Much is made of the fact the Whitehills have many times the number of soldiers the Forresters have. I was curious how that could be the case given they're The Rival and power is based predominantly on military force in the North. Then I remembered the Boltons wouldn't have suffered many losses at the Red Wedding and the Whitehills are Bolton bannermen.
It also explains why Lord Whitehill is so condescending about Lord Forrester's death. He probably had a hand in it.
Given that you see Whitehill banners present at the camp during the Red Wedding, it's safe to say that he most certainly DID have a hand in it, being a Bolton banner.
It seems strange that the Boltons and Whitehills would target the family of a lowly squire, especially since they don't know he's survived. Then you remember that said family is also the family of the Forrester Castellan. With Ethan being just a boy, it's easy to assume he's in power now at Ironrath. They're trying to rattle Duncan not Gared.
Or perhaps simply anyone associated with the Forrester house's inner workings.
They are quite likely trying to provoke the Forresters in general to give themselves an excuse to escalate the feud to the point that the Warden of the North has to step in. The old Warden favored house Forrester, but the new Warden is in pretty close with Whitehill...
Ramsay Snow reacts more or less the same way no matter whether you try to placate him, antagonize him, or treat with him. No matter what, he kills you, takes the youngest son hostage, and leaves a garrison. I felt this was profoundly unfair and wrong of Telltale. Then I remembered Ramsay Snow's flaying alive of a man. The man had refused to recognize the Boltons were the new Lords of the North. In lieu of that, it becomes obvious the Boltons are consolidating their power base. Killing Ethan means the Lord of Ironrath is now a helpless boy and their hostage while the garrison guarantees they can't rebel against the Boltons either. What they were going to do was probably worked out ahead of time.
There's also a bit of humor in the fact the Forresters can negotiate Ramsay Bolton leaving half of their Ironwood trees underneath their control versus giving them all to the Whitehills. Ramsay is open to negotiation and saw the benefits of keeping House Forrester around. It just probably conflicts with his orders to do anything else. Plus, he's kind of psycho. Of course, he might also be trying to keep the Whitehills from getting too powerful too. Or he just doesn't like them.
Despite his reputation and gleefully psychotic way he acts, Ramsay Snow's actions make a lot of sense. For a start all his taunting and Kick the Dog moments allow him to see just how far the Forresters can be pushed and their internal dynamics, appropriate given his advanced knowledge of psychology. He also needs the Forresters intact and functional, yet is interested in keeping them weak and submissive. In a sexist culture like Westeros, what better way than to kill or imprison the men, and leave the females in charge?
Gared Tuttle seems to be reasonably competent in battle but he's no Sandor Clegane or Jaime Lannister either. The one time he secures an easy kill is when he uses a woodcutter's ax or pitchfork. This becomes Fridge Brilliance when you realize most Westeros warriors aren't trained against an ax or a trident despite both being historically very serviceable weapons. Likewise, Gared Tuttle as a (former) pig farmer has plenty of experience using them. Double points for the fact the trident and hand ax have a history as being used as peasant weapons.
Gared was trained in combat by Ser Royland and seeing how well he can handle himself in episode 2 while training at the Wall, it becomes apparent that by Westerosi standards Gared is at least a decent fighter. He probably had never wielded a 2- handed sword before episode 1 so that would explain why he was easily disarmed by Britt.
Lord Whitehill seems to be rather excessive in his desire to go after Gared Tuttle, even if he's killed one or two of his men. Then you realize that this is part of their plan for taking out the Forresters. They wanted Gared (or Duncan) to do something rash so they could justify sending Ramsay Snow down for a takeover. The deaths also provide a flimsy pretext for stripping the Forresters of their Ironwood trees. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!.
If Ethan defends Gared's actions to Lord Whitehill, he will dismissively comment that his men merely killed pig farmers. When Lady Forrester intervenes, she comments that he bellows like a wounded boar. It is possible that she was making a Stealth Insult, as boars are relatives of pigs, which are lower in hierarchy than their farmers, thus turning his comments into an insult against himself.
In a strikingly good example of Show, Don't Tell, the game makes it VERY clear that Gared and Talia, if not a couple already (and illicitly), have a mutual crush on each other. She rushes to see him after the Red Wedding, NOT to ask about her own father's death but his injury and the death of Gared's family, and when she sees him off when he heads to the Wall she gives him a personal item—leading to a tender moment between the two. Of course, in the world they live in, this relationship is doomed to disaster since she's a noble lady and he's just a commoner serving as a squire. But still, it is made entirely clear that, if they're not in a relationship already, they obviously have a crush on each other. Confirmed by Word of God by the way. Really well done too since it's never said or even mentioned by anyone else, it's just made patently obvious to, well, anyone who has ever seen two teenagers in love.
'The Ballad of The Forresters', the song Talia writes and performs at the end of episode 2, is rather simple and has some cheesy lyrics. However this makes sense because Talia is still quite young and was grieving her brother, and her mother pressured her to finish the song.
