Game of Thrones Review: The Rains of Castamere


There’s a reason HBO took a week off of Game of Thrones last Sunday over Memorial Day weekend. They didn’t do it last year, and suffered a drop in the ratings as people were out and about vacationing rather than sitting in their homes watching TV.

They sure as hell didn’t want anyone to miss this episode this year.

The Rains of Castamere came pouring down for what very well may be the most shocking episode in the show’s history. And considering how many gasp moments there have been so far, that’s really saying something.


There’s no point beating around the bush, the Red Wedding was finally upon us last night. I’d heard the phrase bandied around before, and assumed it was in reference to Joffrey’s upcoming nuptials, so imagine my surprise when it was the Frey’s who turned their own affair into a bloodbath to effectively neuter the Starks and more or less end the rebellion in the North in one fell swoop.

Most would agree that the most stunning episode of the show thus far was when series protagonist Ned Stark was beheaded on the spot at the behest of Joffrey. But what trumps one major character death? Three.

Robb, his wife Talisa and his mother Catelyn were all summarily executed by Walder Frey at the behest of the Lannisters, breaking about every sacred oath across all the gods. It was a trap that was sprung perfectly, with no one ever thinking that Walder’s little grudge against the Starks would ever go this far. Roose Bolton was in on it as well, killing Robb personally and implying that the Lannisters have paid and promised both he and the Frey’s a great deal for their support.

And it wans’t just Robb. Jeyne and her unborn child were mercilessly butchered as well, assuring that the King in the North will never have an heir. With Bran and Rickon supposedly dead, there are no more Stark men alive that have claim to Winterfell. At least that’s how the world sees it.


Poor Catelyn did her best to try and save her son in his final moments, but slit Walder’s wife’s throat as Robb lay dying on the floor. Unfortunately, the two lives were not of equal weight, as Frey didn’t so much as lift a finger to save his young wife. And then Catelyn too felt the cold edge of the knife in what is probably one of the most jaw-dropping cuts to black we’ve ever witnessed on the show before.

If you managed to experience the full horror of the Red Wedding free from spoilers, I salute you. I’ve had nearly every major character death on the show spoiled for me at one point or another, which is why I ended up reading the books. But I hadn’t had this ruined for me, and I remember my eyes widening and chest tightening as I re-read the pages over and over again to assure myself this was really happening.

Many have complained that season three has been a bit slow, but the last three or four episodes knew what they were building up to. I think they tried to throw people off the scent by including not one, but two battle scenes ahead of the Red Wedding. First, Jon finally shows his true colors and strikes out against the Wildlings, breaking Ygritte’s heart in the process. He got eagle talons in the face for his trouble, and those scars look like they could be worse than Tyrion’s. Such a shame, he’s so pretty.


Then there was Daario, Jorah and Grey Worm sneaking into Yunkai in order to take it down from the inside. What was supposed to be a simple job ended up with them surrounding by multiple waves of dozens of guards, and they had to hack through them like they were in a video game. The day was won, and you could almost feel the heat coming off Dany at the end there as she looked at Daario. Ser Jorah is not amused.

We finally spent more than five minutes with Bran, Rickon and the Reeds, as they were just outside where Jon Snow’s battle took place. Bran is mastering his mutant warging powers, thrusting himself into the mind of not only his wolf, but Hodor too. The former is a common skill for wargs, the latter is thought to be impossible. But to be fair, Hodor is pretty dumb. Does this make Bran the “chosen one” of the wargs? Is that why they’re going North? Also, A+ performance from little Rickon who doesn’t want to leave his brother. Sadly, I’m guessing this means we won’t see him or Osha for a very long time.

Lastly, Arya made it to the Twins with Clegane just in time to see the Freys turn on the Starks and her brother’s Direwolf get massacred. For a second I thought she’d be able to let it out and it could take down a bunch of Freys before it met its end, but that would have cost too much in CGI I guess. They already had one direwolf fight earlier in the night.

