'Game of Thrones' episode causes shock, outrage, tears

Published On: Jun 03 2013 09:44:48 AM HST   Updated On: Jun 03 2013 10:10:00 AM HST
Game of Thrones Iron Throne


WARNING: This story contains spoilers from Sunday night's episode of "Game of Thrones." Don’t read further if you don't want to know what happened.

Sunday night's episode of the HBO series "Game of Thrones" shocked and outraged fans of the show, with some claiming online that they would no longer watch it.

The episode was highly anticipated by fans of the books written by George R.R. Martin. The centerpiece scene of the episode, titled "The Rains of Castamere," was an event known as the Red Wedding, in which several major characters were killed.

Viewers were shocked when Robb Stark, considered to be one of the heroes of the story, was killed after witnessing the brutal stabbing of his wife, Talisa. Stark's mother, Catelyn Stark, was also killed, along with, apparently, much of the Stark army.

The killings were retribution for Robb Stark breaking his vow to marry a daughter of Walder Frey, whose army was key to Stark's battle strategy. Pretending that he had forgiven the Starks, Frey instead ambushed them in his stronghold.

Reaction to the episode online was swift and despairing. A Twitter feed called @RedWeddingTears (warning: strong profanity) is collecting some of the more emotional tweets.

"I have no reason to live after watching that episode of Game of Thrones. My life is over," said Twitter user @burkeitup.

"I've never felt so heartbroken over a fictional family," said Twitter user @body_odor. "Game of Thrones, quit playing games with my heart."

Many said that the scene was too much and that they would no longer watch the show.

"Alright, done with Game of Thrones," said Twitter user @shmaggs. "Never hated an episode more in my life. Literally no reason to keep watching."

Fans of the show have been shocked before. In the first season, the central character, Ned Stark, was executed after it seemed that he had found a way out of his predicament. That was one of the first signs viewers had that the show was breaking from standard fantasy conventions.

Ned Stark was regarded as the hero of the story and was known for his sense of honor and duty. But the story has shown that in the world Martin created, honor and duty are no match for the quest for power and control. While the Starks have largely played by the rules, their opponents are willing to do whatever it takes to seize and maintain power.

Happy stories are hard to find in "Game of Thrones." Jaime Lannister, a member of the family most directly opposed to the Starks, had his sword hand cut off earlier this season in a twist unanticipated by those who hadn't read the books. Many of the major characters find themselves forced by politics or pragmatism into relationships or alliances they're unhappy with.

But the Red Wedding was a particularly gut-wrenching event to witness. Viewers said in online forums that they're feeling unmoored by having characters they invested so much in emotionally get killed apparently at a whim.

It's an effect Martin said he hoped to achieve. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Martin said that the scene cost him some readers of his books, but he has no regrets about writing it. He said his series is "trying to be more realistic about what life is."

"I think the best fiction captures life in all its light and darkness," Martin said in the interview.

He said he struggled with the emotions of the scene himself, writing the entire book first before going back and finishing that chapter.

"Just as you grieve if a friend is killed, you should grieve if a fictional character is killed," Martin told Entertainment Weekly. "You should care. If somebody dies and you just go get more popcorn, it’s a superficial experience, isn’t it?"

Some fans had called for boycotts of "Game of Thrones" after the death of Ned Stark, but the following episode had the highest ratings of the show up to that point. With one episode left this season -- and possibly more surprises in store -- it will remain to be seen if those viewers come back, tears and all.


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