Game of Thrones – Episode 3.9 “The Rains of Castamere”

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Synopsis:  Robb tells Catelyn of his plan to take Casterly Rock. She questions why he’s telling her and he says he’s seeking her advice. She tells them to show the Lannisters how it feels to suffer loss like they have. Walder Frey welcomes Robb, Catelyn and the others and Robb asks his forgiveness. Frey tells him to apologize to his daughters since one of them was supposed to be queen and now none of them will be. He introduces everyone to his daughters and granddaughters. Robb offers his sincerest apologies and says it was because he loved another, Talisa. Frey asks Talisa to come closer and he admires her beauty, but in a gross old man way. Frey accepts his apology and says it’s time to party. Daario shows Daenerys, Barristan, Jorah and Grey Worm the plan to sneak in and take Yunkai. Jorah is skeptical, but Grey Worm says he trusts Daario. Samwell and Gilly head for the wall, and Gilly admires Sam’s ability to gain knowledge simply by reading. Arya and The Hound continue toward the Twins and they see an old man with a flat. Clegane helps the man, but then knocks him out. Arya begs him not to kill the man, and the Hound acquiesces. He says her kindness will get her killed one day. Bran and his crew find an abandoned windmill tower and decide to take shelter from a pending storm. Nearby, Jon is with the wildling crew when they raid an old man’s farm for his horses. They chase him, but the man gets away. Arya looks upon the Twins. The Hound says he can tell she’s afraid of not making it there. And she throws back that she knows he has fear too. He’s afraid of fire. When he continues to provoke her, she says she’s going to put a sword through his eye one day.

In the tower, Hodor gets freaked out by the thunder and starts to shout “Hodor” as the wildling crew below happens upon the tower. Bran wargs into Hodor to keep him quiet. Orell says he heard screaming, but Tormund thinks it was just thunder. They catch the old man, and are going to kill him but Orell says they should make Jon do it. Shaggy Dog and Summer are outside and Jojen says Bran should warg into his direwolf. Snow pulls a blade on the old man but he can’t kill him. Ygritte shoots an arrow through the old man’s heart but stands to protect Jon when the others attack. Bran wargs into his direwolf and attacks some of the wildlings. Jon puts a sword through Orell, but not before he wargs into a crow and tries to peck out his eyes. Jon grabs a horse and darts away leaving a horrified Ygritte behind. Daario leads Jorah and Grey Worm into Yunkai via a back gate. They put an end to several guards. Daario saves Jorah when one of the soldiers is about to kill him. Soon, reinforcements arrive and they are surrounded. Frey hands off his daughter Roslin to Edmure, who is impressed by her. The two are wed. Bran says that when he warged into Summer, he saw Jon Snow, but that he took off. Jojen tells Bran that he’s special for being able to warg into people like he did with Hodor. Bran asks Osha to take Rickon to friends of the Stark. Bran says he has to protect Rickon because if anything happens to him and Robb then he is heir to Winterfell. Osha asks Jojen and Meera to keep Bran safe.

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Jorah and the others return, they have taken the city; Yunkai belongs to Dany. At the wedding reception, Bolton tells Catelyn and Blackfish that he also married a Frey, one of Walder’s granddaughters. Walder Frey calls for the bedding ceremony and Edmure and Roslin are carried off. Talisa tells Robb if they have a boy, she wants to name him Eddard, after his father. As they kiss, the banquet doors are closed. Catelyn feels something is off. The band begins to play “The Rains of Castamere.” In his cage, Grey Wind is rattled. The Hound and Arya arrive at the gate but they are turned away by the gatekeepers. The Hound senses something is wrong. Frey begins to give a toast offering Robb a wedding gift, as Catelyn pulls up Bolton’s sleeve. She sees armor. She yells for Robb. Frey’s men act quickly, first they plunge a knife into Talisa’s belly, then Robb is riddled with arrows, as are the Stark men. Frey chuckles at the destruction. Arya sneaks into the gate and sees Stark’s men outside are butchered. She hears Grey Wind, but before she can get to him he is slaughtered as well. The Hound knocks Arya out and carries her away. An injured Catelyn struggles to her feet. A dying Robb makes his way to his dead wife. Catelyn grabs a knife and puts it to Walder Frey’s young wife. Catelyn asks for Frey to let Robb go or she will cut her throat, but Frey shrugs that he’ll get another wife. Bolton puts a blade through Robb saying “the Lannisters send their regards.” Defeated, Catelyn slices the young woman’s throat just before her own throat is cut and she falls to the ground.

