Game of Thrones – Season 3 Episode 9

Game-of-Thrones-Season-3-game-of-thrones-33779424-1600-1200Wow… This week’s episode of Game of Thrones certainly made the waves and shocked the pants off of numerous fans. One episode shy of the season finale, and the episode writers decided to reveal one of the bloodiest scenes from the series. All I can say is wow! My condolences to the fans who didn’t see this one coming. I wish I could have warned you, but you know how spoilers are! And I thought it best if you saw it for yourself.

Lord know I too was wondering how they would go about presenting the “Red Wedding”, a climactic part of the third book. And wouldn’t you know it, it just happened to be the bloodiest scene to date for the miniseries. Fitting, seeing as how its description was nothing short of brutal and shocking in the original novel. And much like with Ned Stark’s death, it left fans aghast and traumatized…

But of course, Robb’s death wasn’t the only highlight of the episode, and there is still plenty more bloody goodness to be had. So for those who are having second thoughts about watching after this episodes horrific twist for the Starks, I can only insist that you stick with it. Bad people will die too before its all over…

The Rains of Castamere:
got3_rainsThe episode opens with Robb and his bannerman arrived at the Twins to meet with Lord Walder Frey. After trotting out his daughters to recieve Robb’s apology, he inspects Talisa Maegyr and makes some extremely vulgar comments. Meanwhile, Edmure Tully is sure to keep a close eye on the Frey girls, as he knows that he is betrothed to one of them. However, their initial meet and greet ends before he can, and the date for the wedding set!

On the night of, as Robb’s camp is liquored and fed outside, Frey introduces his daughter to Edmure, who is pleasantly surprised. They say their vows, are joined in the sight of the Seven, and the festivities commence. Dinner is served, the wine flows in abundance, and the band plays merrily while everyone dances and carries on. A toast is made by Walder, and the bedding ceremony is called for!

got3_rains5Over in Yunkai, Daenerys’ and her captains, which now includes Daario Naharis, prepare to invade the city. He suggests using a rear gate that is frequented by his men when seeking ladies of the night. Volunteering to lead Grey Worm and Ser Mormont inside, he plots to open the gates from within and let the Unsullied inside to sack the city before its defenders realize they are under attack.

Moving at night, Daario is true to his word and enters the back gate, kills the guards, and leads Grey Worm and Selmy inside. They are attacked by several more guards once inside, and hope seems lost… Many hours later, Selmy, Grey Worm and Daario return to Daenerys, claiming victory and presenting her with the Harpy flag of the city. Yunkai is now hers to rule and the slaves are set free!

got3_rains2Not far away, John and the Wildling party led by Tormund come upon a horse-breeders farm. Finding one man there alone, they plot to kill the man and take the horses, but John insists they leave the old man alive. He is ignored, but managed to alert the man’s horses before they get the drop on him, and the old man escapes. His other horses are taken and several of the Wildlings go after him.

Just south of the Wall, Bran and his companions find their way to “The Gift”. land that was entrusted to the Night’s Watch by Brandon the Builder. Finding an abandoned windmill, they decide to take shelter for the night and wait out a storm. They notice the horse breeder riding by, and have the perfect spot to watch as he is overtaken by the Wildlings. Hodor’s yelling begins to give them away to the Wildling party. He is stopped only when Bran uses his “skinchanging” technique to invade his skin and take command of him.

got3_rains1When John and the rest catch up with them, John is told to kill the old man as a test of loyalty. John is unable, and Ygritte steps in and kills him with an arrow. Tormund orders John dead and begins fighting with them, and is saved by the intervention of Bran and Rickon’s direwolves, whom Bran managed to take control of with his skills again. However, Orell manages to get his hawk to deal some gashes on John, and he rides away injured, leaving Ygritte behind.

