Yeah, I know I’m a year behind on Game of Thrones. And, yeah, I know I should read the books – someday. I just finished Season 3 last night and its slowly displacing Breaking Bad as my favourite late-model TV series.
While I thought I had adjusted to the ruthless cunning woven into the brilliantly written script, I was completely caught off guard by The Rains of Castamere. This is one reason the show is so compelling; no matter how clever you think you are at predicting how the pieces will move about the chess board, invariably you will be wrong. Kill off a main character? Sure, that happens all the time. Two? Sure, just another day playing the Game of Thrones. But three in one episode and all in the last 10 minutes? And then there was the brutal way it was executed, acting from Michelle Fairley deserving an Emmy, followed by a simple fade to credits with absolutely no soundtrack. That was an excellent production play – no sound, no images, black backdrop, white words — leaving the audience alone to absorb the abrupt changes and playing on the uncertainty principle to heighten tension.
The actual season end was anticlimactic but that’s the pattern GoT has established. The second to the last episode of the season will completely change the storyline, the last episode will show you the possibilities of how the story might unfold next season. Then you wait until Spring.
I didn’t think any episode of any series could dismantle Breaking Bad’s Ozymandias as my all-time favourite but that title is now held by The Rains of Castamere.