb that she intends to name their unborn child “Eddard” if its a boy. He touches her belly fondly, watched by Catelyn. At this point, one of the Freys closes the doors to the hall, and the musicians switch to the Lannister theme song “The Rains of Castamere,” much to Catelyn’s alarm.
Outside, Robb’s wolf Grey Wind is locked up and unhappy about it. The Freys are feasting the Stark bannermen, as Arya and Sandor approach with their wagon full of tasty pork treats. Surprisingly, the Freys don’t want them there, saying the wedding feast is over even though it appears to be going full swing. When Sandor turns around for a look at the back of the cart, he sees that Arya’s gone.
Inside, Robb hasn’t realized the significance of the music, but Catelyn knows something is terribly wrong, especially when Lord Frey calls for the music to stop and announces that he has a gift for the young queen Talisa. Catelyn looks over at Roose Bolton, and peels back his sleeve, which reveals that he’s wearing chain mail under his jacket. She hits him hard across the face and shouts to warn Robb, but it’s too late. Frey men step forward, and stab Talisa multiple times in the belly, while the crossbowmen (who are truly crossover artists, combining good musicianship with deadly aim!) shoot bolts into Robb, Catelyn and countless other wedding guests. Walder Frey continues to sip his giant goblet of wine as though he’s enjoying an episode of reality TV.
Arya sneaks into the Twins, where she sees Stark soldiers talking about going back to Winterfell and smiles in joy for about two seconds, until Frey men come out and kill the Stark soldiers before shooting Robb’s wolf full of crossbow bolts. People are running through the courtyards, intent on killing Starks, and Arya tries to use the confusion to get into the castle. Sandor tells her it’s too late, and knocks her unconscious before heaving her onto his shoulder.
Inside, Catelyn crawls over to Lord Frey’s long table, where Lady Frey is hiding. Robb drags himself to the dying Talisa while Catelyn grabs Lady Frey and pulls her from under the table by her hair. She holds a knife to Lady Frey’s throat and begs Walder Frey to let it end, to let Robb go. She promises that the Starks will seek no vengeance, so long as Frey releases Robb.
“You already swore me one oath,” Lord Walder says. “you swore by all the gods, your son would marry my daughter.” Catelyn calls to Robb, who is bent over Talisa’s body, to get up and walk out.
Lord Frey asks Catelyn why he would allow Robb to do that, and Catelyn warns him that if he harms Robb, she will cut Lady Frey’s throat. “I’ll find another [wife],” Lord Frey tells her, as Robb looks over at her and gasps “Mother.”
Roose Bolton swoops in, trailing his dark cloud of sulfur and doom, and stabs Robb to the heart, telling him that “the Lannisters send their regards.” Catelyn screams as she slits Lady Frey’s throat, and then closes her eyes, as though she is already dead. One of the Frey men slits her throat, and she collapses before we fade to black and silence over the credits.
In a series with a lot of people who’ve done terrible things, I really do think Walder Frey and Roose Bolton take the prize for Most Awful. The Red Wedding is probably the most powerful chapter in all of the books, and the show managed to translate that sense of mounting dread and horror onscreen with only a few minor deviations.
I’ve seen a lot of people say they won’t watch the show anymore (just as a lot of readers swore they wouldn’t keep up with the books) but me, I’m glued to that screen, friends! I want to know what happens to Arya and Bran and Rickon and Jaime and Brienne and Tyrion and Sansa and Cersei and the Tyrells, and I want to know if Walder Frey and Roose Bolton and Tywin Lannister will pay for their sins and whether Ygritte will rip Jon a new one if she ever sees him again and whether Melisandre is right about Stannis and how Gendry has recovered from the leeches and a thousand other things. The Red Wedding is a tragedy of epic proportions (not just for Robb and the Starks but for the North, and maybe for the realm, because remember, it was the Wall and then the Starks who stood between the night and its terrors and the rest of Westeros), but it’s also a game-changer and I want to know how the game goes on. So I hope everyone will mourn the dead and tune in again next week!
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current tv shows, and a hopeless romantic.