'Game of Thrones' Season 3 episode 9 recap: 'The Rains of Castamere'
The King of the North's quest for the Iron Throne has finally ended. In one of the most gruesome and tragic events to unfold on a scripted television series, Robb Stark, his pregnant wife Talisa and his mother Catelyn were betrayed by Roose Bolton and Walder Frey and murdered in a slaughter that has come to be known as the Red Wedding.
It's a major game changer for the playing field in "Game of Thrones," and it seems as though Stannis Baratheon's magical request for the death of Robb has come true. Now there is one fewer king vying for the Iron Throne, and Sansa Stark is now the heir of Winterfell. The Lannisters will be happier than ever that they married her to Tyrion just in time for them to fell Robb and his army.
Here is what happened in "Game of Thrones" Season 3, episode 9, "The Rains of Castamere."
With the King of the North
Robb seems like he's got the Lannister situation pretty well in hand when "The Rains of Castamere" begins. His plan hinges on the assistance of Walder Frey, though even Catelyn doubts whether the lord of the Twins will comply. At least Robb and Catelyn have finally made amends with one another after Catelyn set Jaime Lannister free.
The Northmen finally reach the Twins where they break bread and salt with the Freys -- a promise of safety in the world of Westeros. Walder introduces his many unattractive daughters and granddaughters, which is his way of emphasizing that Robb married Talisa for love as well as her looks. "I say he betrayed me for firm tits and a tight grip, and I can respect that," Walder says, also seemingly implying that he notices Talisa is pregnant. Still, he says the festivities will take place.
The Stark men are set up outside the Frey keep while the wedding takes place inside. Edmure finally gets to meet his wife, who is surprisingly beautiful. He seems pretty pleased with the situation he stumbled into, though Walder makes sure to give Robb a look as if to say, "This could have been yours." The celebration begins, and all seems to be going well. Even Talisa has come to terms with Catelyn as her mother-in-law, despite their previous dislike of one another.
Roose Bolton talks about how he married a Frey and made a whole lot of money from it, and that's the first time Catelyn seems to realize something is wrong. The Blackfish leaves to go to the bathroom, and Edmure and his bride are taken away for their bedding ceremony. It's then that a Frey locks the feast hall's doors, the musicians start playing "The Rains of Castamere" and Catelyn sees that Bolton is wearing chainmail under his robes. Though she tries to warn Robb to escape, she is too late, and Talisa is repeatedly stabbed in the stomach and left to bleed to death.
What follows is nothing less than horrible. Only minutes after Robb and Talisa were talking about naming their child after Eddard Stark, all the Stark men have been slaughtered both inside and out of the wedding ceremony. Grey Wind is murdered, Catelyn and Robb are riddled with arrows and nothing that Catelyn tries to do to sway Walder matters. Even when she holds her knife to Walder's wife's neck and threatens to kill her, Bolton stabs Robb in the chest and kills him. Catelyn slashes Walder's wife's neck, and the episode ends with her own throat being cut. And thus ends the quest of the King of the North, and all hope of Casterly Rock being sacked.
On the Kingsroad
The Hound and Arya finally make it to the Twins, but Sandor Clegane can read Arya better than she realizes. "You're almost there and you're afraid you won't make it," he tells her, and he's right. The idea of reuniting with her family probably feels like a dream to her by now, and the Hound notes that the last time she was this close to her family, her father got his head cut off.
Of course, Arya isn't afraid to show her teeth to Sandor. "Some day I'm going to put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull," she deadpans to him after he brings up Ned's death. She has him to thank for saving her life when they finally do arrive at the Twins, though. They get there only to see the Starks being murdered, and Arya actually watches the Freys murder Grey Wind. The Hound knocks her out when she tries to go save her family and saves her life -- though she likely won't see it that way.
Across the Narrow Sea
Daenerys seems to be having better luck in Yunkai than Robb did with the Freys. She sends Daario, Jorah and Grey Worm to overturn the city, and they do so successfully. Remarkably successfully, in fact, considering the three men managed to intimidate all of Yunkai's slave soldiers. Unfortunately for Jorah and his love of Dany, he is pretty upset about the fact that she is more concerned for Daario and his pretty braids than she is about him. Also, it's worth mentioning that Grey Worm has got some pretty fantastic spear skills.
North of the Wall
At long last, Sam and Gilly made it south to the Wall. Sam knows how to get through the Wall based on something he read in a book. Gilly is pretty impressed by her savior, telling him, "You're like a wizard." Sam might not have any magical abilities, but he does take that comment as a compliment.
South of the Wall
A Stark reunion might not have happened at the Twins, but it did happen -- sort of -- south of the Wall. Jon Snow and Bran Stark come as close as they've been since Jon left for the Night's Watch in season 1. Jon is heading south with the Wildlings to Castle Black, though his allegiances to the Night's Watch become clearer as he does his best to save the life of a Northman who raises horses. Bran, meanwhile, has taken shelter with Osha, Rickon, Hodor, Meera and Jojen in an abandoned tower they found on their journey north to find the three-eyed crow.
Jon ends up coming to blows with the Wildlings when he refuses to kill the Northman like they request. This showdown takes place right outside the tower where Bran is hiding. Unsure about what is going on below, Bran wargs into the direwolves and attacks the men who are attacking Jon. Tormund restrains Ygritte, who can't accept the fact that Jon has betrayed her, and Jon finally fells Orell -- but not before the Wildling wargs into his eagle and attacks Jon's face.
Ygritte is left behind staring in anger and shock as Jon rides away on horseback. It's unclear if Jon remembers his brothers' direwolves, but Bran at least recognizes Jon. Before the Wildlings attack, Bran had also warged into Hodor, which is something Jojen had never heard of before. Bran decides to split up the group and send Osha and Rickon to safety with the Umbers while he, Hodor, Jojen and Meera travel north and continue on their journey.
The farewell between the two brothers is particularly sad knowing that two other members of their family get murdered later in their episode. Rickon gets more screentime than he has in a long time as he and Bran share a touching goodbye, and Osha comforts him while kissing his head. She has fully taken on a mothering role and it's clear Jojen and Meera respect this side of her. She tasks them of Bran, "Keep this one safe. He means the world to me."
- Unlike Talisa's death in "Game of Thrones," Robb Stark's wife Jeyne Westerling still lives in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. She never traveled to the Red Wedding with him, and it remains to be seen if she serves a greater purpose.
- It's never quite clear in George R.R. Martin's book series if Jon and Bran notice how close they are to one another -- in fact, it's implied that they're not. It's nice that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss made it clear that they did realize how close they are to one another, and that each other safe, in the TV series.
Robb to Catelyn: "We'll lose the war and die the way father died, or worse."
The Blackfish of Edmure: "The gods love to reward a fool."
Talisa to Robb: "Don't you want to teach little Ned Stark how to ride horse?"
Gilly to Sam: "You're like a wizard."
Arya to the Hound: "Some day I'm going to put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull."