Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere   First Watch 
August 27, 2015 11:19 AM - Season 3, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Honor. Vengeance. Victory. Tragedy.

A Major Plot Development happens during this episode.
If you haven't watched it yet, strongly suggest doing so before reading further.

Short Summary (No spoilers)
….and you thought Tyrion's wedding sucked.

Spoilers Below

IN the spirit of peace and joy
of House Frey
requests the honor of your presence
At the Marriage of his Daughter
Of House Tully.
Sunday, June 2nd 2013 at 9PM
Live Music provided by the Castamere Crossbow Quartet
Singing and Massacre immediately following the ceremony


Longer Summary (For the night is dark and full of spoilers.)
In the North, (North of the Wall): Sam and Gilly march south. Sam tells Gilly he plans for them to cross the Wall using the entrance at the Nightfort, an abandoned castle along the Wall. How does Sam know how to cross the wall when ex-Night's Watchman Mance Rayder doesn't? He reads books. Gilly calls him a wizard.

In the North, (South of the Wall): Bran's group takes shelter in an abandoned mill. Nearby, Jon's wildling party raids an elderly horse breeder's home and steals horses and gold while the old man flees. A thunderstorm hits. From their hiding place in the mill, Bran's group sees the old man captured by the wildlings. Scared by the thunder, Hodor begins Hodoring at he top of his lungs, which threatens to give away their location to the wildlings. Bran uses his warg abilities to enter Hodor's mind and knock him out. Outside, Orell urges Tormund to make Jon kill the old man, to prove his loyalty. Jon can't do it and Ygritte kills the man with an arrow. Realizing where Jon's loyalties lie, Tormund orders his men to kill him, but Jon manages to defeat them. As Ygritte moves to defend him, Jon deliberately knocks her to the ground, allowing Tormund to hold her down and prevent her from getting killed, while he battles with Orell. Bran enters the mind of Summer, his direwolf, and aids Jon. Jon confesses his treachery to Orell and kills him while the wolves hold off the other wildlings. Orell wargs into an eagle as he dies. Jon steals a horse and escapes, leaving a furious, betrayed Ygritte to head back to the Wall. At night, Bran asks Osha to take Rickon to Last Hearth, the home of the Umber family. They depart.

Across the Narrow Sea: Daenerys, her advisors and the Unsullied plot the invasion of Yunkai. Dario tells them about a secret rear gate. Later, Daario, Grey Worm and Ser Jorah arrive at the gate. Daario enters ahead of them, posing as a still loyal Second Son commander. Once inside, Jorah and Grey Worm follow him in. They are ambushed by a group of Yunkai's slave soldiers but survive and open the front gate, leading Dany's armies into the city.

At the Twins: At camp, Catelyn counsels Robb about his planned alliance with Lord Walder Frey and his planned assault on Casterly Rock, the homeland of the Lannisters. The Stark army arrives at the Twins, castle homeland of the Freys, for Edmure Tully's wedding. Robb makes a public apology to Lord Walder and his daughters.

Walder accepts Robb's apology. In the Seven Kingdoms, tradition says that you cannot harm a person in your home once they’ve partaken of your “bread and salt.” Like many aspects of Thrones, this custom is loosely based on actual medieval practice. Lord Walder offers the Starks and Tullys a ceremonial tray of hors d’oeuvres. Walder lines up his daughters in front of Robb and tells him he could have had his pick of any one of them, (including a two-for-one bargain on the ginger twins.) The man has so many kids that he can’t remember all their names. He then insists on inspecting Talisa, the woman for whom Robb broke his vow. “Very pretty,” Frey says. “Prettier than this lot.” He accuses her of trying to hide her figure under a dowdy dress. “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.” Robb is quietly furious but wisely keeps his mouth shut.

Nearby, Arya remains a captive of The Hound as they, journey to the Twins to reunite with her mother and brother. When they come upon a trader and his cart, Clegane knocks him out and moves to kill him, but Arya manages to dissuade him, and he instead steals the cart of food.

That night, Walder walks his daughter Roslin down the aisle to her future husband Edmure, who is relieved to discover his bride is beautiful. They are married and the celebration begins. At the feast, Walder calls for the bedding ceremony and the couple are taken to their chamber. Brynden Tully, having drunk too much wine, excuses himself from the celebration to "find a tree to piss on." After he leaves, Catelyn observes Lothar Frey closing the banquet hall doors and then becomes alarmed when the Frey bards begin playing "The Rains of Castamere." As explained in the previous episode, the song is a Lannister cautionary tale, commemorating House Lannister's decisive and brutal victory against the rebellious House Reyne of Castamere years ago.

