THIS WEEK on Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere”


Astute viewers knew something was wrong when the wedding musicians started playing the Lannister song of war and battle, ‘The Rains of Castamere’.

I remember feeling physically ill for an hour after reading the chapter in George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Storm of Swords’ that corresponded to the end of tonight’s episode.

The interesting conversation is: what happens now? What’s become of the North? The Starks are dead or scattered all across the world. Winterfell is in ruins. Where are all of Robb’s generals, like the Blackfish, and the groom himself, Edmure Tully?

The still-more interesting conversation: will viewers be encouraged enough to hang on, persist, and see this story through? Many people I know felt completely gutted after this chapter years ago, and the ones I saw watching tonight seemed doubly so – it’s quite something to see these events play out visually.

How do you hang on when the good guys get torn apart so viciously, so brazenly?

Martin himself has had to answer that query before, and articles are being published now that this episode has aired that force him to answer it all over again. ‘Hold on’, every actor, producer and writer tied to this project says, ‘hold on to see if retribution is even in sight’.

There’s enough Stark blood still left in the world to make something happen, and Robb Stark’s enemies still have other would-be kings in their sights. The war isn’t over yet.

Lest we forget, other shit happened this week too.

Jon’s poor cover has finally been blown. And it was blown loudly enough to bring him within earshot of Bran, Hodor the lightning-howler and their company. Bran’s needlessly large party is growing thinner, fortunately, with Osha and Rickon’s departure, though is losing its most entertaining and vital member in the wildling.

Seeing Bran finally tie in with the rest of Westeros via Jon’s skirmish is encouraging though; his story was starting to feel totally disconnected from everything this season.

Let’s not forget that the dude’s well on his way to Professor X status now too; possessing Hodor, or at least mentally soothing him? What? Not even wargs can do that normally, according to Jojen. Bran’s something else.

Dany has handily swarmed Yunkai and brought another of the free cities to its knees. Watching Jorah, Daario and Grey Worm brawl made me yearn for some kind of Final Fight-esque beat-em-up starring the trio. The fight choreography was the best it’s ever been on this show, especially in contrast to the occasionally awful missteps in the fight between Beric and the Hound halfway through the season.

And don’t forget Arya; so close again, but so far. You had to believe her when she made a threat against the Hound. I think he believed it, too. Where is she headed to now? Her future has never been more up in the air.

Thrones keeps its ninth-episode tradition of changing the rules intact; first dead Ned without a head, then the magical warfare that turned the tide of the War at Blackwater, and now, the utter annihilation of the Starks, politically, if not in almost every other sense as well.

The producers have to know that the Red Wedding, as this massacre will come to be known, is bound to be as upsetting to viewers as it was to readers. Look to the finale next week to give us hope again. At least, I hope there’ll be hope. I’ve read ahead, and even I’m hoping we see something optimistic after tonight’s brutal display.

The great gut punch of the year is over. The watercooler will have a field day with this one tomorrow; Twitter’s already on fire with it.

Oh…and wasn’t Walder Frey just about perfect? The visual of Westeros’s chief pile of garbage sitting on his high chair lording over the slaughter as he sipped from his goblet won’t soon leave me. Somehow, that was the most poignant and disturbing image of all for me to take away from the night.

Tell me what you thought of this landmark episode below. Let’s console one another. We’re only one episode away from having to wait yet another year for more.

Budrickton, First of His Name, Warden of the Actual North (Canada)