Every year, Game of Thrones watchers know that the ninth episode of the season is going to be a doozy. The first season, it was the death of Eddark Stark. The second season, it was the Battle of the Blackwater. This time it was the Red Wedding. The Red Wedding has been a scene dreaded by book-reader fans since the series was announced. It didn’t disappoint. The show delivered one of the most brutal and horrific sequences ever aired on television. I am still in shock and will probably be mourning for the next few days. Before we dive into the wedding, let’s check in with the rest of Westeros.
If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones episode 3×9 “The Rains of Castamere” stop reading, spoilers ahead.
In what feels almost like a side story this week, we catch up with Daenerys and Co. Dany and her flock of men are discussing strategy on how to best infiltrate Yunkai. Dany needs help figuring out the map and Daario is more than happy to assist her. Jorah can’t take the flirtation. Daario points out a location where he can secretly enter the city – a back gate that the Second Sons used to sneak in and out prostitutes. Jorah wants to know how he knows about it; Daario rebukes him. He didn’t use this gate as Daario believes you cannot make love to property, or slaves. So Daario knows Dany’s weak spots, interesting.
Daario presents a plan – the best three fighters will infiltrate the city through the back gate. They will then move to the front gate, open it for the army, and unleash Dany’s forces on the city, sacking it in no time. Jorah doubts Daario and his intentions, believing it to be an ambush. “You’re a suspicious person. In my experience, only dishonest people think this way,” Daario responds. Ouch, Jorah. He knows your weak spots, too.
Dany asks Grey Worms what he thinks and he trusts Daario and the plan. So it’s decided. The trio will leave that night. Barristan tries to join the group but Jorah won’t let him. He insists that Barristan is the Queen’s Guard and that his place is by the Queen’s side. He reminds Barristan that they must “do whatever needs to be done, no matter the cost, no matter our pride.” Hmm, this is interesting. These two clearly have a lot of tension together and trouble has been brewing in paradise for a while. I think this is foreshadowing to something happening that ends up shaking up Dany’s group of advisors very soon.
Daario, Jorah, and Grey Worm are next seen preparing to enter the back gate of Yunkai. Daario says he will enter, kill the guards, and whistle a signal. “I’m a great whistler, greatest whistler in the land. “ Jorah can barely hide his eye roll. Pretty quickly we hear a whistle and he actually is pretty good. So the three men are in, and they are preparing to face what they think will be a few guards. They are soon faced by way more than a few guards. But with some impressive sword and arakh (Dothraki weapon of choice) work by Jorah and Daario, oh and spear work by Grey Worm, can’t forget him, they are through them pretty quickly. And I feel like I have to point out that Jorah has some impressive skills. But he is not pleased. “That’s what you call a few guards?”, he grumbles to Daario. As if on cue, a huge group of guards come storming in, encircling them. How can they make it out of this one alive?
Dany is waiting at camp with Missandei and Barristan. “How long does it take to sack a city?,” she asks impatiently. Jorah and Grey Worm suddenly return, bloody and beaten but alive. The plan worked, and everyone in Yunkai surrendered or died. But Dany seems disinterested. All she wants to know about is the whereabouts of Daario Naharis. The look on Jorah’s face is devastating. He finally realizes Dany definitely doesn’t return his feelings, and cares way more about the new young captain in her ranks. Daario gallantly enters the tent kneeling down in front of the Queen presenting her with the flag of Yunkai. “The city is yours, my Queen.” Dany has won, and her horde has just grown to a terrifying size.
Interesting Viewing Party Commentary – “At this point, the only thing that can take down Dany and her forces is if she somehow can come face to face with Bran. Why couldn’t Bran figure out a way to warg into a dragon and turn her own greatest weapon on her?” ~ Insight from my roommate
We guess only time will tell.
Samwell and Gilly – Sam and Gilly have finally made it to The Wall. As they march through the woods, Sam tells Gilly about a secret passageway through The Wall. She wants to know how he knows about it. Sam tells her he learned it by reading. Gilly replies, “you know all that by staring at marks on paper…you’re like a wizard!” Sam immediately lights up, he’s so cute and smitten!
As they approach The Wall, Gilly tells Sam that her father once said that no Wildling ever looked upon The Wall and lived. “And here we are, alive!” Oh Gilly, its not that easy. But, speaking of Wildlings…
Jon Snow – Snow and the Wildlings find the Night Watch’s horse breeder. Giantsbane wants to steal the horses and kill the breeder. Snow is against the idea, arguing that it’s not worth killing an innocent man, they should just take the horses and go. Giantsbane replies that this is part of the plan, to lure the Watchmen out and kill them away from their camp. With that, they storm the breeder’s home. On the way in, Snow bangs his sword on a rock warning the breeder. As the breeder climbs onto a horse Ygritte draws her bow and arrow. Snow says her name tenderly and she misses. She looks at him shocked.
