If you've been paying any attention to Game of Thrones over the last few years, you've learned that unlike on a normal show, it's not the finale you need to watch out for each season. The penultimate Episode 9 is when you can expect the drama to ramp up to over 9,000.
Season 3, Episode 9: "The Rains of Castamere," which brought the long-anticipated/dreaded Red Wedding to life, was no exception. As book fans, we were ready for the episode to break our hearts. While it didn't reach the same creative heights as last year's "Blackwater," it did not disappoint.
Re-live everything that happened — and no, it wasn't just the Red Wedding — with Wetpaint Entertainment's recap of the episode.
Yunkai: Hey, Something Good
One person has a good time this week, and that person is Dany. While everything is falling apart over in Westeros, she's busy with hot men bringing her sacked cities as tribute. Mother of freaking Dragons.
Here's what happens: Daario has a plan to get Dany Yunkai. Jorah still doesn't trust him, partially because he's a sellsword, but probably mostly because he's jealous that Dany is totally into this new hottie. Unfortunately for Jorah, he's outvoted by Grey Worm, the leader of the Unsullied, who thinks Daario is on the up and up. Daario's plan it is!
Said plan involves sneaking into the city via a back gate, killing all the guards, and rallying the slave armies inside to their side. We see the beginning of this: Daario, Grey Worm, and Jorah face off against a pile of guards. They're completely outnumbered, but Dany's entourage is a talented group. All three kill man after man, with spear (Grey Worm), arakh (Daario), and sword (Jorah). It's fast, exciting, desperate fighting. Can they really win?
Later, we cut to Dany, anxiously waiting. It's been a long time. On the other hand, they are trying to sack a city, which isn't exactly a simple operation. Before we can get too worried that everything has gone awry, Jorah and Grey Worm return, covered in blood but triumphant. But what about Daario? Jorah looks upset when Dany asks. If you think it's because Daario is dead, you haven't been paying attention: The rival for Dany's heart is alive, well, and bringing her a city. Yunkai is hers, and Daario has proven his worth.
North of the Wall: Hello, Random Scene
North of the wall, Sam impresses Gilly with his book learning. Then we see they've made it to the Wall. That is literally everything that happens in this scene. 'K.
The Gift: Close Encounters of the Stark Kind
Meanwhile, in an area south of the Wall called the Gift, we have the first Stark near-reunion of the episode, with Bran and Rickon coming this close to Jon. But, alas, they don't actually find each other, because that would mean something good happened to the Starks. We can't have that.
Here's what happens from Jon's point of view: He and his Wildling party stumble on a farmer with horses. The Wildlings want to rob and kill him, on the logic that hey, swift murder is nicer than death by old age anyway. Jon tries very hard to convince them not to be murdering dicks, but that only serves to rekindle suspicion against him.
The Wildlings raid, the farmer escapes on horse, they follow and eventually catch him. The farmer has to die, or he'll warn the Night's Watch about the Wildlings, and somehow it becomes Jon's job to deal the final blow. This is his moment to prove himself to his comrades, but he can't bring himself to do it. Starks and their damn honor.
"Kill [Jon]!" Tormund declares, now sure Jon is still a crow and heart, and a fight breaks out. Jon knocks Ygritte over, and kills Orell — but it looks like Orell wargs into his favorite bird at the last second (cool power, huh?). Jon literally fights the bird — which, let's be honest, is hilarious — before managing to ride off on a horse, leaving a distraught Ygritte behind.
Meanwhile, Bran, Rickon, Osha, and Hodor just so happen to be in a tower overlooking this entire scene, because fate and whatever. Their position is almost exposed when Hodor starts to freak the hell out, but Bran saves the day by warging into Hodor. Bran not only activated his warg powers, but he took over another human's mind. He's understandably overwhelmed and confused by these new powers, but he doesn't have much time to process before Jojen convinces him to warg down into his direwolf, Summer, which he does. He catches sight of Jon and even helps with the fight.
Later, after the Wildlings have moved on, Jojen emphasizes that what Bran did with Hodor is not normal. Basically, Bran's the special-est warg that ever did special. This experience has convinced Bran that he seriously needs to go north of the Wall to find the "three-eyed raven." Every magical young child needs a quest!
However, he's not about to drag his little brother down this dangerous path with him. Rickon gets his first real set of lines in seasons as he protests that he wants to go with his brother, but Bran insists on sending him off with Osha to find safety with the Umbers. Osha's like yeah, great plan, bye now, and they bounce immediately. Will we ever see them again?
On the Road to the Twins: On Murder and Fear
On the road to the Twins, The Hound and Arya run into a common hog farmer. The Hound wants to kill him, until Arya calls him out on not being as badass as he thinks he is, since killing old men and small children is not actually impressive. "Don't kill him, please!" she begs. "You're very kind, someday it will get you killed," he warns in return. She proves she's not so weak by knocking the commoner out again. Gosh, we love this girl.
