Monday, June 3, 2013

F**k Yeah Game of Thrones! Episode 9: The Rains of Castamere!

Holy crap, Game of Thrones! Holy crap! What the holy living crap in the hell was that? Holy. Craaaap!

As a dullard who hasn’t read the epic tomes that this blood-and-boobs fantasy epic is based on, I wasn’t quite prepared for that. If you want to hear this ignoramus’ reaction, join me as I recap the (holy) crap out of the traumatic and disturbing The Rains of Castamere... after the jump!

Now I do have enough friends who have read the books to know that something big was up. Rumour had it that one of the most world-shattering events so far was about to rock Westeros in episode nine, and I had even heard the term “Red Wedding” being sinisterly whispered by those in the know. So, as Thrones noob, this was a pretty intense one to watch, my mind constantly racing and second guessing as I awaited the inevitable shock. And it’s a slow boil. This episode saves the best (or worst) until its final moments, but holy crap was it worth the wait...

So let’s get through the not so monumental events first. Sam is still roaming the frozen wastelands being a lovable, optimistic pie face while Gilly nurses her babby and plays the adorable dipshit. Sam gives a brief history lesson and gormless Gilly is shocked that he learned all these things just by reading some dumb book. She concludes that he must be some sort of wizard which I can only assume will inspire Sam to start a Reading Wizard Mobile Library service. Perhaps Gilly and Davos should get together?

Elsewhere, that bastard Jon Snow is also being put to the test. He, Ygritte and his motley crew of wildling beard-mongers approach a settlement which Jon knows to be inhabited by nine fine horses and a wheezy codger. The gingerbeard man is all amped to kill the codge, but Jon thinks they should just nick the horses and split. Clearly out-voted, they all run at the old man’s house, axes raised and shouting, until the elderly bugger freaks out and pisses off on a horse. Ygritte would have put an arrow through him were it not for Jon deliberately breaking her concentration by being so sexy. Whose side on are you on, Snow? I got a bone to pick with Jon but we’ll do that in a moment...

Nearby, lil crippled Bran Stark, his even littler brother Rickon, the kid from Love Actually, giant Pokemon Hodor, Love Actually’s sister, and Osha the formerly sexy Wildling hole up in an old windmill. Clearly there are far too many of them to keep track off so they are going to split up with Bran and Love Actually heading over the wall to find the three-eyed crow, and Osha taking a protesting Rickon away to live with the Umbers (whatever they are). But before they can do this they hear a horse getting chopped up outside and wouldn’t you know it, Jon Snow’s out there with his wildling pals and they’ve captured the crafty old codger.

Now, I was thinking this would finally be a reunion between Jon and his half-brother but neither party cottons on that the other is there. Bran assumes it’s just a bunch of ragged wildlings and they try to keep quiet until Hodor starts to freak out in the storm. He is not a happy Pokemon and he says he repeats his name loudly in distress. Bran has no option but to unlock his hidden warg power and gets totally roll-eyes as he remotely enters Hodor’s mind and puts him to sleep. Bran, get out of my dreams. And into my cart.

Outside they’re prepping to execute the codger and Gareth from The Office insists that Jon delivers the killing blow to prove his allegiance. Now I ask you, how frigging useless is Jon Snow? He’s spent a whole season embedding himself in the wildling army only to blow it all the first time they ask him to do something. Jon raises his sword but starts trembling like a little girl. Jon can’t make either team happy. He wouldn’t kill a wildling when the Watch asked him to, and now he won’t kill a Watch member when the wildlings ask him to. You gotta’ kill someone, Jon Snow. There’s a war going on!

Ygritte gets tired of Jon being a puss and skewers the old guy with an arrow and all hell breaks lose with Gingerbeard and Gareth trying to kill Jon. From the windmill Bran gets inside the minds of his wolves and they go out and start munching on all the wildlings too. Jon stabs the shit out of Gareth and kills him, although he is momentarily able to get his own mind into an eagle which scratches the shit out of Jon’s pretty face. Jon knows it’s time to bail out of this party and he buggers off on a horse, leaving a shunned and shocked Ygritte behind! Love Actually is totally impressed at Bran’s powers and they resolve to travel over The Wall together, no doubt so they can practice getting into the mind’s of Craster’s hotter daughters.

