And Now the Rains Weep O’er his Halls…
by Shannon O’Toole
Sunday night, the internet was overrun with grief and rage as millions of Game of Thrones viewers around the world watched what is known among fans as the Red Wedding.
Now, if you have not yet seen Season 3 Episode 9 (“The Rains of Castamere”) stop reading. Just stop. Walk away and experience this firsthand.
As someone that read the books a couple of years back, I have been anticipating this since the beginning. I still remember reading this chapter through Catelyn’s eyes, and walking downstairs with glazed eyes to tell my family that Robb and Cat were dead. The next twenty-four hours were spent in a stunned stupor that only a well-written, heart-wrenching piece of literature can deliver.
What I found most interesting about the reactions to this storyline was the shock. The memory of the Red Wedding has been in the minds of readers as one of the most tragic moments in fiction, sometimes for up to a decade. How is it that a moment this big and catastrophic been kept under wraps for the three years since the television series started?
Many of my friends had read the books. As episode nine neared, we would text, Facebook message, and make vague allusions that could never be cracked over social media. We would steal glances at one another when we realized we were in the presence of someone who did not yet know when the subject of Game of Thrones came up.
So why the secrecy? Why, when so many other plot developments, deaths, and grand reveals have been spoiled on a grand scale in this series and others, did we readers decide to guard this secret so carefully?
Perhaps some of us view it as sacred. Hearing it from someone else secondhand does not do the Red Wedding justice. You have to either read and allow the macabre scene unfold in your mind, or you have to witness the horror so perfectly wrought by HBO. The mix of heartache, confusion, and rage has to be felt with every fallen Northerner, with every bolt in Robb’s body, with the quickly silenced mad cries of a mother that watched her eldest son be slain.
Or maybe, we all fancy ourselves a part of the Game as well. It is, after all, about knowing more than those around you and being several steps ahead. When two more Starks are brutally knocked off the board, it’s clear that in this Game, there really are no rules. The family this series was built upon is not safe, so no one is.
Or maybe we’re real-world, milder versions of Ramsay Bolton that enjoy watching our friends that haven’t read the books think the wedding was a merry affair, only to have those illusions be painfully shattered in a mere ten minutes.
I prefer to think it’s the first of these, but who knows? What are your thoughts on how well we readers kept the Red Wedding under wraps?