Game of Thrones – Season 3, Episode 9 “The Rains of Castamere” Power Rankings & Review

Rating: 5.7

 

I can already tell that I’m going to have an unpopular opinion. If you’ve been reading my reviews, you know that I’ve not been a fan of Robb’s story arc all season. I’m not terribly fond of the eldest Stark, his wife, or his army. Catelyn has always been in my heart and I love the dire wolves, so I’m grieving a little bit… just not like the rest of you.

That being said, it’s time to break down the fight for the iron throne in We Love TV More’s weekly power rankings! These rankings are based solely on my enjoyment and understanding of the events that took place in “The Rains of Castamere”, not any given character’s viability for the throne. These reviews are unadulterated by the books as I am a television reviewer, not a book reviewer.

1. The Red Wedding

I enjoyed this scene for all of the wrong reasons. Let me be clear: Robb Stark has ranked dead-last in most of my reviews for a reason: whether it’s the casting, the way these scenes are written, or simply my apathy for the actual throne grabbing related to the Starks I won’t ever fully know, but I’ve never really cared about Robb’s plot line and I still don’t. Sure, he’s dead. I still can’t reflect on seasons past and find myself giving any sort of shits. What I liked about this plot? Robb finally died and I don’t have to waste any more screen time on him or his vapid wife.

Actually, there’s a point to be made there. I really don’t like it when women are cast because they are attractive rather than for their acting ability. I feel like I might have cared that Robb, his unborn child, and wife died if Oona Chaplin (Talisa Stark) had any acting ability whatsoever. No, this woman was cast because she had specific physical qualities and nothing more. She was never sympathetic because she could never carry a scene; furthermore, she and Richard Madden (Robb Stark) had absolutely no chemistry as a couple. For this reason I lost my investment in them a long, long time ago.

It’s known that in recent years female characters have had fewer and fewer speaking lines than male characters in film, and that female characters are far more likely to be represented as empty vessels for sex than male characters (also shown nude—fully—with significantly higher frequency compared to their male counterparts). The epitome of this can be seen in the casting of Oona Chaplin as Robb’s wife Talisa. Her character was rushed and represented solely as a symbol of sexual desire. She rarely spoke, and when she did she needed to be taught about the culture she chose to reside in by her male counterpart, thereby losing much of her agency. Talisa Stark is a prime example of what is wrong in the film and television industries. This is precisely why I am not upset that she is gone. I am hoping for a strong, inspiring female character to be left in her stead.

Catelyn Stark, however, was a strong female character; I will mourn the death of the Stark matriarch and her eldest son’s dire wolf. I really liked Catelyn as a character; she always did things the way I’d want her to, she never took “no” for an answer. Michelle Fairly (Catelyn) was a phenomenal actress in this series and her presence will be sorely missed.

2. Arya Stark

I mean, who couldn’t be heart broken with little Arya? It’s mostly a shame that the Hound got her to the wedding in time because I’m sure that learning of her mother’s death would have been much easier than semi-witnessing it (she only saw her mother’s men die, but I’m sure that’s enough to continue with the theme of traumatizing Arya with parental death).

3. Daenerys Targaryen

Sure, she didn’t do much this episode, but her men Daario, Jorah, and Grey Worm all fought a pretty killer battle. I don’t much care for action, but when it comes to fantasy worlds there’s nothing I love more than different fighting styles being put up against one another. It’s always a pleasure to see warriors trying to best their own teammates with knowledge of another form of battle.

4. Bran & Rickon Stark 

Still not really caring about Bran or his Warg abilities, but I liked Hodor Hodoring because the thunder was scaring him. I also liked that Bran is doing something useful for a change (inhabiting his wolf on purpose to protect his brother Jon). Finally, Bran gets to progress a little bit as a character by forcefully calming Hodor down, but I still feel like this character’s plot is moving at the pace of a wounded turtle.

As a total shocker to me, though, the youngest Stark actually spoke some lines. You know what’s wrong with television? When a series wants you to care about a character that’s had practically zero lines. No, I give absolutely no fraks about Rickon because I’ve no reason to care for the kid! He runs around and laughs, he eats, and sometimes we see him sleeping. That does not a sympathetic character make! Boo-hoo, you’ve got to leave your old brother and make a run for safety. This is the first time you’ve really spoken, so you’ve got no sympathy from me.