Snow and the Wildlings catch up with the breeder; Orell demands that Jon Snow cut his throat, “Make the crow kill him, you’re one of us now. Prove it!” Snow picks up his sword and holds it to the man’s throat. He hesitates. Those Starks and their big hearts, it gets them every time (more on this later). Meanwhile, in a nearby tower…
Bran/Rickon – Bran and the gang are taking refuge from a storm in a tower that overlooks Snow, the Wildlings, and the breeder. The thunder upsets Hodor, he starts Hodoring and storming around the tower. It’s loud enough to attract the attention of the Wildlings down below. Bran, desperate to get Hodor to be quiet, knocks him out with his mind. Hmm, interesting.
Jojen convinces Bran to use his Warg powers to enter the minds of the direwolves, who are down there hunting so they can see what is going on outside of the tower.
Jon Snow is holding his sword to the breeder’s throat. Everyone around him is telling him to do it, even the breeder! Ygritte, knowing he can’t do it, shoots the breeder. “He’s a crow, he’ll always be a crow, and here’s his crow wife guarding him. He’ll stab us in the back first chance he gets,” says Orell. “Kill him,” replies Giantsbane and it’s on. Snow immediately pushes Ygritte out of it so she’s not fighting his battle for him. Giantsbane grabs her and forces her to watch, “You’re not going to die for one of them!” he screams at her.
The direwolves (via Bran) help Snow by attacking the Wildlings. There’s a brief moment where Snow looks around and is like wait a second, where did these direwolves come from!? He stabs Orell in the stomach and says, “You were right the whole time,” proving to the Wildlings and viewers that he never intended to abandon the Watch. Orell uses his Warg powers to get an eagle to attack Snow. This part made me squirm; I was really worried he was going to lose an eye. Snow hops on a horse and leaves Ygritte and the Wildlings. Man, that’s a sucky way to get dumped.
After things quiet down, Jojen explains to Bran that although Wargs exist North of the Wall, he’s a special kind because he can enter other people’s minds. Jojen reiterates their need to go North of the Wall to find the three-eyed crow. I’m not a 100% sure of why this is so important, but okay, let’s go with it. Osha protests going North of the Wall and you can’t blame her; she worked hard to get south of it. Bran makes a decision; Osha will take Rickon to one of the Stark bannerman while the rest of the gang continues north.
Arya – The Hound and Arya are on their way to the wedding. They come upon a wagon. The Hound helps the old man fix his wagon and then knocks him out. He moves to kill him and Arya jumps in front of him. Much like Jon Snow, she protests the death of a man who didn’t do anything wrong. “You’re very kind,” he says “Some day it will get you killed (foreshadowing).” Oh the Stark family and their big hearts, I just can’t deal with it.
Later, Arya and The Hound arrive at The Twins. The Hound stops just outside the grounds for a little snack. Arya is getting anxious she won’t really get to meet up with her family. Like Bran and Jon Snow, she’s almost there. She’s been crossed too many times to be optimistic. When The Hound teases her, she replies, “Someday I’m going to put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull.” Damn.
Robb – “Are you sure about this?” asks Catelyn. They are standing over his map discussing the plan to go after the Lannister home of Casterly Rock (hello there Theon hint, click at your own risk). Catelyn is surprised to be back in her son’s inner circle, he explains that she was right about sending Theon to bargain with the Greyjoys and he respects her ability to think strategically. Now, he’s asking for her advice. The plan hinges on getting Frey’s forgiveness and troops. Catelyn gives her blessing, “Show them how it feels to lose what they love.” Oy, that was like a blow to the stomach.
At The Twins, Frey greets the Stark entourage with a tray of bread and salt. In the Seven Kingdoms, it’s said that you cannot harm a person in your home once they’ve partaken of your bread and salt. Robb begs for forgiveness since he is responsible for breaking the oath to marry one of Frey’s daughters. Frey brings out his daughters and explains that Robb could have had his pick of any one of them, including both twins! Robb explains, “My ladies, all men should keep their word, kings most of all. I was pledged to marry one of you and I broke that vow. The fault is not with you. Any man would be lucky. I did what I did not to slight you but because I loved another.” Talisa, that’s your cue. Frey wants to see what all the fuss is about. She steps forward. “Very pretty,” Frey says. “Prettier than this lot.” He says she’s trying to hide her figure under her dress but he has always been able to see what goes on under a dress. “You wanted to hide her you shouldn’t have brought her here in the first place,” says Frey. He then continues as Robb stifles his anger and Talisa braves his remarks “I say he betrayed me for firm tits and a tight fit, and I can respect that. When I was your age I would have broken 50 oaths to get into that without a second thought.”
During the ceremony, Frey brings out a heavily veiled bride for Robb’s uncle Edmure. After seeing Frey’s daughters earlier, Edmure is expecting the worse. But surprise, she’s gorgeous. Edmure breathes a sigh of relief and the ceremony continues.
We then move into the grand hall for the feast. Everyone is in good spirits. Catelyn and Roose Bolton are, dare I say, flirting. Edmure and his wife are totally smitten. Robb is looking at Talisa like his heart could just burst he loves her so much. Frey interrupts and declares that it is time for the bedding ceremony. It’s kind of creepy that this is the girl’s father saying it’s time for her deflowering, but whatever. The bride and groom are escorted out by the opposite sex to the bedroom, where they basically get to watch them mess around.