Obviously, the Red Wedding changes everything. I’m half surprised this wasn’t the season finale, but the show does like to do an incredible eventful penultimate episode followed by a finale that’s something of a cleaning up affair, and I suspect this year will be the same. Ending the entire SEASON with Catelyn getting her throat slit might have been too much for people to handle.


So, what the hell happens now? The Stark rebellion is over, which was essentially the main plot of the series. It’s just..who now in Westeros? The Lannisters and Stannis and the Ironborn up North? Removing the Starks has completely changed the dynamic of the entire show, though yes, the younger children still live on in their own plotlines. But none will be leading an army any time soon.

What went through your mind when things went awry at the wedding? When did you suspect something was up? I’m curious to know.

Book Discussion (Spoilers)

I think it’s safe to say that most of us were waiting with baited breath for this episode to come ever since we saw the title of it when it was announced months ago. It’s one of the most shocking events of the books, and it was going to be crazy intense to see how it would be handled onscreen.

The most major change to the Red Wedding is the death of Jeyne and her child, which didn’t happen in Storm of Swords. I was always confused about whether or not she was complicit in this plan, or if at the very least, her family was, as in the book they were some minor house loyal to the Lannisters, which was not the case here.

It made everything even more brutal, watching her get stabbed in the stomach to kill her unborn child, who also did not exist in the book. By doing this, it removes any idea that she will be a factor later on. I always wondered if she was secretly pregnant or something, and it would turn out Robb would indeed have an heir (little Ned!), but that notion has been effectively eliminated. As I’ve often said about the HBO’s edits, I think the show has handled this better by making things very, very clear in regards to her character, and it made the evening even more memorable. (Update: I didn’t realize that Talisa wasn’t Jeyne, and her character has been ENTIRELY changed from the book)


Smaller details were changed as well. Roose Bolton was the one who was wearing the chainmail discovered by Catelyn. I didn’t realize he was actually the one who delivered the deathblow in the books, and thought that was new for the show, but it appears I missed that while reading. And finally, Catelyn killed Walder’s wife instead of his idiot son, something which also had greater significance if you ask me. I think the changes made to the scene were indeed for the better, something that is usually the case. I’m amazed at how the show is able to consistently make little improvements over the books, and sometimes even major ones.

In the book, I was always suspicious if Catelyn actually died in that scene. The chapter ends with the “cold bite of the knife,” but in George RR Martin land, that could mean she survived, as characters have lived through worse. But seeing her throat opened onscreen? I don’t think there are going to be many show-only watchers who believe she’s coming back. And when she does, it won’t even be until the end of season four, which will be one hell of a surprise. I do kind of miss being surprised by this show…

The question now is whether or not Joffrey’s wedding will be next week. Both events happen very close together in the books, but I don’t know if they want to jam two episodes that important together. Rather, I can see it being one hell of a series premiere for season four.

Did you like the way the Red Wedding was adapted for the screen?

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  1. I think the event you mention in the Book Discussion as taking place in the season four finale (the scene in the third book’s epilogue) will actually take place in next week’s season three finale. I think a full season’s absence would be far too long to re-introduce the group of characters who are a part of that event and that it would have more effect bumped up to this season.

  2. “If you managed to experience the full horror of the Red Wedding free from spoilers, I salute you”

    I have – and in the last few minutes of last night’s episode my jaw literally dropped. I haven’t experience such a shocking ending, movies and TV shows combined, in a very, very long time. The horror… oh, the horror.

  3. Clearly the underlining message of this show is, that it doesn’t pay to be honorable in a dishonorable world. The Stark family had to learn that lesson the hard way.

  4. To be fair, Robb not marrying the Frey he promised to marry wasn’t what most would call honorable (as was made abundantly clear by Walder Frey in the show). That being said breaking the guest rule is absolutely unforgivable.

