Well. Holy hell. A couple of our readers who are fans of the George R.R. Martin novels hinted in the Comments for our last recap that something big would happen in this week’s episode of ‘Game of Thrones’. Even with that warning, I had no inkling that it would be this big. The whole trajectory of the show’s narrative has just been thrown completely off balance.
The King in the North is dead. Long live the King.
On the heels of the hilariously dour wedding of Tyrion Lannister to Sansa Stark, the show shifts gears to present us a very different wedding between Edmure Tully and Walder Frey’s daughter, Rosalin. Things start off on an amusing note as Robb Stark has to apologize to Frey and most of his homely daughters and granddaughters. Eventually, Tully finally meets his betrothed at the ceremony. As I suspected, the girl turns out to be perfectly lovely. Edmure is greatly relieved. Tensions between the families ease once the union is formalized. Much feasting and revelry commence.
But then, just as Robb’s guard has dropped, Frey reveals his true intentions. His men spring into action and fill Robb with arrows, brutally stab his pregnant wife repeatedly in the stomach, and slit mother Catelyn’s throat. All of these major characters have been unceremoniously purged from the show without warning, and at the hands of a seemingly minor player like Walder Frey. The war between the Starks and the Lannisters is apparently over. Just like that.
Some viewers have not taken this well.
The episode rather ingeniously deflected any suspicion that something like this could possibly happen. Just moments earlier, Robb’s wife told him that she wanted to name their child after Ned Stark. Before the wedding, Robb had also forgiven his mother for their dispute over freeing Jaime Lannister and consulted with her on his plans to lay siege to Casterly Rock. That entire plotline would now seem to be irrelevant.
Poor Arya Stark, after having witnessed her father getting beheaded, arrives at the wedding just in time to see Robb’s army being slaughtered. The Hound scoops her up and whisks her away before she’s discovered. What he’ll do with her next is anyone’s guess. She has no family left who could pay a ransom.
In other, less shocking developments:
- Samwell and Gilly arrive within sight of the Wall. Sam plans to take up residence in an abandoned Night’s Watch castle.
- Jon Snow proves soft when he can’t bring himself to kill an innocent horse trader. His distrusting Wildling compatriots turn on him. In the skirmish, Snow kills Orell and runs away, abandoning his girlfriend Ygritte in the hands of Tormund. She looks pissed. I have a feeling that he’ll come back for her.
- Bran Stark discovers that not only is he a “warg” who can control animals, in a moment of crisis when Hodor freaks out at the sound of thunder and almost gives their position away, Bran somehow psychically forces the big oaf to pass out. His friends the Reeds are amazed. No one has ever had the power to control another human being before. Of course, Hodor is a lot closer to being a dumb animal than a person, which makes this ability seem a lot less impressive to me.
- Bran also sends his brother Rickon and the slave girl Osha to make their way to Castle Black while he and the Reeds head north of the Wall.
- Across the sea at Yunkai, Daario Naharis sneaks Jorah Mormont and Grey Worm through a back entrance past the city’s defenses. They’re confronted by slave soldiers and do quite impressive battle. Hours later, they return to Daenerys to report that their plan was successful. The slaves, having no interest in being killed for masters they hate anyway, have surrendered. Just these three men have sacked the whole city. Dany looks like she’s developing quite the hots for Daario.
By this point, we should all know better than to grow too attached to any character on this show. I would assume that Daenery’s storyline will rise to take center stage next season, but who the hell knows? She’ll probably get killed off next week.
The Lannisters shouldn’t get too complacent. They still have Stannis Baratheon to contend with, though up until now he hasn’t seemed like too serious of a threat.
What will next week’s season finale have in store? When an episode like this can happen, I can’t even begin to speculate.