Game of Thrones 4.9 – Watchers On The Wall


Ha ha ha ha. Aha. *cries a lot*

Dear Satan: you’ve been having a lot of fun lately with the wars, malcontents, brutally murdering my boo last week. You have a pattern. 1.9: Ned. 2.9: Blackwater. 3.9: The Red Wedding. 4.9 ___. Wait, 4.9… ___. Oh, I see what you did, you doubled down! 4.8 was our “person we didn’t think would die and holyshit, they DIED?” episode and 4.9 is your mirror to Blackwater. Which means Season 5 is probably going to be ten episodes of the Boltons flaying alive everyone else I still care for while blowing up Braavos for no good reason.

Now, let me preface this with how freaking awesome this battle was. It was. There was a scene in the courtyard that I cannot imagine how much coordination and effort went into getting just right on that camera crane. Plus, don’t ever tell me Bethesda/Elder Scrolls aren’t massive GRRM fans, because wow. I do have one “…really? That’s— That how they— Huh.” moment (and I’m sure you know what that was). But now that a giant is dead, let’s harvest its toe and fortify our health and get into the battle.



We open with a shot of Tattooine, I mean, the top of the wall (Seriously, I couldn’t tell where we were at first, because the light on the snow/ice looked like adobe. I never claimed to be a genius, okay?) and all is quiet. Of course, we’re seeing the South. Jon Snow and Samwell Gamgee Red Leader Porkins are on shift, and Sam wants to know what boobies feel like.

Jon: They’re… you know.
Sam: No, actually, I don’t. Hence me asking.
Jon: …er, soft?
Sam: You don’t say? [eye roll] At least tell me boobies feel better when you love the girl to whom they are attached?
Jon: So much better, bro. [hair flip]
Sam: Funny thing, I read the fine print on the vows we made, and as long as we don’t knock ’em up or marry them, anything goes.
Jon: You saying you want to be a backdoor man?
Sam: I have no idea what that means.
Jon: [smiles to himself as he thinks of Ygritte saying “You know nothing, Jon Snow” before she taught him Things.]

So, we were told that the Wall is 700ft high, right? Then what the hell is a barn owl doing perched up there watching? Oh! Wargers gonna Warg! Gjördkr the Chîcken Eåter’s Warg is keeping an eye out for Mance’s fire, and that’s really awesome. The Wildling band is hiding down in a crevasse near the entrance to Castle Black, waiting. And while they wait, they swap stories.

Grdkr has his old yarn about why he should be called Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër as Ygritte sharpens a ton of arrows. And you know what story she’s full up on? The one about Sheila the bear, because there is no way that happened. None. (Side story: I was in a horror movie playing a foul mouthed chick with a heart of gold, and I had the following line: “That’s like trying to blow a polar bear; it’s just begging for death!” It’s funny because it’s true.) She climbed that wall to do two things: fuck Jon Snow and kill some Crows, and she’s already fucked Jon Snow.


“If any one else has a story about fooking an animal, I’ll swear I’ll goot you right through the throat, I will!!”

Scarface Thenn is sick of all of Ygritte’s big talk about her Crow, because he bets that she’ll catch sight of him and wuss out. She’s all talk. She gets up in his grill, er, his belly button because he’s approximately a jillion feet tall, and holds an arrow to his balls. She’s not soft, Ygritte. I love that she didn’t even flinch. (Someone carrying a bundle walks past. I call that it’s Gilly and Baby Morsel.)

Sam hangs out in the Castle’s library so he can read up on all the possible ways Gilly was brutally murdered, when Maester Aemon (who I always forget was a Targaryen) comes in and is all, “Sam, let’s talk about sex and love.”

Sam: I’d…much rather not.
Maester Aemon: I once had swagger. Girls were all over my shizz.
Sam: That whole “I’d much rather not” was my way of saying–
MA: Had to beat ’em off with a stick! And not my walking stick, eh? Ha ha. I mean my dragon bone, wot wot?
Sam: –so how about I pop back up on the Wall and end this uncomfortable talk?
MA: Gotta watch for them Thotties, son. Peace out, shortie.

As Sam runs far, far away from discussions of sex and love with that old geezer, he hears Gilly trying to get inside. Pyp is following orders and not opening the gate, and that’s smart! That’s good! But open the fucking gate, Pyp, that is Sam’s True Love, okay?

Raise your hand if you expected a horde of Wildlings to flood in behind her? Also, we are introduced to a new Samwell Tarly Gamgee: one who cusses and stands tall. I like it. Sam sings “I’ll stand by you!” to her, because he’s got this, he’s got her, the baby, their protection, and he ain’t gonna let no one get in between them again.

Until he needs to get back to work because the Riccola horns start blowing.

AHHH, THAT SOUNDED SO AWESOME. I was getting some serious Isengard warning horn feels from that.

The Warg for Ygritte’s team gets the signal, the guys on the Wall are starting to panic, and Jon Snow stands on the edge of the Wall, looking north and looking majestic as hale, and sees the forest below all lit up. Damn. The archers on the Wall light up their torches and start rolling barrels of pitch or oil into some ingenious little traps.