  5. As a book reader I’m having a hard time coming up with how they will wrap up the season…I think a large part of that though is I can barely recall what happened immediately after the Red Wedding when I read the books as I was in too much shocked after the first time I read it, and on my second time through the series I deliberately skipped the Red Wedding scene because it was just too painful.

  6. Ned completely lost the Game of Thrones. It really saddens me how brutal the story has been with the Starks, they are either dead, crippled, stabbed or on a hopeless dangerous journey, and on some occasions more than one, or all.

    I think the stabbing of Talissa was brutal, its the only thing I didnt expect, well that and what the fucking balls was Blackfish doing at the Red Wedding, doesnt make any sense, he wasnt even a stand in for the Greatjon, he was barely there and only so that the weasily Freys perved on him. Leaving Riverrun without a Tully? Balls to that.

    Anyway yeah, I though Talissa was in on it until she was the first one stabbed, which i think was a brilliant move, you take them by surprise and make sure the heir is gone. I was always suspicious of Talissa but I guess that was all in my head, an abandoned plot device or the writers just wanted to fuck with us.

    On a funny note, A forum of Ice and Fire’s servers are overloaded, pisses me off because this is the episode I had been waiting to go full nerd.

  7. Ohhh I forgot, why was Dragonstone in the credits? There wasnt anything close to Dragonstone . Also, completely out of character for Jon to run, no that i am a Jon fan, but leaving Ygritte when all he had to to is fight Giantsbae, also hello Jon, a Direwolf, maybe a stark kid is nearby, even if he didnt recognise Summer, he should at least be suspicious. The again he was fighting underhanded, but still, what up?

  8. Ok, let me see if I have this right…Roose Bolton was at this wedding, did the stabbing on behlaf of the Lannisters…I don’t think I’m spoiling anything (I have only made it half through book 2) but why torture Theon? Isn’t it a Bolton doing that too? Or am I lost? (wouldn’t be the first time).

    P.S. Grey Worm is way hotter than Daario – but then there’s that whole castration thing…

  9. Jon is under the impression Bran and Rickon are dead and has no reason to think otherwise, hence why he didn’t feel the need to stick around and search out his half-brothers.

    Theon captured Winterfell and as far as the Northerners know killed Bran and Rickon….the Bolton’s are allied with the Lannisters now obviously and someone has to take over as Warden of the North, what better way to ingratiate yourself to your fellow Northmen by capturing and torturing the guy who captured and as far as you are telling everyone burned Winterfell? Yeah forgot that detail too the Bolton’s are telling everyone that it was Theon who burned Winterfell not Ramsay.

  10. Sucks the red wedding was spoiled for you. Nothing compares to how I felt after reading that chapter with no knowledge of what was to happen…I think I re-read it 3 times and was stunned everytime. I knew it was coming last night but I still wasn’t ready, phenomenal job by the actors and writers.

  11. I believe Blackfish survived, since he notably left to take a piss right before the skirmish erupted. They would have shown him dying if he died. Can’t remember what happens to Edmure, but I am guessing he is still alive.

  12. The Red Wedding; why would anyone want to tell a story with murdering, betrayal, rape, back-stabbing and scheming being the central theme, and while good thing we teach to our children like love, honor, trust and respect are forgotten and even worse, punished in this story. How is this in anyway entertaining? Since that is what the book and TV series suppose to do.

  13. I am betting we’ll see Joffrey’s demise next week. It has to happen, next to Balon Greyjoy’s dead for the season to have closure (remember Melissandre’s spell?).

    Don’t you feel that knowing what will happen makes it worse? My wife and I have read the 5 books already but it didn’t take away the pain, hurt and saddness of watching Robb and Catelin die. Also Jeine’s dead (or Talissa, somehow I lost track of her name) was so F-ing cruel that I couldn’t believe they did that. Also, by naming the unborn child Eddard, it is like having Edd being killled twice, and that is evil, EVIL.