Outside: using the food cart as their reason for being at the Twins, the Hound and Arya arrive at the wedding. They are turned away at the gates, but Arya sneaks in anyway.

Catelyn realizes that Roose Bolton is wearing chainmail under his clothes. Not exactly traditional wedding attire. Realizing that the Starks are about to be attacked, Catelyn slaps Roose and tries to warn Robb. But Walder Frey has signaled his men to attack the Starks, and in a shocking move, Lothar Frey repeatedly, viciously stabs the pregnant Talisa in the stomach.

As he tries to draw his sword, Robb is shot by the musicians!, with crossbows, and falls to the ground. The massacre of his bannermen begins. Frey soldiers inside and outside the hall draw their blades and kill Stark soldiers and Robb's direwolf, Grey Wind. Blood flows freely, which is why this massacre is known colloquially to book readers as "The Red Wedding."

Arya is saved by the Hound, who knocks her unconscious and carries her out of the castle.

Inside the hall, a wounded Catelyn crawls to safety beneath a table as Walder motions the soldiers to cease. He mocks Robb as he limps to his dying wife. He holds Talisa in his arms as she dies. Catelyn stands, holding Walder's young wife, Joyeuse hostage. She holds a knife to the girl's throat and threatens to kill her if Walder does not negotiate an end to the attack. Walder refuses, recalling Robb's previous betrayal and broken oath

Catelyn demands that Robb be allowed to leave. Walder questions why he should agree. Catelyn swears on her honor as both a Tully and a Stark that if he does not let Robb go she will kill his wife. Walder chuckles and nonchalantly responds, "I'll find another." Robb stands and says, "Mother" as ​Roose Bolton stabs him in the heart, delivering Jaime's message from Harrenhal, "The Lannisters send their regards." Robb maintains eye contact with Catelyn as he collapses to the floor. Mad with grief at the death of her firstborn son and believing all of her children to be dead, Catelyn screams in anguish and kills Joyeuse in retaliation. She then stands and does not resist, as Frey's son Black Walder gruesomely cuts her throat. As her arterial blood sprays everywhere, she is shot by one of the musicians in the back and falls to the ground.

The Viewer Aftermath
After Baelor aired back in season one, viewers who hadn't read the books were shocked. People swore they'd never watch another episode.

After seeing this episode, they were horrified. The "celebration" scene has been described as "one of the most devastating and brutal scenes in TV history", "Repulsively brutal" and "cruel and brutal and awful and most of all … amazing. It was one of the most stomach-churning, heart-rending scenes you may well ever see on television" Critics asked, "Why do we sit through the brutality of Game of Thrones every week?" A Twitter account called "Red Wedding Tears" was started (Not linked here because it now contains spoilers for Seasons 4 and 5.) Viewers completely freaked out on Twitter, and posted their reaction videos on YouTube.

Introduced In This Episode
* Walda, Arwaya, Derwa, Waldra, Janeya, Neyela, Serra, Sarra, Marianne, Freya, Merry, Shirei and Roslin Frey. Daughters of Lord Walder.
* Unnamed Assassin Drummer. Why include him on this list? He was played by Will Champion, drummer and backing vocalist of the band Coldplay.