In the windmill, Bran says his goodbyes to Osha and Rickon. After saying yet again that she won’t go beyond the Wall, Bran tells her that she need not come. And Rickon he insists needs to stay behind, due to the dangers they are likely to face. He leaves them then, ordering them to head to House Umber’s holdings. Since they are the bannermen of the Starks, he knows they will keep him safe.

got3_rains6In the Riverlands, Arya and Ser Sandor “The Hound” learn of the wedding as they get closer to the Twins. They arrive just in time to find that the outside of the castle grounds is littered with tents and men, Robb’s entire host which has been billeted there for the evening and is raucously partying. Inside, Edmure and his new wife are taken from the hall to be bedded, and things quickly turn bad!

The band, which until now was providing joyous music, begins playing “The Rains of Castamere” and the doors are shut. They then produce crossbows and lets loose on Robb and his bannermen.Talisa is stabbed to death in her stomach, killing their unborn child, and Robb is hit by several bolts.

Outside, Sandor comes up to the gate and is refused entrance. Sensing a chance to escape, Arya jumps from Sandor’s cart and tries to flee, making her way to the nearest table with Stark bannermen. However, she comes upon them just in time to see Frey’s men begin killing them and to watch Robb’s direwolf get killed. She is narrowly saved when Sandor, having come back for her, hits her over the head and carries her away…

Catelyn tries to take Walder’s wife hostage, but succumbs to grief when Roose Bolton returns to finish Robb with a stab to the heart. She cuts the wife’s throat, and then has her own cut by one of Frey’s men. The episode ends with her bleeding from the neck and collapsing to the floor, her face stricken with grief…

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Summary:
Like I said… wow. Having read the books, I was somewhat prepared for the event, but that didn’t make it any easier to watch. Not only did they convey the “Red Wedding” in all its horror, they even upped the ante by adding an extra horrorific. In the novels, you see, Talisa was not at the wedding, and was therefore not amongst the victims. Which meant that no one stuck a blade in her belly and murdered her unborn child. That was truly horrible and bloody, and makes me want to see Walder’s head smashed with a rock!

But that would be nothing new. Both the Freys and the Boltons are scum and deserve to die in terrible ways. Guess we’ll all just to have to wait to see that one take place. And in the meantime, like I said, there’s several more not-so-horrific things which need to happen. And some comments I want to make on this episode…

Aside from the bloody resolution to the Stark’s campaign to avenge Lord Eddard Stark and establish a “King in the North” (which I still think sucked!), there was Robb’s journey north and John’s all-important escape from the Wildlings. After being lost to his brothers for so long, he is now free to return to them, and knows the Wildlings plan of attack. And said attack is coming soon!

In addition, Daenery’s private little empire now accounts for Yunkai and her power is growing. Now, only the port city of Mereen remains, with its vast array of ships and slaves to be freed. And of course, there’s plenty of intrigue still to be had in King’s Landing, where – as is the them for the end of this season – another wedding is about to commence. And believe me when I tell you, it too is going to have its share of surprises!

And this week, I’ve decided not to be so nitpicky. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, its that the show has a way of taking changes and steering them back into the fold. For example, Roose’s Bolton earlier betrayal of letting Jaime go now makes sense in the context of his betrayal at the wedding, which was true to the novel. In addition, having Talisa around for much of the show now, and having her at the wedding, made for a much more emotionally-involved spectacle when she died.

And sure, the part involving Daenerys’ forces infiltrating Yunkai, that too happened differently in the book. You see, in the novel, Selmy had been in disguise prior to this point and his the true identity had just been revealed. At the same time, she learned that Mormont was originally involved in the plot to poison her after she married Drogo. Incensed, she sent both men into the city using the sewers and managed to take it from the inside. Here, they changed that, but I would imagine they’ll steer things back soon enough.

And Catelyn did not take Walder’s wife hostage in the book, but rather his “simple” son, who due to Walder’s cruel and inhumane nature proved to be a lousy hostage. But that mattered little in the face that performance. Her anguish was palatable as her son died and she sliced the poor girl’s throat out of anger and grief, only to then die herself and look almost indifferent about it.

