March 20, 2023

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

The Westeros Watch Part Fifteen

It's more wedding bells in Westeros as Jimmy and Tom discuss the final two episodes of season three of Game of Thrones, "The Rains of Castamere" and "Mhysa".

Season three of Game of Thrones may have had the most memorable moment in the entire series with episode nine.

Jimmy just saw that moment.  He and Tom are here to discuss the last two episodes of the season with “The Rains of Castamere” and “Mhysa”.


tomk:  Ah, you’ve seen the Red Wedding.

jimmy:  I’ve heard talk of this “Red Wedding” and wondered if that was it.

tomk:  Well, my wife would ask me what to expect because I read the books first and she didn’t. So, she would ask for spoilers, but I did not give her a single solitary hint about the Red Wedding.

jimmy:  It was…quite shocking.

tomk:  It was shocking for a lot of people, even people who were on the show:

jimmy:  That’s fiery leeches 1 those hated by Stannis 0. Though it appears Stannis had nothing to do with this.

tomk:  Or did he?

No, he didn’t. But the Lord of Light may move in mysterious ways. Joffrey and Balon better watch their backs.

jimmy:  By the looks of it, anyone created by GRRM better watch their backs.

tomk:  Oh, you can be relatively safe if you become the focus of various chapters. Most of the characters who actually die are those we don’t see through the eyes of. Martin himself said for him Robb was a somewhat minor character.

jimmy:  Really? Wow. Was his role bigger in the show?

tomk:  Yes. We only see Robb through his mother’s eyes for most of the novels. And keep in mind, the Red Wedding is basically the halfway point of the third book.

jimmy:  So in the book, whose perspective is the wedding from?

tomk:  Cat’s. The chapter ends when her throat is slit.

jimmy:  That’s what I figured.

I have to say, I didn’t see this coming at all. And don’t think I was really even suspicious until Cat started getting suspicious herself. Looking back there were some red flags like the breaking of the vow with Frey, and Bolton turning over Jaime, but nothing that would have pointed to this extreme.

tomk:  There were some other hints. One was the episode title. “The Rains of Castermere” is a Lannister song. Bronn actually sings it with some soldiers before the Battle of Blackwater, but Cersei explains what the song means in the episode before when she makes some veiled threats to Margaery.

And that is the song that starts playing when Cat gets suspicious and checks Lord Bolton’s sleeve.

jimmy:  But still. Damn. And I know we’ve had to get used to the death of important characters. Hell, Sean Bean was the best known actor this show has ever had and was the main character when the show started, and he last 9 episodes. But to lose several characters that have been the backbone of the narrative for the better part of two seasons (and arguably the entire series) really stings. It also puts a sudden end to the main storyline leaving a where do we go from here sort of feeling. It’s pretty devastating from Arya perspective too, to have gotten within yards of being reunited with her family. Though now it looks like her slowing down the Hound might have saved her life.

tomk:  And he saved hers at the feast too, though she’d be loathe to admit it.

I remember when we started this, watching the opening credits for this first episode and thinking so many of those cast members aren’t on the show anymore.

And lest you think I knew everything…Robb’s wife in the book does not attend the Red Wedding and survives.

jimmy:  There was some mention of that in one of the videos. Was she pregnant in the books?

tomk:  No.

Talisa is basically an original character as I mentioned before.

But here’s what happened: Robb marries a girl, a minor noble, and she’s a distant Lannister cousin. His mother-in-law, though very pleasant to him, is plotting against him with her husband. She slipped her daughter some drugs to prevent pregnancy and then kept the girl from attending the wedding because she knew what was coming.

In a later Jaime chapter, Jaime meets Robb’s widow and her parents. The girl’s mother is proud of what she did and explains it all to Jaime. The girl is angry and mourning Robb’s lose even though she is free to remarry and all that. Jaime concludes he has a lot more respect for Robb’s defiant widow than he does her parents.

jimmy:  There you go making me want to read the books again, Teach.

tomk:  If it helps, that scene comes from the fourth novel, generally considered the weakest of the series.

jimmy:  But sticking with Robb’s wife, her getting stabbed in the belly was the most heartbreaking thing amongst many tragic events that would unfold shortly after.

tomk:  I know. That’s the big reason I was surprised when I saw it: that was new to me.

