'Game of Thrones' Review: "The Rains of Castamere"

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Game of Thrones’ season 3 conjures its ninth and penultimate episode of the season “The Rains of Castamere,” as Jon's true loyalties are exposed, Daenerys' men lay siege to Yunkai, and Robb and Catelyn find Edmure's marriage to Walder Frey's daughter take a horribly red turn.

Previous ‘Game of Thrones’ episode “Second Sons” saw Tyrion facing his wedding to Sansa Stark, while Daenerys made a dangerous new ally and Stannis Baratheon attempted to make peace with Davos, so what will the newest episode bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3, episode 9, “The Rains of Castamere!”

Looking over his strategic board, Robb asks his mother’s advice in taking Casterly Rock, as Catelyn pledges her support by asking Robb to show the Lannisters vengeance. Shortly thereafter, Robb and his group arrive to the Twins and beg Walder Frey for forgiveness, though Walder insists he apologize to the daughters Robb spurned. Walder also sizes up Talisa, but invites the group to make camp before the wedding ceremony.

Far across the sea, Daario Naharis flirtatiously explains to Dany their plan to sack Yunkai, though Jorah remains suspicious. Daenerys asks Greyworm in Valyrian if he trusts Daario, to which Greyworm admits he does. Further yet away, Sam and Gilly arrive to the Wall, where Gilly marvels at the knowledge Sam obtained solely from reading.

Arya and the Hound encounter a traveler on the road, and the Hound helps the man fix his wagon before promptly knocking him out. Arya begs the Hound to spare the man’s life, but knocks him out again when the man comes to. Meanwhile, Bran, Osha and the others arrive to an abandoned tower and set up camp for the night

Jon and the Wildlings approach a horse farm, as Jon attempts to sway the Wildlings against killing the farmer. Unsuccessful, the band makes a stealthy approach during which Jon taps his sword against a rock to spook the horses. The farmer hears and flees by horseback, as Jon distracts Ygritte from taking a shot at the man. Over near the Twins meanwhile, the Hound presses Arya to stop nervously pacing about, and Arya fires back that she’ll put a sword through his eye one day.

Back at the abandoned tower, Meera sees the horse farmer gallop by, quickly flanked by Wildlings. The ambient storm unnerves Hodor to the point the others worry his cries will alert the Wildlings, and in the desperation Bran accidentally wargs into Hodor, knocking him out. Orell demands that Jon be the one to kill the farmer, as Jojen points out to Bran that the wolves’ presence will alert the Wildlings if Bran doesn’t warg again. Jon hesitates to kill the man, as Ygritte does the job for him with an arrow. In the ensuing scuffle, Tormund forces Ygritte to see that Jon doesn’t belong with them, as Jon kills Orell and flees by horseback

Meanwhile in Yunkai, Daario negotiates his way into the city and signals for Jorah and Greyworm to follow, though there prove to be many more guards than they expect. Elsewhere still at the Twins, Edmure Tully marries the surprisingly beautiful Roslin Frey, as Walder Frey makes a wry face to Robb that he could have had the girl. Back at the tower, Bran learns the extent of his unparalleled talent in warging through Hodor, and decides that he and the Reeds should continue North while Osha and Rickon go to the Umbers. Osha and Rickon say their tearful goodbyes, and leave in the dead of night.

Jorah and Greyworm return to Daenerys camp victorious, shortly followed by Daario, who presents the city’s flag. Meanwhile back at the Twins, a merry feast takes place celebrating the wedding, as Robb and Talisa downplay their affection so as not to insult Lord Frey. Frey interrupts the festivities to begin the bedding ceremony, wherein Edmure and Roslin are carried off, as Talisa suggests she and Robb name their son Eddard. Catelyn’s expression soon fades as she sees a guard close the hall doors, and the band begins playing “The Rains of Castamere.”

Arya and the Hound are suspiciously turned away from the festivities, as inside Catelyn notices that Roose Bolton has chainmail under his clothes. Frey addresses Robb and declares his intent to give a gift to the king, before Frey guards repeatedly stab Talisa in the gut, and a hall-wide slaughter begins that sees Robb and Catelyn taking crossbow bolts from the musicians above. Outside, Arya hides as she sees Frey guards kill Robb’s direwolf, and the Hound knocks her out to carry her off.

Back in the hall, Robb watches Talisa bleed out, as Catelyn grabs Walder Frey’s wife and holds a knife to her throat begging to have Robb let go. Frey regards he can find another wife, as Roose Bolton stabs Robb dead, compliments of Jaime Lannister. Catelyn screams in motherly horror, slitting her hostage's throat, before another Frey guard promptly cuts Catelyn’s neck. No music accompanies the credits.

In this line of work, one can't afford to avoid the surprises inherent of episodes like "The Rains of Castamere," much as Ned Stark's fate was well-known before 'Game of Thrones' ever aired in HBO. In that regard, TV journalists and readers of George R.R. Martin's work are somewhat robbed (heh) of the Red Wedding's full impact, though no less traumatized to see it in action.

Series creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss have long stated that 'Game of Thrones' third season attracted them to develop the series in the first place, the Red Wedding itself likely the most shocking moment of George R.R. Martin's entire series, and the horror of the event loses no impact in its execution. Of particular interest to note is that the book series saw Robb marry a girl named Jeyne Westerling, who actually survived the event with no pregnancy to speak of, allowing Talisa's role on the HBO series to provide some genuine surprise after all.

Beyond the incredible shock and sadness, we haven't much to say on the Red Wedding itself, while the surrounding events of the penultimate episode feel appropriately weighted on their own. Dany has a new city with which to call home and a definite interest in Daario, while Jon once again finds himself an enemy of his latest hosts. Much with the previous penultimate episodes of 'Game of Thrones, it will take until next week to observe the full impact of tonight's shockers, so in the meantime keep the ice cream handy, and just love one another. We all need some love after tonight.

Did you get your fill of sword-swinging ‘Game of Thrones’ action?  What did you think about tonight’s episode “The Rains of Castamere?” Check out all our other ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3 coverage, and join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3 finale “Mhysa” on HBO!

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