Robb and Talisa hang back and discuss the peculiar tradition. He explains that it provides proof that the marriage has been consummated. She redirects his attention to her growing belly and explains there are other ways of providing proof. Robb asks Talisa if she’s having a boy or a girl. She says if it’s a boy she wants to name him Eddard. Oh man, my heartstrings. They kiss. Catelyn, looking on, smiles. The family is joyous again and soon Arya will be joining, oh happy day!
Then a man marches to the back of the chamber and closes the door. Catelyn watches him. She seems concerned. Then the band begins to play “The Rains of Castamere.” As we learned from Cersai last week, the song was dedicated to Tywin Lannister after he crushed the House Reyne of Castamere. The song is the Lannister anthem. As soon as it starts, we know and Catelyn knows this is not good. She cautiously returns to her seat.
Outside Robb’s direwolf Grey Wind begins to whine. He is trapped in a cage. Robb’s men are getting drunk. Arya and The Hound arrive in their wagon, but they’re told they cannot enter since the feast is over. Soldiers run past them into the gate.
The music stops and Lord Frey addresses Robb. Catelyn, in full panic-mode, looks at Roose Bolton and he gives her a look. It could only be described as Come on; you know what’s going to happen next, don’t you? He then glances down at his sleeve. She pulls the sleeve back and he’s wearing chain. He’s dressed for a fight. You don’t wear chain to a wedding.
While all of this is going on, Frey is saying that he hasn’t given Robb a wedding present.
Catelyn rushes to stand and slaps Bolton screaming “ROBB!” Bolton runs away. A man runs up behind Talisa and stabs her, repeatedly, right in the abdomen. He won’t stop stabbing her! Robb sees it and is genuinely shocked. He can’t understand what is happening. His love, his baby, all the blood.
Crossbows begin to fire from the balconies. Robb is struck and he falls. Catelyn is shot through the shoulder. His men are being killed. It is a massacre.
Outside, Arya sees Robb’s men being killed. She notices Grey Wind in the pin and moves towards it to free him. Then Frey’s men storm out and surround the pin, firing crossbows killing Grey Wind. The Hound tells Arya “it’s too late” and knocks her out to take her away. She was so close.
Robb struggles to stand, he crawls over to Talisa. “The King in the North arises,” says Frey, obviously entertained at all this bloodshed. Robb’s love is dying alone on the floor; he has to be with her. Catelyn sees one of Frey’s young wives cowering under a table. She drags the girl out from under the table by her hair. Catelyn holds a knife to the terrified girls throat.
She begins to plead with Lord Frey to let Robb go. “Enough! Let it end! Please! He is my son, my first son! Let him go and I swear we will forget this. I swear it by the old gods and the new we will take no vengeance.”
Frey replies “You already swore me one oath right here in my castle you swore by all the gods that your son would marry my daughter.”
Catelyn continues her plea, “Take me for a hostage, but let Robb go.”
She then turns to her son, “Robb, get up! Get up and walk out, please. Please!”
Frey smugly asks, “And why would I let him do that.”
Catelyn gathers the remaining of her strength and announces, “On my honor as a Tully. On my honor as a Stark. Let him go or I will cut your wife’s throat.”
Behind her, Robb stands.
Frey goes “I’ll find another.”
Robb says, “Mother…” like he wanted to say, it’s okay, it’s done, we can rest.
Bolton comes up to deliver Robb’s killing blow, “The Lannisters send their regards.”
Robb falls. Catelyn wails. She kills the girl. Then she’s killed. Silence.
That’s it; there you have it, the Red Wedding. I cried on my couch in the fetal position for a little bit. Robb was supposed to be our hero; he was avenging his father’s death. He was winning the war. They ate the bread and salt. Arya was just outside. Everything about it was so wrong and harsh and heartbreaking. They killed everybody. He was in love; there was a baby on the way, a little Eddard no less! And that was his biggest mistake. Robb Stark died because he fell in love. Like I said, those Starks and their big hearts.
What’s next? Where can it go from here? Does this mean the Starks are no longer major players? When did Bolton change sides? Our guess is when he freed Jaime Lannister. Remember all those letters Tywin was writing while we enjoyed a little comedic relief? Now we know he was pulling the strings for the Red Wedding, he was behind all of it.
Keeping with this season’s theme of love versus honor, love continues to come at a very high price in Westeros. What does this mean for the other characters dealing with the same struggle? Now that Jaime will be back in Kings Landing, what lengths will he go to reunite with Cersei? Is it really that easy for Snow to abandon Ygritte and choose the Night’s Watch? What about Tyrion and Shae? How far will he go to keep his intentions with Sansa hidden from his father, and the love of his life safe from a familiar fate?
Rock Paper Watch’s Top Quote of 3X9:
Jenn’s Pick – “The
bloodwine will flow red and the music will play loud and we’ll put this mess behind us.” ~ Walder Frey describing what will forever be known as the Red Wedding
Elizabeth’s Pick – “You’re very kind. Some day it will get you killed.” -The Hound summing up all the Starks’ problems