Game of Thrones has always been one of the best shows on television. This season has been the best season yet. And this past episode? Absolutely amazing. Not only one of the best episodes in the entire series, but probably one of the best produced episodes of any show ever.
Seriously, you could add that episode as one of the wars in Lord of the Rings, and not only would the quality match the film… it might be one of the best wars in the movie.
So, as always… say it with me now… Spoilers.
There is not much to say about this episode, considering the entire thing revolves around the Wall. From the “previously on…” to the very last scene, every scene was just Wildlings an Men of the Nights Watch. So, let me just get to the point. The Wildlings that had crossed over (earlier, with Jon) – who have now been joined by the cannibalistic/barbaric Thenns – are waiting right outside Castle Black; they are waiting to attack, and distract the Watchers, while Mance Ryder and his army of 10,000 Wildlings (and Mammoths and Giants and Wargs) attack the wall from the North.
We’ll light a fire, Mance had said. To be safe, one of the Wargs with the Thenns has possessed and owl and is nonchalantly hanging out on the top of the wall. Waiting. Ygritte, wanting to be the one who kills Jon Snow.
The penning scenes are life at the wall… they watch, they worry, they prepare. To Sam’s delight, Gilley makes it back to the Wall, and we start seeing a Sam that is “manning up” to protect her. Clearly he loves her, and he finds strength in that. Jon worries and tries to makes sure everything is ready.
And then, the horn sounds. Once… twice. Wildlings. It is honestly the most dreadful sound, and the fact that HBO has been able to carry out that feeling to the audience is why they are good at what they do. The Warg Thenn wakes up from looking through the own. It’s time. And when we finally see beyond the wall… miles and miles of forest have gone ablaze. Sir Allister (currently in charge of the Wall), admits to Jon (despite still in his douche manner) that he should have believed Jon when he warned of the thousands of Wildlings. Sam hides Gilley in a room. Pip is nervous, but Sam helps him find some courage.
And it begins. Wildling emerge from the forest to the north. The get shot by some archers, but they know the distance, and clearly laugh the few deaths off. The Thenns and Ygritts group attack from behind. Once the distraction begins, the army to the north attacks. hundred of climbers start attacking, giants approaching on mammoths.
The entire episode is this… insane fighting, great effects and a barrage of “Oh Sh*t” moments.
Like when the arrows from the Wildlings don’t even come close to the top of the wall, but then a giant, with a bow the size of a post, and an arrow the size of a spear, shoots. He hits, and the watcher goes FLYING!
Like when Allister fights off Tormund Giantsbane, and what a great choreographed battle that is. Unfortunately, Tormund is too good, and defeats him (though it seems he still lives). Fortunately, Tormund gets captured later and taken prisoner.
Like when they have a contraption that hangs some watchers to looks straight down over the wall, shooting climbers straight on.
Like when the Giants try to destroy the wall gate by attaching it with Chains to the Mammoth and almost pulling it loose.
Like when they drop barrels full of stones (and then fire) from the top of the mountain, smashing on the wildlings.
Like when Ghost is let loose and starts taking some of those bastards down!
Like when the drop the anchor! You don’t know what I’m talking about? Then you need to watch this episode. You do know what I’m talking about? Then holy sh*tballs… How awesome was that!!! Pretty much the winning blow from the attacking North.
But sadly, there are deaths. Pip dies in Sams arms (shot by Ygritte). When Grenn dies taking down a giant in the tunnel… successfully holding the gate! (what an intense scene, as they speak their Nights Oath. And its even sadder, as Pip and Grenn do not die here in the book. Unexpected even to the readers. I liked them… both. Both the only friends Jon really had (along with Sam).
Jon gets to be the one who takes the Thenn leader out, Styr, after a pretty huge fight. But this is where the story gets sad. Jon runs into Ygritte, She’s aiming at him. She can kill him. And all he thinks of when he sees her is to smile. He seems so happy to see her. And, bam… She gets shot from behind from a kid (fighting for the wall). The kid smiles – knowing he did good, but not knowing what was really going on – and runs off. Ygritte falls and Jon grabs her. She remembers the cave… the one she wanted to just stay in with him in. We’ll go back, Jon lies to her. You know nothing Jon Snow, she says with her last breath. Damn. This scene is even more touching than the book, as in the book, Jon only sees her get shot in the distance. Here, we witness the love between them, in these last final moments.
The battle ends and the Wall wins. Just the battle mind you, not the war. The watchers start cleaning up and getting ready for whatever battle comes next. But Jon knows this would eventually be a loosing war. He needs to speak to Mance. He needs to see if there is any talking him out of this. And the episode ends with Jon walking out of the tunnel, towards the North.
Next episode will be wrapping up the rest of the characters, and unfortunately loosing some of the ones we’ve come to like and enjoy on the show. See you then…