I knew the rest was coming. I knew Cat and Robb were dead. I knew the Lannisters, Freys, and Boltons were behind it. I knew the Blackfish would slip out and manage to escape before it all went down. The book has other hints (Freys working with Robb before the return to the Twins are notably upset about something they were ordered by old Walder to do), and a few other noblemen, minor characters, do survive, though here that seems limited to Cat’s brother.

jimmy:  And poor old Edmure ends up in the dungeon.

tomk:  Yeah, pretty much. If anything, the books tell us his wife actually does love him and he has a happy marriage…as much as it is possible to have one while he is locked in a dungeon.

jimmy:  How can she love him, they’ve known each other 10 minutes.

tomk:  He took sex lessons from Pod?

My recollection is she refuses to leave her new husband’s side while he is under arrest even though she easily could.

Walder broke some major societal taboos when he killed guests under his roof. He shared bread and salt with them. They were not to be harmed.

It would make sense that some of his large family would take offense to that.

jimmy:  Yeah, Guest Rights or something like that.

tomk:  Walder made himself more of a societal outcast than he was already as the Westerosi equivalent of Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel.

jimmy:  Haha.

You also have to wonder (like I asked about Melisandre and Gendry), why go through the whole wedding charade? Once he got them there and surrounded with their guard down…

tomk:  He also got them at least a little drunk.

jimmy:  That’s true.

tomk:  One of the minor lords who survived the Red Wedding in the novel was a guy named Greatjon Umber. He was in season one, the guy who lost a finger to Grey Wind and then laughed it off. One of Walder’s sons was assigned to drink him under the table to be held hostage later, but it didn’t work and then it took four or five guys to subdue him.

jimmy:  And how did Blackfish get away? But I guess that is a story for another season.

tomk:  Well, he got up to “find a tree” before the doors were bolted. When things went south, he was far enough away from the main action to fight his way out, in part due to being a badass old man.

Also, in the book, he’s implied to be gay.

jimmy:  Whatever it is, he’s lucky.

tomk:  Well, as lucky as a man who just missed being present when most of his living family were slaughtered in the ugliest way possible.

jimmy:  Yes. There are some fates worst than death. Just ask Theon.

tomk:  Or Reek.

At least That Guy has a name now.

jimmy:  He’s still the second worst.

tomk:  Give him time. He has something Joffrey lacks: a brain.

jimmy:  A horrible, demented brain.

tomk:  True, but he’s not an idiot who can be sent to his bed without supper.

But now we know what happened to Winterfell.

jimmy:  Yeah. Those Boltons are not very nice.

tomk:  The sigil for House Bolton is a flayed man. Heck, the flayed man is on a giant, x-shaped crosssbeam like the one Ramsay hung Theon from.

Oh, and their home is called the Dreadfort.

jimmy:  I noticed that about the sigil.

tomk:  Ramsay likes flaying people. Like he did to Theon’s finger.

But here’s what happened: Robb gave Roose freedom to let Roose’s bastard son Ramsay take down Theon. He was supposed to let Theon’s crew go if they surrendered Theon. He didn’t. He flayed them, took Theon captive, and ransacked Winterfell for his own twisted amusement.

jimmy:  And based on what you said previously Reek shows up in the books and is not revealed to be Theon until some time later?

tomk:  Exactly. Mostly.

See, season three introduced a few characters that had appeared in earlier books.

Cat’s family appeared in the first book as Robb made Riverrun his base of operations. His grandfather was even still alive at the time.

Meera and Jojen were at Winterfell when Theon captured it and helped Bran escape.

And Ramsay was in the dungeon. Bran had him arrested, and when Theon showed up, he met some helpful guy in the dungeon who called himself…Reek.

