It’s been two years since the ninth episode of the first season completely caught us off guard. Baelor was a truly grim episode, and it subsequently changed the game. We couldn’t trust George R. R. Martin or the producers to not kill off our favorite characters, since Game of Thrones‘ (arguably) most popular one had just been betrayed by those who’d sworn to protect him, which ended up getting him decapitated by the King’s royal executioner, Sir Ilin Payne.
I’ve seen that episode about five or six times with several different people, and they all wait for something or someone to save Ned up until the blade takes his head off – I even know someone who stopped watching the show ever since Sean Bean’s character was killed off. None of them could explain at the time what they had just witnessed, and they all instantly blamed King Joffrey and Littlefinger for the downfall of the Lord of Winterfell. They were the catalyst, but it was truly Ned who had doomed himself from the very beginning – such an honorable man has no place in King’s Landing. Sadly enough, he passed this weakness onto his children — Robb, Jon and Bran are no less honorable than their father.
When Robb Stark was declared King in the North, he only wanted to save his sisters from the queen, and bury his sword in Joffrey’s skull. It was a rather unambitious quest, but he undoubtedly deserved his revenge, and so did Catelyn. Mother and son gathered Ned’s bannermen and starting winning battle after battle. It all seemed so promising, didn’t it? Wouldn’t you have expected Robb to eventually succeed due to his kindness, honor and goodwill? He did not only possess a kind heart, but he was also a fierce warrior and a fair king. It was all going just fine up until he met Talisa Maegyr.
Lord Karstark once told him “I think you lost this war the day you married her (Talisa).” I disagree with the late lord’s statement. Had he continued on fighting without requesting help from the Freys, who knows what would have happened? Alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. Robb Stark had several chances to save his family from horrible, painful deaths at the hands of Walder Frey and the traitor Bolton – he shouldn’t have married Talisa, killed Lord Karstark, or married Edmure to Walder’s daughter, and he did most of these things against his mom’s wishes. Then again, who’s Catelyn to give advice to a king?
I certainly didn’t see Bolton’s betrayal coming. He hadn’t proven to be the most loyal bannerman, but he truly didn’t seem like a traitor to me. Not at first. However, looking back on it, it makes a whole lot of sense. By now you must have figured out that the fine young man torturing Theon up north is Bolton’s bastard. Whose orders was he following when he burned Winterfell to the ground? No, it wasn’t the islanders who did it – they were in a bit of a hurry to go home, and there were only a handful of them. It’s safe to assume that Bolton ordered his bastard to burn the city where the Starks had lived for hundreds of years.
I should have seen in it coming, but then again, David Nutter’s superb direction makes us forget about everything we’ve witnessed thus far and focus solely on the events at the wedding. We choose to ignore Bolton and Frey’s more-than-obvious intentions, and our fear rises as Cat notices she’s being locked in. When “The Rains of Castamere” starts playing, we grow suspicious… and then everything turns red.
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