It happened. RW. The Scene Which Shall Not Be Named.
The showrunners decided to call this ninth episode of Game of Thrones‘ third season “The Rains of Castamere.” And that’s a fine and suitable title. But fans are always going to call it by its other name: The Red Wedding.
Tonight Thrones reached a crescendo of sorts. This hour concluded with a scene book-reader fans have alternately anticipated and dreaded since the show was first announced. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say it’s one of the most shocking, brutal and disturbing sequences ever put on television.
The hour was directed by David Nutter, who’s known as “the pilot whisperer” due to his track record for shooting pilots that later go on to become successful series (examples: Without a Trace, Smallville, Arrow). He previously directed Thrones episodes “A Man Without Honor” and “The Old Gods and the New,” and will helm next week’s finale “Mhysa.” Nutter told me he prepared for this particular episode for an entire year and the prospect rather terrified him. Yet he approached it like a general over the five-day shoot of The Twins scenes and drew praise from the actors. More on the making of this episode in this week’s print edition of Entertainment Weekly, and see the end of this recap for links to exclusive interviews with the showrunners, George R.R. Martin, Richard Madden and Michelle Fairley. Now let’s take a walk down a very dark path…
Robb’s tent: “Are you sure about this?” asks Catelyn, a prophetic statement. “It’s dangerous.” Robb’s mom is worried about his plan to go after the Lannister home of Casterly Rock. Saying it’s dangerous is almost laughable — everything rebellious Team Robb is doing is dangerous. Seems Robb has learned a thing or two over the course of the last few seasons because he’s actually asking for mom’s advice. Robb and Catelyn like the plan, but it hinges on Lord Walder Frey giving them more troops. Mom gives her blessing: “Show them how it feels to lose what they love.” The shadows in this scene are outnumbered by the foreshadows.
The Twins: Lord Walder Frey passes along a ceremonial tray of hors d’oeuvres. In the Seven Kingdoms, it’s said that you cannot harm a person in your home once they’ve partaken of your “bread and salt.” You would think they could have at least picked something a bit more appetizing — bread and butter, maybe, or bread and some virgin olive oil, or hell, cheese and crackers. Like many aspects of Thrones, this custom is loosely based on actual medieval practice (Martin talks about it in our interview).
Robb begs Frey’s forgiveness for breaking his word. Frey brings out his brood of homely daughters, each looking like a refugee at a shelter for abused women. He explains Robb could have had his pick of any one of them (including a two-for-one bargain on the ginger twins). The man has so many offspring he can’t remember all their names. “Any man would be lucky to have any one of you,” Robb smoothly reassures. Frey gives his performance a sarcastic slow clap, then wants to get a closer look at Robb’s wife Talisa.
“Very pretty,” Frey says. “Prettier than this lot.” He accuses her of trying to hide her figure under a dowdy dress. “You wanted to hide her you shouldn’t have brought her here in the first place,” Frey says and gets all lecherous — moreso. “I say he betrayed me for firm tits and a tight fit, and I can respect that. When I was your age I would have broken 50 oaths to get into that without a second thought.”
It’s all Robb can do not to kill him. But what Frey is saying should actually come as a relief. Frey can’t understand love, but he can understand breaking oaths and being a perv. That’s close enough. “We’ll put this mess behind us,” Frey says.
NEXT: Dany gets a back gate tip from Daario