    Finally, I am hearing a lot of fans praising Michelle Fairley for her performance and I can’t agree more, she has to have and Emmy nomination this year for that scene only. But I also love the deepness that Richard Madden gave as he was mourning the dead of her wife and little Edd. He didn’t overplay it, he keept it low and somehow remind me of Mandy Patinkin’s acting: to keep emotions under the skin and let the viewer find the feelings in itself. As Abed would say: cool, cool, cool.

  14. Excellent episode. Reminds me of some of the Sopranos episodes when either a snitch or a rival gangster realizes they are caught and going to die, then feebly try to get away…..

  15. To Paul (and commenter Emilio)

    (spoilers galore!)

    I very highly doubt that we will see the Purple Wedding next episode. No way. The Red Wedding was all the closure you can expect for this season. They’ve said repeatedly that book 3 was split between season 3 and 4, if they do both weddings, what’s left for next season?

    And Paul, no way they wait 11 episodes from now to show Cat’s resurrection, they can’t wait till the end of season 4 to show that. The red magic used to bring Beric Dondarrion back has to happen very quickly after his death. She’s dead in season 3 episode 9. No way they can wait 10 episodes to show them dropping her body off in the river. And if they do that next episode, no way they wait 10 episodes to show Brotherhood Without Banners finding it 10 episodes later. It only happens 3 days later in the books. I think there’s a strong possibility the final scene of season 3 will be her coming back from the dead. The seasons end with some magical stuff. Daenerys with the dragons being born, the White Walker army, and this could end with Lady Stoneheart.

    But no way do we get another wedding in next week’s episode and Joffrey’s death. They always have a denouement, not more crazy stuff like that in episode 10. I bet Joffrey will die early to mid next season, episode 2-4 maybe, just like Daenerys’ big scene this season in Astapor in episode 4. Followed by Tywin in episode 9 and Tyrion fleeing in episode 10.

  16. @Jack

    The story isn’t over so to conclude that the point of the story is to teach all the negative things is a tad presumptuous. Also there are still plenty of good things happening….the world both Westeros and real life isn’t black and white its an ever changing shade of gray.

  17. *Post contains spoilers (in reply to other spoilers…. so … this disclaimer is kinda pointless)*

    @Sean Fast:
    I don’t think we’ll see Catelyn again this season – she may have been resurrected shortly after the RW, but (as far as I remember) we only see her much later. How I think the show will deal with it is have someone mention rumors about her and she’ll be revealed towards the end of the next season.

    I don’t see another wedding or a major character death coming next week, simply because the show hasn’t been building up to another wedding. Then again, ok, to me Tyrion/Sansa wedding kind of came out of nowhere as far as the show was concerned, it was more or less just stated 1-2 episodes before by Tywin.. “oh, you’re getting married”.

    Overall, I thought it was a pretty good episode, given the budget of the show. I always imagined the hall where the wedding took place at the Twins being much larger than the one in the show, and… well, there’s this one line I really loved in SoS in one of the Catelyn chapters; something along the lines of the music being loud, the singers being loud, and it would be great if they would be acquainted with each other (basically put this image in my head the musicians were horrible to start with, which in hindisight just foreshadowed they weren’t musicians at all). Another thing I really missed in the show was the Greatjon drinking people under the table 🙂

    Another thing I missed in the show actually was Tywin plotting the whole thing – I missed the vague foreshadowing of it all, Tywin sitting in his chamber sending secret letters to people, whereas in the show the plot was just a little bit obvious.

    For the rest, I thought it was one of the best episodes of the season. Also, the look on Mormon’ts face when he hobbled into Dany’s tent after the battle and she asked about Daario was priceless.

    Oh, and “Hodoring” is totally a verb now.

  18. They handled Arya poorly. She should have been bursting with emotions and instead they had her creep around and watch her people die with nothing but a blank stare. Not the actresses fault, poor directing decision if you ask me.

  19. *book spoilers*

    Great episode. I’ve read the books and I have a problem with the TV show that I must speak of.

