Joseph Harrison said:
But the thing is that the Starks haven't really done anything morally wrong, although their soldiers certainly have, and yet they are constantly being punished. The Starks have the King over as their guest and Brann is pushed out of a tower, Ned agrees to help his friend lead the Kingdom and he gets killed, Robb tries to avenge his father and him and his mother and his wife and his newborn baby and even his fucking pet wolf all get murdered. I understand that these happened because of something the Starks did wrong, Ned was too honorable and Robb married Talisa and beheaded Carstark guy, but it gets a bit annoying after a while, seeing the same group of people get shit on over and over again.
For me I did like the episode but I'm not sure if the Red Wedding actually helped the plot at all or if Martin was just trying to shock the audience and show off how "nobody is safe". I guess we'll just have to wait and see, or I guess just read the books but I think thats cheating.
I'd have to disagree. A lot of Ned Stark's actions have a profoundly moral weight to them that does not quite favor him. His sense of honor led him to a great deal of inaction that, while admirable in the right situations, was often misplaced in the wrong ones and ultimately led to his untimely death. Imagine what would have happened if, after Robert's death, Ned had taken the advice of people such as Littlefinger or Renly and claimed the throne as king regent. There would have been far less grounds for a war (it would basically have been Stark versus Lannister and the Seven Kingdoms versus The Free Folk versus Mother of Dragons, not Stark versus Lannister versus Baratheon versus Baratheon versus Greyjoy versus Rayder versus Mother of Dragons) the people of King's Landing would not have starved to the point of rioting, a large amount of Robert's bastards would not have been killed, an open ear would have been available to the Night's Watch, and so on and so forth.
In short, yes it was downright stellar of him not to advocate the killing of a little girl on the other side of the world, but what about condemning an entire nation to what happened next? The Brotherhood Without Banners came into existence for a reason.
I mean, c'mon. His grand plan even if he had managed to come out of those bad decisions unscathed was "Give the Seven Kingdoms to Stannis!" I like Stannis's character a lot, but as many have said before, I wouldn't want him ruling anything.
The Starks as a House have also wronged many of their bannermen through their strong sense of duty and nobility. It is a given that death is always a possibility when the banners are called, but the amount of people who have died because the Starks chose to take up arms, before, during AND after Ned Stark is staggering. As the saying goes, "The North Remembers." Ned was a hardworking and dutiful liege lord, but he wasn't all too smart, and his poor decisions cost many others before they cost him.
Robb had a duty to win the war as quickly as possible. His marriage to Talisa made a lot of his efforts before and after that union for naught. In the books, it was for honor; in the show, it was for love. Either way, his initial pact with the Freys could have turned the tide. If he had not beheaded Rickard Karstark, he would have had a leg to stand on. As King of the North, he had a duty to his people to bring victory as swiftly as possible, and he did not. That is a huge moral wrongness. His age, or his whims do not lessen that; he took the responsibility on, and so was obligated to see it through.
Catelyn sent his greatest trump card back to the enemy for her daughters, and did no one any favors in the process.
The Freys have been slighted one too many times, and they'd finally had it. We will also soon learn of the grievances of the Boltons, and that they, too have had a turbulent history with the Starks throughout the generations. None of this happened out of the blue. If it had, THAT would be shock value.
Many people have had to pay for the Stark family's decisions, and many innocent Starks have had to pay for the mistakes of some of their family members in response. It's karma. Just because their decisions weren't deliberate like other Houses does not make them morally sound. The Red Wedding was basically "a long time coming" of grievances against the Starks. Pretty much the only Stark concerned with the bigger picture who's even in a decent position right now is Jon Snow, who is the only decision-maker in that family who counts as being morally in the right despite getting pissed on all the time, and he will continue to get pissed on in the future, whether because he sees the truth that others don't, or just because people can't get past the name Snow.
I like the Starks, but I'm not about to pretend like they haven't had a decisive hand in all that's happened. Their near obliteration is also symbolic of a clash in perspectives. The North is one of the few remaining footholds of the First Men and their ties to the Bronze Age, for better or for worse, while the Andals of the South who ushered in the Steel Age continue to progress for better or for worse as well. The Andals once conquered all but the North, and much like the Children of the Forest, the time of the First Men, too, is fading. As the case has been for the Valyrians. As the case will be for the Andals.
And no, the Red Wedding was not a shock value thing. Instead of focusing on "What just happened in this storm of swords?" try considering the following question: "What happens once the dust settles and the crows begin their feast?" The major players are dwindling on all sides, and this means other people's time to step into the fray will soon arrive.