5. Jon Snow

Well, he’s left the Wildlings. I don’t think we saw that going any other way did we? Jon’s a good kid at heart, even if he knows nothing.

Look, I’ve tirelessly poured my soul out regarding my hatred for Ygritte. Her character faces the same dilemma as Talisa: her sole purpose in the series is to desire and serve Jon. She is not a strong female character, although she is a strong female. I’ll say it again: if I knew anything about her aside from her desire for Jon and her heritage as a Wildling—even if it was that she really loved Swiss cheese—I would like her better.

6. Samwell Tarly

He’s a wizard to Gilly because he can read! Haha! That’s what Sam’s always wanted to be, so that’s really cute.

On a serious note, though… This scene was fine, it just didn’t really go anywhere beyond Gilly being happy that she made it to the wall. There’s nothing to talk about here, so I won’t.

Conclusions

While I’m glad that Talisa and Robb are dead I can safely say that I didn’t find this episode to be all that entertaining. Sure, there was an exciting death sequence with lots of terrible fake blood… but that was only 10 minutes of a 54-minute episode. I feel like the other 44 minutes were occasionally entertaining, but mostly that “The Rains of Castamere” was almost entirely a letdown, which is unfortunate for a penultimate episode. The construction of the episode was phenomenal, I will give it that; it was beautiful and all around well crafted. As a cinema geek I can never be dissatisfied with Game of Thrones, but I can sure as hell wish there were more.

Thanks for reading, and as always please feel free to leave a comment for me! I love hearing the opinions of other fans. Note: Please keep your comments related to the TV series only, as this is a television show review. Thank you!

I live-tweet #GameofThrones every week on @BlaireLovesTV, please stop by to say hello!

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10 comments

  1. “…lots of terrible fake blood…” You almost let me down, but at least you mentioned it. <3

    One thing to think about in terms of Robb, though: He left Winterfell on a noble quest to avenge his father but instead lost everything. Catelyn Stark lost her daughters when they went to King's Landing and were kept as hostages after Ned's death. The poor woman didn't even know whether or not Arya was alive, and oh yeah, her other two boys were believed to be dead as well.

    As far as any of the Starks' friends and loyal subjects know, Robb was the end of the line, so to have him die, is utterly devastating for the north. Robb's fight for the iron throne was a joke at best. Again, he was really just doing what he felt was honorable and necessary after his father was wrongfully killed. He's a good character. I just don't think the show is capable of really showing how hard a lot of the decisions weighed on him or how much like his father he was in terms of misguided nobility. GoT is one of the best book to film/tv adaptations I've ever seen, but there is still just far too much information per book for 10 episodes in a season.

    I'd say 75% of the people who are utterly devastated over Robb's death are people who read the books and are emotionally attached to him from those, and the other 25% are just upset because they loved Robb since the actor is pretty. :/

    Furthermore, you really have to see the entire series as just GRRM crapping all over the Stark family and making one awful thing after another happen: Sansa's wolf's death, Ned's betrayal and beheading which both of his daughters watched, Sansa's time as Joffrey's punching bag, the sack of Winterfell, the (believed) death of the youngest two boys, Sansa's farce of a marriage to Tyrion…and now this.

    Maybe that helps with the caring a little? Hopefully? DON'T LET ME DOWN.

    • Nono, don’t get me wrong! I’m not heartless. I probably come off as heartless, but I’m not heartless.

      Robb’s just been a big sad sack of wrong this whole time. I’m actually the only TV-only viewer I know who really loves the Sansa plot because I can feel for her more than basically any other Stark. I love Catelyn and mourn her passing. I recognize that Robb had his heart in the right place, but everything that he ever did was wrong, which made me not see eye-to-eye with him. He broke a vow, freed Jaime, sucked at keeping his men in line, made his mother a prisoner, married an uninteresting character… the list goes on and on.

      I feel like this series does such a poor job at making me care for any of the characters aside from Tyrion and Daenerys, and that’s almost certainly because 1) Peter Dinklage and his amazingness and 2) dragons/the beauty that was Khal Drogo and the power of his character’s death. Sure, I care of Sansa because I can relate to her on some level and I think Arya’s fantastic but needs more to do. Bran and Jon I’ve made my peace with; the former plot line is taking WAY TOO LONG to develop and Jon really knows nothing (although he is easy on the eyes).

