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June 3, 2013

Upvoted: [S03E09] Followup for non-readers: "Rains of Castamere"

Welcome to the weekly followup for non-readers that is meant to help you understand the nuances of Westeros that book readers already know. This week's edition is subtitled "You Totally Should Have Seen That Coming". (Actually, you couldn't. But on a second screening you'll be full of "HOW DIDN'T I SEE THAT" as you probably already are).

"I've always hated the bells. They ring for horror: a dead king, a city under siege..."
"A wedding"
- ninth episode of season two about his forthcoming brother from season three

Your journey is over. This was THE moment we've been all waiting for, the true gamechanger. Ned's death might have been a surprise, but Robb manning up and taking revenge on him wasn't something new or strange and many people have ignored that the immense cast might mean that Arya's "Anyone can be killed" is absolutely literal.

TL;DR: Explaining scenes - Trivia from books - Many errors that you're free to correct so I can polish (pun intended) the text

This week, no poor attempts of jokes in headlines. By the way if you're new here, read the previous ones as I don't feel like repeating the whole history of Yunkai.

Warning: Might contain some information about future episodes - for example if there is something I think helps understanding the story and it gets mentioned in the next episodes, or if there is something readers say about a certain character that differs from the books now, but is yet to come in the show. A good example were the Reeds, or rather lack of them, in season 2 - my followups back then contained parallel story of Bran that contained Reeds in it even though they haven't been cast yet.

Usually I go on location by location in the order of their first appearence in the episode. This week we'll do it the GRRM way: first write about everything else, and leave the scene for the very end.

  • This is the first episode since "The Kingsroad" to have no scenes in King's Landing. It's also the first one since "You Win or You Die" without Tyrion Lannister's appearence.

  • I would like to list all the major characters who held political power that died on screen in the last seasons for you to see something. Keep in mind this is a quite subjective selection. Season one: Viserys Targaryen, Robert Baratheon, Eddard Stark and khal Drogo; a total of four. Season two: Renly Baratheon and Xaro Xhoan Daxos, a total of two. Season three (so far): Jeor Mormont, Kraznys mo Nakloz, Rickard Karstark, Robb Stark, arguably Talisa Stark (Catelyn has no direct political power). Point is that with the count of four to five it evens season 3 with 1 while it covers only the first half of A Storm of Swords and believe me, this is far from over. Total named body count is AGOT 54, ACOK 72, ADWD 97.

  • The Sam scene, once again, answers more questions than it asks and it kinda leaves me jobless (thanks to the book split this kind of thing is more and more often). There is a major difference with the book about how has Sam possessed the knowledge of the location of the Black Gate - in the books it's long forgotten and he learns that from a mysterious character that is apparently yet to appear on the show. Anytime you'll see "Coldhands" mentioned in casting for season 4, expect book readers to be very excited.

  • This is the moment when Rickon Stark and Osha the Wildling Woman disappear from the books. Now you understand all those jokes about Rickon: he said in this episode more lines than throughout 6000 pages of all books combined. It doesn't mean we won't see Osha in the show, oh no. As a matter of fact GRRM liked Tonks's performance so much he decided to alter Osha's future story. Book readers will be just as surprised with Osha's story as you.

  • Bran mentions his great-great-(many times) grandfather, Brandon the Builder. This is an important historical character as he is the one responsible for founding House Stark, building Winterfell and the Wall (as the legend says, with the help of giants), he also took part in building Storm's End, capital castle of Stormlands and seat to House Baratheon (the one Robert gave to Renly, we haven't seen it, but the shadow baby birth happens in a tunnel beneath it. It's complicated.)

  • As you see, when a warg dies, part of his consciousness moves within the animal he possesses. We'll come back to that later.

  • Yunkai... I'm impressed - no new names, no new places, nothing. Oh, and no dragons.

  • Hound's story isn't supposed to be common knowledge. In fact the books don't mention anybody else than Sandor and Gregor knowing it and Sansa is being told it by Clegane himself, not through Littlefinger.

  • We're getting close to the Twins, so the last noteworthy mention is the suckerpunch Arya chapter right after Catelyn's that ends on her getting blacked out with an axe to the head, which fooled less emotionally resistant readers into believeing the Stark death toll was even higher - just to find her name at the top of one of the next chapters. This wouldn't be the first POV character to die since Eddard was one (and Catelyn, just before Arya's) but the rule of thumb is that POV characters don't die that easily.

Don't you think writing about it is easy or that I waited for this to happen.

  • "Was it Melisandre's leeches?" - Who the hell knows. All we know is that she can see the future ("Death by fire is the purest death"), so it might be that she saw Robb's death and made up the leech ritual - possibly she believes that leeches ensured that her vision becomes a reality, but in fact the plot for Frey's betrayal was orchestrated a long time before that.

  • "Red Wedding", that's the name, straight from Walder Frey's quote "the red will flow and we'll right some wrongs". Tyrion's wedding was "Golden", there are more weddings to come and get their own colour.

  • Once you go back to the beginning of season 3, or even further beyond that, you'll see countless scenes that foreshadow this event - or rather you'll know how to intepret things such as Rickard Karstark saying "You lost the war the day you married her" or Tywin Lannister saying some wars are won with pens and quills.

  • I think the biggest "Oh God, I should have seen that one coming" is still to come in the next episode as you'll probably learn the identity of Theon's torturer hint by then. Some people figured it out on their own already. This is connected to RW so I was wondering if I should mention that, but more about that next week.

  • Boltons have been loyal to Starks for the last few centuries, but that's surprisingly a small fraction of the history of the North. Before that, Boltons tried to rebel and take the North for themselves.

Well... let's get this over with. I've already listened to this over 20 times (I'm not kidding, I lost count and I haven't been listening to anything else for the last 6 hours) so I think I'm ready.

  • You might remeber that the emissary from Yunkai reached for the cup to drink in a very swift and strange gesture. The Guest Right is an ancient custom that guarantees everyone eating and drinking by the host's table his hospitality. Once the emissary drank from the cup, Daenerys couldn't scorch him. What this means for Walder Frey is that everyone with a tiniest bit of dignity considers him cursed and condemned. This is possibly the worst stigma a man could have, the only ones competing would be kinslaying and kingslaying.

  • Lord Walder's signature line is his "heh". Now you know.

  • Don't get me wrong, but by many means the book Red Wedding is much more bloody, grim and sad. Mostly because you know the names of almost every single man slaughtered by the tables and you read how they try to fight back. And it's not like those names didn't matter.

  • None of the kings is a POV character. We see Robb's story through eyes of Catelyn and her perspective doesn't really help cope with the scene. She freaks out right when musicians start playing Rains of Castamere and recalls Roslin Frey crying. Her despair and how gruesome the events got made many readers throw the book. Literally. Her last thought is "No, don't, don't cut my hair, Ned loves my hair".

  • Robb's last words are "Grey Wind". Most popular interpretation, and I really wish it got shown as it had a perfect buildup, is that Robb warged into Grey Wind as he died (just like Orell got into his eagle). The timing was a little bit different in the books as Grey Wind fought back and killed some people, but the result would essentially be seeing Robb dying twice. I think seeing what could be described as second death of Eddard Stark was quite enough.

  • Oh and about that one: This was a huge shocker for the readers as Jeyne Westerling, book equivalent of Talisa, wasn't present at the wedding and it was never certain if she was pregnant or not. After seven years of theories we got a bloody definite conclusion.

  • Blackfish was the second one not present at the wedding in the books so he's probably quite alive.

Do we really want to get into more details here? I might come back to write more, but I really have a hard time continuing this. I'll be back in an hour or something.

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