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Comments: This was a brutal, brutal episode. Not just for all death, for which there was a lot, but it was more than that. The tacit promise that underlined the show since the first episode was that the Starks were our heroes and that one day this family, the one that we only ever saw together in the first episode, would be reunited. When Ned Stark died it was a shock, but that only deepened that promise. Without their patriarch, the family in disarray, spread out across five different storylines, the Starks would find their way back to each other. It may not be until the final episode but that was what we were led to believe was at the heart of the show. This episode, not only in killing another de facto patriarch in Robb, but also the heart of the family in Catelyn, killed any and all hope that the Starks would have a happy ending. They could’ve survived one death, that would make the reunion stronger, but this way, if the remaining Starks do find their way back to each other, it won’t hold the same weight. As it did with Ned’s death in the first season, the show (and obviously first the book) demonstrates again that no one is safe, but also that it will never go the way you think it’s going to go. Nothing about this show suggested it believes in happy endings, it’s always been a brutal, bloody glimpse at the harsh reality of life in a time of battle. No one is spared. No one is safe. Poor Arya, after suffering through so much already, to have made it so close to returning to her family, is once again pulled away. Not to mention the fake out earlier in the episode with Jon and Bran so close to each other as well. That felt like a tease compared to the royal “fuck you” of the ending. That’s not to say this was a negative. In a lot of ways this is one of the best episodes of the show because it’s fearless in its defiance of expectations. I think the one-two punch of the last two episodes of season six will always be my favorites, but “The Rains of Castamere” has its place. All the storyline points aside, it’s also sad to say goodbye to Michelle Fairley who was one of my favorites on the show. Catelyn never got the lead focus like Cersei or Ned but she imbued similar qualities as both of them: cunning, aggressive, cold in some ways, warm in others, fierce in her love for her children, unforgiving. Fairley was always brilliant, as many of the actors are, and she will be missed.

Quotes:
Daario: You have a very suspicious mind. In my experience, only dishonest people think this way.

Walder Frey: A sword needs a sheath, and a wedding needs a bedding.

Roose Bolton: The Lannisters send their regards.

Catelyn: On my honor as Tully, on my honor as a Stark, let him go or I will cut your wife’s throat.

Walder Frey: Eh, I’ll find another.

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Foreshadowing: Arya’s threat to the Hound that she’s going to kill him, especially the cold, calculating way it’s delivered gives a nod to how far she’s going to go in her quest.

Title: As mentioned in the previous episode, it is a song about the Lannister’s destruction of an entire family and how they left the bodies hanging at Casterly Rock as a warning to others. The entire song represents a warning to anyone crossing the Lannisters, which obviously the Starks did. It is the song that begins playing and signals Catelyn that something is amiss, to put it mildly.

Deaths: Oh, boy. First, let’s tip one out for Grey Wind, the second direwolf down. As brutal as this show can be, I’m glad they never show the pups bleed as much as the humans. The Red Wedding gave us the deaths of Robb (stabbed by Roose), Catelyn (throat slit), Talisa (stabbed), and Frey’s wife (throat slit by Cat). We also lost Orell (stabbed by Jon Snow), the wildlings killed by Summer, the Stark men slaughtered by the Bolton and Frey armies.

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