The Red Wedding!!!!!! What was the big deal?

So I’m hoping by now you’ve gotten a chance to watch the latest episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones. If not, you might want to avoid reading any further. There will also be mention of a scene that COULD BE included next week.

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Still here? Good. Let’s talk about the fun that was The Rains of Castamere. While a number of fans that have read the novels were waiting to see how it would all play out on television (would HBO spare anyone, would they tone down the violence, etc) the actions in this episode came as a great shock to a number of people. So much so that some of the most popular videos on You Tube are of people taping there reactions, which in and of itself should tell you something was going to happen. If a friend is asking to tape you to see your reaction, I don’t think I could be surprised by anything that was about to happen and if you just normally tape yourself watching television, you probably should cut back on watching television and read a book.

While I certainly enjoyed the episode, and was mildly shocked by the brutality of Queen Talisa’s fate (probably more so as my wife is currently six months pregnant), the overall demise of a few major characters really wasn’t a huge shock for me for a number of reasons. The first one is probably the easiest. The pattern of the show has been to have a major event happen in the next to last episode of the season. Season One’s Baelor had poor Ned Stark lose his head, Season’s Two’s Blackwater had the huge battle at King’s Landing and now Season Three’s The Rains of Castamere had a fairly tame wedding going on, but you could see the slow burn.

You had Lord Walder Frey taunting of Rob Stark. “You wanted to hide her you shouldn’t have brought her here in the first place.” “I say he betrayed me for firm tits and a tight fit, and I can respect that. When I was your age I would have broken 50 oaths to get into that without a second thought.”

Roose Bolton looks like he’s in a good mood, though once again he’s not drinking “dulls the senses”.

Then a man closes the giant door to the chamber. Catelyn watches him. She looks concerned. The band begins to play. Bonus points for those that caught on that the band was playing Rains of Castamere, the Lannister’s fight song (a future note for any other characters, When you hear Rains of Castamere, treat it like ‘Dueling Banjos’ and run for your goddamn life.)

Unfortunately poor Catelyn Stark puts it all together only seconds before the carnage begins.

The second reason I’m not all that shocked by what happened is I’ve been reading about these acts for years in any number of books and/or comics. The Death of Phoenix (Uncanny X-Men), The Judas Contract (Teen Titans), how the world governments deal with the zombie uprising in World War Z and even though the Walking Dead has had some shocking moments on TV, there is still some pretty brutal stuff in the books that I can’t see making it to mainstream television (although with the way the Red Wedding was handled maybe we might see TWD ramp it up even more). Even within the source material itself there is a more brutal end (GoT never shies away from gore or nudity, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see some variation of these scenes make it into the show next week). The Bodies are Desecrated. After the fact, the Freys behead Robb and his direwolf Grey Wolf and sew the wolf’s head onto Robb’s body and fix a crown to it. They then toss Cat’s body, naked, into the river to mock the Tully’s funeral tradition (like the one we saw with Hoster Tully earlier this season).

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Third, It makes for a great story. One of the quotes I see over and over again, especially amongst comic book writers, is your hero is only as good as the villain he’s facing. Whenever a comic book based movie is announced, the first question is always who’s playing the hero and that is almost always followed by, who’d the bad guy in the movie? The more brutal the act against our hero, the more satisfying it is when he comes out on top. I know…you’re saying “How is Rob coming out on top now?” Nobody said this is Robb’s story. There are still four Stark children to account for, five when you add in Jon Snow. So there is plenty of opportunities for one of them to get their vengeance, not to mention a whole host of others that all have their reasons for wanting revenge on so many different levels.

Lastly, Charles Dance A.K.A Tywin Lannister is no stranger to playing a villain that gains the upper hand. Playing Benedict in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Action Hero he has the great line “Because here, in this world, the bad guys can win!”


So as we go into next week’s season finale, we have a new status quo (which could easily change again by the end of that episode):

— Robb’s quest is over. The Stark family is, for the moment, finished as a source of real power.

— Roose Bolton said the Lannisters “send their regards.” I think it’s fair to assume Tywin was pulling the strings here. Remember Tywin writing those letters? The show played those scenes of Tywin making his kids wait while he scribbled for light humor. Doesn’t seem as funny now, does it? But it’s a masterful addition by the showrunners, having beats that play as humor the first time you watch the show, then as ominous foreboding the second time. They did the same thing with Frey not remembering one of his daughter’s names in this hour — amusing at the time, but it’s foreshadowing about how he doesn’t care about his women and will later let Catelyn sacrifice one of his wives. At any rate: This means the Lannisters have solidified their hold over the Seven Kingdoms — again.

— Arya is in huge trouble once more (not to mention, devastated beyond comprehension). Without Robb Stark to buy her, who will The Hound sell her to?

— Dany has one less rival for the Iron Throne, as does Stannis and any other contenders.

— Roose Bolton — this lord we barely heard of until a few episodes ago is now a power player. One colleague was confused about Bolton’s role in this so I’ll try to fill it in. He is, obviously, the same Stark bannerman whose men captured Jaime and Brienne. We don’t know exactly when he decided to join the Lannister-Frey conspiracy. But his decision to release Jaime back to his father a couple episodes ago gave him a vested interest in the Lannisters winning and may have tipped his decision.

— After she hears about this, Sansa is most definitely never having sex with Tyrion Lannister.

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