Wow. Even for someone who has read the books that was fucking brutal. Talisa’s death was especially surprising considering it was the biggest “new” death. Kudos to the writers for setting up this episode and the growing feeling of dread but man am I glad I am not married to either of you. I don’t know if I could sleep in the same bed as someone who wrote that scene.
I’ll back up a bit.
This was probably the strongest episode of Thrones that we’ve seen in awhile. That’s not to say this season has been weak – far from it. Still, the events of the first half of the third book often feel like treading water until the Red Wedding. Daenarys has been interesting of course what with her methodically freeing all the slaves across the narrow sea and the fact that I’ve cared about Ygritte at all is quite frankly a miracle, but tonight I was invested in every story. Most of the credit for that probably lies with the Starks – a fitting choice considering the tragic finale to this week’s show. I’ll break it down by Stark family member.
Bran and Jon’s near meeting was actually more heartbreaking to me than his abandonment of Ygritte. So many times these people – the good, noble people we want to root for – almost have a brief moment of happiness and even those are ripped from their hands. And now Tonks is leaving too. Sigh.
Rickon had a couple lines tonight so I guess there’s that bit of happiness. For him I mean. Stupid Rickon.
Arya’s scene with the Hound was amazing as per usual. Maisie Williams is killing this role. I have no doubt she really wants to drive a sword through the Hounds skull and that is a terrifying thought for someone so young.
Catelyn, Robb, and Talisa
Still, the MVP tonight was definitely Michelle Fairley. As the doors closed on the Bedding Ceremony and Rains of Castamere began, her face showed us everything we needed to know. Something is wrong. And to top it off, her anguish at the loss of her son’s life was absolutely terrifying. God, the moment Richard Madden said the word “Mother” killed me. Anguish, terror, and then a silent pleading for death – all of it played across her face in rapid succession. The shrillness of her grief-stricken scream ringing out and then cutting off, followed by that long hold on her face horrified me almost as much as the massacre itself.
Talisa’s death, though, is the image that still haunts me hours after this episode has finished. After the initial stabbing I thought the camera would cut away – I guess because I forgot what show I was watching – but staying on her the whole time as she was stabbed seven times made me feel sick. I guess that’s the point. I’m torn on that aspect of the Red Wedding – not because Jeyne lives in the book but because I keep asking myself “Was that really necessary?” I think there is an argument to be made that book readers have been pretty jaded about the Red Wedding since the series began. It’s hard not to be smug about Robb Stark’s impending doom when everyone you know has taken a shine to the character or to reply “Just you wait” when someone brings up their rage over Ned Stark’s death. I’ve been reading a lot of comments from book readers tonight who confessed to being almost gleeful about this episode up until the moment Talisa was stabbed – then they were just as shocked as the rest of the world. So, I suppose from a certain angle, that moment was successful in conveying just how horrifying an event this was – even to those who knew it was coming.
Still, I just don’t know if it justifies seeing every single stab wound penetrate her (repeatedly mentioned) pregnant stomach. And to top it all off, if it was a boy, they killed Ned Stark…again. Jesus, show.
What did you think? Unnecessary, gratuitous violence or totally successful attempt to make even the most jaded of viewers pay attention?
Feel free to commiserate down below.