The episode we’d all been waiting for (at least the book’s readers) arrived. Now you know what the readers kept hinting at with: “Something big’s going to happen….”
Bet you weren’t expecting THAT.
I found myself a bit dissatisfied with its execution, however. Perhaps this is simply a case of the timeless “Read a book, picture a scene a certain way, and thus no matter of brilliance in its screen depiction will satisfy you as you already have a very specific image in your mind.” Perhaps but am not so sure…
But I digress. Here are my overall thoughts on the episode:
1) An ongoing ‘lesson‘ in Game of Thrones seems to be the ‘butterfly effect & its potential disastrous consequences.’ As we watched Robb and Catelyn die, one cannot help but think:
If only Ned hadn’t let his ‘compassion’ get in the way and if only he hadn’t given Cersei a heads-up regarding what he’d learned about her children. That gave Cersei time to plan and execute Robert’s “hunting accident” death, have Ned arrested, etc. (sigh)
We also cannot help but think:
If only Catelyn had not set free Jamie Lannister when he was a prisoner in the Stark camp.” Consider all the events that act triggered: Lord Karstark was robbed of vengeance for the two sons Jamie had slaughtered; so he, in turn, later killed the two Lannister boys; so Robb, in turn, had to execute him; so the Karstark men, in turn, abandoned Robb’s army; so, in turn, Robb was left with no other option but asking Lord Frey for his assistance/men… which, in turn, led to the Red Wedding.” Essentially, Catelyn setting Jamie Lannister free in order to, ironically, potentially save her two daughters — ended up killing Robb, herself, and the entire North’s mission.
Bottom line: Stop messing with my head, George RR Martin! The butterfly effect is frightening enough! 🙂
2) The slaying of Talissa was particularly brutal — I reckon most viewers, including yours truly, flinched and turned away. (FYI, in the books she is not pregnant and is not even in attendance at the Red Wedding so I’m curious why the writers inserted her being pregnant (why bother writing that into the TV show?) or even have her attend the wedding (again, why bother?) — to make it more shocking? Eh. Cheap and lazy.)
3) I’ve watched the episode twice and noticed something I missed the first time around. Lord Bolton‘s evil grin when he motions for Catelyn to take a look at his sleeve (which she obliges, sees the chainmail underneath, and the sudden realization spreads across her face). Upon my first viewing, I failed to notice Bolton actually suggests that she take a look at what’s underneath his sleeve — the fact that he did makes him all the more chilling. We’ll see more from him as the series progresses, btw.
You may recall Bolton is the one who sent Jamie back to King’s Landing (it was one of his men who hacked off Jamie’s hand) and, last we saw of him, he was seeing Jamie off and heading to the Tully/Frey wedding. When did his plot with, presumably, Tywin Lannister come about? Did he send a raven to Tywin when he had Jamie in his possession? Did Tywin say: “Oh, and while you’re at it, sending my son back to me, how about going to this wedding and participating in the slaughter that I’ve set up with Lord Frey?” Would love to see the discussions that went on bt Tywin/Frey and Tywin/Bolton or Frey/Bolton… but we won’t. I’ll have to go back and check the books…
(BTW, this begs the question: When Jamie was leaving Bolton’s abode — remember? the episode where he later returns for Brienne — and Bolton is off to the wedding, Jamie asks him to send his regards to Robb Stark. At the time, we think that’s just a snide, typical-Jamie remark. But now… I’m wondering… did Jamie already know of the Red Wedding plans in motion??? Moreover, if I recall the books correctly, Bolton says: “Jamie Lannister sends his regards” — and NOT “The Lannisters send their regards” (as depicted in the show). Now, was Bolton simply being the world’s most diligent best-wishes-message-delivery-boy in saying it was Jamie… or was there more to that? Hmmm….
4) The Lannisters won. The Starks failed. No avenging Ned, no independence for the North… none of it. What a depressing message of epic proportions. What does it all mean? Do nice guys really finish last? Nietzche would have a field day with it all.
Has this sunk in yet? No.
5) There is another Game of Thrones ‘mic drop’ moment/episode (though never as emotionally resounding as the Red Wedding) next year.
(Book 3 is split into Seasons 3 and 4, FYI, since there was too much information in it just for one season).
6) How quickly is Bran growing up? Last year, the kid looked like he was nine years old. This week, he looked damn near 30. Oh, and Rikkon got some speaking lines — I always forget he exists!
7) The Dany storyline continues to annoy me. Here’s the thing: Game of Thrones is medieval-INSPIRED*** and the storyline GENERALLY, for the most part, reflects that (except for, e.g., a few sets, such as the Throne Room and the Southern Capital overall which seem more ‘fantasy’ than medieval — or perhaps at least more Byzantine medieval rather than Western European medieval.) The scenes in the North — my favorite, as a result — definitely have the medieval feel to them. Dany’s sets/surroundings, on the other hand, are completely out of Xena Warrior Princess, Conan, or some other such sci-fi production. A sunny area, a desert, (is that a palm tree I see?), some Star Wars feel (ugh), costumes with nebulous historical underpinnings, etc.
(***And yes, it is medieval-INSPIRED, not even medieval or pseudo-medieval. Please STOP. This has irked me since the series began and, as a medieval history fan, I cringe at any mention that GoT is “medieval.” First and foremost, its references to “gods” rather than God is the largest, most obvious, THIS IS NOT MEDIEVAL sign you can get. Unfairly, writer George RR Martin has taken the best bits of medieval culture (knights, etc) but conveniently (is this guy a liberal?) done away with the whole God and religion angle that completely dominated medieval life and shaped it.)
Plus, Fabio guy just took my annoyance to another level.
I will continue to fast forward through any scenes involving Dany (and Sam).
8) The look on Ygrette‘s face when Jon rode away? Priceless.
9) One mistake: the directors (I’m guessing this wasn’t necessarily the screenwriters call?) erred in the scene where Frey smiles sheepishly and shrugs, in response to the surprise that he’d chosen a beautiful daughter for Edmure. Why is this a mistake? Well, because in that moment Frey seemed seemed comical, funny, good-natured. Yet this is the guy who is supposedly planning to slay everyone within sight, including the groom, in about 3 hours? NOT believable. Frey would not have bothered to put on such an emotionally convincing show — a gruff, polite demeanor would have been enough. It just didn’t add up.
10) Arya arriving JUST at the worst/best time — too late (by minutes!) to ever see her mom and brother again… but late enough so as to not be part of the slaughter. I cannot recall if this is in the books. It seems rather ‘convenient’ and far too predictable for such a serious series. Also, the Red Wedding climax scene was actually broken up (!) simply to show the Hound’s arrival. Terrible call. Let the scene flow, uninterrupted!
So those are my thoughts. As usual, HBO made the best episode the penultimate one of the season (Ned’s execution was the penultimate episode of Season 1; as was the Blackwater Battle episode; and now Red Wedding). We have one episode remaining to review the fall-out… and then commence the long, agonizing wait until Season 4.
No more Robb Stark. Ladies everywhere are mourning. 😉