Spoilers within. And let’s keep book spoilers out of the comments as much as possible, so that those who don’t know what’s going to happen beyond tonight can have the experience I did, of yelling “WHAT THE SHIT GEORGE RR MARTIN WHAT THE GAH HELP NO GAH NO SERIOUSLY GOD” and chucking the book across the room.
If you thought, really thought, about all the things that keep you safe, you’d go blind screaming mad inside of a second.
If you thought about the rules that hold the world up, the rules that look to you like the ocean looks like a fish, the rules that have no names because nothing this deep does, you’d stop breathing.
If you saw the strings that held us all together, if you saw how thin they were, how loose the knots, you’d be so frightened you could barely move.
There are all these things that are done and not done, every day. There are all these things we count on. That everybody isn’t lying to us all the time. That you are as sacrosanct to others as you are to yourself. That in the next ten seconds somebody isn’t going to crash through your door and hurt you, the ones beside you, the ones you love. That your next breath won’t stop in your throat. That your next swallow won’t choke you. That even a total stranger will be your friend, or at least not your enemy. That everyone you meet won’t reach out with a knife.
It’s not that we take these things for granted.It’s that we have to take these things for granted, in order to continue being alive.
Robb and Catelyn and Edmure and the Blackfish took for granted that they had guest right. It was ironclad; eat of another’s bread and salt beneath his roof and he was bound to let you leave unharmed, lest the gods curse him forever. They counted on that, the way we all count on things. The way we count on a thousand things, the way we have to in order to walk around on the planet. Robb is a dumbass in the books, okay, trusting and impulsive and most of his good ideas were Cat’s, but the one thing I have never faulted him for was walking through Walder Frey’s door and expecting to be safe.
Crimes against hospitality are the most severely punished in this world, in every world, because they transgress against that which holds the world up. Read the Bible if you want to see what the greatest sins are: Robbing a guest, beating a traveler, turning away those on a journey who come to you for help, refusing to make room at your hearth for outsiders. This comes from living in ancient places where the stones were dry and hot to walk upon, and there was no water. This comes from a time when we all traveled on foot, and places less than a mile away were strange as the moon. To be a guest is to be vulnerable, and so we made these rules.
We are all guests sometime, all under someone else’s roof. We are all vulnerable, sometime, and so we are all protected by the rules we all agree to follow.
If that means nothing, if the rules are thin air and nothing more binding than that, if Walder Frey and the Lannisters can strike the Starks down and sin against something so bone-deep and blood-simple, if they can do this and not be destroyed by the vengeful gods they instant they commit that sin, then none of us are safe anywhere.
That’s the story we’re telling now in Westeros, to our sorrow.
Sweet holy mercy CAT. All’s forgiven, writers, all is forgiven, for disappearing her during this season, for making her passive and victimized and blank, because that was a turn worthy of the source material. I didn’t like Catelyn Stark much when I first started this story, and it was Michelle Fairley who turned me around on her (the same way Sophie Turner turned me around on Sansa). Michelle Fairley whose face, when the doors slammed shut, turned my stomach inside out, and I knew what was coming. You felt the cold draft on the back of her neck, felt her heart start pounding, felt her fury. She doesn’t know, that all her other children are still alive. She thinks Robb is all she has left, and when they take him, they take her with him.
Quick takes: I loved this episode. LOVED IT. Loved it, because, as with Blackwater, it was the most faithful to the story I loved in the first place. The jealousy and tension between Jorah and Ser Barristan the Hot, the way Dany trusts Grey Worm above everyone, the moment Jon betrays Ygritte and the way she knew it was coming all along, the Stark children hiding and then splitting up, Bran slipping into Hodor’s skin. They sacrificed almost nothing, and it was tightly written and beautifully acted. Arya and Sandor should make a road movie, I’ve always thought, and that kid’s thousand-yard stare makes me remember she and Sansa are related, and how crazy good is Maisie Williams, that she can make me think of a character we haven’t seen for two weeks in just the way she doesn’t blink?
WORD to the Frey girls who wanted to have a fivesome with the Blackfish.
The Boltons scare the living shit out of me. The Lannisters are nasty and scary, sure, and they’ll cut you as soon as look at you sideways, but the Boltons are the guys who pull out their calculators and slide rules, make up a spreadsheet, and decide that indeed the numbers favor you dying today. It’s not that they’re vicious or hideous or vengeful; it’s that they’re not built for any of those things. And believe me when I say that Roose Bolton is the least scary of the ones we get to meet. If I ran into a Bolton and a Lannister in a dark alley and had two bullets in my gun I’d shoot the Bolton twice.
Walder Frey, now? Walder Frey’s not cold, though his horrifying little chuckle at the end echoed in my head through the silent credits. Walder Frey is something else. Walder Frey, all he is, is someone for whom the rules no longer exist. He gave them bread and salt, cloaked them as a bridegroom cloaks a bride, in his protection. He acknowledged the rules. He showed them the rulebook.
And then he took out his knife. And the rules disappeared.