Did the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones push things too far with last night's shockingly violent episode?
Based on the bestselling novel series by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones routinely shocks viewers with depictions of gory beheadings and disembowellings, but last night's episode seemed to enter graphic new territory in regard to admissible TV violence.
Titled "The Rains of Castamere," the ninth chapter of the show's third season will forever be known as "The Red Wedding" episode for the horrific turn of events that unfolded at the wedding between two regular characters (standard spoiler alert warning applies).
To recap: All seemed festive and peaceable at the nuptials between Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies) and Roslin Frey (Alexandra Dowling), until the song The Rains of Castamere began playing at the reception. And then all hell broke loose.
In spectacularly bloody fashion, viewers witnessed the violent demise of King of the North Robb Stark (Richard Madden), his pregnant bride, Talisa (Oona Chaplin), and matriarch Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). The slaughter of Talisa was particularly disturbing and showed her being stabbed in the stomach, over and over. It was not a TV moment for the weak of stomach.
The blood-drenched episode sets up an ominous scenario for next weekend's third-season finale and has already generated a healthy share of Twitter feedback from celebrity GOT fans.
Shortly after the episode aired, Hunger Games star Elizabeth Banks tweeted, "Holy Mother of F. I have nothing quippy or cool to say re: Game of Thrones. I'm shattered." From actress Krysten Ritter: "Oh my god!!! That was so upsetting."
Soon after came the reaction of musician Ed Sheeran, who tweeted: "I don't know what just happened in Game of Thrones. I'm in shock." Comic actor Josh Gad weighed in with, "Tonight's Game of Thrones was the most upsetting hour of TV I've ever seen."
A slightly more vociferous response came from Grey's Anatomy star Jason George: "This show has me yelling @ my screen & literally wishing death on fictional people #GRRMartingotmeactingghetto."
But even though some people are reeling from the episode, others are saying the depiction wasn't quite graphic enough.
As reported by TMZ, the manner in which Game of Thrones technical experts showed throat-slashing was all wrong, at least so says Dr. Michael Baden, a board-certified forensic pathologist who served as a defense witness at the 1994 murder trial of former NFL star O.J. Simpson.
According to Dr. Baden, when Catelyn's jugular vein was sliced at the wedding, her blood should not have cascaded out of her neck. Rather, her blood should have sprayed like a sprinkler gone amok.
"Blood doesn't come out like that," Dr. Baden told TMZ. "If cut deep enough, the right and left carotid artery will spurt a few feet, just like a hose … not this broad blood-flowing out like a waterfall from the whole neck."
Dr. Baden, who also served as a consultant on the government investigation of the JFK assassination, added that "the victims wouldn't have died so quickly … because death from a throat slashing takes much longer than that."