Review: Game of Thrones 3.09: The Rains of Castamere

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

There’s no getting around it – the central element that dominates this episode of A Game of Thrones (one which readers of the book had been expecting) and which, if you don’t like spoilers, you should avoid learning about right now … is the wedding feast that turns into murder. It’s a grand moment, to be sure, though it seems to eclipse everything else – Dany seems more in the periphery than ever before – but it does make for one bloody, disturbing final scene.

The shows opens with Robb plotting an attack on the Lannisters, an attack that will only succeed if he has the support of the Freys. But he humiliated them by spurning his betrothed and marrying a commoner. He seeks to patch things up with the marriage of Edmure Tully, his uncle, and a Frey. And all seems okay until the wedding reception, when Frey men pull out their swords and kill Robb, his wife and Catelyn.

And this is why Martin’s storyline, when it works, really works. It’s no doubt one of the most shocking moments in the books, a horrifying scene for those in the TV audience who have been watching without any knowledge of things to come and still a pretty disturbing moment for those of us who knew it would happen.

It’s a horrible moment and yet…it has an internal logic of its own. (Incidentally, Martin has said this moment is inspired by two real life incidents that happened during the Middle Ages, one of them called “The Black Dinner.”)

The episode is made bleak, not only by this central murder scene, but by the fact that almost ALL the Starks converge this episode, but end up drifting apart without realizing it. Near the Wall, Jon’s party of wildlings is rushing past an old tower where Bran and his friends have taken refuge, while Arya is headed towards the castle where the wedding is taking place. None of them meet each other, which makes it even more ironic, since all these characters have been struggling to reunite.

If there are two characters that sadly suffer in their scenes this episode, they are Sam and Dany. Sam, who often seems to have nothing to do with the show, is made even more superfluous in a scene that seems to be placed there mainly to remind us he exists. Meanwhile, Dany is also tacked on, the oomph of the battle scenes there dimmed in comparison, though it made me chuckle to see Daario stealing the moment of glory upon his return to the Queen’s camp, while Jorah’s liver twists just a little bit more.

Despite the grimness, the episode manages to score some dark humor: Walder Frey parading his many unattractive daughters and telling Robb it wasn’t love but a firm ass that moved him to marry his wife, Bolton talking about how he was offered a bride who came with her weight in silver and picked the fattest one to collect the largest pot, and Sandor’s dry remarks.

This episode also gave some needed screen time to Bran, who discovers how to slip into the minds of animals…and humans. His Jedi powers grow strong.

Next episode is the season finale and it just seems impossible we’ve got one more hour of television to wrap this drama for the year.

You can buy individual episodes of previous seasons of Game of Thrones on Amazon Instant Video, or watch the current season on Sunday nights on HBO.

About Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia lives in beautiful, rainy British Columbia with her family and two cats. She writes fantasy, magic realism and science fiction. You can read her stories in Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, The Book of Cthulhu, Evolve 2 and Tesseracts 13. She is the co-editor of Candle in the Attic Window, Future Lovecraft and Historical Lovecraft.

Silvia Moreno-GarciaReview: Game of Thrones 3.09: The Rains of Castamere