This… this was quite the eventful episode. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
The Red Wedding
Robb (Richard Madden) starts off the episode telling Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) about his plans to take Casterly Rock. He recalls the last time he ignored his mother’s advice – when she told him not to send Theon to negotiate with the Greyjoys – and how badly that all turned out. This time, he’s making sure not to repeat that same mistake.
Catelyn points out the risks of such an operation, and then gets into her Total Badass Mode to tell Robb to go for the Lannisters’ metaphorical throat.
Later on, the Starks and their army finally arrive at Walder Frey’s lands, where Lord Frey (David Bradley) welcomes them with semi-open arms. Robb makes his apologies to both Lord Frey and to Lord Frey’s daughters – prompting a hilarious scene where Frey forgets some of his offspring’s names and is extremely flippant about the rest.
Frey goes on to inspect Talisa (Oona Chaplin), the woman for whom Robb broke his promises, and spends a good few minutes perving on and insulting her. When he’s done being a dick, Frey orders his people to prepare for the upcoming celebrations so they can “put this mess behind” them.
That night, the wedding between Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies) and Roslin Frey (Alexandra Dowling) – who is unexpectedly beautiful (it’s a total dig at Robb, who didn’t want to marry any of the Frey girls, thinking they were all ugly) – happens. People who have either read the books or (like me) have been spoiled to heck know that this is known as The Red Wedding. It’s called that for a reason. A very, very specific reason.
That reason is that Lord Frey is a horrible host and a horrible person and he totally went back on his word to “put all this mess behind him” so he could get revenge on the Starks by ordering his men to lock the doors and slaughter every Stark and Stark soldier in attendance.
It’s a grim, terrible scene, but oh my god the buildup to it was amazing. After Edmure and his new bride are carried away for the bedding ceremony, the musicians begin to play “The Rains of Castamere” – the Lannister’s theme song – as soon as the doors are closed and the expression on Catelyn’s face quickly changing, as she knows doom is approaching.
When she sees the chain mail underneath Roose Bolton’s sleeve, she slaps him across the face and calls out to Robb. Walder Frey gives the word and his men begin the slaughter. Talisa gets stabbed repeatedly in the belly, while Catelyn takes an arrow to the back.
Catelyn does her best to save her family by holding Walder Frey’s wife hostage, but Lord Frey doesn’t give a damn; he can “just find another.” (By the way, can I just pause her to say how freaking AMAZING Michelle Fairley is in this scene? Like, seriously. Chills up my spine!)
Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) marches forward and puts a knife in Robb’s chest, saying the line all us already-spoiled-for-this-scene-peeps were waiting for: “The Lannisters send their regards.”
Catelyn lets out a wail of anguish, then slits Frey’s wife’s throat. She stands there overcome with grief, silent even as her own throat is slit and she falls to the floor, dead.
Dany’s (Emilia Clarke) holding a strategy meeting with Jorah (Iain Glen), Ser Barristan (Ian McElhinney), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), and her latest ally, Daario (Ed Skrein). Daario spends his time alternating between giving Dany information about Yunkai’s weak spots and giving her sultry looks (which Jorah super does not appreciate because he also wants to get all up in Dany’s bizniz).
Jorah expresses those feelings of jealousy and suspicion by accusing Daario of leading them into a trap. Jorah and Dany ask Grey Worm what he thinks, since he is the leader of the Unsullied army and is best equipped to make decisions for his people. Grey Worm says he trusts Daario, so the matter is settled – they’re going by Daario’s plan to infiltrate Yunkai.
Later that night, Daario, Grey Worm, and Jorah carry out the plan. It goes terribly, because the instant the three of them get past the city gates they’re ambushed by Yunkai guards. They fight really well, but it’s still a three-to-innumerable numbers fight.
Back at their camp, Dany is feeling nervous because the siege is taking longer than expected. When Jorah, Daario, and Grey Worm walk in covered in blood but relatively unhurt, she’s ecstatic, especially when they report that the slave soldiers in Yunkai had surrendered and the city is now hers.
Samwell Tarly and Gilly
They’re still trudging through the snow trying to get back to The Wall. Sam (John Bradley) gives Gilly (Hannah Murray) a rambling history lesson as he describes the various castles on The Wall. Gilly, who is illiterate, expresses astonishment that Sam could know about all of that just by “looking at marks on paper,” saying that he’s like some sort of wizard. Sam, who’s always wanted to be a wizard, is really happy about that comparison.
Arya Stark and Sandor “The Hound” Clegane
The pair come across a haggard-looking old man struggling with a broken down cart in the middle of the road. Sandor (Rory McCann) goes to help him with the cart, then knocks the man out and pulls a knife on him. Arya (Maisie Williams) protests, of course, and though it takes a few tries to convince him, Sandor eventually relents and lets the man live. They do end up robbing the guy of his cart, though, with Sandor going through the rest of their journey pretending to be a hog farmer and Arya pretending to be his daughter.
