“The Rains of Castamere” – Season 3, Episode 9
“[The Red Wedding is] the moment that makes Ned’s death look like just a drop in the bucket, and the clearest evidence of George R.R. Martin’s wanton disregard for his own characters and their happiness.”
After coasting along on a relentless plateau of inert plotlines, in which no significant changes happened to the characters or their lives, for most of this season, The Rains of Castamere really caused a storm. The Starks, along with the Lannisters, are the most established characters, having had the most screen-time, and consequently the characters that the viewers are most invested in. This episode, we saw the bloody slaughter of three Starks in one go at the iniquitous Red Wedding.
As a result, fans have been raging across the social medias about author George R.R Martin’s wanton disregard for his own characters, and in some cases, for the audience’s attachment to those characters. Is that really a justified claim though? Yes, he brutally killed off Robb, Catelyn and Talisa, but many characters who have found themselves in death-defying situations have walked away with only a few scratches.
In Second Sons, Daario threateningly brandished a knife inside Daenerys’ tent. In most similar televisual situations a neck would’ve been sliced there, but that plotline took a clunky and unexpected turn around in which Daenerys escaped unscathed. Prior to this, in The Bear and the Maiden Fair, Brienne and Jaime found themselves in a bear pit, ready to be torn apart by a vicious bear, teeth bared. Yet, Brienne escaped with only a scratch across her neck and Jaime quite the same as before. In The Climb, we saw the death of Ros, a minor character, but our major characters, Jon Snow and Ygritte, survived a ridiculously hazardous climb up a vertical wall of ice in which their rope was severed. These are only examples of characters surviving against all the odds from the previous three episodes; there are many, many more notable sequences just like these littered throughout the whole of the show.
So is it really a wanton disregard for his characters and their happiness on Martin’s part or actually a ballsy way to generate a more emotional impact when the unexpected becomes a reality? You can kill off as many minor characters as you can shake a stick at to no emotional avail, and is that really what makes a good story? It’s far more exciting to know your favourite character might die at any moment for sure. The Red Wedding was a dramatic, climactic moment that this slow-runner of a season needed to survive.
Worth a Note
◊ Tyrion is perhaps the character in which viewers have the most vested interest, and he is also the character that has survived in the most unlikely of situations with all the odds stacked against him. Two occasions come to mind: his escape from the Sky Cells at the Eyrie and his survival at the Battle of the Blackwater, in which he passed out and awoke having only suffered an, admittedly undesirable but not life-threatening, facial wound.
◊ Why is Sam still alive in his bumbling plotline after a direct confrontation with the White Walkers? Come on now.
Worth a Look
◊ The Red Wedding has been the inspiration for some tremendous fan-art; Red Wedding by ~FatherStone is the most awesome I’ve seen thus far.
◊ Disclaimer: Shamelessly stole this blog title from a popular internet meme, trawl away.