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

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The latest Game of Thrones episode just went down. What happened in the penultimate episode of the season? Let’s talk about Game of Thrones S03E09 “The Rains of Castamere” starting…now.

WINNER: Robb’s chess map

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Robb’s big plan to take Casterly Rock to strike fear in the hearts of the Lannisters is set in motion on his big map filled with oversized chess pieces. But he seeks the advice of his mother, Catelyn, after ignoring her advice when he could have sent Theon to negotiate peace with the people of the Iron Islands. Should he attempt to use the Freys for a shot to steal Casterly Rock from the Lannisters?

Catelyn’s advice? “Show [the Lannisters] how it feels to lose what they love.”

LOSER: The oh-so-homely Frey girls

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Robb begs Lord Walder Frey’s forgiveness for his abandonment of his promise to marry one of the girls. But Frey doesn’t want Robb’s forgiveness…he wants him to provide it to all of his daughters and granddaughters who were robbed of a chance to be Queen of the North by the failure to live up to the pact.

But Robb gives his more charming and heartfelt apologies to the girls claiming that his love for Talisa got the better of him. Walder Frey’s sarcastic applause — followed by creepily demanding a look at the new Queen of the North — show a man who’s probably not buying in.

The better news? Walder Frey claims he can see right beyond a dress. “Your King betrayed me for firm tits and a tight fit.” Say what you will about Frey but the man has a way with words.

WINNER: Handsome Daario Naharis

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Daario Naharis is the inverse of Theon Greyjoy. He’s sketchy but so handsome that everyone — include former slave turned wartime general Grey Worm — are buying into what Daario is spinning. So it doesn’t matter that he hasn’t really done anything to prove his fealty…their suspicions are lost in his dreamy blue eyes.

Daario Naharis, Grey Worm, and Jorah go to wage war on the stronghold of the Yunkai leaders. Naturally, Daario is a beast and kills soldiers effortlessly because he’s the baddest and most handsome man alive.

When just Grey Worm and Jorah come back, Daenerys seems genuinely saddened that he did not survive the battle against all of the slaves. But then Daario comes back with a trinket from Yunkai to prove their conquest over the slaves. You can practically hear Daenery’s labia quiver.

LOSER: Gilly’s education

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Gilly and Samwell survived their near-death experience with the White Walkers and now they’re back on the road. But Samwell’s ability in reading a map makes Gilly think he’s a witch. Cartography was not a strong part of the lesson plan in Caster’s incest den.

WINNER: The Hound’s faith in humanity

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The Hound still has Arya as his hostage as he makes his way, hopefully, to freedom. But when he’s on the verge of murdering a man for his pig farming wagon, she convinces the Hound to let the man live with a little bit of begging. Arya knocking the guy out as he comes to is just a cherry on the sundae of the dynamic duo that will hopefully be the new Brienne and Jaime with slightly less sexual tension.

The Hound and Arya have a moment. The Hound says he knows fear as he sees it in Arya’s eyes. But Arya also knew fear when she saw the Hound facing Beric Dondarrion’s sword of fire since, after all, his traumatic moment in life was when his older brother burned his face in a fire for no particular reason. But the Hound takes some offense to the remark and brings up Arya’s dead daddy. Arya, naturally, takes it in stride. And by “in stride” I mean “threatens to shove a sword through his eye.”

LOSER: Hodor’s fear of lightning

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Hodor and the boring Bran crew are hanging out in a tower near where the Wildling army has started to make their entry to fight the people beyond the wall. Thunder starts to freak out Hodor. But Bran finally does something useful and wargs his way into Hodor’s brain and shuts down his little mentally disabled shitfit to get him to be quiet so the army can’t identify the noise.

Meanwhile, the Wildling army has a prisoner that the Wildling warg dude insists that Jon Snow has to kill. But as Snow is reluctant, Ygritte shoots an arrow into the prisoner’s heart. We’ve then got an all-out brawl between Ygritte, Jon Snow, and the Wildling bunch.

But fortunately, Bran’s warging isn’t done yet as he takes possession of a wolf and munches on some Wildling throats (seriously, thank fucking God Bran is finally doing something noteworthy) while Jon Snow murders the Wildling warg and tells him “You were right the whole time” while Ygritte looks on betrayed. Love in the Wildling World has now hit the unexpected turn that every good romantic comedy needs.

BIG WINNER: Edmure Tully’s mystery date

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Remember a couple episodes ago how Edmure Tully committed to marry a Frey girl in an attempt to solidify peace with the Freys? Well it turns out that the girl they had in mind for Edmure is not as ugly as the Freys offered up to Robb. In fact, she’s smoking hot. Sure she’s probably 13 in the show but love knows no bounds when you have a man willing to stick his dick in someone who can’t quite understand the complexities of Westeros’s version of Dora the Explorer.

LOSER: Bran and Rickon’s brotherly duo

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The Bran crew collectively decides that Bran needs to stay back to use his warg powers while Osha and Rickon move on for their own safety. And it happens. And it is a tender moment. And if Rickon had ever said anything else in the show or even recognized the fact that he was hanging out with his brother, this would have carried more dramatic weight. But it’s still a pretty touching moment…even if the show hasn’t earned it.

LOSER: Talisa and Robb’s baby naming

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During the super awkward bedding ceremony of Edmure and the toddler he’s being engaged to, Robb and Talisa decide they should name their baby Ned after Robb’s fallen father. And then the doors close and the wedding band plays “The Rains of Castamere”, the official song of the Lannister family. Catelyn senses something amiss but Robb not so much. She then sees chain metal underneath Roose Bolton and knows something is about to go down.

Then Lord Frey calls Robb’s attention and says he hasn’t paid the new queen the respect she deserves. One of the Frey men then shanks her in the unborn fetus multiple times while Robb and Catelyn are gunned down by archers from the balcony. They even off Robb’s direwolf while Arya — who was denied admission to the festivities with the Hound — looks on. Aaaand this is fucked up. The Hound stops Arya’s attempt at extracting revenge by force for her own good.

Robb and Catelyn are somehow still barely alive despite the onslaught of arrows. Robb crawls over to see the poor fallen Talisa while Catelyn takes Frey’s wife hostage with a knife to the throat. But Frey says if she kills the girl, he’ll just find another wife. Roose Bolton then stabs Robb in the gut to end his life, telling him that the Lannisters send their regards, while another Frey soldier slices Catelyn’s throat.

And we go out with the silent credits that 24 once made famous when a major character died.

Brutal ending that book fans have known was coming for a while. As I’ve mentioned throughout the year, I did not read the books but was aware that the bloodletting known as the “Red Wedding” was forthcoming. It’s tough to lose Robb since, after Ned’s decapitation in season one, he’s been the default guy we’ve rooted for to get some measure of vengeance. But, in the context of the show, despite his kingship, Robb was a soldier. Talisa and, to a lesser extent, Catelyn were both innocents. And their slaughter for a relative slight is just a brutal thing to witness.

The episode itself felt hectic and not as focused in its scope as last year’s penultimate episode, “Blackwater”….the week off didn’t help. Going back and forth between storylines as we did lessens the impact of a complete massacre of major characters like we just saw. But it’s definitely deflating and it seems as though we now need to see the Freys and Roose Bolton face some sort of comeuppance before we can get to the travesties forged by the Lannisters. Structurally, that’s more frustrating on a TV show than it is in a book but, hey, this is the Game of Thrones we’ve always known. The ride is always the thing.

Just for noteworthiness, the episode deserves four our of five stabbed unborn fetuses. Love you, Talisa. Miss you already.