      Thank you for commenting! I hope I clarified my thoughts a little bit…

      Also, when you’ve been Whedoned it’s easy to get over character death, because nothing will ever beat the pain that was Fred/Illyria.

  2. Your comment Well, see. It was Catelyn that freed Jamie, and she was jailed for treason. If Robb hadn\’t done at least that much, he would\’ve had even MORE trouble keeping his men in line. Or am I mixing up the actual story with HBO again? :/I still don\’t understand why they changed all of the backstory on Robb\’s marriage. They could\’ve still had a pretty girl play her while still keeping the same character. Then again, THAT particular character hasn\’t had much development that made me care about her so far either. So, both of Robb\’s wives (book and tv) are boring. Wonderful. I mean, he\’s just a kid. He think she\’s a man, but he was really forced to grow up way too fast and was barely a man, even by Westeros standards, when everything happened. I guess it\’s just a bit easier for me to forgive him. Pro tip: GRRM drags everything out, so that\’s why some of the characters have stories that don\’t seem to be going anywhere. Meanwhile, you are 100% correct in caring most about Tyrion and Daenerys because they are awesome characters and were actually cast perfectly. I can\’t even.

    Ps: We all know how I feel about Joss. Let’s not go there.

  3. YOU ARE CORRECT! It was Catelyn who freed Jaime. So one of my points is null.

  4. I. AM. ALWAYS. CORRECT.

  5. My own mini-rankings of this episode:

    1) Daario because he is 100% BOUT DIS LIFE!
    2) Tywin Lannister (not appearing on-screen). PRETTY SNEAKY, SIS!
    3) Hodor. Hodor Hodor Hodor, Hodor?

    (note: this is why I no longer review GoT)

    Here’s what I’ll say: I have no counter to the points about Talisa being a shitty actress or Robb Stark being a lousy character. Both those things are facts. However, I think the ship sailed long ago for being outraged over those two things. It’s not that either of them changed this hour, you know? In fact, this was unquestionably the most interesting that Robb has been this season (maybe ever), and Talisa even kept her clothes on for the duration of the hour.

    Now, I didn’t feel particularly sorry for them either, but I didn’t get an overwhelming sense that the show WANTED the audience to feel sorry for them. Considering the suddenness of the whole thing, and the fact that Robb died by being unceremoniously stabbed in the gut, I don’t think the scene was really milking the audience’s perceived sadness as it was playing up just how shocking the event itself was. And it WAS shocking, and it was viscerally thrilling, and it was awesome.

    • See, I didn’t feel like it was all that awesome. It was absolutely not a Black Water, you know what I mean? I felt that Robb being stabbed in the gut was like a slap in the face to viewers everywhere: much like this happening right in front of Robb, we are also forced to watch the eldest Stark go down. Commenter Shana and I both lamented the terrible special effects in this scene…

      I feel like the quickness of the scene took away some of the potential power it could have had. Mostly, the Internet ruined it for me because book readers can’t just keep quiet on the Twitterverse. I realize that we live in the age of spoilers, but maybe if people hadn’t blown up about A RED WEDDING (sounds like a massacre, no?) then I would have felt shocked. Even the moment when Talisa is stabbed repeatedly in the womb I didn’t feel much… I’m starting to wonder if I don’t have a soul.

      • I don’t think you can simultaneously make the case that Robb is a bad character AND that his death was too quick. If it was Tyrion or someone like that dying, yeah I’d want an entire hour devoted to him delivering withering monologues at everyone around him. What more do you want with Robb Stark? We already know why he’s dying, he knows why he’s dying, and the fact that “The Lannisters send their regards” were the last words he heard is incredibly powerful to me. I like everyone else was spoiled long before it happened, but I can still appreciate the way the episode handled it. It’s not Blackwater, but then, what is?

  6. FWIW, I think a lot of these things were done at least semi-intentionally. I’m not saying they purposely chose a terrible actress for Talisa Stark, but they were certainly staying true to the books. In the books, Talisa is really nothing more than a pretty girl (who Robb just shows up with). There’s little more to be made of it.

    In terms of handling of female characters, Arya still falls short for me. She’s one of the best characters in the books, but she’s only average in the show.

    As for the Red Wedding itself, it’s not meant to be drawn out.

  7. …except there is no Talisa Stark in the books. Her name is Jeyne Westerling, and her family had a small backstory, unlike this Talisa character who had absolutely none.

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