And David Bradley was just so believable as the miserable and loathsome Walder, I almost forgot how much I hated him as he watched everyone die. The only downside was how it overshadowed everything else in this episode, including John Snow abandoning the Wildlings, which included the woman he loves, and who loves him…

But who could expect anything to compare to that bloody, awful wedding? Though heartrending and horrible to behold, I respect the hell out of the actors and writers for how they conveyed it. The subtle addition of “The Rains of Castamere”, where no one said that it was playing, they merely trusted the audience to make the connection, was quite brilliant. And we already know from last episode the significance of this song that tells of a great House falling due to its ambition.

Like I said, there’s plenty more to behold, and its all coming in the season finale. Trust me, traumatized fans. You’ll want to keep watching!

Game of Thrones – Season 3, Episode 7

game_of_thrones_s3

Welcome back to more of the third season of Game of Thrones! As we have now passed the seventh episode in this season, we are fast coming up on the finale of season three and another long wait as they prep for season four. Yes, the show has been renewed for another season, but is anyone surprised at all? The ratings for this season have broken several records, and HBO can be expected to ride this high for as long as they can.

In addition, I should note that recently it was revealed that this season was in fact just the first half of A Storm of Swords, the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire Series. Initially, I was curious how they intended to cram all the material from that book in ten episodes, especially at the pace they were setting. However, breaking it into an even twenty episodes would seem like the perfect solution, given all the material that remains and the climaxes that still need to happen.

Anyway, onto this weeks show! Last week, John and Wildlings managed to scale the Wall and were on the way to Castle Black. Robb and his kinsmen, wife and mother were on their way to the Twins for a wedding, the Tyrells and Lannisters where scheing, Sana was betrothed to Tyrion, Petyr and Arys were plotting, Arya was wandering, and Jaime and Brienne were about to be forcibly separated.

Which brings us to the latest episode, also known as…

The Bear and the Maiden Fair:
got3_bear

The episode opens with John and the Wildings making their way towards Castle Black. As they go, both John and Ygritte are made aware that Orell, one of the skinchangers in Mance’s service, doesn’t approve of their little tryst. He tells John he won’t be able to hang onto her, and warns Ygritte that John is not one of them. That does not stop Ygritte from admitting she loves him though.

As they continue, John tries to tell Ygritte that the Wildlings don’t have a hope of winning and that he fears she and her kin will die. But of course, she does not listen, and they come together and promise to live before they die, together. Not far away, Bran and the Reeds keep moving north, and the going is tough as Osha continues to suspect them of black magic. Jojen reveals at last that they are moving beyond Castle Black to seek the “three-eyed Raven” beyond the Wall. Osha is afraid, since she has seen what happens where the Others strike, and does not want to go back.

got3_bear4

In King’s Landing, Sansa and Maergery talk of their upcoming nuptials and Maergery continues to console her. During their talk, Maergery intimates that he is not a virgin, and much more worldly than she let’s on (as if we didn’t know already!) Joffrey meanwhile confronts his uncle Tywin about the fact that he is holding Council meetings without him and demands details. Unfortunately, he finds his uncle much harder to bully than the others and even appears afraid of him.

On their way to The Twins, Robb and his company are stalled by bad weather, and he learns from his wife, Talisa, that she is pregnant. At the Dreadfort, Theon is freed from his shackles by two pretty girls who begin to ply him with their natural wiles. But of course, it proves to be just another cruel trick of Ramsay’s, who interrupts and threatens to castrate him.

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Daenerys and her army comes at last to Yunkai and assess its defenses. Ser Mormont tells her the odds of sacking it are not good, and they do not need it to reach Westeros. But Daenerys is determined to free it of its slaves and add them to her forces, as she did the Unsullied and slaves from Astapor. They set camp and Daenerys recieves the slave masters of the city to demand their surrender. She is rebuffed, and plans for battle begin…

Melissandre and Gendry return to King’s Landing where he learns for the first time that his father was King Robert. It is for this reason, she claims, that the Brothers wanted him, and why they need him now. Back at their camp, the Brothers learn of a Lannister war party in the area and they decide to ride to south to set a trap for them. This will delay their trip to Riverrun and Arya decides she’s had enough of their lies. She flees the cave, but is captured by Ser Clegane who has returned for her.

