Warning: This post may contain spoilers. Seriously, do not read if you don’t want to know.

For most readers of George R.R. Martin‘s series, what happened on Sunday night’s episode “The Rains of Castermere” was a gruesome expectation. For those who just watch the HBO series, many are having to recover the day after from such a shock. In a previous post about killing off characters, I tried to explore why a death can be beneficial to a story whether it’s in a book, television show, or movie. The question is whether or not fans of Martin’s books and show agree.

Fake Love

Now in its third season on HBO, Game of Thrones continues to be one of its most popular series. It captured attention in its first season by not following any previous expectations of a piece of high fantasy. For a book that is so large and encapsulates so many story lines, the show did a good job of following as closely as possible allowing for Martin’s excellent story weaving to guide the series. In my opinion, it was one of the best adaptations from a book every done probably due to the large part the author played in the screenplays. And let us not forget that even in season one, we were faced with several important deaths including the beloved Ned Stark whose death put into motion all the power plays that came after.

Season Two continued to ramp up the drama while all of the story lines splintered the fantastic cast across Martin’s vast world. Just when you might have thought you knew who was going to get the crown in the end, something else would happen to blow that theory up. The characters we wish would die, like Joffrey, always seem to escape, whereas the characters we grow to love and need get killed in the most violent of ways.

Now in the third season, the stories have been building solidly. Alliances have grown or broken, but it seemed as if nothing major was really changing. That is until the “Red Wedding” scene. While the television show has been careful in straying far from the books, they still make the show their own. This time, it was with Talisa as Robb Stark‘s wife. She may have garnered more sympathy from the viewers, which is why what happened to her in the Frey’s lair should have prepared the viewers for the more startling of deaths.

So why did Robb and Catelyn Stark have to die other than it’s in the books? Story wise, it throws the readers/viewers off the sent of the power play. Also, this is a time of war, and in war even heroes die. That may have been a more realistic take on what might happen than having them pull through. Robb looked like the unlikely winner of the throne wars against the Lannisters. He was our flag bearer and hope for all that is good and righteous. Watching him die was like watching hope die. And you immediately have to reevaluate the game board and do some quick calculations as to who you think may take power next.

With Catelyn’s death, it is the end to the oldest Stark. What is left are the youngest who will have to learn how to fight back and survive on their own as they have already been doing. Also, what was left for the mother-figure? Her oldest son didn’t need her anymore. Her youngest children have been surviving without her. While it was cruel to see Ariel get so close to reuniting with her, I consider Catelyn’s death a necessary culling to the great cast of characters.

I believe that deaths rekindle stories and help us from being bored. I kind of hope that it may make some television viewers pick up Martin’s tomes and start reading them to see whose death they might have to gear up for next.

Keeping an audience on their toes is a brilliant move. Allowing the audience to know that anything can happen and that they need to keep watching is a formidable move. As always, the books and television series are all about power plays – who wants power, who takes power, and who kills for power. In such a bold gesture, Martin took a stand when writing the books to say that he is the most powerful of them all, and kudos to the HBO writers to follow the story and allow their show to have just as meaningful of an impact.

There are those who say that these deaths are hurtful. Fans may decide not to watch the show anymore. But I believe that deaths rekindle stories and help us from being bored. I kind of hope that it may make some television viewers pick up Martin’s tomes and start reading them to see whose death they might have to gear up for next. My hat is off to you, George R.R. Martin, for continuing to push your stories and to never be afraid to serve the story even if it means losing your beloved characters. And thank you for making their deaths have meaning and impact that makes us have to take time to recover.

Related Links