* Episode is named after the song The Rains of Castamere, the unofficial "anthem" of House Lannister, which refers to the destruction of House Reyne of Castamere after their rebellion against them. The song was heard in "Blackwater" and "Dark Wings, Dark Words," and its backstory was explained in the previous episode, "Second Sons."
* The episode includes one of the most important plot turns of the series: the betrayal and assassination of the Stark forces during a marriage ceremony in what came to be known as the "Red Wedding". The event culminates in Roose Bolton delivering Jaime Lannister's message from "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", before killing Robb. This tragic turn of events had a profound impact on Benioff and Weiss in their first read of the novels and it was the scene that convinced them to attempt to obtain the rights for a television series.
* George R.R. Martin found the Red Wedding (which takes place two-thirds of the way through the third volume, A Storm of Swords) to be the most difficult and upsetting scene to write in the first five novels of A Song of Ice and Fire. He wrote the chapters leading up to the wedding and then skipped it, completing the rest of the novel before going back and writing the chapter the event itself takes place in, as he could not face to write it any earlier.
* Martin has said he killed off Robb so readers did not incorrectly assume the story was about Ned Stark's heir avenging his death.
* Martin conceived The Red Wedding during the earliest stages of the planning of his saga, when he was envisioning a trilogy with The Red Wedding as one of the climactic events at the end of the first of the three books. He was inspired by a couple of events in Scottish history. One of them was the 15th century historical event known as the "Black Dinner", where the Scottish king invited the chieftains of the powerful Clan Douglas to a feast at Edinburgh Castle. A black bull's head, the symbol of death, was served as the last course of the dinner while a single drum was playing in the background, and the Douglases were murdered. Another event from which the author drew inspiration was the 1692 Massacre of Glencoe, where Clan MacDonald hosted the Campbell Clan who killed thirty-eight of their hosts overnight.
* Martin wanted to play one of the casualties at the Twins, but his schedule prevented it.
* This is the first episode in which the end credits play in total silence.
* This episode was nominated for two 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series. Didn't win.
* But it did win the 2014 Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form." The Season 2 episode "Blackwater" won the same award the year before. Season 1 was nominated differently: instead of selecting a single episode for "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form," all of "Season 1" was nominated in the separate category "Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form," and it won the award. Afterwards it was decided to shift to nominating an individual episode from each season in the "Short Form" category. Therefore the win by "The Rains of Castamere" makes this the third year in a row that Game of Thrones has won the top award in which it was nominated at the Hugos.

"Robb and Catelyn had a combination of righteousness, purity, and resources that no one else on the show could claim. They were the traditional, ideologically pure “good guys.” They weren’t after power for selfish, grasping reasons: They had a moral calling to avenge Eddard’s murder at the hands of the treacherous Lannister family, and reclaim Catelyn’s daughters from the Lannisters’ abusive household. They were stepping up to face an unwanted but necessary challenge, to protect their family and country in a mature, considered, responsible way. They were playing the part of conventional fantasy heroes, wronged and seeking justice. And in any conventional hero’s-journey story, Robb would be expected to save the day and triumph: As the son of a man murdered by evil, grasping, cheating sadists, he reluctantly took up the messiah mantle and fought back, and the standard format for this kind of story suggests he deserves his inevitable victory.

Having him go down as the victim of a sneaky, cowardly plot is like watching Harry Potter get fatally gutshot at the Yule Ball, halfway through the books. He’s the hero; he’s supposed to win, no matter what it takes. The majority of fantasy stories are about escapism and wish-fulfillment, and about the catharsis that comes when a deserving champion punishes and defeats an equally deserving villain. The protagonists may have setbacks and disappointments, they may make sacrifices, but they don’t die ignominiously, choking on their own blood, while their enemies gloat.

And with Robb and Catelyn gone, there’s no longer any chance at the expected, traditional happy ending any time in the near future.""
"A betrayal would have been one thing. A betrayal would have been stunning, but not unprecedented. Yet this, this savagery, this butchery, was on an immeasurable scale. An entire army slaughtered in moments, a pregnant queen stabbed to death, a king brought to his knees and then so nonchalantly murdered by a man once thought an ally. All of this, because of a single slight over a spurned daughter. It was cruel and brutal and awful and most of all, it was amazing. It was one of the most stomach-churning, heart-rending scenes you may well ever see on television, and all the more so because everything that built up to it was crafted as meticulously and as lushly and vividly as the moment itself. And that final minute -- as a desolate, broken, desperate Catelyn still tried to save her family only to see her son, her child, her king killed in front of her -- that final moment was equally perfect. Praises are due to Michelle Fairley for the thankless task of portraying Catelyn Stark, who was often a source of frustration for so many viewers. In the end, as she howled in fury and despair, as she butchered an innocent young woman because she simply had nothing left inside of her, as her own throat was slit and as that arterial spray was the last thing we saw or heard, she showed us how truly great that character was."

And who are you, the proud lord said,
that I must bow so low?
Only a cat of a different coat,
that's all the truth I know.
In a coat of gold or a coat of red,
a lion still has claws,
And mine are long and sharp, my lord,
as long and sharp as yours.
And so he spoke, and so he spoke,
that Lord of Castamere,
But now the rains weep o'er his hall,
with no one there to hear.
Yes now the rains weep o'er his hall,
and not a soul to hear.

- The Rains of Castamere
posted by zarq (12 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is a First Watch with Books thread.

Please do not reveal spoilers for subsequent episodes from any source.

Thank you.