On that same note some of her lyrics are less cheesy and more terrifying "Mance sound the horn of winter's past call starving giants forth. May cannibals break their fast on wardens of the north" Considering that the Boltons including Ramsay were the new Wardens of the north she basically responds with the murder of her twin by hoping Ramsay get's eaten by cannibals. Which would be a fitting death for a monster.
Gryff Whitehill tries to intimidate the people of Ironrath into submission. If Rodrik defies him while all of Ironrath is watching, Gryff backs down (with a humiliating Villainous Breakdown no less, proving to all of Ironrath that the Whitehills aren't in control. From Gryff's viewpoint, he was really put into an impossible situation; it's extremely likely he had orders from his father to not kill any important Forresters, and seeing as Rodrik kept picking himself up even though Gryff beat and kicked him, there was really nothing Gryff could do. It would take a complete psychopath like Ramsay Snow to actually stab a lord in full view of his subjects, it's really no wonder at all Gryff didn't act out on his threats; few people would.
This troper found the choice of brothers particularly painful, but ultimately chose Rodrik. Why? Think about it; Rodrik lost his father at the Red Wedding, then Ethan to Ramsay Snow, and Ryon is a hostage of no further use now that the Forresters and Whitehills are going to war. With all that in mind, how could he not make the ultimate sacrifice to save Asher?
This troper chose Asher because the Prodigal Forrester had known coming back to Westeros was dangerous, possibly going to cost him his life, and was ill-omened in many respects. He did, though, because he was always loyal to his family. In the end, he was going to sacrifice himself for his brother and lord because that's who he was. Iron from Ice indeed.
In the end, that's the beauty because both brothers would sacrifice themselves for the other.
In episode 6, if you choose to let Ludd into Ironrath to assassinate him, regardless of whether you choose poison or ambush, Ludd will get suspicious and partially foil the plan regardless of how you act. Given that this episode happens after the Red Wedding and the Purple Wedding, Ludd has every right to be suspicious when his supposed new allies invite him in.
The Forrester's house words are "Iron From Ice." Which, roughly, means that they are forged in adverse circumstances into something stronger. It bodes well for the family after their Trauma Conga Line.
Taken more literally, it's foreshadowing the tragic end of Episode 6. Iron (any metal, really) becomes extremely brittle when improperly forged, and you can't get much more "improperly forged" than trying to smelt a sword in ice.
The Forresters are a lot more morally flexible than the Starks, potentially breaking many oaths and agreements as well as playing the game of thrones much better than their lieges. This makes sense, of course, as the Starks are wolves who are packish and loyal creatures while Forresters are trees. They're more likely to bend before they break.
If Gared offers Sylvi his bow so she can hunt a rabbit, she'll turn it down, muttering that she was never good with them. Shouldn't be surprising; unless she's descended from the Targaryens, she clearly has albinism, which often goes hand-in-hand with poor vision. Sylvi just doesn't have the sight needed to be a good marksmen.
I found it a little hard to believe that when Rodrik chooses to sic ser Royland on Gryff during a terse stand-off in the courtyard, Gryff for some reason doesn't have his dragon kill him for Rodrik's defiance, as he was eager to demonstrate the consequences of Forrester defiance. And unlike Rodrik, who he cannot kill or keep down without coming across as insecure and a tyrant, Royland is nobody of consequence to the Whitehills. But because I had chosen Duncan as sentinel, Ser Royland was the traitor, and Gryff must have known killing him was really, really stupid. And allowing Ser Royland to demonstrate his loyalty to House Forrester by facing them down while badly outnumbered would deflect suspicion should the Forresters learn there was a spy.
Worse yet, Eleana could even possibly have Rodrik's child who, in case of his father's death, would bear the stigma of being a bastard born out of wedlock.
And if that's not enough, when Ramsay chides Rodrik for calling in the Glenmores, Rodrik can state how they came to him. Ramsay then comments about having a few words with Lord Glenmore... which could very well spell doom for Lord Glenmore as well.
Listen to Talia's ballad again. When she sings "I'd bear by neck to Illyn Payne", Mira is on screen, cleaning herself up after the murder of the Lannister guard. Flash forward to episode 6, when Mira is potentially beheaded by Illyn Payne for this very crime.
The Asher ending where he decides to either poison Ludd Whitehill or ambush his men is a nasty bit of business but can easily qualify as Kick the Son of a Bitch due to Whitehill cruelty. The thing is, though, it's breaking guest-right in a fairly serious way and due to Values Dissonance, it would mark the Forresters as basically no different from the Frey family.
This troper personally finds this more sad than horrifying, the Forresters do that out of desperation, not lust for ambition and revenge like the Freys. Seeing how despair can turn an otherwise nice family in to a bunch of backstabber is unnerving. Also, true to the gritty Grey and Gray Morality of both the books and the shows