****WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR HBO’s GAME OF THRONES & George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire. If you haven’t watched last night’s episode and/or haven’t read through the third book, you’ll probably want to stop reading now. If you want to start watching the show or reading the books, be forewarned: they’re brutally violent, sexually graphic, and ruthlessly heartbreaking. You’ve been warned.****
Life’s been busy for us. So Palmer and I caught up on Game of Thrones Season 3 yesterday afternoon. At the end of episode 7, when Jamie cunningly returns for Brienne, jumps into the bear’s den to save her, and then assertively saves her from the ruthless men, I turn to Palmer and say: “Look no further for the twisted brilliance of this show than the difference between how much you despise Jamie at the end of the pilot and how much you love him at the end of that episode.”
How little I knew of George R.R. Martin’s brilliantly twisted mind and story.
For fans of the TV show, we all experienced it last night. We were still experiencing it this morning when we woke up. Playing the images in our head, over and over again.
20 minutes before it happened, I turned to Palmer and my in-laws to say: “All the pieces are moving into place for the finale. They always do this. I just hope they don’t also pull a penultimate episode of Season 1 and do something brutal like beheading Ned Stark.”
The fuzzy feelings of a young Eddard Stark and a Stark family reunion with Arya. The kidney punch that was the betrayal of Tully and crew. The ominous music. Catelyn Stark discovering the chain mail on Roose Bolton. The stabbing. The slitting of the throat. The desperation. The long, brutal death. The connection with the Lannisters communicated to us and Robb by freakin’ Roose Bolton. The shock on our faces. The silence of the credits rolling. The solemn preview for the season finale.
It all happened. And there wasn’t a thing we could do about it. Sure. It’s all fictional. But it says something about the twisted brilliance of the writers and the top-notch acting that it felt like a true gut punch.
Sure, Ned Stark was beheaded. That was a gamechanger. But… THIS! There are no words. Only dropped jaws, sighs, gasps, and looks at other fans this morning that say it all.
But, for those of you who need more than the shared shock from fellow fans, I present to you what may end up being new series: Game of Thrones Therapy. This is the “Red Wedding” Counseling edition. You need it. We need it. The Starks need it.
And as brilliant and devilishly crafty as the Lannisters may be (Joffrey excluded), they’re not invited. No. Not this week. Not for a long, long time. Except Tyrion. Obvi.
First, you need to read this interview with George R.R. Martin, discussing the infamous “Red Wedding.” He talks about when he knew Robb Stark had to die, reactions from readers when the third book first came out, and the real-life inspirations for the Red Wedding. It’s wild how these terrible things from Game of Thrones often have very real historical inspirations. (One scary side note is that one of the inspirations from Scottish history include the Campbell Clan, which is the lineage of my wife Palmer. A ruthless bunch, those Campbells.) To read more about that Massacre of Glencoe, go here. Here’s the best excerpt from the interview:
What do you say to readers who are upset about the scene?
It depends on what they say. What can you say to someone who says they’ll never read your book again? People read books for different reasons. I respect that. Some read for comfort. And some of my former readers have said their life is hard, their mother is sick, their dog died, and they read fiction to escape. They don’t want to get hit in the mouth with something horrible. And you read that certain kind of fiction where the guy will always get the girl and the good guys win and it reaffirms to you that life is fair. We all want that at times. There’s a certain vicarious release to that. So I’m not dismissive of people who want that. But that’s not the kind of fiction I write, in most cases. It’s certainly not what Ice and Fire is. It tries to be more realistic about what life is. It has joy, but it also had pain and fear. I think the best fiction captures life in all its light and darkness.
Second, you need to read this interview with the head writers and show runners who wrote the episode and have been looking forward to for quite some time. There’s an interesting discussion of the idea whether there are any heroes in Game of Thrones, of if they’re all just victims.
Third, are you missing Robb Stark? If you are, here’s an interview with Richard Madden, who plays… er… played Robb Stark. (R.I.P… pour one out for the tragic Stark family. Yeesh… they make the Kennedy Curse look like child’s play. You know, if the Starks were real. That’s right. They’re not. We need reminders like that on days like today.)
Fourth, here’s an excellent critical analysis from The Daily Beast’s TV critic.
Fifth, here’s the headline article from BuzzFeed last night after the episode aired, appropriately titled: “The Most Horrible Thing Ever Happened on Game of Thrones.” It’s a great interview with Michelle Fairley, who played Catelyn Stark.
Sixth, if you need a more typical BuzzFeed summary with pictures and captions, that one is here, showing and reminding us all just how much the Red Wedding destroyed us.
Finally, if you’re wondering what it was like to be in my living room with Seth (who has read all the books), Taylor, Palmer, and I last night…
And it’s a scene from “Survivor,” which makes me love it all the more. It shows the difference between those who knew what was coming last night and those who had no clue. It’s well done.
Well, there’s nothing else to be said. Now, we wait. We all have different ways of dealing. Palmer instantly read all the spoilers for the rest of the third book to guard her heart from being shattered again. I’m going to read all the books before the fourth season starts next winter.
Because the Starks were heartbreakingly right about that. Winter is coming. It is here.