It was far worse than I had envisioned.
Having dipped into “A Storm of Swords,” I knew what was in store on “Game of Thrones.” But the show runners, in a significant departure from George R.R. Martin’s novels, ratcheted up the horror by having Robb bring Talisa to the wedding, only to see their unborn child murdered as the Freys’ first victim.
The images are indelible: Walder Frey’s just-this-close to insulting welcome to the Stark party, his ribald assessment of Talisa, the diversionary yet mocking choice of the prettiest of his daughters as Edmure Tully’s bride.
And then…the shadow crossing Catelyn’s face as the doors to the Great Hall are shut, the look she exchanges with Roose Bolton, the commencement of the slaughter as Talisa is viciously stabbed to eradicate all traces of House Stark. One heartbreaking image after another: Robb’s cradling his dead wife, his struggle to his feet at his mother’s entreaty, Cat’s raw and desperate plea to Walder Frey, the farewell gaze between mother and son before both are slaughtered. And Cat, her spirit visibly murdered before her throat is slit. The cut to the eerily silent end credits was a stroke of genius.
The only good news last night was the continued resilience of three other Stark children. Jon’s refusal to execute a friend and his subsequent escape were something to cheer for, though his missed reunion with Bran was incredibly frustrating. Yet Bran’s ability to “see” him, among other astonishing powers he displayed last night, was breathtaking. Although the Red Wedding demonstrated that it’s best not to get too invested in a character, my money’s on Bran.
And poor Arya. After witnessing her father’s condemnation (if not his actual execution), to see Robb’s direwolf breathe his last at the hands of Frey men and realize its significance was very hard to take. It’s ironic that the man whose name is featured in her recited roll of revenge has twice saved her life. I look forward to more of her relationship with the Hound in the future.
I’m going to miss Robb. He was wrong in nearly every move he made, and his unhappy end was foretold the day he married Talisa. He came too late to realize that Mother, with all her faults, was a better strategist than he, even if Catelyn showed herself in the end to be more Stark than Tully. She, like her late husband, thought honor would carry the day, and indeed, that even Walder Frey shared that value. Honor has proven to be the Starks’ greatest failing, and it will be interesting to see if the younger family members learn from their elders’ mistaken trust.
I expect not a few Emmy nominations for “The Rains of Castamere,” most prominently for Michelle Fairley’s performance as Catelyn Stark. It’s not often that you see an actor go flat out, as if tearing off a piece of her soul, but she did. Just unforgettable.
Doing my damnedest not to spoil here, but—originally I was hoping that Season Three of “Game of Thrones” would end with the events of yet another wedding (if you know what I mean—hint, hint). But after last night, I think the audience desperately needs the payoff of the Epilogue of “A Storm of Swords.” Let’s not wait until next season to see it. Magic is all.