A little later on, the two of them take a break on a hill overlooking the Frey castle. Sandor calls Arya out on her bout of anxiety, saying that because she’s so close to reuniting with her family, she’s afraid she won’t make it – and the closer she gets, the more her fear grows. Poor girl.
Arya doesn’t take his observations well, and snaps that she knows his fears too: Sandor is afraid of fire, which makes sense since he was burned almost to death by his older brother when he was just a wee little baby Clegane. She promises Sandor that one day she’s going to put a sword through his eye and through the back of his skull before walking back to gaze uncertainly at Castle Frey again.
The two of them arrive at the castle just as the doors are closed and locked, and they aren’t allowed entry. Arya is able to sneak past the gates using her tiny size and wiliness, just in time to see the Stark soldiers outside the main hall murdered by Frey guards and Robb’s direwolf – Grey Wind – killed. She runs forward, trying to get to her family, but Sandor stops her, knocking her out to get her safely away.
Jon Snow and the Wildlings
That one dude comes back from scouting to report to the other Wildlings about an old man living nearby, holding eight horses, gold, and weapons. The Wildlings plan to go kill him and steal all of his shit, but Jon (Kit Harington) and his sense of honor won’t let that slide – he tells them they should rob the old man but not kill him.
They don’t listen to him, naturally. The attack ends up failing anyways, because the old man manages to get onto a horse and gallop away before the Wildlings can reach him. Crap, now the Wildlings are down one horse and that old guy’s just gone off to report the attempted attack to the Night’s Watch.
The Wildlings take the remaining horses and ride the old man down before ordering Jon to kill him to prove his loyalty to the Wildlings.
Jon isn’t able to do so, and he and Ygritte (Rose Leslie) are forced to fight for their lives against the rest of the Wildlings. Jon is able to kill Orell (Mackenzie Crook), but is attacked by the dude’s eagle (whom he skinchanges into) – and then he grabs a horse and rides away, leaving Ygritte behind.
Bran Stark and Co.
The group is slowly getting closer to their destination, arriving at an abandoned town near The Wall named The Gift. Rickon (Art Parkinson) actually gets to say a line – the longest row of words that I’ve heard from him since Season 1.
A storm is coming, so the group decides to make shelter in the abandoned town. During the night, Osha (Natalia Tena) recounts how she and her companions got over The Wall and over to Westeros all those months (years?) ago. The group discusses possible ways of getting there when Meera (Ellie Kendrick) spots Wildling riders coming into the town.
Hodor (Kristian Nairn), terrified of the storm, begins shouting “HODOR!” which alerts one of the Wildlings to the group’s presence. Hey, it’s Orell! That means Jon is nearby. As long as Bran and Friends don’t die first at the hands of the other Wildlings, that means Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) might finally be reunited with Jon.
That doesn’t come to pass, however, because Bran wargs into Hodor’s mind, managing to calm Hodor down. Orell stares suspiciously up at the tower where the group is hiding, but eventually leaves it alone.
As the showdown with Jon and the old Night’s Watch man is going down outside, Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) encourages Bran to warg with one of the direwolves outside.
Bran does so just in the nick of time, unintentionally rescuing Jon by ripping out several Wildlings’ throats.
After everything’s over and done with, Osha and Jojen marvel at Bran’s power; apparently, North of the Wall, many Wildlings can get into the minds of animals, but there’s no one in the world who can get into the minds of people besides Bran.
Bran mulls on this a bit, before excitedly remembering that he’d seen Jon fighting the Wildlings when he was warged out, and that he’s probably headed for Castle Black now. He asks Osha to take Rickon to the Last Hearth while he, Jojen, Meera, and Hodor head past the Wall to look for the three-eyed raven from his dreams.
Rickon continues to have actual lines (and in the process is really, really growing on me) as he tells Bran that he doesn’t want to leave him – Rickon is Bran’s brother, it’s his job to stay with him and protect him. Bran’s mind is set, however, and Osha agrees to take Rickon to safety. They leave immediately for the Last Hearth.
Comments + Verdict
THAT WAS FUCKIN’ AWESOME.
Catelyn Stark: Show them how it feels to lose what they love.
Sandor Clegane: You’re very kind. One day it’ll get you killed.
[Arya knocks an unarmed old man unconscious with a stick and walks away.]
Rickon: Old Nan says the Wildlings turn your skull into a cup and make you drink your own blood from it! [Osha gives him a dirty look] …That’s what Old Nan said.
Arya: [to Sandor] Someday I’m gonna put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull.
Brynden Tully: Didn’t you marry one of these Frey girls?
Roose Bolton: Aye. Lord Walder let me choose any of his granddaughters and promised me the girl’s weight in silver as a dowry. So I have a fat young bride.
Edmure Tully: Careful now ladies! Once you set the monster free there’s no caging him again!
Catelyn: Poor girl.
Bolton: Every bride suffers the same. I’m sure you endured yours with grace.
Catelyn: Oh, Ned forbade it. He said it wouldn’t be right if he broke a man’s jaw on our wedding night.
Check out the preview for the next episode:
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 PM on HBO.