Sunday night's shocking, brutal, gut-wrenching "The Rains of Castamere" episode of "Game of Thrones" was almost nothing compared with the heartbreak, outrage, and disbelief on Twitter after the episode aired.
Many viewers were inconsolable over the death of would-be king Robb Stark; his mother, Catelyn; and his pregnant wife, Talisa.
Of course, for readers of George R.R. Martin's book series, the Red Wedding came as no surprise. But fans who were introduced to the story through HBO's drama felt as if their own hearts were stabbed and their own throats cut. Even readers were surprised by changes to the Red Wedding scene, which were designed to amplify the tragedy.
For one, Robb's wife, Talisa, was present (in the books, she's an entirely different character) and carrying his child. She is repeatedly stabbed in the belly. And Catelyn Stark kills the wife of Lord Walder Frey (the architect of the mass murder), which also doesn't occur in the book.
"You're upping the ante, more lives are at threat here. So if anything, the changes enhance the drama. They heighten it," Michelle Fairley (who plays Catelyn) told Vulture.
Filming the scene was "horrible," said Richard Madden, who played Robb. Afterward, he got on a plane and cried the entire flight.
"I was the crazy boy on the plane crying," he revealed in a conference call with the media.
"It was a really disturbing day and just because it's such a big part of my life, of Michelle's and Oona [Chaplin's] and all of the crew. We've gone through a lot together. … There's just a total sense of exhaustion and it was horrific. These characters that you love get slaughtered."
Holy Mother of F. I have nothing quippy or cool to say re: Game of Thrones. I'm shattered. #GoT— Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) June 3, 2013
I've only gone to a therapist once but I'm thinking about seeing one three times a week after tonight's #GameofThrones— Ike Barinholtz (@ikebarinholtz) June 3, 2013
Nothing is okay and nothing will ever be okay and the world is cruel and I'm never investing feelings in anything again #GameofThrones— Liam Dryden (@LiamDrydenEtc) June 3, 2013
The cast and crew know the feeling. Though they knew what was coming, filming the climactic scene was emotional and sad.
"We're not just killing characters. We're losing these actors who have been with us since the beginning," executive producer David Benioff told Entertainment Weekly. "It's hard, because you love the actors. But it goes back to that first season, that some of the people we loved the most, whether Jason Momoa or Sean Bean [played characters that were killed off]. ... If we shot the Red Wedding and nobody got emotional, it would be a failure."
Stunned. I'm supposed to go to sleep now?! Can't believe what just happened... Wanna talk about it. Wow..#GameofThrones— Mario Lopez (@MarioLopezExtra) June 3, 2013
Wow. Game of Thrones just traumatized me. For life. Going to bed and hope to forget everything I just witnessed...— Lauren Oliver (@OliverBooks) June 3, 2013
The turn of events was too traumatic for some. On Mediaite, Joe Concha wrote, "Sorry HBO, that was far too brutal, far too much." And some viewers wondered why they had ever watched "Game of Thrones" in the first place.
game of thrones. I'm out.— Kevin McHale (@druidDUDE) June 3, 2013
New @gameofthrones ep is one of those that makes you regret starting to watch the show entirely.I'm always so sad when they kill the wolf :(— Margareta T (@Nyx_Margareta) June 3, 2013
Now ya'll know why I stopped watching after the first season? #gameofthrones— Jesse lee soffer (@jesseleesoffer) June 3, 2013
One resounding question reverberated throughout the Twitterverse: Why?! Author Martin explained that he had planned the death of Robb and Catelyn from the beginning of the book series. He knew it would be controversial and difficult for readers to accept.
"That was the hardest scene I've ever had to write," he told EW. "It's probably the most powerful scene in the books. It cost me some readers but gained me many more. It's going to be hard for me to watch it [on the show]. It's going to be a tough night. Because I love these characters too. And in a TV show you get to know the actors. You're also ending that relationship with an actor that you have affection for. Richard Madden and Michelle Fairley have done an amazing job."
That the Red Wedding could elicit such a strong, fervent response from viewers is what makes "Game of Thrones" what it is.
"I think Robb Stark dying in that way is one of the best things that HBO and Game of Thrones does so beautiful and that's just rip these characters hearts out in front of you," Madden said. No one is safe on 'Game of Thrones.'"
[Photos: Memorable TV Weddings]
And our pick for the best reaction comes from "GoT's" own Arya Stark (Maisie Williams):
While the Red Wedding scene was undoubtedly the goriest one thus far on "Game of Thrones," the drama has never been shy about showing blood and guts, like:
- Season 1 Khal Drogo pours molten gold on Viserys Targaryen's head when he threatens his sister and Drogo's wife, Daenerys. It "isn't a fate I'd wish on anyone," wrote Rolling Stone.
- Season 1: Drogo rips out Mago's tongue through his throat when the Dothraki warrior calls Daenerys a "foreign whore." Topless Robot called the "incredibly violent fight" a "ballet of barbarism."
- Season 1: Jaime Lannister shoves a dagger through the eye of Jory Cassel, one of Ned Stark's loyal men. The move made Blastr "go eww and nooo all at once."
- Season 2: The Hound cuts men in two during the Battle of Blackwater. "Nothing more gloriously gory than seeing a man neatly cleaved in two," said Blastr.
- Season 3: Former prostitute Ros is trussed up, tortured, and killed by King Joffrey in retribution for her betrayal of Littlefinger. Fan site WinterIsComing.net called it a "brutal death" that "shocked even the most jaded 'Game of Thrones' fans."
"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 PM on HBO.
Watch a preview for the next episode:
"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 PM on HBO.
Jayme Perry, Kelly Woo, and Chrissy Le Nguyen contributed to the creation of this infographic.