A Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere” Reflection

I’ll admit it.

I haven’t caught up with the A Song of Ice and Fire books by George R. R. Martin. I’ve been meaning to, honest, but like a promise I made to myself years ago to read the dictionary front to back, I just never got around to actually doing it.

And boy oh boy am I glad I haven’t.

Last night’s episode of A Game of Thrones—“The Rains of Castamere”—which I’m sure fans of the series have dissected 100 times over in less than 24 hours, left me absolutely speechless.

If you haven’t seen it yet, beware some spoilerage ahead.

I truly admire Mr. Martin for his cojones. It isn’t often that you come across an author who is willing to kill off key and/or beloved characters.

It smacks of a certain kind of realism, the idea that at any time, in any place, a person can die. You can’t predict it except through hindsight (which makes prophets of us all), and when that loss of life hits, you can only wonder, in a stupor, how it ever got to this.

It was a massacre: Robb, his wife Talisa, and his mom Catelyn–all killed. Talisa’s death was especially gruesome since it touched on a seemingly taboo topic in television—the death of an innocent.

A Game of Thrones The Rains of Castamere Catelyn

Don’t look! 😦

Sure, you can debate whether or not a child was actually in her stomach or just a fetus, but she had a baby bump, and that was the exact target that the assassin chose when killing Talisa. He could have slit her throat, stabbed her in the heart, carved out a kidney, anywhere else, but he chose her womb.

The show’s dealt with the deaths of innocents before, like when the newborns north of the wall were given over to the white walkers, but there’s something so brutal, so guttural, about shredding a potential life while it’s still inside of its mother.

And then Catelyn’s blood-curdling scream at the end, right before her throat is sliced open.

Wow.

I always have this expectation when I watch or read fiction: evil may triumph now, but eventually, good will overcome.

Well, I’m still waiting for that to happen on A Game of Thrones. Joffrey’s still alive, Littlefinger too, and the person who many of us thought was going to finally take out the Lannisters is now dead.

Our only hope, it seems, is the Khaleesi, her dragons, and her army. But given how good people have died so far, I wonder if she’ll be slaughtered and evil men will continue to rule.

Or maybe Arya and the Hound will team up like Django and Dr. King Schultz and hunt down the bastards who killer her family? J

What did you think of last night’s episode?

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7 comments on “A Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere” Reflection

  1. I have not read the books, but I live with someone who has, and I was advised that Talisa does not die in the books. She is taken as a hostage and disappears, but there was only a question of whether or not she was pregnant. It was not made definite like the way it was in the show. I believe this change was made, the same as a few other changes in the show, to create some shock value for even the most dedicated of readers. I’m not sure I’m okay with it, but it was effective.

    • Ah, thank you for clarifying that, Tracy.

      If the reason for the change was to shock readers and viewers alike, they definitely succeeded.

      There are certainly viewers and critics who didn’t appreciate the level of violence shown, and I can understand how it made them uncomfortable; it may not have been necessary, but it was certainly brutal, and it makes me despise the men who initiated the massacre.

      I’m only assuming, but was the graphic violence the reason why you might not have been okay with the scene?

      Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      • They killed Talisa in the most horrifying way possible for me as a mother, and there is no justification for it. She was not overly pregnant, and I’m guessing the Starks weren’t sharing the news with everyone. Unless you can construe that creepy dude Frey was able to see through her clothes and see that she was pregnant, there was no reason to kill her in such a personal way.

  2. Honestly, I no longer know if I admire or hate Martin for all the character-murder, lol. I’m still a huge fan of the first novel in the series, but after that it kind of lost its richness since he killed off a main character in the end. And since then it’s just been more death of the Starks. But that’s his thing, I guess. I’d rather see characters struggle to the end. It often feels like the author takes the easy way out when he kills them too far from the ending. Like he ran out of ideas for what to do with them and oops, there s/he goes. Martin’s still great. Not sure where he’s going with the series, but I can only hope it’s to a place as great as the first book.

    • You know, I’ve heard the quality of his books tend to dip after the first one, and I wonder if it’s because of what you mentioned, Maggie.

      When you kill a character, all of the depth and nuance you spent time and energy weaving is pretty much eliminated, and you’ll have to start all over again with a new character to make up for it.

      It seems especially true of Martin since, from what I’ve heard, he only increases the amount of characters who give their point of view in later novels.

      I’m with you in that I like to see characters struggle at least until they’re close to the end, but the third season of a show? After so many events hinged on Robb’s success?

      Sigh . . .

      Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Hi Mike,
    I haven’t read or seen this story yet, although I’ve heard a lot about it. It sounds kind of grisly, which I don’t care much for. But it sounds like you think it is engaging and worthwhile. I might have to check it out.

    • Hi Naomi!

      It’s certainly quite gruesome and unexpected. There are quite a few viewers who took issue with it, and I can understand why.

      It does serve a purpose, I think, in that you come to despise the men involved. It builds tension and anticipation for when the murderers are brought to justice.

      Or IF they’re brought to justice.

      If you do check it out, let me know what you think.

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