The old saying that you do not miss what you have until it is gone was never truer than having an extra week of waiting for Game of Thrones’ new episode. I will take part in the old adage in saying that it was most certainly worth the wait. While I found the first half to be filled with a great deal of exposition the second half seriously knocked me on my ass. I made the mistake of forgetting just how Game of Thrones can sucker punch when you put your guard down for just a minute. While die-hard members of those that have read the tomes are at an advantage in cases like this episode, I was floored at what transpired by the time the credits started to roll. I was simply that surprised at what I had just watch transpire. It is a rarity for me to put my hand over mouth in an “Oh my God” moment but this episode, the lead in to what is sure to be one of hell of a finale left me speechless.
But before we get to the Red Wedding there are some interesting tidbits that prep us for the second half. Arya and The Hound are still together and although little Arya does not seem to be as scared of Sandor much anymore; they still have a strange paternal and familial relationship. All the Hound wants is to get Arya off his horse and collect a ransom for the young Stark. However they just cannot seem to get where they need to go and the hiccups continue to elude Arya from reuniting with her family. When she finally does get her wish to see her mother and brother, it ends in a bloody mess (see the Red Wedding below). Arya’s resolve has been a sign of her strength and is truly inspiring as she has had a serious rough go of it since Season 1.
Jon Snow and the Wildlings come across the tower where Bran and his crew are holed up during a thunderstorm. Hearing noise from the tower, suspicion unveils itself until Bran is able to use his warg powers to calm Hodor down into a slumber. When a horse farmer is to be killed, Jon Snow is again chosen to prove his worth by cutting off the elderly man’s head. It seems that these tests to prove his worth will never end. After a moment of pause to chop off the old horse farmers head, Jon’s internal struggle forbids him from killing an innocent man. Then Ygritte simply puts an arrow through the old man’s heart. In the tower Bran is able to control the wolves outside to kill some of the Wildlings as Jon gets away on horseback leaving Ygritte behind. Man did she look pissed. Fortunately Bran and his gang are safe for now in the tower and some will be leaving under the cloak of night. Soon after Bran states that he must find the three-eyed raven; it is his destiny. It is a sad moment as Bran decides that they must split up and go their separate ways. The Stark family just cannot seem to catch a break.
Eastbound, Daenerys waits as Jorah Mormont, Grey Worm and Daario intend to sack the city of Yunkai. There is a terrific fight scene as the three men each with their own fighting style take out the Yunkaites with relative ease. I would have liked to have seen more of the attack on Yunkai and some more action as they took the city. Still, the three warriors show up at the Dragon Queen’s tent with good news—Yunkai is there’s and the city is now under her rule. Again I was keen on seeing an epic battle but we were not left with much except for three warriors bloodied from a grand fight. It was too much tied up in a bow and way too fast. It seemed like there were just a handful of guards of the great city.
I had this strange feeling as I watched the wedding that something seemed to be off with Walder Frey. He seemed to be in a more joyous mood than last we saw him. (After all this is the guy that played Filch in the Harry Potter movies.) Robb Stark crossed Walder Frey when he decided to elope with Talisa, a wife of his own choice. The deal was originally supposed to have Robb marry one of Frey’s many daughters or granddaughter’s each of which fell down the ugly tree hitting every branch on the way down. In exchange for this agreement, Robb would have access to Frey’s vast army. To make up for his misgivings to the powerful Frey and his army, King of the North Robb Stark has come to pay penance for his mistake of marrying Talisa and offering Edmure Tully to marry Roslin Frey. The celebration is grand and Roslin is the one daughter of Frey’s that is quite the dish. Still, something seemed fishy even for someone like me that have not read the books.
Then it happened. The wedding was just window dressing for a bloodbath. Robb and his men underestimated just how pissed Frey was at his betrayal. Blood was literally everywhere as Walder Frey and his men took their vengeance. Talisa’s pregnant belly stabbed unmercifully over and over again. Robb riddled with arrows before the final slice. Catelyn with Frey’s wife in her clutches slitting her throat after Walder says he would find another wife. Finally the matriarch of the Stark clan is dead and the credits roll. It was like watching the Corleone’s take care of business at the end of The Godfather.
I was more than taken aback by this turn of events and it was violence that was used to advance the story. On awful shows like “The Following,” violence is used for shock value while not doing anything to move the story forward. Overall I thought that first half of this episode was above average but nothing too spectacular. (I thought Dany’s sacking of the city happened just a bit too quick) And with just one episode left, I worry about how much will get solved in the final episode. Still that “OMG” moment when the tables were turned packed a punch even on my third viewing of the episode. Finale’s are tricky but hopefully GOT’s third season will end with a powerful look into the future.