“The Lannisters send their regards.” ~ Roose Bolton
Game of Thrones is a show that does not shy away from shocking the viewer and this episode was perhaps the most shocking yet.
Having not read the books, most of what happens on the show comes as a surprise to me. I had heard of the Red Wedding and I knew that it would not be good for the Starks, but I kept myself from learning the details. If I did, I might not have actually kept on watching the scene.
The scene is of course, the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. All seemed to be going well – Walder Frey had spent much of the episode being kind of a jerk, but had said they “will put this mess behind us.” Edmure had actually got a pretty wife, and Robb Stark is relieved and happy. Even Catelyn cracks a smile.
We see much of the scene from Catelyn’s perspective – she sees the doors being closed, the band changing the song, and Roose Bolton wearing chainmail armour under his cloak. But before anything can be done, Walder Frey reveals his surprise, his revenge against Robb Stark for not fulfilling his bargain in accepting a Frey wife.
The scene is deeply disturbing – it begins with a soldier repeatedly stabbing Talisa in the abdomen – a double blow as it kills mother and unborn child. Crossbowmen and other soldiers attack Robb, Catelyn and the Stark supporters in the hall, while outside more of Frey soldiers finish off the Stark soldiers and even Robb’s wolf.
A few more words are spoken – Catelyn grabs one of Walder’s wives and tries to bargain a way out. Instead Robb is finished off by Roose Bolton, who reveals that the Lannisters have also played their hand in this affair. Our final scenes show Catelyn cutting the throat of Walder’s wife and then having her throat slit too. The show fades to black, and no music is played.
Game of Thrones kills off many characters, but this scene was so tragic for many reasons. A young wife and an unborn child get murdered in front of her husband, a son murdered in front of his mother. We also see the end of the Starks quest to gain revenge for the death of Ned Stark – it is hard for me to believe the remaining children will be able to pose much a threat to the other claimants for the Iron Throne now.
Finally, we see how, in the world created by George R.R. Martin, that love, like honour, is a road that leads to tragedy. Robb Stark allowed his heart to choose his wife, something that most of us believe in. In Westeros, love is folly and a danger. As the Hound tells Arya earlier “you’re very kind. Someday that will get you killed.”
There are other scenes – many of them quite good – in this episode – I enjoyed the banter between Arya and The Hound, and it seems now their journey will continue. Jon Snow and Bran Stark cross paths, which leaves the Wildling incursion finished and Bran with new magical powers. Yunkai is captured by Dany’s men, using the old backdoor into the city ploy.
But this episode will long be remembered for the Red Wedding – it is a scene that is horrific and evil – and one that makes us want to keep watching Game of Thrones.