Previously on Game of Thrones: Robb agreed to marry his uncle Edmure to a Frey daughter, so the whole family’s off to a wedding. Also going to the wedding is Arya, in the hands of the Hound, who plans to ransom her back to her family. Jon Snow’s still wandering around with the Wildlings, and Dany’s planning to take over Yunkai with her Fabio-lite partner, Daario.
Sky Atlantic’s warning me of graphic violence and flashing images. Now I’m intrigued. Though I don’t feel like it would be a proper episode of Game of Thrones if there wasn’t graphic violence or at least some kind of content calling for a pre-show warning.
Robb’s got his battle map out and is explaining his plan to take Casterley Rock to Cate. She asks why he’s telling her, and I’m asking the same thing, seeing as how she’s not the most trustworthy person around here these days. He’s telling her because he wants her advice. She wants to know if they have enough men. They will if Frey cooperates. She warns him that, if things don’t fall perfectly into place, they’ll be crushed, but nevertheless, she tells him to go ahead and take the Lannisters’ home.
Everyone finally arrives at the Twins and they’re given bread and salt while they’re welcomed by Frey, who woodenly offers them his hospitality and protection. Robb thanks him and apologises for having married Talisa. Frey tells him to apologise to his 50,000 daughters, all of whom step forward. While Frey introduces the girls (forgetting one of their names entirely), Edmure studies them, obviously wondering which one is destined for him. Robb apologises nicely to them, even the one who’s pretty obviously pregnant and therefore couldn’t possibly have been mooted as a bride for him. Then again, I wouldn’t have put that past Frey. Frey calls Talisa forward, and she approaches hesitantly. Frey chuckles that she’s a lot prettier than his girls and grossly starts musing over what her naked body looks like. Robb steps forward, ready to defend his wife’s honour, but Cate holds him back. Frey calls for the wine and music to start flowing so they can put this mess behind them.
Yunkai. Dany and her men are going over battle plans. Daario shows her a back gate on a map and explains his idea: he and a couple of men will go in through said gate, kill the guards, and open the main gates so the whole army can come in. Easy, right? Jorah, having more guile than most of the people on this show, wonders if Daario’s leading himself and Grey Worm into a trap. Grey Worm says he trusts Daario, so Dany gives them the go-ahead. As the men leave, Selmy offers to come along, but Jorah tells him to remain behind and guard Dany.
Sam and Gillie are on the move, with Sam telling her all about Castle Black and its secret entrance. Gillie asks how he knows about it and he explains he learned it from a book. The notion of books is so foreign to her she thinks he’s a wizard for being able to read. In the distance, they spot the Wall, and she’s amazed by it.
On their own road, Hound and Arya come across some guy trying to fix a broken cart. Hound helps him and learns the man’s on his way to the Twins. Hound knocks him right out, but when he goes to kill the man, Arya throws herself in between them and taunts him for being a coward who kills unconscious men and little boys. She says she knows a real killer who cold do away with the Hound with just his little finger. When Hound shows no sign of leaving the man, Arya resorts to begging him not to kill the guy. Hound sheaths his sword and tells her that her kindness will get her killed someday. The carter starts to come to, and Arya grabs a nearby stick and knocks him back out again.
Bran and his little band arrive at what appears to be an abandoned mill. Meera wonders why the settlers left the place and Bran explains that wildlings keep leading raids. Rickon adds that they like to drink blood, and the look on Osha’s face right now is really priceless. A storm starts rolling in, so they go find somewhere to take shelter.
The other wildling band—this one featuring Jon Snow—is staking out the home of a horse breeder. Orell, the guy who can put himself into animals, wants to raid the place, and Jon quickly steps in to tell them they should just take the horses, but leave the old man alive. The others don’t see why they shouldn’t just compound horse thieving with murder; the Redheaded guy (Tormund, I think?) is hoping this will draw out the Night’s Watch. They swoop down on the house, and Jon knocks his sword purposely on a rock as he runs, alerting the horses, and thus the breeder, that something is amiss. The man comes out of his house, sees the flock of wildlings bearing down on him, mounts one of the horses and rushes off. Ygritte takes aim with an arrow, but Jon distracts her, and she misses.
Arya and the Hound are taking a little break, so she can look out over the Twins, still some way off in the distance. Arya scolds Hound for eating the food on the cart, and he tells her to chill out, correctly guessing she’s afraid she’s going to get this close and still not see her family. Arya matches fear with fear by coolly saying he’s afraid of fire, because his charming brother once pressed his face into it, presumably when they were kids. He taunts her with a reminder of her father’s execution, and she firmly tells him that someday she’s going to put a sword through his eye and straight out the back of his skull. I’d believe it, too.
The Bran Band is gathered in the abandoned windmill, wondering how Osha managed to get over the Wall. She says she climbed it, which Bran scoffs at. Hodor, meanwhile, is starting to get upset about the thunder. Meera looks out the window and sees Jon Snow’s band of wildlings arriving on horseback. Poor Hodor starts to get really upset, despite everyone trying to quiet and soothe him, so they’re not discovered. Outside, Orell can hear him shouting. Inside, Bran’s eyes go all white, and Hodor goes quiet and slumps in a faint. The others ask Bran what he did and he insists he didn’t do anything.
Orell tells the others he heard shouting in the tower, but they’re more interested in the horse breeder, whom they now have on the ground. Tormund asks him where he was riding to, but the man won’t say, since it doesn’t matter. Tormund goes to cut his throat, to show the crows that they’re there, and Orell gets the bright idea to have Jon Snow prove his loyalty by killing the man.
Inside, Jojen urges Bran to do his warg thing and enter one of the direwolves outside. Apparently he just warg’d with Hodor, so we know he can do it.
Jon draws his sword and puts it to the man’s neck, but despite Ygritte urging him to do it in a rather creepy way, he can’t bring himself to execute the man. Ygritte puts an arrow in the man’s chest instead. Orell crows that Jon’s still Night’s Watch and tells the others he’ll stab them all in the back as soon as he gets the chance. The others attack both him and Ygritte, though it turns out Tormund’s just holding her back so she doesn’t get killed.
Jojen continues to urge Bran to try to go into the direwolf, warning him that the wildlings will kill them if he doesn’t. Bran manages, and the wolves take out most of the wildlings. Jon gets Orell, stupidly telling him he was right about Jon the whole time, and then kills him, but before he dies, Orell puts himself into his eagle, which attacks Jon before flying off. Jon grabs a horse and gallops away as Ygritte watches, hurt and betrayed.
Outside the gates of Yunkai, Jorah tells Daario to whistle when he’s ready for them to break cover. ‘I’m a great whistler, greatest in the land,’ he smirks. Why do I feel an overwhelming urge to roll my eyes whenever this guy speaks? He approaches the gate and is let right in, because I guess nobody’s gotten the memo yet that he’s killed the other two captains and deflected to the other side with his entire army, which just seems like unforgivably poor recon, if you ask me. Jorah and Grey Worm wait, and when they hear the whistle, steal in through the gate that was just left open, finding two dead guards inside. Daario thinks that’s all the resistance they’ll meet, but then at least a couple of dozen other guards come pouring into the courtyard where they are. Fortunately, these three are superheroes and make short work of the guards without even getting a scratch on them. And then lots more guards start pouring into the courtyard. Gonna be a long night.
The Stark army men are engaging in some wrestling bouts at the Twins while, inside, the wedding gets underway. The bride is led forward by her father, heavily veiled and turns out to actually be quite pretty. I’m surprised. I thought for sure Frey would unload the ugliest one on Edmure, just as extra punishment. Edmure is pleased, to say the least, though I feel I should point out the creepy aspect of this: she looks to be about 14. The ceremony proceeds, and one of the less comely Frey women smiles at Blackfish, who quickly turns away. Heh.
The Bran Band discuss his newfound animal-control powers, which apparently aren’t all that unusual north of the Wall, though the ability to control other humans is pretty unique. Bran tells Rickon that he saw Jon when he was the wolf, which makes Rickon pretty happy. He’s less happy when Bran tells him that he and Osha will be continuing to the Last Hearth while Bran and the others go north of the Wall to get some answers. Rickon weeps, but Bran insists. Osha cradles and comforts Rickon and then gets ready to leave with him. Bran embraces his brother and Osha warns Jojen and Meera to keep Bran safe, as he means the world to her.
Dany’s getting impatient, though Selmy’s not too concerned at how long it’s taking three men to sack an entire city. Jorah and Grey Worm reappear just then, bloodied but triumphant. Daario then steps forward with Yunkai’s flag and tells her the city is all hers. Well, that was easy.
Ahh, the wedding feast. The musicians kind of suck, but it seems like everyone’s having a good time. Cate notes to Blackfish that Edmure bitched all the way to the Twins, but now he seems rather happy. She also notices that Lord Bolton’s not drinking and he says it dulls the senses. We also hear that he married a Frey girl for money, which Cate doesn’t seem to approve of.
