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[Warning: spoilers ahead for Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Rains of Castamere”]
This was the episode Game of Thrones fans have been dreading, with the series living up to author George R.R. Martin’s reputation for killing off its beloved characters.
Robb (Richard Madden) and Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) died violently at the orders of Walder Frey (David Bradley), who showed he still harbored some (very) hard feelings about Robb breaking his oath to marry one of Frey’s daughters.
Not since Eddard Stark’s death has a character’s demise packed so much punch. And it was made all the more upsetting with Robb’s pregnant wife, Talisa (Oona Chaplin), being stabbed in the belly and Arya (Maisie Williams) coming close to reuniting with her family — only for them to die.
But the wedding began well enough, with Walder accepting Robb’s plea for forgiveness and even giving away his only attractive daughter, Roslin (Alexandra Dowling) to Edmure (Tobias Menzies). We even got to see the bedding ceremony Tyrion so vehemently opposed after his nuptials to Sansa.
After Frey had Robb’s men killed, the King in the North and his mother remained alive but injured. In a desperate, tragic performance, Catelyn pleaded for Robb’s life, asking Frey to keep her as a hostage and threatening to kills Walder’s wife. Frey refused, saying he can always get another bride.
Catelyn watched her son die before she killed Frey’s wife and then died herself. Lady Stark’s death hit us hard, because she had suffered so much already. She died thinking all four of her sons were dead and blaming herself for her family’s ruin, thinking it was a curse from the gods for not being able to love Jon Snow (Kit Harrington).
Arya, meanwhile, ended up back in the custody of the Hound (Rory McCann), who had been taking her to the wedding to collect a reward from her family. Ahead of the ceremony, the two had shared several contentious moments. The Hound brought up Eddard’s death and Arya promised: “Some day, I’m going to put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull.”
Thrones, which only occasionally brings characters from its far-flung storylines together, also put Jon Snow and Bran (Isaac Hempstead) near each other. By the Wall, Jon found himself at odds with his Wildling companions when he was ordered to kill an innocent man. He balked, Ygritte (Rose Leslie) killed the man and Jon was given a death sentence.
Meanwhile, Bran and his crew were hiding out in a nearby tower, with the young Stark using his warg powers to inhabit the direwolves to rescue his brother. Jon escaped and Bran also learned he could control humans after he took over for Hodor (Kristian Nairn).
Elsewhere, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) successfully captured Yunkai, thanks to a plan from Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein). Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) was none too pleased to see the handsome Daario growing closer to his beloved Queen. He gave Daenerys a stricken look when she seemed concerned about Daario’s post-battle safety. Jorah’s injured puppy love aside, Daenerys left the episode stronger than ever, with thousands of new followers from Yunkai and one less king to contend with for the Iron Throne.
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