Game of Thrones 3.09 “The Rains of Castamere” Review: I’m Through With Love

Richard-Madden-as-Robb-Stark-on-Game-of-Thrones-S01E04Throughout the course of season 3 of Game of Thrones, I have been both beguiled and at times revolted by the perfusive love plots and subplots. Between Jaime and Brienne, Jon Snow and Ygritte, Robb and Talisa, and Osha and whoever the hell she was waxing lyrical about, Game of Thrones has rendered my feelings on love into a bipolar mash. (You will be receiving a bill from my psychiatrist, Game of Thrones.) In the penultimate episode of season 3 titled, “The Rains of Castamere,” they took nearly all of those relationships and proceeded to savagely excoriate them, not only throttling our hopes and dreams of love, but actually denouncing love as a fatal weakness bringing about ruin.

“Show them how it feels to lose what they loved”–Catelyn Stark

Robb Stark and his mother begin this episode planning their next move against the Lannisters and the success of said move is entirely contingent on the amenability of Walder Frey. “If reinforcements arrive from King’s Landing before we take the castle, we’ll be caught between Tywin’s army and the sea,” says Catelyn. “We’ll lose the war and die the way father died–or worse,” replies Robb. Robb ends up being remarkably accurate in that statement only he has the logistics muddled: It is before they even make a move on Casterly Rock that the Lannisters strike.

While it’s true that Robb has been winning a preponderance of the battles, it’s also been apparent that Robb’s attention to the war has been diverted by his love of his wife. This was typified three weeks ago when she lied naked in his bed and told him about her pregnancy while he sat at his map of Westeros. Robb also made an oath to Walder Frey to marry one of his daughters which was terminated after he became involved with Talisa. Robb gave precedence to his own happiness, but like Catelyn’s table-mate who swept up the tubbiest Frey he could find, or Tyrion Lannister, Robb would have been better off marrying strategically.

During the reception of one of Walder Frey’s daughters and Edmure Tully, the band portentously rips into “The Rains of Castamere” which is a song that celebrates the Lannisters annihilation of the rebelling House Reyne. Yeah, things aren’t looking so great for the Starks. Tywin has already made some kind of alliance with Walder Frey (“The Lannisters send their regards”) and shortly after Walder Frey orders the clarion call, Robb and Talisa (and her fetus) are killed. Catelyn holds Walder Frey’s wife hostage, a knife poised at her throat, but Frey doesn’t even care. Frey’s wife dies; Catelyn dies. Silence.

“Yes, now the rains weep o’er his hall and not a soul to hear.”

No wonder Arya is so afraid. This poor girl has become inured to hardship. Sure things appeared to be for once taking a turn for the better, but she can’t accept that. She and the Hound arrive at the wedding at the time of the insurrection. Hound snatches her up before she gets herself killed.

Meanwhile, it appears my beloved romance of Jon Snow and Ygritte has also been torn asunder. After Jon Snow refuses to kill an innocent old man, the Wildings asperse that he will always be a Crow and draw their weapons on him. Aided by Ygritte and Bran who possess a nearby Dire Wolf, Jon Snow kills them all save Ygritte and Tormund, and rides away on a horse leaving Ygritte (and me) looking crestfallen. He tells their resident Warg that he was indeed right, that Jon Snow was a Crow this whole time, so I suppose this means he is going back to the Night’s Watch. Unlike Robb, he gave up the girl he loved on his own accord because he knew that as happy as he would be with her, he would be turning his back on the Night’s Watch and he could not abide that.

At first, I was slightly underwhelmed by this episode (how many weddings do I have to sit through?), but the more I think about it, and after re-watching some pertinent scenes, I think this a strong showing for Game of Thrones. I’ve never been too keen on Robb–I’m actually kind of relieved that Robb is out of the picture so we can give more time to the numerous other characters– especially the pairing of Robb and Talisa, so this wasn’t as poignant as when Ned Stark was beheaded, but all of the fateful scenes with Robb and Catelyn, whether planning or at the wedding, were handled so expertly in setting the stage for what was to come.

I don’t think this was as good as the masterpiece that aired two weeks prior, but it was nonetheless a powerful episode. I would put it somewhere in the top 3 episodes of the season. As always, I’m still not digging all the stuff with Bran (Bran also separated from his brother, Rickon, as well as Osha). I’m also confounded by the presence of Long Hair in Daenerys’s cadre. His impetus was never sufficiently explicated and it seems like they cut some corners so that Daenerys could continue her freedom tour. But still, “The Rains of Castamere” was well worth the two week wait.

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