Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere [Review]
Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere was spectacular, exhilarating, and heartbreaking. I would expect nothing less from the second to last episode of this season. The main aspects of this episode centered on Bran Stark, Arya Stark, and Robb Stark, and Jon Snow. Arguably, Arya’s parts this episode were the best, followed by Bran’s and Jon’s, not to diminish the wedding, and the events there, but I didn’t enjoy that portion as much as the others. Now rather than spend the rest of this review attempting to keep the spoilers to a minimum I’ll just say if you haven’t seen this episode, you should stop reading now, and do yourself a favor and watch this episode as soon as you can, before someone ruins it for you. However this doesn’t really apply to those that have read the books, you lot are denied the pleasure of surprise.
Remember Sam and Gilly, they are still walking to the Wall, and Sam tells Gilly they are heading for Nightfort instead of Castle Black. This is convenient because that is also, where Bran is heading with the Reeds to cross The Wall. On their way to The Wall Bran, Hodor, Jojen Reed, Meera Reed, Rikon, and Osha stop for the night to take shelter from a storm in one of the Nights Watch’s abandoned holds where they decide on how to cross the wall, and Hodor reveals he is not fond of lightning. Meanwhile Jon and the wildlings plan to steal some horses, and kill the old horse farmer to keep their presence secret, but the old man has a chance to run away, and so they must chase him. They all end up outside the abandoned tower where Bran and his gang are hiding for the night. This is about when Hodor really decides he hates the lightning and starts to shout. Unable to stop him from giving them away Bran wargs out and puts Hodor to sleep. It’s quick, effective, and a pretty cool moment, if you have the means it’s worth rewinding to watch again. Meanwhile outside the wildlings catch the farmer, and decide Jon should be the one to kill him. Long story short, he can’t, and the wildlings turn on him. While Bran, with some encouragement from Jojen wargs into his and his brother’s dire wolfs and attacks the wildlings giving Jon a chance to kill a few and get away, but not before he is hit in the face with an eagle. At the end we are left with Jon no longer being on the side of the Wildling army, and Bran figuring out how to warg at will. Both of these points were worthy of applause, but as I’ve said before I am not likely to actually applaud my television in my own living room, it would wake the kids. It was a great sequence, but in my opinion, Arya and the Hound outshined it. It is probably just me, but I am really a sucker for really good dialogue, and that is what we had between Maisie Williams and Rory McCann. At this point in the story, we know that Arya is awesome, and that the Hound isn’t really a terribly bad guy; however, Arya still plans to kill him. They are making their way to The Twins for the wedding, so the Hound can ransom Arya to make up for The Brotherhood stealing his gold. There isn’t really much to recap here, but the cold delivery Maisie Williams uses to issue her promise to put a blade through Sandor Clegane’s eye and out the back of his skull is absolutely brilliant.
Across the sea, Daenerys quickly sacs the city of Yunkai with three soldiers, Daario, Grey Worm, and Ser Jorah, according to Daario’s plan to enter the city through a back gate, kill the guards, and offer freedom to the city’s slave army, and then open the gates to Daenerys. The fight sequence here is an absolute joy to behold. I love some good fight choreography, this was top-notch, and again I found myself rewinding more than once to take it all in. In the end here, we have Daenerys and her forces with a city to call their own for the time being.
Then we come to the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. Robb Stark and his forces descend on The Twins, the home of Walder Frey, where Robb offers his apologies for breaking his word to marry one of his daughters and offers to make amends. The meeting, the wedding, everything about this gathering is extremely tense. If asked to show an example of tension on film this would be it. They do manage to release that tension for a brief moment during the wedding feast, and that makes what happens next that much worse. Here is what happened for those that had to turn away, or lost consciousness due to the sight of so much blood. (Honestly, I did feel a little woozy, and I’m reminded that watching this level of violence is something I will never be used to.) After the Freys carry Edmure and Roslin away for the bedding ceremony, Lothar Frey closes the hall doors, and the musicians begin playing “The Rains of Castamere,” a song whose lyrics commemorate a famous Lannister victory. Walder makes a toast to Robb, and signals his men to attack. Lothar Frey draws a knife and stabs the pregnant Talisa in the stomach repeatedly; the musicians shoot Robb several times with crossbows, as well Catelyn. Finally, Roose Bolton stabs Robb saying, “The Lannisters send their regards.” Catelyn kills Walder’s wife just before one of the Freys slits her throat. While my summary seems mercifully brief, what we actually saw was agonizingly long, or at least it felt that way. That is not to say it was not very good, it was just very difficult to watch. The only thing that could have made this wrenching scene better would have been to score the closing credits with Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.”
If pressed I would say the 4th episode of this season “And Now His Watch is Ended” is still the best so far, followed very closely by the 3rd “Walk of Punishment”, putting episode 9, “The Rains of Castamere” in 3rd place. I should say that these episodes, separated by mere thousandths of a point in ranking on my scale of arbitrary ratings as 9.86, 9.85, and 9.84 respectively. That is what I would give this episode, 9.84 out of say 12 where 12 is unattainable perfection, so it might as well be out of 10.