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Over at Harrenhal, Jaime prepares to leave for King’s Landing while Brienne is left to her fate. She asks Jaime keep his promise to send the Stark girls back to Lady Catelyn, and he swears he will. On his way out, Locke boasts to him that they will “take care” of Brienne. He learns that Brienne’s father has offered a ransom, one which Roose Bolton rejected, and that Brienne is likely to be sacrificed for his mens’ entertainment.

He immediately decides to turn around and ride back to save her. There, they find Brienne fighting a bear in a pit for the amusement of Hoat and his men while they sing “The Maiden and the Bear”. Jaime leaps into the pit while Bolton’s man shoot the bear with a crossbow. Brienne makes it out and in turn pulls Jaime out behind her, just in time to avoid an hornery and wounded grizzly! Locke is forced to let them go, fearing what will happen to him if he defies both Lord Tywin and Bolton.

Summary:
As episodes go, I liked this one. It had a good deal of faithful material this time around instead of the changes that are likely to annoy a Thrones geek like me! Sure, some of those found themselves being continued in this episode, but they were pretty scant compared to the material that really needs to be included at this point in the series.

Of that, the part with John and Ygritte was probably my favorite. Up until now, his relationship with her and the Wildlings has been the subject of a lot of alterations, including why he’s fighting for them. But they did a good job of capturing the dynamic that is taking place between them, how they love each other but still finds themselves on opposite sides in the fight. The jealousy angle is something that never occurred in the book, but that is clearly just thrown in to accentuate how they come from different worlds and really didn’t detract from things at all.

Naturally, I was kind of bothered that they dedicated more time to Theon again. Throughout this season, they’ve been giving us glimpses into the pain and misery he is enduring at the Dreadfort. It’s all true to what we learn in book 5, but I wonder if they plan to display every single cruelty Ramsay inflicted on him just so they can keep him in the show. Trust me when I say there’s a lot, and a few minutes every episode of Theon getting tortured is getting depressing!

And sure, they’re still going with the whole bit about Gendry being taken away by Melissandre because she needs “kings blood”, but it seems like they are preparing to write that one to a close. What’s more, I did find it interesting how they did the scene with them sailing up the Blackwater, where all the wrecked ships now lay. Her explanation as to why the Brotherhood wanted him was also kind of apt, and the way she revealed the truth of his past was also kind of fitting. In the book, Gendry is sort of written off. This way, he is at least likely to have an ending that is poignant and meaningful.

One thing I didn’t like was the revelation that the man I’ve been calling Vargo Hoat this whole time – leader of the Bloody Mummers – is in fact named Locke. I had to look it up since I didn’t recognize it, and it turns out Locke was actually a highborn member of the Night’s Watch, not one of Bolton’s mercenaries. But the fact that they’ve named him this means Vargo isn’t in the story, and he and the Mummers have been written out of the story altogether!

All I can ask is… WHY?! Is this another simplification for brevity’s sake? Vargo was an awesome character, a man you loved to hate and laughed at because he had a lisp that made him sound somewhat less than threatening. Naturally, he overcompensated for it by being a brutal jagoff who cut off people’s hands. Seeing him do his thing and get his just desserts in the books was something I enjoyed. I’m going to miss him…

Getting back to the purely good stuff, I was also very happy they finally got to the part involving the Yunkai. For three episodes now, they’ve shown it in the opening credits but stopped short of actually showing it. Now that they’ve brought out the tall walls, the pyramids and the Harpy, things are getting pretty cool. All that remains now is for her to assess their strength, and unleash her own on them! Looking forward to seeing it happen!

And of course, they managed to capture Jaime’s rescue of Brienne – although who saved who was open to interpretation – very well. Last time, they skewed why she was being held while Jaime was being set free, but this episode pushed past that and got to good stuff. For some time, people have been wondering if Jaime and Brienne would ever join forces and bond over a shared sense of honor. And this is exactly how it happened.

