So that happened.
Major bloody, bloody spoilers after the cut.
Today’s secret word is… schadenfreude.
“Rains of Castamere” contained a moment fans of the ASoIaF books have been so very patiently waiting for. That moment when you can observe your book-virgin friends watching tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones with a secret smile, knowing, waiting for That Moment. When “The Rains of Castamere” starts playing at Edmure’s wedding and everything turns upside down, you will be there to witness the crying, the gnashing of teeth, the frustration, the sting of indignation that once again, life in Westeros is just not fair.
The bad ones always live.
You will remember the first time you read Catelyn’s infamous final chapter.
Perhaps you threw the book across the room. Perhaps you broke down and bought your first pack of smokes in three months because you could not believe that that just happened and you needed something to calm you down. (Any justification for a filthy smoker. Don’t be like that.) Perhaps you then sent the jerk who told you to read this damned series in the first place a furious text message. Maybe you raised your fist to the indifferent heavens and cursed George R. R. Martin for making you care about these people so that it would hurt when they were slaughtered in the cruelest possible way.
Maybe you did all of the above. I did.
I did all of these things, but I laughed, too. Maybe a bit madly, like Cat, because damned if that wasn’t one of the most wicked, well-written scenes in the whole series. The foreshadowing, the tension, the slow build, and then the realization that Martin—and those fucking Freys—were really going to go there.
While Cat wasn’t my favorite character, I could certainly empathize with the powerful love she felt for her children, often to the fault of all else. And I did love her sad voice. It was a smart and sadistic move to have this chapter written in Cat’s voice because what could be more painful than to be in the mind of a helpless mother—who has lost so much already—when her firstborn son is murdered before her eyes. We are with Cat when she loses her mind, literally. There is no succor for Cat and there is none for us.
And poor Robb. In the books, we never got much in his own voice. Like most of the main kings—Robert, Joffrey, Renly, Stannis, and Balon—they are viewed from a distance. It’s more important to the story to see how others react to their actions. So while I was certainly sad for the foolish, earnest young King in the North, it was his mother’s grief I felt sharpest. I felt more grief for Robb’s siblings than I did for Robb himself. I knew them better.
But the show changed that. We got to see a lot more of Robb, including conversations we were never privy to in the books. He was given more equal weight in the show, so losing him now, like this, when we’ve seen his love scenes and private conversations with his ill-advised wife? It’s even more heartbreaking. I didn’t think it would be possible. Credit must also, of course, be given to Richard Madden and his soulful eyes.
I knew from the first season of Game of Thrones that this was going to hurt.
But I also knew I’d enjoy the evil glee of watching my friends and family finally attend the Red Wedding. And Twitter. Oh boy, have I been waiting for the furious tweets.
And once the tears have dried and the dust has settled, we book readers can all laugh heartily and say a bit smugly: “See?! I told you that George R. R. Martin is a brilliant fucking bastard.”
So, while it’s hard to believe, some other stuff happened last night:
- SO FRUSTRATING! Arya was only 100 yards from her mother and brother when they died. If anything could’ve been changed from the book, it was my hope that Cat would at least glimpse her daughter before she died, like Ned. Just a silent bit of something nice. NOPE. NO NICE FOR YOU. The Hound saved her life, but I doubt she’ll thank him for it. Her vow to put a sword through his eye and out the back of his head was so boss.
- Another two ships passing in the night! I was glad that at least one Stark got to see another estranged Stark, but still. Can’t any Starks hug each other? Even a wave? Wave-by-wargin’ counts, I suppose. Finally Bran’s story got interesting.
- Well make that three ships passing in the night if you count Rickon, who had more lines last night than he did in all the previous seasons combined. And he delivered them well. For the first time, I felt like they were really brothers.
- Hodors gonna Hodor. Stop Hodorin’, Hodor!
- The look on Ygritte’s face was pretty priceless in its outrage. Looks like Jon Snow knows something else, i.e. how to ditch you. That cute couple didn’t last long.
- Outside Yunkai, Dany paced while Daario, Jorah, and Grey Worm defeated a weak bunch of slave soldiers. I loved watching the different combat styles of the three men. Daario was showy and fluid, Grey Worm was the epitome of economy of movement, and Jorah was, well, pretty much a lumbering knight—kinda like his Dothraki bloodrider buddies said way back in season one.
- Aside from all of the great lines in Walder Frey’s hall, my favorite line was probably Daario saying “He’s the best whistler in the world.” One gets the feeling he thinks he’s the best everything in the world. And Dany is totally buying that.
- Jorah needs to go join Severus Snape in the Friend Zone in the Sky. I want to have sympathy for him, I really do, because he was such a good friend and advisor to Dany. Why can’t he just accept that that’s all he’ll ever be in her eyes. I’ll be sad to watch this formerly great duo blow up because of unrequited romance.
- So why have the Blackfish attend Edmure’s wedding? Who’s holding down the fort at Riverrun? The weird cut of having Bryden use the loo before the shit hit the fan was kind of strange-looking. Like he was in on the betrayal. Which of course he wasn’t. I’m going to assume he left the room because the producers wanted him to or else we’d ask why he didn’t try saving his sister and nephew. TV reasons?
- Cat was so mournful and glum in the book-Red Wedding, it was worse to see her smiling and letting her guard down for a bit. A bit disappointed she didn’t claw her eyes out here, but, stunned silence certainly fit my mood, well after the end credits finished, too.
- So, Talisa isn’t a Lannister spy, in case you were thinking that. Man, that sucked horribly. Understatement, I know. She endured the disgusting, public judgment of Walder Frey, then she broke my heart talking about “Little Ned Stark” learning to ride a horse and I pretty much lost it there. No survivors, no heir.
- It’s the next morning and I’m still feeling really damned crushed.
Some post-Red Wedding news from around the blogosphere:
- Seriously, @RedWeddingTears has got you covered for anguished Game of Thrones fan tweets.
- EW.com has a great interview with the producers.
- Richard Madden cried probably more than you did when you watched his time on the show come to a brutal end.
- Michelle Fairley talks about her experience filming the Red Wedding, Sean Bean, and Peter Dinklage’s strange accent.
- Some guy from Coldplay was in the Frey house band in last night’s episode, further proving that Coldplay sucks.
Next week: Season finale, people. Then we can all cry because there will be no more new episodes for quite some time.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 PM E/PT on HBO.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com, covering True Blood, Game of Thrones, and gaming news. Follow her on Twitter @tdelucci