    I think the show is actually creating spoilers for the 6th and 7th books. Let’s take Jeyne’s story as a good example.

    In the books we are not ever sure whether she survived or not, it is told to us that she supposedly survived the RW and the Iron Throne pardoned her with the mandate not to get married for two years to make it clear that she is not indeed pregnant from Robb.
    But, when JAmie meets her she thinks that she is pretty but not “that pretty” and notes that her hips are small. However, if you read Catelyn description of Jeyne she tells us that she was really really pretty and that her hips were big (good for birth labor)!
    Fan theories say that it is possible that she was not present at the RW and was kept safe by Stark loyalists because Robb didn’t trust the Freys. Which could mean that a Stark heir actually exists. The last image we have from Robb before the RW is him writing a letter, which can probably declare Jon a true Stark and make him the regent until Robb’s son is ready to rule.

    Now…George acts like a consultant in the show, so my guess is that the writers of the show already confirmed with him that the fan theory is not true…. which, really makes me sad because I feel I got spoiled….

    Anyway, I just wanted to take this all out and go sleep in peace.
    Diego, from Argentina

  20. Holy shit, that’s what crossed my mind. It was beautifully put together and at least I did not expect it. Brilliant episode and a crear review.

  21. I didn’t read the books so the ending was a huge surprise. And very disappointing. I was looking forward to the northerners fighting the Lannisters. So know what? No adversary for them til the dragons finally show up? Seems pretty lame.

  22. *Book Spoilers*

    I highly doubt that Joff’s wedding will be next week, yes they happen close together but the Dornish are introduced before hand which after the character cull will probably be better for viewers to keep track of now they don’t have to keep track of some others.

    Also with Stonehearts reappearance it will depend on how much time they put in between the two episodes, although I suppose they could show Dundarian finding her and giving her the life fire kiss instead of the hanging scene.

    next weeks episode will probably be a tidy up episode showing the aftermath of the events of this weeks i.e. Joff’s gloating and wanting Robb’s head. Jon getting back to the wall. Daenerys deciding to stay at Yunkai for a while. They could wrap up the adventures of Arya and the Hound. a good ending could be her getting on the ship.

    Anyways it gives food for thought

  23. When I read the books, I was pissed off, depressed, and slightly made happy by the Red Wedding. Robb was my favorite character (they killed off my favorite characters before him) even though they barely even had him in the book. The Red Wedding was frickin awful to read. Martin kills every character I like, and leaves annoying and unlikable characters like Dany alive. So frustrating. Granted, the one silver lining of the Red Wedding was the death of Catelyn. She was easily my least favorite character, and I was so happy to not have another one of her awful chapters to read.

  24. I thought it was powerfully done. Worth the wait!
    Ryan, Arya’s reaction didn’t bother me (she didn’t know what was happening to her family, probably thought they were being taken hostage) but Bran’s did. I thought he should have been more torn up about his little brother leaving since he doesn’t know if he’ll ever see another member of his family again.
    Anyway, that’s just nitpicking. HBO is really smashing it with this adaption. Great TV

  25. *SPOILERS*

    I suspect, given it’s only three days before her body is found, that we will get Lady Stoneheart in some manner next week. Possibly as the season ender reveal. No way would they keep that for a whole season, and especially since they have shown Theon being tortured and he disappears for a book and a half as I recall.

    The Purple Wedding they will save for next season. I don’t think it’ll be a season ender (too much time) but say, as a big event at episode 4 (like Dany’s slave buying this season). This would set up episode 9 next year as when we find out if Lannisters do really shit gold, and ask where do whores go?

  26. Paul, I love the new format show review and then book review/comparison. It’s perfect, for a non-reader such as myself who prides herself on avoiding spoilers at all costs. Thanks!

    As an aside to that, in the show Robb’s wife is Talisa, not Jeyne. You may want to fix that so as to avoid confusion 🙂

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