By ANDY LYONS (digitalBURG) – “Game of Thrones” is known to kill main characters as they are on the rise. Sunday’s ninth episode of season three was no exception, and left plenty of unanswered questions as the credits rolled.
The bulk of season three has centered on Robb Stark and his marriage to Talisa of Volantis. After Robb broke his vow to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters, the past few episodes have focused on making things right. His uncle, Edmure, has agreed to settle the debt and thus the Stark’s march to the Twins, the home of the Freys.
The storyline of Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Arya Stark keeps getting more and more interesting. Although in this episode there are only a few scenes with the pair, we see a bit of trust building between the two. Their exchanges are very snarky, with Arya continuously trying to unnerve the cold-hearted Hound. I think the beast of a man has grown to care for the Stark girl, with the culmination coming at the end of the episode.
The adventures of the crippled warg Bran Stark and his small band of misfits seem to be a plotline on the rise. As they bed down in an abandoned windmill during a storm, Jon Snow and the Wildlings show up, chasing a man. As the storm picks up, Hodor begins freaking out. In an effort to quiet him, we see Bran use his warg powers on the man who only knows one word, much to the amazement of his party. He then uses it to aid Snow in the fight against the Wildlings, as he takes control of his winter wolf, Summer. The group decides to split, because going north of the Wall is going to be dangerous, yet Bran is determined to find the three-eyed raven.
As this storyline steps into a bit of mysticism, I think it helps add a fantasy feel to the series. There hasn’t been too much in the manner of wizards and the like, but with the dragons and the red witch being the only parts that make it fantasy fiction, it adds to the fantasy feel that Bran can step into the minds of animals, and who knows what else moving forward.
Snow and the Wildlings’ expedition into the lands south of the Wall came to a turning point in the episode, finally. As they move to kill a man whom Snow says cares for the horses of the Night’s Watch, some drama finally boils over. I feel like this plotline has been one of the most drawn out. We do see Snow finally stand up for himself, but instead of having a major moment that includes dialogue, it’s just a quick fight and him riding off into the sunset. It’ll be interesting to see how this storyline progresses into the next season, but I must say it’s been the least satisfying of all the intertwined parts of “A Song of Fire and Ice.”
After aligning herself with Daario Naharis and the Second Sons, Daenerys sacks another city. It seems a bit forced with the bulk of the episode taking place around the Stark-Frey wedding. However, we see one of the best fight sequences of the entire series. To sack the city of Yunkai, Daario comes up with a plan to go in through a seldom used back door with Grey Worm, the leader of the Unsullied legion, and Jorah Mormont, Dany’s closest adviser.
The fight scene is one of the best because the three are fighting in their own unique styles against a vast legion of slave soldiers. Grey Worm with a shield and lance, Mormont with his longsword, and Daario with his Dothraki arakh – which is more like a half-sword, half-scythe. As the city is sacked, we see all three return covered in blood to let Dany know the city is hers.
With this storyline, I feel like the dragons are underused. I think if I was the “Mother of Dragons,” I would use them at every opportunity to breathe fire all over my foes. In this episode, the fact that Dany and her army are sacking another city seems like an afterthought that should have either been in the last episode or saved and developed for the next. She is one of my favorite characters and there have been episodes that focused on her before, and I felt like this one was dominated by the wedding.
The storyline of Robb Stark has been one with many rises and falls. Spoiler alert: In this episode, we finally see it come to an end. After many snarky exchanges with the older Lord Walder Frey, the wedding between Edmure Tully and one of Frey’s daughters is finally upon us. As the celebration commences, we see small talk between Lady Stark and Lord Roose Bolton, the man whom two episodes ago cut a deal with Sir Jaime Lannister and let him go free. During the reception, we learn that Bolton had married one of Frey’s daughters, so the two were allies. Robb and Talisa speak of their unborn child and naming him after the late Eddard Stark, Robb’s father.
As the drinks are poured and the night progresses it becomes time for the “bedding ceremony,” the same point in the last episode where Tyrion Lannister threatened King Joffrey. However, this time the celebration remains merry. As the bedding ceremony concludes, the door is shut and Lady Catelyn takes notice of the music playing. I assume it’s the “Rains of Castamere,” the story of which was told by Cersei to Margarey Tyrell, Joffrey’s fiancé, a couple of episodes ago. The house was on the rise until the Lannisters destroyed them.
Lord Frey then tells Robb he hasn’t shown him the hospitality he deserves. One of Frey’s sons stabs the pregnant Talisa several times in the stomach and then the slaughter is on. Frey’s and Bolton’s men raise swords on the Starks without abandon.
As the Hound and Arya reach the Twins, the Stark girl is sneaking her way in as Frey guards kill Grey Wind, Robb’s winter wolf. Arya makes a run for it but the Hound grabs her and tells her, “It’s too late.” She’s persistent and the Hound smacks her over the head and throws her over his shoulder, escorting her out.
Robb, who has taken two crossbow bolts to the chest, crawls to Talisa, and Lady Catelyn takes Frey’s wife hostage and tries to negotiate their release. With no budge from Frey, Lord Bolton steps to Robb and utters the one line Stark fans hear too often: “The Lannisters send their regards.” He then stabs Robb in the stomach and allows him to drop to the floor.
Catelyn screams and slits the girl’s throat. After a moment of silence, someone slits her throat and the credits roll, with no music.
The only survivor of the wedding slaughter is Blackfish, the uncle of Edmure Tully and Catelyn Stark, who excused himself to “go find a tree to piss on.”
In a series where no character is safe, this one caught me completely by surprise. I thought this would be a turning point in the war, especially since I haven’t read the books yet. Clearly, the Freys and Boltons are aligned with the Lannisters.
With next week’s season finale, I assume that much of the fallout will be covered, with a lot of cliffhangers to hook viewers in for season four. All around, it’s episodes like this that make “Game of Thrones” such a great series. I could feel the climax of the season coming; I just didn’t expect it to be the slaughter of another Stark, who early on in the episode was talking of an assault on Casterly Rock, the home of the Lannisters.
View the season finale trailer here!