At an adjoining table, Robb and Talisa are being flirty and cute.
Frey calls everyone to order and tells them it’s time for the bedding ceremony, the very ceremony we were cheated of at Tyrion and Sansa’s nuptials. The men seem rather excited, the ladies less so. In fact, Talisa looks downright horrified as the bride is carried out of the room, followed by her groom, dragged by Frey women. Once they’re gone, Cate calls young Rosalind Frey a poor girl. Bolton figures Cate endured the same, with grace, in her turn, but Cate corrects him, saying Ned forbade the practice. Bolton is amused. Talisa calls this a very strange custom, and Robb shrugs that it must seem strange to outsiders, but without public sex there’s no proof that the couple consummated their marriage. Does it really have to happen in front of a whole crowd, though? She reminds him that there is very tangible proof, if one does it right, and then she goes on to tell Robb she wants to name their kid Eddard, if he’s a boy.
Now that the Freys have mostly left, someone closes the doors to the great hall, and the musicians strike up a tune which, I have been told, is the Rains of Castamere—the song Cersei was talking about with Margaery last week, when she was warning her of the family that got above themselves and were quickly and brutally punished by the Lannisters.
Outside, Robb’s direwolf, locked up in a stable, starts to get upset, just as Hound and Arya ride up to the castle with their cart. A guard at the gate refuses to let them in and tells them to get lost. Arya looks around, notes that there’s a lot of activity, and quickly disappears.
Back inside, Frey quiets the musicians and proposes giving a gift to Talisa. Cate, meanwhile, sees that Bolton is wearing chain mail under his jacket, and swiftly realizes that this is about to get very, very bad. She shouts for Robb, but it’s too late. Some Frey steps forward and stabs Talisa repeatedly in the belly as she and Robb stare in shock, and the musicians almost immediately let loose a volley of crossbow bolts from the gallery above. Stark throats are cut, several arrows bring down Robb, and one catches Cate in the shoulder. Frey sits back and sips his wine, enjoying the bloodbath. See, I knew he forgave Robb’s fairly significant snub a bit too easily.
Arya steals into a courtyard, just in time to see some of Robb’s men get slaughtered. She has the sense to stay hidden, but can still see the assassins kill Robb’s enraged direwolf. Man, even being a Stark pet is deadly. She tries to run, but Hound finds her, tells her it’s too late, knocks her out, and leaves with her.
Cate manages to drag herself under a table. Robb, who’s still somehow alive, manages to drag himself over to Talisa, who’s swiftly bleeding out. She dies in his arms. Cate takes advantage of the distraction to grab a knife and snatch up Frey’s wife, who’s been cowering underneath the head table. She holds a knife to the girl’s throat and begs Frey to let Robb go, promising they’ll forget this if he does. He tells her that her promises are useless, since she’s already broken one. Cate tearfully begs Robb to get out, but he’s dazed and can’t move. Frey shrugs and tells Cate to kill the wife, he’ll just find another. Robb drags himself to his feet and turns towards his mother, but then Bolton strolls over, tells Robb the Lannisters send their regards, and stabs Robb. He crumbles to the ground and Cate howls in grief, standing by her word and slitting the innocent Frey woman’s throat. A few moments later, a Frey comes along and cuts Cate’s throat too.
Well, I can’t say I was surprised by that. We’re too close to the end of a season that’s been rather short on major action to not have something boil up. But I have to say, this episode left me curiously cold. This whole season has. I think back to Ned’s death, and how shocking and sad that was. I was neither shocked nor saddened by this. Maybe it’s because I rather liked Ned, for all his faults, but I felt nothing at all for Robb. His character interested me not a bit. And Cate’s stupidity has just annoyed me for too long now. They might not even be in this mess if it weren’t for her. If she hadn’t rashly taken Tyrion hostage all these years ago, things would have been very, very different. Ditto with the whole letting-Jaime-Lannister-go plan that had no point whatsoever.
Other bits of this episode didn’t do much for me. Nice to see Bran developing his superpower or whatever, but did we really need another scene with Sam and Gillie? And the taking of Yunkai was disappointingly easy. And like Jorah, I really don’t like Daario. He looks and talks like the worst, most idiotic type of stock romance novel character.
Ok, enough bitching on my part. Maybe I shouldn’t recap when I’m all stressed out. But what did you think? Did the episode do the Red Wedding justice? Or was it yet another letdown in a somewhat disappointing season? Share your thoughts, and we’ll reconvene next week!