Soon, Arya and The Hound have the Twins in sight, and she can't stop looking at them. The Hound, who is now posing as a hog farmer himself, taunts Arya, deftly reading her: She's afraid they won't reach her family. (She's not wrong.) As always, she has a response up her sleeve: she may be scared, but she knows he can be scared too — of fire, a fact she rubs in. Not as easy to deal with as her sister, is she, Hound?
The Twins: Red Wedding
The episode both opens and closes with Robb and Cat. It begins with the pair discussing Robb's plan to take Casterly Rock; the King in the North has finally realized that his mother, despite a bad decision or 10, might be worth listening to. She gives him a subtle smile, and then breaks into an in-depth discussion of army movements that cease to matter by the end of the episode. "Show them how it feels to lose what they love," she says. Sorry, but that's not going to work out.
Next, the Stark and Tully brigade meets with the Freys; they eat a bit of food that represents that they are now Walder Frey's guests, under his protection. We're treated to an array of Walder's sad-sack daughters and granddaughters; Robb apologizes for not marrying one of them. Walder appears to accept the apology, but not before getting all creepy at Talisa. But whatever, right? That's just how he rolls.
Out in the camps, all of Robb's men are waiting around, drunk and cheerful. Inside, the dourest wedding ever is underway, though things take a turn for the better once Edmure discovers his bride is actually very pretty. "You're a delight to me, my lady," he tells her, because he is a simple man, with simple needs. The sad thing is, Robb could have just married Roslin, and had a pretty wife, and everything would have been fine. Or at least not as bad as it's about to become.
Because things are about to get bad. Really, really, horrifically terrible.
The after party actually starts off well; compared to the drunken mess we saw after Tyrion and Sansa's nuptials, everything seems downright excellent. Edmure is all over his new bride. Robb and Talisa are full of smiles and flirtation. Even Roose Bolton is chatty, explaining to Cat that he married a fat Frey girl, because Walder offered him her weight in silver. Eventually Walder declares that "the wedding needs a bedding." Time to solidify those bonds with some banging! Roslin and Edmure are transported off amidst a crowd of merriment and music, as is traditional for the "bedding ceremony." Stripping! Laughter! Joy!
Things are finally looking up for Robb, and Talisa even takes the opportunity to tell him they should name their baby after Ned if it's a boy, because the writers want you to cry even more than you did in the books when things turn to hell.
Which they do as soon as most of the party has emptied the room to go watch the bedding. Suddenly, the doors close, and the musicians break into "The Rains of Castamere," a Lannister song. Not. Good. Cat looks worried. And worried she should be.
Walder holds up his hand to stop the music, declaring that he has yet to give his new queen (AKA Talisa) a present. Cat, who really is smart, looks down and notices that Roose Bolton is wearing armor. As she's putting two and two together Talisa is stabbed multiple times in the stomach. Seriously. Baby. Stabbing. It's brutal, and unexpected even for people who've read A Storm of Swords, since Robb's wife wasn't pregnant or at the Red Wedding in the books.
This miserable act of violence is followed by slaughter. Everywhere. Robb's men, both in the room and those outside, are all killed. Robb's direwolf Greywind is killed. Robb himself is shot full of arrows as Cat looks on, though he isn't immediately killed (we guess he takes after his dad (AKA Sean Bean) circa Lord of the Rings).
This is all one horrible thing too many for Cat, because she turns ruthless, grabbing Walder's wife and offering a desperate bargain: the wife's life, plus a promise not to seek revenge, in exchange for Robb's life.
Too bad Walder is not a kind and loving husband. He blithely tells Cat that he'll "find another [wife]," as Roose Bolton himself walks over to Robb and stabs him in the heart, sneering that "the Lannisters send their regards." Which, yes, is proof that this elaborate plan is not just a revenge scheme sprung from Walder's rotten mind. Clearly, Tywin is behind it. Lannisters always pay their debts, right?
After watching her son die in front of her eyes Cat snaps, killing Walder's wife and then just freezing until she, too, is murdered. And there you have it: The end of the North's part in the war, or so it would seem.
The only sliver of hope in this final sequence is that Arya, who arrives at the camp just in time to witness the slaughter, is saved the The Hound, who carries her off, telling her, "it's over." At least she's alive.
- Daario on slaves: "A man cannot make love to property." He sure does understand how to win Dany's heart.
- Maisie Williams continues to impress. Her expression while looking out on the Twins was a marvelous piece of non-verbal acting.
- The casting for Roslin is great. She's very pretty, but still believable as a sister to the other more dowdy Frey girls.
- The Red Wedding sequence was perfectly brutal, but was anyone else hoping to hear the "Rains of Castamere" played throughout?
This episode featured zero Lannisters or Tyrells, and the absence of witty wordplay and innuendo laden comments was notable. It was a heavy episode, with nothing to lighten the mood.
What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.
Catch the Game of Thrones Season 3 finale on Sunday, June 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.