'Game of Thrones' recap: 'The Rains of Castamere' (aka the 'WTF GOT?!" ep we knew was coming)


Each week when I write my Game of Thrones recap, I say that this was the best of the season so far. This episode may not have been the best but it was certainly the most controversial, disturbing and talked about episode. Readers of A Storm of Swords knew this was coming and were bracing themselves. The other plots seem to pale in comparison to the gut-wrenching ending that was “The Red Wedding.”

Mom Knows Best/Walder the Perv
The close up on pawns strewn on a strategy table indicated plotting. The plan to take the Lannister’s home of Casterly Rock is making Catelyn nervous and Robb asks his mother for advice on how to handle the attack. A man asking a woman’s advice in those times? Inconceivable! The success of the tactic depends upon acquiring Walder Frey’s army of men. Catelyn agrees, "Show them how it feels to lose what they love."

An apology is in order...

The meeting of the Starks and Freys at The Twins seems to have gone well. A snack of bread and salt is even passed around which ensures guests safety in the home. I guess traditions were made to be broken?

Robb begs Walder Frey for forgiveness for the oath he has broken but Frey reminds him that it was one of his daughters that to which he had broken the oath. Frey introduces his bevy of daughters and granddaughters in a methodical and crass way and Robb lies, "Any man would be lucky to have any one of you."

Frey wants to see what made Robb break the oath and when he gazes upon Talisa, he understands. The scene is creepy and uncomfortable and we get a glimpse into just how cold this man is when he says that he can imagine her body under that frumpy dress she’s wearing, "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." Robb’s honor as a man and as a Stark is proven when he doesn’t kill this pig for saying such a thing about his pregnant wife.

Frey’s promise that “We’ll put this mess behind us.” is somewhat reassuring. Big sigh of relief for us but poor Edmure has to marry one of these girls that are either too young (some haven’t even bled yet!) or not very pleasing to his eye (I’m being kind).

When Walder Frey walks his heavily-veiled daughter down the aisle to be presented to Edmure, we all had a little smirk on our faces watching his discomfort, right? There was some comic relief especially when Blackfish Tully glanced over at one of the girls and shuddered a bit. Laugh it up folks! Anyway, Edmure’s bride turns out to be young and gorgeous and he’s a damn happy fellow. This is going to be great! Right? No.

Dany and Daario, Sittin’ in a Weirwood...
Dany’s attempt at acquiring all the slaves of Yunkai is achieved when her new sellsword, Daario the Romance Novel Cover Boy, reveals that he knows a secret passage way and provides a strategy to penetrate the door. Yes, I wrote penetrate, because that’s what he wants to do the Dany. Jorah is suspicious (read: jealous) but Grey Worm trusts Daario.

When Daario (who apparently can whistle like a pro!), Jorah and Grey Worm sneak into the gate and get overrun by guards, it gets pretty crazy. A kick ass and well-choreographed fight scene breaks out and we can’t imagine just three men could handle this onslaught of trained guards.

While waiting for the news, Dany is getting nervous and consults with Ser Barristan about the amount of time it takes to sack a city. Geez woman! Jorah and Grey Worm show up and look pretty beaten but deliver the good news that they were successful. Dany wants to know where her hunka hunka is...he appears (sigh) and kneels before her...”The city is yours, my queen.” She’s one happy queen.

Sam the Wizard
A brief scene with Gilly and Sam has them finally gazing upon The Wall. Gilly says that her father once said that no wildling has ever gazed upon The Wall and lived. In due time young miss, in due time...

Sam seems to know secrets about Castle Black that even the most experienced wildlings don’t know. How? Books! Gilly refers to Sam as a wizard. Seriously, ever guy wants a gal to refer to him as a wizard, am I right?

Arya and The Hound
We all know that Arya is one tough little cookie and this episode proves it once (or thrice) again. She’s seen some crazy stuff in her journeys and it’s toughened her more than The Hound thinks. She even threatens him with, “Some day I’m gonna put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull.”

Her innocence emerges as she gazes on The Twins in the distance, worried that she may not make it on time to be reunited with her mom and brother. In retrospect, this scene is more heartbreaking now. She was so close.

When The Hound and Arya arrive to infiltrate the wedding, she manages to escape the cart and sees horrible sights. She is recaptured and told by The Hound that “It’s too late.” and is knocked out and thus saved from the Stark slaughter. What’s next for Arya? Who will she get traded to for gold? It would have been nice to see her in the arms of her brother and mother but it would have meant certain death.