As Reek, Ramsay gained Theon’s trust and then slipped out to bring back help when forces loyal to Robb surrounded Winterfell. Reek was good to his word. He did destroy the army outside. Then he came inside and slaughtered Theon’s people and appeared to kill him too. That’s the end of Theon’s story in the second book. He doesn’t reappear until the fifth.

jimmy:  I’m glad they changed it to give us a season of Theon getting tortured.

tomk:  Or a season where you wondered what the heck was going on until you learned it was Ramsay the whole time. Heck, one of the men he killed when he faked Theon’s rescue called him a bastard.

jimmy:  I guess that was reserved for actual bastards during those days.

tomk:  Maybe. Craster didn’t like being called a bastard.

jimmy:  I’m sure no one likes being called a bastard.

tomk:  Well, maybe ironically.

Though if GoT has taught me anything, it’s that something bad will happen to someone if Walder Frey stands up for any reason.

jimmy:  I’ll have to keep an eye out for that moving forward.

tomk:  Well, he spends so much time just sitting there…

Heck, even he can only mostly remember the names of all the Freys.

jimmy:  Well, when you have so many daughters…

tomk:  And sons.

jimmy:  You mentioned that the Red Wedding was halfway through book 3. Is season 4 the second half of that book?

tomk:  Yeah. A lot of it is repercussions of the Red Wedding.

jimmy:  So I know Season 7 has gone beyond the books right? So 5 is book 4 and 6 book 5?

tomk:  Books four and five take place at the same time. Season six is mostly new material with maybe a minor leftover plot line here and there.

jimmy:  Cool. Sorry for the aside.

So, aside from the wedding, on the other side of the world, Daario, Jorah and Grey Worm confirm for any skeptics that they are bad ass.

tomk:  Yes, at least we end the season on a positive note for somebody.

jimmy:  Seems to be a common theme. Ending on Dany as she increases her power.

tomk:  And people are happy to see her. That counts for something.

jimmy:  Well, when you’ve been a slave all your life and someone comes along a frees you, you’re probably going to be happy to see them.

tomk:  Interesting theory. Your ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

jimmy:  Sure. I’ll warn you in advance that it only publishes around 3 times a year and has A LOT of Spider-Man content.

tomk:  But we got three guys killing a lot of other guys. That must count for something.

And it looks like “count for something” is my new catch phrase. I don’t like that…

jimmy:  It could be worse. It could be “wuzzle wazzle”.

tomk:  But Dany may be the one character unaffected by the Red Wedding. Arya is getting more murderous. Tywin sees nothing wrong with it. The Boltons got a promotion.

jimmy:  Not much affects Dany being she’s not in Westeros. And the more the Kingdom’s fight each other the better it will be for her when she eventually crosses the sea…until those pesky White Walkers show up.

tomk:  She better get there first then. Having armies of flammable soldiers seems like a major weakness for those lousy Walkers.

jimmy:  Speaking of The Wall, Jon’s charade is over.

tomk:   As we all know it would eventually be. Damn his lack of a killer edge for elderly horse farmers!

Though it’s a good thing Bran was nearby. He can even warg into Hodor.

jimmy:  Apparently being a warg is awesome. His taking over Summer and Hodor was very cool.

tomk:  And no one else can warg into a human, even a dumb one like Hodor.

jimmy:  No one ever?

tomk:  As far as Jojen knows, and he’s the expert here.

jimmy:  He would know.

tomk:  Osha didn’t contradict him. She’s the Wildling in the room.

jimmy:  …not anymore. I don’t care much about Rickon, but disappointing to see Osha go.

tomk:  Rickon the Forgotten Stark. You know what happens when two or more Starks spend too much time together.

This is Rickon.

jimmy:  I understand the need to keep him safe as the potential heir to Winterfell, and having them both journeying beyond The Wall is not a good recipe.

And speaking of recipes, Bran sure knows his Rat Cook stories….which has no significance whatsoever.

tomk:  Isn’t the point of the Rat Cook story that violating guest rights is an unpardonable sin?

jimmy:  Exactly. No relevance at all.

tomk:  Well, maybe it was just the best story Bran knew.

jimmy:  Or The Sight manifests itself in mysterious ways.

tomk:  Like making Sam pop up as needed?

jimmy:  We love Sam.

