I would like to give all of you some very sound advice: if you should ever hear “The Rains of Castamere” being played at a wedding, make sure to run. Run like hell.
The Starks have suffered yet another blow to their family. One so devastating I am not sure if they will ever recover. But before I get to that, let us backtrack just a bit.
King Robb, who has decided to take the Lannisters by surprise and attack Casterly Rock, is in need of counsel. Who better to lend him aid than his mother, Catelyn. Although they have been at odds with one another lately, Robb knows he needs his mother now more than ever. So he seeks her advice on how best to lead the attack. Catelyn asks if Robb has enough men, to which he replies, “only if Walder Frey cooperates.” Let’s remember that Frey is still peeved about Robb breaking his oath to marry one of his daughters. Will the ornery Frey let bygones be bygones and support the King in the North?
Bran, Rickon and the others are on the move. They come to the same windmill that Jon, Ygritte and the other Wildlings passed recently. They decide to stay for the night, as a storm is coming in. Meanwhile, Jon and his crew are making plans to ambush an old man who breeds horses for the Night’s Watch. The Wildings want to kill the old man, but Jon is still a Crow and wants no part of it. Tormund could care less and leads the ambush. The old man sees the Wildings, jumps on one of his horses and hits the road. Unfortunately, the Wildlings catch up to the old man right in front of the same windmill where Bran and the others are seeking shelter. As the storm rages outside, Hodor becomes more and more agitated thanks to the thunder and no amount of soothing from Osha or Bran can calm the gentle giant. He shouts “Hodor” over and over again, until he is so loud that Orell hears. Before anyone knows what is happening, Bran’s eyes turn white and Hodor goes all loopy, flopping down on the ground and falls asleep, saving them all from certain death. Jojen and the others stare at Bran with the same “what just happened?” look on their faces.
Outside, Tormund and the other Wildings have surrounded the old man, letting him know that his life is pretty much over. Resigning himself to that fact, the old man asks to be murdered with dignity (is there such a thing?). Tormund obliges, but then Orell sticks his nose into it and says, “Let the Crow do it.” Of course he does. Jon gives him the side eye and then takes out his sword, ready to cut the old man’s head off. But he hesitates, because let’s face it, Jon Snow is no murderer.
He’s a man of the Night’s Watch and Ned Stark’s son. He is an honorable man, even when he doesn’t want to be. Instead, Ygritte puts an arrow in the old man’s chest and all hell breaks loose. Inside the windmill, Jojen convinces Bran to use his Warg skills to see what’s going on outside. He does and Bran sees Jon and Orell fighting through his wolf Summer’s eyes. Summer and Shaggy Dog attack the Wildlings, giving Jon a chance to escape, but not before shoving his sword in Orell’s belly. Before taking his last breath, Orell makes a mental break for it and jumps inside his eagle. The bird attacks Jon’s face, leaving him with some scratches. Jon then takes a horse and heads for the hills, leaving Ygritte and Tormund behind. Will Jon come back for his red-haired lady?
After Bran comes back to himself, Jojen tells him that no one has ever been able to get inside the mind of a human before. Jojen knows Bran is special and insists he find the three-eyed Raven. Bran decides to go but wants Rickon to go South with Osha. Rickon is heartbroken and wants to stay with his big brother. But Bran wants his brother to be safe, explaining that if anything should happen to him, Rickon would be the heir of Winterfell. The brothers say goodbye to each other, and Osha and little Rickon head out into the night. Will the brothers ever see each other again? Will Bran find the three-eyed Raven?
Arya and The Hound are also on the move, making their way to The Twins. They stop to steal a hog merchant’s cart in order to sneak their way into Walder Frey’s castle. The Hound knocks the merchant out and pulls out his knife in order to kill him. But Arya persuades Clegane to stay his hand, saving the merchant’s life. Later, they stop again to take a meal. Arya can see the bridge leading to Frey’s castle and is nervous. The Hound notices and tells her that she is scared. Why? Because Arya is so close to her family she is afraid that something will go wrong. But our Rebel knows something about The Hound, as well. He’s afraid of fire and “looked like a scared little girl” when he fought Beric Dondarrion and his flaming sword. Clegane tries to puff himself up after that revelation, but then Arya utters the best line of the night and says, “Someday, I’m going to put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull.” How do you come back from that?
In Yunkai, the Mother of Dragons is planning her strategy to sack the city. Dany, Jorah, Ser Barristan and hotness personified Daario Naharis are having a palaver to discuss how best to attack. Jorah has no love for the long-haired swellsword and smells a trap. Dany, on the other hand, is all giggly schoolgirl with her new friend. To make sure she is thinking like a Queen, Dany asks Grey Worm for his opinion of the sellsword. The silent Unsullied leader states that he trusts Daario and that is all Dany needs to hear. She agrees to the plan and sets things in motion. Later, as Daario, Jorah and Grey Worm make their way into the city, they are surrounded by the Yunkai’i slave soldiers. But the soldiers are no match for the three swordsmen, who make easy sport of the slaves and take Yunkai. When they arrive at camp, Jorah gives Dany the good news, only to have his joy kicked out from under him when his Queen asks about Daario. On cue, the sellsword walks into Dany’s tent, kneels and presents her with Yunkai’s banner.
And now, I begin House Stark’s latest tale of woe, for it is a sad, sad story. It begins with the arrival of King Robb, his Queen, mother and soldiers at the castle of Walder Frey, also known as The Twins. Walder, ever the host, offers his hospitality to the King and his entourage, parades his less than attractive daughters in front of everyone so Robb can apologize to them for breaking his oath, and does his best to humiliate Robb. The King in the North keeps his cool (just barely), and the wedding plans are put into place. During the ceremony, Edmure is less than enthusiastic because he is sure he will end up with an ugly Frey daughter or granddaughter. But to his surprise, Walder offers his prettiest daughter Roslin (played by Alexandra Dowling), which makes Edmure exceedingly relieved and happy.
During the wedding feast, everyone is laughing, drunk and glad that the union has taken place. Even old Walder looks like he is having a great time. Frey asks his King if the Bedding Ceremony may begin, which Robb is most happy to agree. Once Edmure and his new wife are removed from the dining hall, the Twins’ version of a wedding band begins playing “The Rains of Castamere,” which sets Catelyn on edge. She knows something is up but doesn’t know what, until she uncovers the chainmail Roose Bolton is wearing. She slaps the traitor and tries to warn her son, but it is too late. The wheels have started to turn and The Red Wedding begins. And although I have read the books and knew what was coming, the last five minutes of this episode were the most shocking I have seen on this show.
I will not spoil the ending for the ten people on planet Earth who haven’t seen this episode. But be warned: you will not like what you see. And things will change in the Seven Kingdoms forever.
The Game of Thrones season finale will air June 9 at 9:00 p.m. on HBO.