To paraphrase Billy Idol, it was a nice day for a red wedding. This week's episode of Game of Thrones was some rough stuff. Were you one of the lucky ones who could prepare yourself for what was coming? Or were you as blindsided as the rest of the show's non-book-reading fans?
There were plenty of plot developments with the Westeros gang on Game of Thrones this week. Jon Snow has finally betrayed the Wildlings, off to try and warn the rest of the Night’s Watch of their attack. His ladyfriend, Ygritte, is mighty mad about it. And wouldn’t you be? It’s basically just like when someone you’re dating proclaims, “I don’t dig your friends, baby!” and then just stabs them a lot and takes off on a horse. No one likes it when that happens.
Meanwhile, Bran has learned that he’s far more powerful than he’d suspected, and he’s forced to send Rickon and Osha away to the Umbers to be safe as he continues his quest to find the three-eyed crow beyond the wall. And down in Yunkai, across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys manages to take control of the city with relative ease, and we’re treated to a pretty bad-ass fight scene along the way. At least something went right for one of our characters this week.
Yes, that’s right. It’s time to talk about it. “The Red Wedding.”
Well, it finally happened. Ever since it was announced that George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels would be adapted into an HBO series, complete with all the medieval sex and violence we could want, fans of the books knew this day would come.
As soon as Robb Stark made his way on-screen in episode one, those of us who have read the books have bit our tongues and made sure to keep as silent as possible around our friends who were coming to the series for the first time via the show. It was hard enough to keep quiet about Ned Stark’s impending demise, but we knew he’d be gone by the end of season one, so that wasn’t as tough. With Robb and Catelyn, though—those were the rough ones. Not just because we knew that they’d be killed at the hands of Walder Frey, but also because they were brutally murdered in horrific, grisly fashion, at what was supposed to be the happy occasion of Edmure Tully’s wedding. All of their ups and downs as mother and son—for naught, since we knew that, hey, they’d be dead in pretty short order, just as Robb was working on his plan to win his war, and take over the Iron Throne.
Yes, we knew it was coming. And apparently, some of us decided to record reaction shots of those who had to suffer through the Red Wedding for the first time in all its stabby, bloody, live-action glory:
Then there’s the Twitter account that was set up in the wake of this weekend’s episode, @RedWeddingTears, which catalogs the internet’s collective grief in one spot. In all, it was a pretty eventful night on TV, wasn’t it?
So, on behalf of all geeks who’ve read ahead of you: we apologize for not warning you sooner. But it was so much better this way, wasn’t it? You didn’t really want us to tell you what was about to happen, do you? Sure, Robb and his wife looked so happy about the fact that they were going to have a kid. And Catelyn was just starting to get to like her. But… you know that no one is ever happy in Game of Thrones. This was so completely telegraphed for that reason alone. Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if someone starts getting happy, chances are something awful is waiting right around the corner. The longer the character goes without getting the bad news, the worse the fall will be. And wait until you find out what happens to — oh, never mind. You’ll find out.
Needless to say, George R. R. Martin is a total sociopath. And you love him for it.
So as dramatic as the Red Wedding was — what with the grisly, horribly bloody deaths of all your favorite characters including Robb, Talisa, and Catelyn, just as things were starting to go their way — obviously something even more dramatic is coming. That’s because somehow the producers of the show decided not to make one of the single-most memorable moments in recent television history the season finale. That’s right: winter is coming. Isn’t it always?
Now what could possibly top the Red Wedding? What qualifies as sufficiently incredible enough to get us raring for season four? There are a number of plot threads to tie up—or leave dangling—to get people excited for the next season, so it’s important to think to some of the other characters we didn’t see this time around. There’s Sam Tarly and his charges, Gilly and the baby, trudging back to the wall and trying to outrun the white walkers. Are they going to make it before the Wildlings launch their attack on Castle Black?
Then there’s Ser Davos and King Stannis, the latter of whom now stands as one of the only other potential living rivals for King Joffrey’s throne… that’s actually in Westeros, at least. If we recall, the last episode showed Stannis tossing three royally blooded leeches into the fire, each one representing one of his enemies. If nothing else, he’ll probably be pleased to hear that there’s less competition all of a sudden, and that maybe this leech trick has some real power to it.
And, now that Robb is dead, his rebellion in the North dies with him. Where’s the Hound going with Arya? And what incentive does he have to protect her from the murderous Freys now that his opportunity to ransom her back to the Starks is lost? It’ll also be interesting to see what Tywin Lannister has to say about the news of his young adversary’s death. And what about his new daughter-in-law, Sansa Stark? Oh, uh, Sansa Lannister. It is hard to keep up with all these names. She likely won’t be too pleased, will she? We last saw Tyrion being a decent human being having decided not to bed his new wife until she, you know, actually wants to participate. Once she learns that her brother’s been betrayed and killed due to her new father-in-law’s machinations, chances are pretty good that she’ll never want to touch Tyrion.
So, once again: what’s coming next? Those of us who’ve read the books have a pretty good idea. As for the rest of you… well… beware of when your couch-mates pull out their cameras. Once that happens, rest assured: something crazy is about to go down. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself on YouTube next Sunday night.