‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 Episode 9 Review: “The Rains of Castamere”

Rating: 8.8/10

Spoiler-free summary: The Starks arrive at the Twins, Daenerys’ men debate how best to take Yunkai, Gilly and Sam look upon the Wall, the Hound and Arya talk fear and death, Bran discovers a new gift, Jon is forced to prove his loyalty, and House Tully joins with House Frey.

*Episode spoilers from here on*

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And so he spoke, and so he spoke, that Lord of Castamere,
But now the rains weep o’er his hall with not a soul to hear.

Well.

The ‘Rains of Castamere’ began innocently enough. Nothing amiss but the inclusion of the Twins in the opening credits, the location of Edmure Tully’s wedding to Roslin Frey. And of this seasons most memorable scene.

We jumped straight in with Robb asking the opinion of his mother. The problem is that his entire plan hinges on the cooperation of Walder Frey, a man Blackfish calls the ‘most unpleasant man’ he has ever met, and a man Robb pissed off by breaking his marriage oath. Yet at this point, the Starks have no choice but to commit to uncertainties or perish as Ned did. The memory is for Catelyn a reminder of all she has lost. “Show them how it feels to lose what they love.”

So the Starks arrive at the Twins and it’s Walder Frey. I mean Filch. I mean Frey. Either way, this man is an ass. We all know it. From stumbling through the names of his daughters and grandaughters (which was actually pretty amusing) to summing up Talisa like a piece of meat. Lord Walder has a very good point in saying that if Robb wanted to hide Talisa (and his unborn child) he shouldn’t have brought them to the Twins in the first place. I can’t help but agree. Considering the danger and the offence she would cause, it surely made much more sense to keep his wife and his heir far away. Robb is very kingly as he apologises to the Frey daughters for his slight, but we’ve got a sneaking suspicion that all won’t be so easily forgiven.

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En route to the Twins, Arya mocked the Hound’s tough man attitude, telling him that he was basically a kitten next to Faceless Men like Jaqen H’gar. Despite all that she has been through, she showed some lingering tenderness as she begged the Hound not to kill an old man. “You’re very kind,” was Sandor’s reply. “And some day it’ll get you killed.” Well, after what she witnesses at the end of the episode, any inkling of kindness has probably gone. That’s basically a nail in the coffin of her destiny to become a stone cold killer.

In the north, Jon had a hard time taking his Wildling guise all the way, refusing to execute a man allied to the Night’s Watch. This is where shit hits the fan, with Tormund reluctantly ordering the Wildlings to kill him. A fight ensues. Ygritte sides with Jon, but he knocks her down and she is subdued by Tormund as Jon, aided by the wolves, gets away. Ygritte looks PISSED.

In the East, Daenerys’ scenes got a bit lost in this episode. I felt that her siege of Yunkai needed its own focus in next weeks episode to achieve its ultimate impact. Forever in the friendzone, we saw tension arising between Ser Jorah and the dreamy Daario. Ser Barristan was clearly disgruntled at having to stay behind while Grey Worm, Jorah and Daario led the sack of the city. They made a pretty badass trio, though, and this provided an opportunity for some great onscreen swordplay, mostly absent since Jaime and Brienne’s spar back in episode 2. When Grey Worm and Jorah return triumphant, Dany’s concern immediately shifts to Daario Naharis. The look of hurt in Jorah’s eyes was so sad, man. I’m team Jorah all the way, no matter how dreamy SparrowBloomHgar is.

As always, scenes moves rather seamlessly from fire to ice. In the far north, a brief scene saw Gilly entranced by Sam’s knowledge. “You know all that from staring at marks on paper? You’re like a wizard.” If you remember back to season 1, Sam’s childhood dream was to be a wizard. This, paired with the look he gives Gilly hints that poor Sam is falling pretty hard. Gilly is awestruck by the Wall and by having surviving to have seen it. Not only because of, you know, almost getting killed by a Whitewalker, but because of a myth her rapist father told her. Sigh.

Bran’s storyline takes an interesting turn (finally). He discovers that as a Warg he can get inside the head of his direwolf, Summer (as well as people with the IQ of wolves, like Hodor). Shit got real, man. Rickon had lines. A lot of lines. We learnt that Hodor really doesn’t like thunder, or as he calls it, ‘hodor’. (Bran – “Hodor, no more hodoring!”) After all the action, it’s revealed that literally no one is able to get inside another persons head the way Bran does. He decides that it is safer if he and Rickon separate. In an emotional goodbye, Osha heads for Last Hearth with Rickon and Shaggydog, while Bran, Jojen and Meera continue their search for the three eyed raven.

At the Twins, Roslin Frey is revealed to be a blushing beauty, not the mouse faced Frey we all expected. Edmure Tully is delighted by this. The look Lord Frey gives Robb at this point is pretty hilarious, but in hindight I just want to sob. So let’s talk about it. Everyone is having a jolly old time. Edmure and his new bride get carted off to bed by their friends and family in what is a pretty weird custom. Cat reflects fondly on her own wedding. Talisa and Robb share a tender moment in which they decide to call their son Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark. Eddard ffs. Then the doors close, the band begins to play the Rains of Castamere (a.k.a. the Lannister Song) aaaaand absolutely fucking everyone gets slaughtered.

Catelyn seems to be the only one to realise something’s up. When a family you’ve recently pissed off, as seedy as House Frey, begins to play the death anthem of your enemy, you’re bound to be hearing alarm bells. But only Catelyn, apparently. The creepy Roose Bolton shows that he’s more interested in money than honour. Cat realises too late, but still manages to land a firm smack across his creepy face.

The Hound and Arya arrive as the Red Wedding is just beginning. Arya herself witnesses the death of Stark bannermen and her brothers direwolf Greywind. You can kill all the Stark’s you want, but kill a direwolf and i’m gonna get weepy. She’s about to walk in to the room where her family is being slaughtered, but the Hound delivers a merciful blow to her head. “It’s too late,” he says. And he’s right.

Robb knows it. As he watches the light go out of Talisa’s eyes he seems resigned to his fate. A grief-stricken Catelyn holds a knife to Lady Frey’s throat, determined that her son should survive above all else. But Robb is completely broken by the death of his wife, and Lord Walder is ( as we’ve discussed) an ass. He even takes a sip of wine as Robb is stabbed, Catelyn wails in despair, and his own wife’s throat is cut. Nice man.

For good measure, the camera moves slowly in to silently frame Catelyn’s face as her own throat is slit.

Silent credits.

Well.

The Tyrell’s had better tread carefully, else hide yo’ kids hide yo’ wife hide yo’ husband, because the Lannisters don’t fuck around.

I know many people are depressed by this weeks events. I knew what was coming and still wanted to eat my own weight in chocolate. But due to the thrill of characters coming so close to each other, action scenes, character revelations like Bran’s, superb direction, chilling performances by Michelle Fairley and guest star David Bradley, and the horrifyingly brilliant execution of the Red Wedding, it comes close to a nine for me. More of a summary than a review this week – what did you think of ‘The Rains of Castamere’?

Peachy x

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