And he equips them nicely for their trip. Dragonglass for you and dragonglass for you…

tomk:  Sam told Jon once he wanted to be a wizard. Gilly called him that for being able to read.

jimmy:  Probably not a lot of scholars North of The Wall.

tomk:  Some Wildlings seem to be barely able to talk.

jimmy:  But they can strategically shoot arrows.

tomk:  Ygritte is clearly a smart one. Tormund might be too if he wasn’t being all murderous about it.

jimmy:  I’m pretty sure Ygritte is not trying to kill Jon near the end, or he’d be dead. It did get me to thinking about bows and arrows though. I doubt even most of the best placed shots will instantly kill someone, but whenever anyone gets hit anywhere with an arrow they drop like a stone. Unless the plot needs them alive for some time afterwards of course.

tomk:  Arrows are like bullets. Unless something vital is hit, you don’t die instantly. The real danger with arrows is a barbed one will cause more damage if you pull it out wrong or through infection.

jimmy:  That all makes sense logically, but rarely do you see anyone on the ground injured. Not that it really matters, and not that I want to see scores of soldiers crying in pain, and I know it’s a TV show, but just a little observation. Just reinforces that if Ygritte wanted Jon dead, he would be. Also reinforces: she is SUPER pissed at him.

tomk:  She probably should be.

Though on that arrow thing, my dad was a big fan of TV Westerns, and one of his favorites was the mini-series Lonesome Dove, where Robert Duvall’s old Texas Ranger dies of an arrow to the thigh, but only after it gets infected and doctors amputate his leg. It was a bit more realistic than this show.

jimmy:  Exactly. Knights in full armor get shot by an arrow in the bicep…yup, they’re done. Again, just something I noticed. Mostly because of Jon getting shot three times and riding off. Obviously hurt, but not instantly dead or incapacitated. But that’s why he’s our hero.

And for Ygritte, she knew this was coming. Maybe sooner than they both expected, but she wasn’t blind to his allegiance.

tomk:  I think Ygritte just thought she and Jon would just both abandon their people and live together. She knows nothing of Jon Snow.

jimmy:  I can agree with that. I kinda thought that would happen too. Or at least, he would take her with him.

tomk:  I think he was tempted, but Jon has to know Ygritte wouldn’t willingly go to Castle Black as anything other than an enemy to the Crows.

jimmy:  Probably. And the first thing he does when he turns is to knock her down and out of the fight.

tomk:  He wouldn’t kill her even before he got to stick his tongue places. Why start now?

jimmy:  That’s what I’m saying. He took her out immediately to avoid her being in the fight and getting hurt/killed or sending a hawk to claw his eyes out.

tomk:  He’s still a nobleman at heart.

jimmy:  For sure. Also a bit surprising that this encounter didn’t end with Bran and Jon getting reunited.

tomk:  Bran knows Jon would stop his quest to find the Three-Eyed Raven.

jimmy:  Yes, it makes sense. But unfortunate.

Especially with most believing the boys are dead.

tomk:  Not sure Jon knows that part yet.

He was North of the Wall when it all went down.

jimmy:  True. But everyone seems to know everything about everybody, so who knows?

tomk:  Jon knows nothing. Everyone knows how little he knows.

jimmy:  haha, good point.

So we’ve talked about Dany, the Red Wedding, Jon, The Wall, Sam, Bran, the Wildlings, Reek. Let’s circle back and talk about some of the fallout from the Red Wedding. My first question, is the image of Robb’s body with his direwolf’s head sown on top from the books?

tomk:  Oh yes.

In fact, I mentioned before Dany’s trip to the House of the Undying being different. One of her visions was of a king with a wolfs head surrounded by corpses at a wedding. Given this was a full novel ahead, and given how weird the House of the Undying is in general, it might appear to be a symbolic prophecy but turns out to be a quite literal one.

jimmy:  Talk about telegraphing GRRM.

tomk:  Martin actually said he wrote that chapter last when finishing up A Storm of Swords because it was very upsetting to him.

jimmy:  I figured it was from the books, especially when we had the scene where Arya comes across the soldiers bragging about cutting off Grey Wind’s head. Which also became your weekly reminder to not mess with Arya.

tomk:  I think the best part of that Arya scene is the Hound’s reaction. He wasn’t upset Arya killed a guy. He just wanted a head’s up first.