Wildlings Gone Wild and the Hodor Gang
Once again, the Starks were so close to being reunited with part of their family. Bran, Rickon (who gets lots of lines in this ep), Osha, Hodor, Meera and Jojen Reed seek shelter from a storm in a tower. Fun Fact: Hodor hates thunder...A LOT!

After the wildlings take over a horse farmer in true barbaric fashion, we learn that Jon Snow is still a softy. Typical Stark, being all nice and stuff. He wants the man’s life spared and the man escapes. They ride off, and catch up with the escaped farmer while coming upon the tower where Bran and the crew are hiding.

After Hodor’s shit fit over the thunder almost gets them caught by the wildlings below (Giantsbane passes it off as ghosts), Bran proves that he has some amazing powers by using his gift to sedate the giant. Meera is all,“What did you DO?”

The wildlings want Jon Snow to prove he’s on their team by killing the farmer. He can’t. Ygritte steps in and shoots the man. This scene gets all crazy with Bran, at the urging of Jojen, turning the direwolves on the wildlings. Jon Snow kills Orell the warg but not before Orell coaxes his eagle to peck the hell out of Jon’s gorgeous mug. Jon’s had enough of this crap and rides away, much to the chagrin of Ygritte.

Bran realizes that he’s got some major powers now and his quest to find the Three-Eyed Raven is even more necessary. He wants his little brother, Rickon safe because he is potentially the heir to Winterfell. Osha offers to take him to a Stark bannerman because she doesn’t want to go beyond The Wall. She promises to keep him safe and after tears and good-byes, she and Rickon venture into the night. Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor will continue on.

The Red Wedding
The reception after Edmure and Rosalin’s wedding started off well. There was drinking, except for Roose Bolton who says alcohol “dulls the senses”, and good tunes (including a guest appearance by Coldplay’s Will Champion).

After the barbaric bedding ceremony that ensures that the marriage is consummated, a sweet moment between Robb and his pregnant wife reveals that she wants to name their son, Eddard. Catelyn looks on and smiles. We smile. It’s sweet.

Catelyn’s facial expression turns when she sees a Frey close the large door to the room. The band starts to play the Lannister theme song, “The Rains of Castamere.” She realizes this is a terrible song to be hearing. Outside the doors, the Stark men are making merry, it’s a good thing they’re getting drunk. They’re about to die.

Catelyn and Roose Bolton exchange glances and Roose reveals that he’s wearing chain mail. Not typical wedding attire. She knows. During this exchange, Walder Frey tells Robb, “Your grace, I feel I’ve been remiss in my duties...” in other words, here’s your wedding present. Catelyn screams, “ROBB!”

A man then proceeds to repeatedly stab pregnant Talisa in her abdomen. We’re horrified. In the book, Robb’s wife is not present at the wedding; she stays in Riverrun. This makes it more disturbing. Arrows fly and hit the Stark men as well as Robb and Catelyn. Outside, the slaughter begins as Arya looks on. The direwolves are killed as well. It’s chaos.

Walder Frey merely sits and drinks calmly as this goes on. Robb and Catelyn manage to rise. Robb crawls to his dead wife and cradles her. He was winning the war, he was about to be a father, now he’s lost everything. Catelyn sees Frey’s young wife under the table and grabs her, using her as a hostage in order to save her first born. If Michelle Fairley doesn’t win an Emmy for this scene, it’s a crime. Her gravely voice, her begging, her distress as a parent who’s lost everything...it’s painful to watch.

Frey tells Catelyn he’ll just get another wife and reminds her that SHE swore him an oath too. Robb tries to tell her to just give up with a simple, “Mother...” His last words. Roose Bolton stabs Robb with “The Lannisters send their regards...” Was Tywin actually behind this? He DID write a lot of letters in this season, remember? Discuss...

Catelyn cries out at the death of her child and in her distress, slashes the girl’s throat. She too is then brutally murdered and the eerily silent credits role.

Audiences watching the show are silent as well but take to social media instantly. The episode was discussed so heavily that it trended on Twitter and prompted numerous discussions on Facebook. Even the day after, fans are still shaken. I’ll admit, I cried while writing this. I’m not ashamed. What are YOUR thoughts about the scene and episode as a whole?

The final episode of Season Three, “Mhysa” airs next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. It is also helmed by this episode’s director, David Nutter. Will is top this one for shock value?

For more insight into the Red Wedding, check out Entertainment Weekly’s interview with author George R. R. Martin.