(I'm a day early with this post. Hope no one minds!)
posted by zarq at 11:19 AM on August 27, 2015

A betrayal would have been one thing. A betrayal would have been stunning, but not unprecedented. Yet this, this savagery, this butchery, was on an immeasurable scale. An entire army slaughtered in moments, a pregnant queen stabbed to death, a king brought to his knees and then so nonchalantly murdered by a man once thought an ally. All of this, because of a single slight over a spurned daughter.

Eh, I think it was more than that. That was definitely the moment that pushed Walder Frey to make the choices he did, but there's definitely more.

First, there's the fact that he felt the Tullys always looked down their noses at him, first as an upstart without the noble heritage, then with their nickname "the Late Lord Frey" when it came for him to provide support in war. And clearly he's a man with few scruples, and his plan is to bolster his dynasty through extensive/excessive breeding and waiting to see which side will benefit his clan the best, for the time being.

He's a turncoat, a coward, and without honor*, but he's not really that petty. If the Starks were in a better position in the war, I think he would have been quite happy to unite families with Roslin and Edmure and call let bygones be bygones. In fact, I think Robb gave him the out he probably wanted. Maybe the Walder forces could have shifted the balance of power to favor the Starks, but as seen with his prior late arrivals into the fray of battle, he's clearly one to sit on the sidelines and wait for the course of battle to become clear.

*As for that honor, the Starks and Tullys are the most honor-bound families (despite Robb following his loins, er heart, into wedding Talisa instead of a Frey girl). The Freys are clearly amongst like-minded individuals when Roose Bolton is their confidant/goad, and your connection to the Lannisters.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:34 AM on August 28, 2015

I agree with you filthy light thief; it was about far, far more than a slight over a spurned daughter. You had the long standing Frey resentments coupled with the longstanding Bolton ambitions that come together (Roose has a lot of Freys with him at Harrenhall) and then an excuse to act upon them.

I had found it hard all season - watching it with non-bookies - to keep my damn mouth shut. Every time Bolton appeared on screen it was menacing; when this episode aired I was basically trying very hard to play "normal" because I knew my fellow audience members liked to try to read my cues to see if some twist was about to happen. One of the hardest hours of TV to watch.
posted by nubs at 8:11 AM on August 28, 2015

it was about far, far more than a slight over a spurned daughter

...but isn't everything in politics about both the latest, symbolic event, and also about everything that happened before the latest symbolic event? We get into a rage after someone breaks in line, or takes a parking spot, or speaks to us in a particular tone of voice; but the rage is really about the bullying we endured throughout our school years while adults did nothing, or about how tired we are because we had to stay up four nights in a row because our partners weren't there for us, or about not being taken seriously our entire lives and now working for a pittance because of the color of our skin.
posted by amtho at 8:31 AM on August 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

My roommate and I saw the title when the episode titles were announced and spent two months anticipating the torrent of tears and rage that was sure to erupt on the internet at the episode's conclusion. It was a glorious night.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:04 AM on August 28, 2015

but isn't everything in politics about both the latest, symbolic event, and also about everything that happened before the latest symbolic event?

Not necessarily - there are some acts that are so egregious that people speak or react on the spot, instead of letting annoyance or anger simmer. And here, I was responding to the way the review wrote about this particular act, as if there was no history of bad blood or resentment between the Freys and the Starks and Tullys.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:00 PM on August 28, 2015

And I'm not sure what is more fun: getting surprised by scenes like the red wedding, or anticipating them because you've read the books and know some of what is going to come.

In the case of Game of Thrones, I've enjoyed the anticipation because I also like to see people react while not being as upset as they are. Also, I can then focus on the small victories, like The Dog saving Ayra from certain death in this case.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:05 PM on August 28, 2015

They are ambushed by a group of Yunkai's slave soldiers but survive and open the front gate, leading Dany's armies into the city.

I thought the point was that Yunkai's slave soldiers revolted and refused to fight (in the face of Dany's message of freedom) and let the trio move through the city to open the gates, leading to the sack?
posted by nubs at 1:46 PM on August 31, 2015

I remember pretty vividly the whole internet going WHAT THE WHAT when this episode happened

it was delicious
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:46 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Chrys finally did a recap for this episode: Chrys Watches GoT Season 3, Episode 9
posted by homunculus at 12:06 PM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

OK, I promised myself I would butt out, but I do love those recaps. And sometimes they get better if there has been some aging:

The Season 5 rejects
posted by nubs at 12:29 PM on September 22, 2015

posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:22 PM on September 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

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