Well that sucked...
Season 3 Episode 9 lived up to and exceeded pretty much everyone's expectations. You have no idea how hard it was to keep this stuff secret and I hope it wasn't spoiled for any of you. Obviously the events at the Twins were a huge game changer, but there were a lot of other important plot points that may have been overshadowed by the Red Wedding., so I'll talk about those first. This episode focused primarily on two sets of converging story lines (The Jon/Bran meeting and the Robb/Catelyn/Arya disaster) with a little Dany peppered in.
Daenerys meets with her captains to form a strategy for the siege of Yunkai. The newest addition to her entourage, Daario, offers an easy solution to the battle as he is still trusted by the Yunkai'i he can slip in and open the gate for the rest of the army. Jorah is naturally suspicious of the newcomer but he touched Dany's hand.. so she'll go with his plan. Daario, Jorah and Grey Worm infiltrate the city and are able to dispatch an unreasonable amount of soldiers before opening the gate for their allies. So Dany is once again victorious through little to no effort on her part. Her conquests have been largely due to her inspiring loyalty and conviction from people around her, this trait is reminiscent of Ser Barristan's description of her brother Rhaegar before his death, although Daenerys has attracted less honourable company. Interestingly, a brief mis-direct after the battle has Daenerys betray her feelings for Daario when she believes him dead, and Jorah has an equally heartbroken expression when she asks about the newer, younger, prettier captain... But her taking the city is another victory and brings her one step closer to Westeros. (it's actually a step north along Slaver's Bay and not west at all.. some girls just aren't good with directions.)
Wildling women, however, are great with directions and with the help of Osha and Meera, Bran is very close to the Wall. They take refuge from a storm in a small abandoned tower and are discussing their journey when a rider arrives followed by a group of Wildlings. Hodor freaks out over the thunder and nearly gives away their position, but Bran is able to enter Hodor's mind and shut it down, which we later learn is an unprecedented feat. He's basically Professor X now.. Outside the Wildlings command Jon to execute the old man, but he can't and Ygritte does it for him. This proves to Tormund and the others that Jon is still a "Crow" and they move to take him. Surprisingly, or maybe not for some, Ygritte stands in their way briefly, even after his betrayal she wants to protect and stand by Jon. Jon takes out a few Wildlings, with the help of Bran/Summer and Shaggydog (who had been watching the entire time), and eventually kills Orell. Triumphantly Jon admits that Orell was right all along, and in a final act of rage Orell possesses his eagle and claws up Jon's face. Jon is able to escape soon after, presumably to Castle Black, and Ygritte is understandably hurt/pissed/betrayed/confused/PMSing that he left her after all that. After witnessing everything Bran commands Osha to take Rickon away to Last Hearth to protect him, as neither of those two need to risk travelling beyond the Wall, and the brothers say a heartbreaking farewell. This is especially hard for Rickon who is still very young and has been without most of his family for an extended period or time. The youngest Starks part ways, and knowing the way the author likes to treat this family, I assume they will never see each other again.
Meanwhile down south Robb and Catelyn, the only Starks still with a member of their family, arrive at the Twins for Edmure Tully's wedding and are forced to endure Lord Frey's insults and make nice. The Starks and Tullys partake of Lord Frey's salt and bread; this is a Westerosi hospitality tradition symbolizing both host and guest's promise of peace within those walls. Robb apologizes to the Frey girls he spurned and Talisa is inspected/disrespected by Lord Frey.. But after that the ceremony goes off without a hitch. Edmure is pleasantly surprised to be marrying the only pretty Frey girl and Robb believes he has atoned for his mistake and appeased Lord Frey.
Everything is going well and the couple is taken to bed, but Catelyn's smile fades as the doors are closed and the musicians change their tune. "The Rains of Castamere", a song detailing Tywin Lannister obliteration of house Reyne, plays as Lord Walder details his "wedding gift" for Robb and Talisa. Catelyn, already apprehensive, looks to Lord Bolton, and the look is returned with a leering smirk and gesture towards his arm. He is wearing his chainmail. Cat slaps Roose Bolton and tells Robb to get out AND THEN EVERYONE DIES. THE END. THERE IS NO GOD AND LIFE HAS NO MEANING. I won't go into gory detail, but they seriously only made Talisa pregnant to hurt people and make it that much more devastating.
As the annihilation of the Northmen begins, Arya, who has finally made it to the Twins and her salvation, witnesses the betrayal of Robb's army and the murder of Grey Wind. Arya, having made it this far, is unable to process the gravity of her situation and continues on to see her family as planned. Sandor tells her its too late and doesn't give her a chance to get away, he knocks her unconscious and takes her away. Its so frustrating to see her get so close only to have everything fall apart and be taken off, god knows where, by the Hound... again.. not to mention the news she'll receive when she comes to. Pure hell.
Catelyn has now lost everything she ever loved, her husband was executed, eldest daughter is a prisoner of the Lannisters, as far as she knows Arya is gone and Theon killed Bran and Rickon. Robb, although already dying, is the only thing Cat has left. She grabs Lord Frey's wife and threatens to kill her, to which Walder Frey replies" I'll find another". Roose Bolton deals the final blow to Robb and reveals the Lannisters involvement in all this. Catelyn keeps her word and murders Lord Frey's wife before having her own throat cut.. Fade to black.. end credits.. not a sound.
This was a huge episode in an already stellar season. The War of Five Kings is essentially over. The Lannisters have allied with the Freys and the Bolton's, securing what was remaining south of Moat Caitlin, only the Greyjoys in the North remain. Lots of movement for everyone involved (Sam made it a few more feet toward the Wall.) and a devastating and unexpected end for three of the shows main characters (I included Grey Wind). Next week in the season finale we will have to deal with the fallout of the Red Wedding, Daenerys' conquest of Yunkai and Jon's departure from the Wildlings. I am hoping for a scene with a very smug, satisfied Tywin relating the events to Tyrion (who will then have to tell his wife). We can also hope for at least some answers to Theon's story and hopefully more action with Jon but who knows.. well I kinda do.. but don't worry about it. There are multiple story lines coming to head it seems, and I am as excited for next week as I was anticipating this one.
The North Remembers.