Shock, disbelief, and mayhem are etched in my mind from watching tonight’s chapter of “Game of Thrones”. It delivered another climatic episode in which we given a well-executed, action packed, heart wrenching ending which none of us will forget since Ned lost his head. There were moments where the thought of the Starks being reunited came so close; however, it all changed within an instant. Loyalty, honor and betrayal were just some of the elements that resonated throughout the drama.
As Sam and Gilly trek towards the Wall, he tells her of its history and the different castles alongside the outskirts. He informs her that they will go through the Night fort and pass through the Black Gate. Gilly refers to Sam as a “wizard” for his outstanding knowledge. John Bradley and Hannah Murray’s portrayal of Sam and Gilly are so believable that one can’t help but root for the underdog.
Over in the East, Dany and company prepare a surprise attack on the Yunkai with the help of Daario Naharis, who knows of a secret entrance. Ser Jorah is suspicious of Daario and he lets it be known to his Queen. Grey Worm “trusts him” and Dany approves the plan. As nightfall emerges, the three set out to conquer the city. Naharis goes through the gate first as Second Son loyalist; then whistles for his co conspirators to enter. Only seconds later, all three are ambushed by Yunkai soldiers whom outnumber the trio. To make matters worse, another set of soldiers attack them again after a short lived victory. In the end, Mormont and Grey Worm arrive back at camp where they delight in telling the Khalessi of their battle; but her mind wanders to whether Daario Naharis is still alive. He comes to her side and presents her with the Yunkai flag saying the city is hers. The chemistry between Daario and Dany is undeniable and it will be intriguing to see how this plays out in future episodes and seasons. What will Jorah do?
South of the Wall, Bran’s storyline gave us more character depth and the impossible mission to cross it. Simultaneously, he crosses paths with Jon even though they don’t physically meet. As a storm brews, Bran and companions find shelter in an abandoned tower to discuss their plans. At the same time, Meera hears sounds outside. Earlier on, the Wildings have raided a horse breeder who escapes but they decide to chase him anyways. Hodor panics over the thunderous roar of the storm and begins to scream loudly. Without warning, Bran immediately wargs into Hodor to keep him quiet, thus accidentally discovering his true gift.
Directly outside the tower, the Wildings have caught the horse breeder whom Tormund plans to kill. Orell declares that Jon should do the deed in order to prove his loyalty as one of them. As Jon prepares to unsheathe his sword upon the innocent victim, he hesitates, unable to do it. Instead Ygritte kills the old man with an arrow. Utter confusion befalls on Jon as Tormund orders his men to kill Snow while grabbing Ygritte; preventing her from protecting (escaping with) him. As Jon kills Orell, he lets him know, “you were right the whole time” referring to the fact he was still a “crow” . Then Orell wargs into an eagle to claw Jon’s face. Within moments, Bran wargs into Summer and Shaggydog, the dire wolves, to thwart off any Wildings during the attack. Jon jumps on a horse and escapes towards Castle Black/The Wall leaving Ygritte behind and in despair. Did Jon really love her?
At night, Bran decides to send Rickon with Osha and Sammydog to the Umbers at the Hearth so that he would be the last surviving heir to Winterfell. He informs his brother that he saw Jon escape from the Wildings through Summer. Bran’s story will definitely come to the forefront now as this season has been subtly hinting at it. It was a wonderful intertwining of storylines where yes, they (Jon and Bran) were close but, so far away. Rickon’s departure made perfect sense but best of all, he finally spoke this season! Jon may not have had the Stark name but he did have Stark honor.
Outside the Twins, Robb consults Catelyn regarding his battle plans. Her only response to him is to show the Lannisters, “how to lose what they love”. As he presents himself to Lord Frey, Robb accepts salt and bread as a courtesy of “guest rights” (protection/safety under the Lord’s house). He apologizes to Frey and his daughters for breaking his vow of marriage to their house. Edmure looks uncomfortable at not knowing which bride is his. Walder can’t even remember his own daughter’s name for that matter. Talisa is inspected and chastised by the Lord, himself. Frey announces, “The wine will flow red and the music loud” commencing the marriage celebrations.
Close by, Arya and the Hound come upon a food trader bound for the Twins. Clegane warns Arya to pretend they are father and daughter. He knocks out the trader with a rock and pounces on him for the kill. Arya deters the Hound from the man even though he she knocks the vendor out with another rock. Don’t mistake her kindness for weakness. The interchange between the two outside the Twins is amazing dialogue. They converse about her family, how his face got burned by Gregor but, the look on her face when he mentions Ned explains it all. Her comeback, “I’ll put a knife through your eye and out of the back of your head “proves her fierceness. As dark as the Hound seems, he really does have compassion, remember how he treated Sansa last season.
At nightfall, Edmure’s wedding finally arrives. As Lord Frey walks his veiled daughter down the aisle, Edmure is pleasantly surprised to find a scared young girl fulfilling her duty. Frey sarcastically nods at Robb, showing him what he could have had. The wedding celebrations take place and the bedding ceremony announced. The Blackfish goes to relieve himself. Immediately outside the castle, Arya and the Hound arrive disguised as a food vendor and they are turned away. She sneaks in.
What looks like a happy moment for the Stark/Tully family suddenly become grim. As the hall door closes, the “The Rains of Castamere” begin to play. Catelyn notices that Bolton has chain mail under his cloak and she realizes that something is amiss. Frey calls upon Robb and enacts revenge upon Talisa as Lothar Frey stabs her and their unborn child multiple times. At the same time, arrows are shot and Robb is wounded. He crawls towards Talisa’s dead body in grief. Outdoors at the Twins, Arya witnesses Stark men and Robb’s dire wolf, Greywind, murdered. The Hound realizes what’s going on, knocks her unconscious and leaves the castle for safer grounds. As the Catelyn screams in horror, she too, is wounded in crossfire of arrows. She crawls towards Frey’s wife whom she takes as a hostage and demands that Frey let Robb go since he is her “only son”. Frey refuses and Bolton stabs Robb in the heart saying, “The Lannisters send their regards”. Catelyn, emotionless, kills Frey’s wife in retaliation as another Frey slices her neck. Michelle Fairley’s performance was outstanding as a beaten down, haunted, grief stricken Catelyn Stark whose decisions cost her family and ultimately, her life.
The episode ends 10 minutes early and there is a silence as the ending credits rolls.
The “Red Wedding” was the pinnacle of epic tragedy. It marked the Stark demise (as King of the North), the ultimate betrayal of Bolton and Frey and the powerhouse of the Lannisters (and they didn’t appear in the episode at all). Even reading this scene in the book, I was completely blown away. I put the book down for a few hours afterwards. This episode did the same for me as well…complete horror. David Nutter captured the moment with directorial expertise and care of such a famous scene. It was well adapted for screen by D&D in plot and dialogue. Next week is the season finale.
Adaptation: Rickon was gone in book 2 however; the writers felt they needed to give him a plausible out. The storyline worked.
Here is a preview of next week’s season finale: