Game of Thrones Season 3 Review “The Rains of Castamere”

Game of Thrones has created a pretty typical rhythm for a season of the show. The season will start out red hot before settling into some delightful forest/desert walk and talk. You basically tread the nicest water ever until you arrive at the 9th episode of the season. In season one, we cut off poor Ned Stark’s head. The second season’s 9th episode was far more predictable as we watched the Battle of Blackwater take place. The 9th episode of this season will feel shocking, but the buildup to the event gave away a horrible conclusion for the Starks. Needless to say, Benioff and Weiss lived up to their legend regarding penultimate episodes.

The scene inside the Frey dining hall is a masterpiece in impending dread. Throughout the entire festive event, you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t think Benioff and Weiss are trying to hide anything throughout the entire wedding reception. Instead, they’re being rather overt in their use of happy conversations and general merriment. With a show that conditions everyone to expect the worst, you can no longer fool people into thinking things will go well. All you have left is the slow build to the dramatic event. The show does a nice job of building to the bloody conclusion. I’m sure there will be plenty of book readers to point out the details they missed, but as a piece of television, the wedding reception functioned rather well.

The obvious question is where does the death of the Stark army leave the series. While the show will miss some of the qualities Robb Stark brought to the table, I can’t help but think the show will benefit from the shrinking world. This was the second consecutive episode to have a narrow focus, and it worked extremely well. It was contained and really highlighted what some of the characters can do when given a chance to breathe. Two weeks ago, we watched the dysfunctional Lannisters throw the most depressing wedding of all-time. The scene was incredible. Everyone gave really good performances, and every line of dialogue seemed thoughtfully constructed. With this episode functioning very similarly (despite the drastic difference in end result), it’s tough to not imagine a slightly better version of the show that tightens its focus a bit. With no need to check the progress of Robb Stark in season 4, I can imagine a better version of this already fantastic television show next season.

Though the Red Wedding was the highlight, it wasn’t the only piece of excitement on the night. Swords clashed around Westeros and Essos tonight as a city was taken, and Jon Snow reverted back to his old Starky ways at exactly the wrong moment. The story of Jon Snow in the television series remains a slow burn. Though the Wildlings have made it over The Wall, they still feel like something completely separate from the rest of the story. Dany’s story can certainly feel that way, but there is a grander horizon that’s always visible from her storylines.

Speaking of Dany, her story this week seemed like something of a throw away, but the takeaway is fairly significant. We don’t need to see the taking of Yunkai. However, we do need to see Dany’s keen interest in Daario and Jorah’s face drop at his recognition of her interest. One problem remains with this storyline: The gentleman playing Daario isn’t that good. He’s capable enough to make him stand out, but not good enough to make him seem like anything other than a loudmouth master swordsman. There’s nothing wrong with this type of character pledging fealty to Daenerys, but he’s not good enough to serve as a potential love interest. I know Jorah’s thrilled to hear me say so.

Though there were other things happening in the Game of Thrones universe, this episode will be remembered for the Red Wedding. The show has made us grow accustomed to big happenings in the penultimate episode of seasons past, but the design of this episode was just as beautifully excruciating as Blackwater was exhilarating. Plus, it’s good when George RRRRRRRRRRRRRR Martin reminds us that nothing good ever happens in Westeros, because sometimes we forget.

Khaleesi, please stay in Essos. The weather over there seems nice.