After seven relatively quiet weeks the fifth season of Game of Thrones finally picked up steam with the first two of its final three episodes: “Hardhome” and a “Dance of Dragons”. The anticipation surrounding what had come to be known as the turning point of each Game of Thrones season, the ninth episode, had cooled somewhat following the unexpectedly bombastic eighth entry. Whereas the books kept the events at Hardhome neatly tucked away at the edge of the world, with no Point-Of-View characters to bear witness to it, the series decided to unleash the wrath of the White Walker army and its Night King in earnest. The ninth episode took an even more daring sidestep away from the books, resulting in another stomach-twisting, tear-jerking moment that will have fans talking for weeks to come. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
What happens at Hardhome stays at Hardhome.
George R.R Martin has been following The Walking Dead, hasn’t he? Although the books made brief mention of the events that wrecked Hardhome, the show took us right into the middle of the action. After departing Castle Black in episode 7, Jon Snow and company arrived at the town that allegedly housed the majority of Wildlings north of the wall, at least if Thormund is to be trusted. When they arrive we’re treated to a fairly uneventful debate among elders, although there is no denying that Thormund got things off to a cracker by smashing in Rattleshirt’s skull with his own staff. After initially declaring their desire to stay as far from the Crows’ side of the wall, Thormund and Jon soon manage to convince the most sensible of the Wildling elders that no good can come off staying among the living dead. Everyone, including the Giant chief, but excluding the Thenns, ultimately opt to follow Jon.
Boy, I bet those who decided not to follow him regretted it soon after, and those who did decide to follow him were left wishing that he’d come sooner. Because, when the dead come knocking you might run, but you may never run fast enough. When a sickly wind picks up the Wildlings quickly respond to the emerging White Walker threat by sealing the gates to Hardhome shut, leaving many trapped outside. A few crunches and cries later all of them have joined their invaders as newborn White Walkers. Things start to escalate even further when Jon spots the mythical Night King atop a cliff overlooking Hardhome, flanked by his lieutenants. They watch over the carnage as if they were the heralds of Armageddon itself.
The battle that ensues is all encompassing, with plenty a wildling meeting their doom. There’s very little that hasn’t’ been said about the battle already, so if you haven’t watched it I recommend you drop this article right this second and watch it. The Wight-waterfall near the end of the battle, in which a horde of wights hurl themselves from a 50-foot high cliff onto a pile of living dead that soon reforms into a charging horde of white walkers, warrants particular praise.
The great revelation that came with this scene was Jon’s realization that his Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw, was just as effective at shattering White Walkers as Sam’s lauded collection of Dragonglass. A development that had not yet been noted in the books, but opens up a number of interesting possibilities. Wait, isn’t Brienne heading North with her Valyrian Steel-sword? Food for thought…
On the other end of the pond Daenerys confronted Jorah and Tyrion. While the Lannister dwarf immediately proved his worth by offering fair counsel, Ser Jorah’s violent antics last week hadn’t taken him an inch closer to his queen’s forgiveness as she assuredly exiled him from the city. Nobody’s going to accuse Ser Jorah of not taking it in stride however, as he immediately turned around and voluntarily offered himself to a slave-trader in an effort to feature in Daenerys’ upcoming reopening of the fighting pits. Tyrion and Daenerys immediately bonded over their equally terrible fathers, at least Dany didn’t have to bear the brunt of the Mad King’s Madhouse whereas Tyrion didn’t fare as well with Tywin.
Sansa learned that Theon did in fact never kill Bran and Rickon, a revelation that seemed to spur her on to take a new stand against her maniacal husband. We’re curious to see how this storyline develops, but little can be said of it as of yet. Overall, episode 8 proved a marked improvement over its forebears and left us positively stoked for the remaining two episodes.
Watch this page, more on Episode 9 and THAT moment is coming soon.