Across the sea, dragon queen Daenerys is getting ready for her first city sacking. Dreamy Daario is, of course, familiar with slipping in the back door so, after a bit of convincing he sneaks in at night with Ser Jorah and Grey Worm to open the front door. They get ambushed by guards but they all prove pretty nifty in a fight, even Ser Jorah gets to carve a bunch of dudes up like a pro. More soldiers surround them and for it moment it looks grim, but soon the bloodied trio return to Daenery's tent with good news. The soldiers were slaves who decided to join them. Daenerys is thrilled and Daario gives her the kind of look that suggests it will be her backdoor he'll be slipping into next.

Elsewhere lil androgynous Arya Stark is still awkwardly travelling on the Hound’s horse. They are nearly at The Twins where her Uncle’s wedding to a Frey sea monster is about to take place. The Hound knocks the crap out of a passing merchant with a cart but Arya begs him not to kill him. Instead The Hound sits in the back of the cart and eats several whole pigs. The Hound points out that Arya is fearful because she’s so close to being reunited with her family now that she’s scared she’ll never get there. Arya counters that the Hound is a big old fraidy cat who is scared of fire and that she’ll one day stick a sword in his eye. Nice kid.

Okay... so let’s talk about Robb Stark...

Now, it’s almost impossible to do this portion of the story because much of what happens here is a slow build filled with meaningful glances and underlying menace. As the wedding unfolds a great tension continued to mount which is impossible to convey with my frivolous retelling of plot points. But basically Robb’s uncle Edmure is going to marry one of Frey’s hideous daughters in Robb's place as the latter tries to make amends by breaking his vow and knocking up Talisa.

Things are tense from the moment that Frey meets with Robb and looks over his wife, salaciously suggesting that Robb has been the victim of lust rather than love. It looks like there might even be a bit of biffo, but Frey is keen to move on and have the ceremony as planned, despite the obvious sleight from the King of the North. The Frey women are known for being homely and I felt totally bad for the group of extras who had responded to that casting call. Don’t worry, ladies. It’s what’s inside that counts. And I saw a lot of wonderful personalities.

But the tension seems to ease as the ceremony begins. Turns out they had a pretty daughter up their sleeve and Edmure gets given the best of the bunch. He’s quite pleased at the following feast - set in a beautiful candle-lit hall presided over by a band on the balcony - and he enthusiastically leaves with his new wife to bed her. The other Tully, badass Blackfish, also enthusiastically leaves to piss so he is noticeably absent for what happens next.

Now let me try to get across my thought process throughout this because I knew something was going to go bad. My own uneducated guess was that it would involve Red Lady sorceress Melisandre, who had put the blood curse on Robb (among others last episode). In fact, when the veiled bride walked up the aisle, I almost wondered if it would be her mounting a surprise black magic attack. Not so. She wasn’t mentioned in this episode at all. In fact the absence of the blood curse in the “previously on Game of Thrones” lead-in clued us into that.

So then I became suspicious of the wine. It was stated that it was red and Bolton wasn’t drinking. Had the Frey’s poisoned it? Would all of the Stark crew start vomiting blood, thereby giving me the Red Wedding I had heard whispers of? Not quite.

Although my imagination was blossoming, the actual outcome was far more straightforward, but still incredibly impactful. As the band starts playing the Rains of Castamere (a song about slaughter that Cersei referenced last time), the doors are barred and Frey’s men attack. Talisa is savagely stabbed in her pregnant stomach and left to bleed out and before Robb can respond he is filled with crossbow bolts from the balcony. All his men are dying around him and his wife is expiring on the floor.

Outside Arya slips away from the Hound and goes to enter the castle before realising that the Stark bannermen are being murdered outside. They even dispatch Robb's wolf! There will be no reunion this time. A quick-thinking Hound knocks her unconscious and carries her off.

Back in the banquet hall, Robb struggles for life as mother Catelyn makes a last ditch attempt to save him. She puts a knife to Frey’s wife’s throat and demands he let’s Robb go, promising there’ll be no reprisal. Frey does not give a damn. He can get another wife. Lord Bolton, who has betrayed the Stark’s stabs Robb to death while Catelyn watches, screams and cries. She cuts Frey’s wife’s throat but seconds later her own throat is cut. Catelyn dies as we cut to black.

The credits are completely silent this time.



  1. I thought the other, related 'thing' was going to happen in this ep, but I'm happy to wait til next week. THAT may have been too much on top of the killingz.

  2. Blood-and-boobs is a good description. I remember when I read the books... It made me write this:

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