jimmy:  Not many are upset by killing around these parts. But yes, that was good.

tomk:  It says a lot about the Hound. Then again, he thinks everyone enjoys killing. Arya fits too well into that mold.

jimmy:  She’s found the right “mentor”.

tomk:  Or the next in a long line that starts with Jon and includes Tywin, Syrio, and briefly the Brotherhood’s archer guy.

jimmy:  Yes. You’re right. For someone that Ned wanted to have no part of fighting, she is getting more training than anyone.

tomk:  Things would have been different if Ned had lived, obviously, but much of Arya’s training has come from random chance and being on her own.

jimmy:  Getting back to Robb’s disembodied head, not even Joffrey’s “supporters” were particularly impressed with his vile plan to feed it to Sansa at his wedding. Is he dead yet?

tomk:  Joffrey?

jimmy:  Yes

tomk:  What do you think?

jimmy:  Well, he obviously isn’t, but man, I hate that kid.

tomk:  Well, you’ll have to wait and see.

jimmy:  And poor Jaime didn’t seem to get much of a reception on his return.

tomk:   He lost his favorite hand. It’s the one he used to do stuff with. And he looks like Hell all the same.

jimmy:  But still. You’d think people would be thrilled he was back. It’s only brief, but I couldn’t tell if Cersei was in shock or disgusted…maybe both.

tomk:  He needs a shave and a bath. He’s clearly been through a lot.

jimmy:  That leaves us with a bunch of scenes of the Boltons being horrible and Theon’s sister planning a rescue after receiving a disturbing…gift. Poor Theon.

tomk:  And Balon doesn’t care.

jimmy:  Well, anyone whose family sigil is a man with no skin, probably doesn’t care about much…besides taking over the North.

tomk:  Balon’s sigil is the Kraken, a cold-blooded creature that thrives in a cold, dark environment. At least dire wolves run in packs.

jimmy:  Sorry, misread your last post.

Theon’s Poppa is quick to dismiss Theon since he disobeyed orders and was obviously unable to continue the bloodline. Cold, even for a Kraken. But I think he’s moved on from Theon really being his son for many years.

tomk:  Yeah, well, all Theon really wanted was to fit in with a family.

jimmy:  He can barely fit in with humanity now.

tomk:  He’s not Ramsay!

jimmy:  Thank God. One Ramsay is too much already.

tomk:  We had a wannabe in Joffrey. But at least we have a name for That Guy now.

I think it’s Forking Ramsay…

jimmy:  His actions might actually might be worse than Joffrey, but only because he has perfected them with age.

tomk:  And no one to keep him in check. I don’t see Roose sending that boy to bed without his supper.

jimmy:  Well, Roose is also not Tywin. But I’m sure left to his own devices, Joffrey is well on his way to being Ramsay 2.0.

tomk:  Without the Starks, there are a lot less obstacles to the Joffreys and Ramsays of this world. If only someone with a living flame thrower could intervene…

jimmy:  Or, there are still a few Starks kicking around to help set things in order.

tomk:  None that concern the Tywins of the world. All they think they need to worry about is Sansa, and they married her off to Tyrion. Heck, those two almost get along.

jimmy:  Take the Kingdom down from the inside.

tomk:  If only it worked that way…

jimmy:  So we’re at the end of season 3. Ned is dead. Robb is dead. Cat is dead. Theon wishes he was dead. Sansa’s a Lannister. Arya is still a prisoner of the Hound. Jon is wounded. Bran is beyond the Wall. That other Stark kid no one cares about is who knows where.

His name is Rickon.

tomk:  Dany is gaining power. Tyrion is defying his father any way he can. Stannis has a new hope as Davos and Melisandre actually agree on something. Jaime seems more human. Things have happened.

jimmy:  Time for the adaptation of the second half of book 3?

tomk:  I think so. Maybe you’ll get some narrative satisfaction. Though, truthfully, they never really top the dramatic power of the Red Wedding.

jimmy:  That’s easy to believe.

tomk:  Then let’s move on and find out.

And so our Watch continues.  Be back here soon as Tom and Jimmy start season four with “Two Swords” and “The Lion and the Rose”.

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