Now the two are set to go to King’s Landing to see their promises through to the end. But of course, since Arya is unaccounted for and Sansa has a number of people vying for her hand, that’s likely to get a bit complicated. And trust me, it does! Several battles to come and intrigues to take place before the season ends. And this point these include Daenery’s seige of Yunkai, the Wildling’s assault on Castle Black, and two weddings, neither of which are likely to be happy occasions!

Game of Thrones – Season Three Episode 2

game_of_thrones_s3Welcome back to another episode of Game of Thrones. I think I speak for everyone when I say that last week’s episode was the whirlwind intro, a big high after waiting almost an entire year for the new season to air. And as expected, things were visually appealing, exciting, and eye-popping from time to time. At the same time, in what is fast becoming the trend for this show, differences from the source material are becoming all the more apparent and obvious.

This is largely due to the fact that changes in the last season have required the writers to make further changes this season. These include rewrites, additions, things left out, and late introductions. And with this second episode now aired, I feel like I’m beginning to sense how these will play out. At least I think so, but I’ll keep them to myself to avoid any potential spoilers, especially for those who haven’t read the books yet.

Needless to say, the central theme of this episode was the bad news that becomes so manifest in book three. Between the shifting fortunes for Robb and the Stark family, the chaos that grips the Seven Kingdoms, the ongoing battles of Daenerys, and the fate of lesser players (Theon and Jaime being foremost amongst them), everyone seems to be suffering from setbacks, debacles and ill omens. Here’s how it all went down this week:

Dark Wings, Dark Words:
got3_jojenreedThe episode opens with Bran having more dreams about the three eyed crow. This time, a young boy appears telling him that the raven is him. He wakes up to the company of Hodor, Osha, and the direwolf Summer, his companions as they continue to make their way north. On the way, they encounter Jojen and Meera Reed, who claims that they have come a long way to find him. They inform him that he is a Warg, and can control animals and experience “greendreams”.

North of the Wall, John and his Wildling companions move towards the Wall and learn from one of Mance’s wargs that the Fist of the First Men has fallen and is littered with bodies of the Night’s Watch. Sam and the others are still retreating south, battling cold and starvation, and Sam seems ready to die. However, Lord Commander Mormont refuses to let him yield and orders his brothers to help him along.

GOT3_brienne_jaimeRobb meanwhile is summoned back to Riverrun when word of his grandfather’s death reaches them. His mother is perturbed by the news, but not nearly as much as by word that Winterfell was burned to the ground and that Brandon and Rickard are missing. They begin the march back to Riverrun to attend the funeral, during which time Catelyn and Talisa (John’s new wife) get a chance to bond.

In the Riverlands, Brienne and Jaime continue south, and it is hard going as the two find each other’s company quite difficult to endure. While attempting to cross a river, Jaime grabs a sword from her and they fight. Unfortunately, this gives their position away and the two of them are fallen upon by the Brave Companions (aka. Bloody Mummers), another free company that currently owes service to House Bolton.

got3_joffrey_margaeryIn King’s Landing, everything is being dedicated towards the preparations for Joffrey’s wedding to Lady Margaery Tyrell. Cersei is naturally suspicious of his newly betrothed, but Joffrey refused to listen to his mother’s counsel. Sansa, meanwhile is introduced to Margaery and her grandmother, Lady Olenna Redwyne – the Queen of Thorns. She asks Sansa for the truth about Joffrey, and after some convincing that she is safe, she confides that is he is an absolute bloody monster.

She gets a taste of this when Joffrey summons her to him and interrogates her about her marriage to Renly and why it didn’t produce an heir. However, Lady Margaery manages to skillfully manipulate him, hinting at Renly’s interest in men and lying about their night together. In the end, Margaery plays to his weaknesses, tapping into his endless appetite for cruelty, and clearly has him wrapped around her finger.

got3_aryaElsewhere in the Riverlands, Arya and her companions, Hot Pie and Gendry, wander freely now that they have escaped Harrenhal. While seeking out the way to Riverrun, they come upon Thoros of Myr and the Brotherhood without Banners who take them into their company. Over food and ale, they see the Hound brought in shackled, and Arya tries to sneak out unseen. However, the Clegane recognizes her and identifies her as Stark’s daughter.

