This is all about Robb.
Sure there are other elements to this episode, but nothing else really matters. If you are a fan of the books, this is really the moment you have been waiting for all season, possibly the entire length of the series thus far.
There are three moments in the Game of Thrones television series which I have found truly momentous. The first, of course, was the death of Ned Stark. When Ned died, I didn’t think it really happened and I kept waiting for something else to occur, some kind of reassurance that Ned would still be alive. But alas, he was dead, and he stayed dead. I was so angry I almost gave up on the series. Instead, I read the books.
[Review of Season Finale Here]
The next event of pure inspiration was the moment when Robb was declared King of the North. Truly inspirational, truly meaningful and very powerful (in both the TV show and the books). Beyond that, there are fantastic moments and characters to care for, but then … this happens. The episode entitled The Rains of Castamere will leave viewers emotionally charged. And, quite possibly, challenged as well – challenged to continue watching the series. Why? Because the episode was handled so perfectly well that its inevitable outcome will leave people enraged.
Warning, there are not spoilers ahead, but the remainder of this review does hint at the outcome of this episode.
If you’ve read the books or seen the episode, without giving too much away for those who have not, it is the event simply known as the red wedding. The basic setup is this: Robb Stark must make amends with Walder Frey for not marrying Frey’s daughter to whom he was betrothed. To atone for his mistake, Robb arranges for Edmure Tully (his uncle) to marry one of Frey’s daughters instead. Robb, Catelyn and the crew find themselves in the midst of both an unexpected conflict and betrayal the day of the wedding. The outcome of this day has a significant impact on the battle for the Iron Throne and who will still retain the right to make a claim as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
While Robb is the primary subject, we continue the journey with some of the series regulars. There's Sam and Gilly as they continue their adventure to the wall; a journey that seems fruitless at this point. The Hound presses toward Walder Frey's castle where he has hopes of ransoming Arya. Bran and his entourage continue their mysterious quest as well, unveiling more of the nuances of being a Warg. Daenerys further rises to power as Ser Jorah fights for her in a bloody foray alongside her newest ally, Daario.
Then, there's Jon Snow, caught between love, loyalty and Mance Rayder, he finds himself continuously challenged to carve out his own path. And here, he has a chance to do so. He is forced to make a truly dramatic choice that will greatly change his course.
Notably lacking from this episode are Jamie and Tyrion. Jamie, the biggest surprise of the season and the character who most shows the mastery of George R. R. Martin and his craft. Martin has created a man so awful, so cruel that he should be impossible to root for. However, due to the turning of events, Jamie is now one of the most sympathetic characters in all of Westeros. And, Tyrion, he has become the heart and soul of the show. He is easy to like just as much as he is to hate, but always, we feel sympathy for Tyrion. Peter Dinklage has done a marvelous job of shaping this into a character that the viewers can so readily care for, when it is so much easier to despise him.
However, all of these events feel slightly extraneous as we anxiously await the wedding.
Episode director, David Nutter, does a wonderful job of handling the significance of the events of the red wedding. It is wonderfully shot and the story unfolds at just the right pace (something much of this third season has been lacking). Even though I knew what was coming, I was still in surprise and shock to actually watch it happen. And, it happens, boy does it happen, presenting one of the greatest moments of the series so far. It leaves the viewer full of anger, regret, remorse, and most importantly a yearning to move forward to see what happens next. Or possibly, not at all. The events may be so significant, so powerful, and so surprising that some viewers may choose to give up on the battle for the Iron Throne and quite possibly quit playing the Game of Thrones altogether …
But you might not want to do that just yet. Let’s wait and see how the next wedding is handled!
Highly Recommended ... and for the same reasons I recommend it, I loathe it.
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By Brian Barsuglia, Publisher