In between all of this, we see Theon being tortured in an unidentified dungeon, which includes his finger being flayed and his foot being mangled by a screw. His tormenters are unknown to him, and he is asked only one question. “Why did you take Winterfell?” He finally answers truthfully, and is left alone for the night. A young man comes to him and claims he was sent by his sister and will free him in the night.

Summary:
Overall, this episode was not bad. In fact, they did a few things here which I thought were pretty interesting, which included using material taken from the latest book (A Dance with Dragons) to fill in some areas that were not mentioned in the third book, but which happened during the course of it and were not covered. This includes what became of Theon after he was betrayed at Winterfell, though it was by the Bastard of Bolton, and not his own men.

However, that small technicality they seem to have glossed over quite well by simply saying the Northmen torched the city before the Bolton’s army arrived. The rest is true to the text, Theon being taken captive and tortured mercilessly as part of Ramsay Bolton’s predilection for cruelty and villainous schemes. And, having read the fifth book, I know what lies in store for Theon, and I pity the poor bastard! I approve of the way they are parceling it out though, not revealing just yet who his tormenter is or what he has planned…

Other changes which I didn’t like much included Robb’s return to Riverrun. Here, the show is once again working with changes that were forced on it by previous changes. Robb did not take his mother or Jaime Lannister with him as he fought his way to Casterly Rock. They were left behind in Riverrun, hence he did not see him until he returned for his grandfather’s funeral and to confront his mother about her treason (letting Jaime go). And it was for this reason that she didn’t meet his new bride until he came back.

Which reminds me, Robb’s return to Riverrun had little to do with his grandfather’s death. It had more to do with his mother letting Jaime go and his uncle, Lord Emdure Tully, deviating from the orders he had left him with. While Robb was campaigning in the west, Edmure chose to engage the Lannister forces in the Riverlands, forcing them to attempt to ford the rivers and causing them many losses, which included wounding Ser Sandor Clegane (“The Mountain”).

While this seemed like a good idea to Edmure, it had the effect of making Tywin refocus his troops to defend the south and not pursue Robb’s forces as they neared Casterly Rock. This deprived Robb of a chance to commit an outflanking maneuver and deal Tywin and his forces another stinging defeat. Because of this, Robb was not only facing troubles for breaking his betrothal to the Frey daughter and the loss of his hostage, but also because he was no longer in a dominant tactical position.

In addition, Bran’s introduction to the Reeds was quite different than it was in the book. There, the Reeds had come to Winterfell to pay homage to the King and meet Bran. They did not come to him in the wilderness. But since they were not introduced last season, it was necessitated that they be dropped in at this point in season three.

All of these represent changes that are now being forced on the show because they chose to omit or alter things last season, most likely due to budgets. I get it, but it still can be annoying, since they do seem to have a cumulative effect. However, in just about everything else, they managed to get things right. Aside from the fact the Ser Thoros was supposed to be missing part of his face, due to his earlier death and resurrection, the storylines appear to be faithful.

All I can say is that I wish the episode got into things a little bit more. Much like the first episode, this one felt kind of whirlwind-esque, with plenty of nuggets being left for later. But of course, that seems necessary since the story is branching out, with three main threads turning into half a dozen or so. Since they feel obliged to show how all characters are faring at this point, it only seems logical and natural that they parcel things out and try to cover all their bases.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to the reveals and I believe others should be too. If you haven’t read the books yet, you’re in the perfect position to witness some rather big surprises, and I envy you that. As for the Thrones geeks out there, you know what’s coming and I’m pretty sure you’re anticipating it as much as I am. So stay tuned. Things get pretty interesting from here on in, and pretty bloody!