Meanwhile, Lord Butthurt Alliser stands frowning and says to Jon, “I know you want to be all ‘I told you so—’”

Jon: Actually, no, because I’m an adult.
LBH: But I don’t care. I had to make a decision, I did, and now I have to live with it.
Jon: …that’s actually very mature of you.
LBH: [farts into hand and shoves it into Jon’s face] Still hate you, though. Now let’s kill us some Wildlings and live another day!

Sam locks Gilly up in a storage shed because he needs to get to work. Gilly thinks that’s hilarious that he thinks he can fight. Wow, girl, he just gave you shelter. I mean, you’re totally right to think like you do, but every man counts in a battle.

Gilly: You’re not a man, though! [said with actual love]
Sam: Would not a man do this? [kisses the heck out of her all sweetly and romantical]

[passionate music of lips locking in lurve]

[passionate music of lips locking in lurve]

Gilly: I don’t know how to respond to your question without making it a double negative.
Sam: Your lips said everything. [puffs up chest as Manly Music of Fighting And Awesome swells in the background and he leaves]
Gilly: Well, he’s going to die. [plans his funeral]

Pyp is freaking the hell out, but it’s SAMWELL GAMGEE RED LEADER PORKINS who gets him to stay on target. Sam’s story arc has been so awesome to watch, the self realization, the way his red shirt seems to be immune to Red Shirtness… He tells Pyp that he was nothing once. And when you’re nothing, you can do anything, which is how he managed to kill a White Walker. Unfortunately, now he’s Someone. (More importantly, he’s someone’s Someone. So… he’s going to die, I guess.)

Ygritte’s team hunkers down waiting for the perfect moment. They race out of their hole, ready to fight. The camera pans up and gives us a fantastic freaking aerial shot of them running to the Castle’s south entrance, pans up and over the wall, and down to the burning forest where hundreds of screaming Wildlings come pouring out of the woods, ready to kill.

I love everything here, the dreadful wail of the Riccola horns, the tense music, the screaming of the Wildlings, the emergence of freaking WOOLY MAMMOTHS oh my god, that is so awesome, and then Giants? Riding them? (But Giants are gentle unless they—or their herds of Mammoths—are provoked! They just want to make Mammoth cheese and collect gold, and seriously, if you’ve never played Skyrim/Elder Scrolls, your life is incomplete.)

If this didn't make you squeal like a happy child, you're not living life to the fullest.

If this didn’t make you squeal like a happy child, you’re not living life to the fullest.

The guys on the wall see the GIANTS and the MAMMOTHS and start getting a little panicky. Yeah, bet y’all wished you’d listened to Jon Snow now, mother truckers. The Wall Watchers nock and hold, one guy accidentally drops a barrel, and we are reminded these are greenhorns. And then… the Wildlings attack from the South, too. Shit.

Please note that my girl Ygritte is dodging flaming arrows, picking them up out of the ground as they miss her, and using those to fire back on the Black Watch. If you don’t know that she’s a bad ass, you haven’t been paying attention. Lord Butthurt leaves the wall to Cap’n Yeah, Boss so LBH can defend below. The problem: Cap’n Yeah Boss sucks balls, and not in the fun Mole’s Town way. LBH gives the order to loose their arrows before he leaves, and one guy who tries to be Daario with the standing way too close to danger for comfort gets an arrow to the gut for his efforts.

wildlings learn the affective range

So here’s our line? Okay! Good to know, thanks!

And now the Wildlings know your affective range, archers, sheesh.

Lord Butthurt gets down the Wall, the kid who watched Ygritte kill his dad is on Elevator Door Duty (seriously, how is that thing powered? Did we ever learn? If it’s a spoiler, don’t tell me!), and LBH gives a “They’ll never take our freedom!!” speech to the Black Watch in the courtyard.

“Are you losers?” No!! they shout. “Then stop acting like losers and win! I will not be the man on duty who lets this place fall after a hundred generations.” It’s surprisingly effective and awesome. The man, while a flappy flaccid penis, is tough as nails and can rouse men to arms.

The Wildlings breach the Southern entrance just then, and all hell breaks loose. Lord Butthurt is a badass on sword, though, and make no mistake. Hey, but guess who else is? Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër.

If you look closely you can see Cap'n Yeah Boss wetting himself.

If you look closely you can see Cap’n Yeah Boss wetting himself.

On the other front, the Mammoths and Giants make their way across the open expanse to the Main Gate. Scarcely have Cap’n Yeah Boss’ knickers been made damp before he’s ready to desert our heroes on the wall. Jon’s buddy Redbeard convinces him to run away, and he does, leaving Jon in charge. Finally, someone who knows what to do! (Boy, if ever there’d been a perfect time to frag a leader, that was it. CODE RED, FELLAS.)

A group of Wildlings make it to the Wall and start climbing. A few archers are belayed off the edge facing down and start shooting at the climbers. Seriously, this whole battle sequence was spectacular.



One Wildling kneels and tries to shoot up the wall, but he doesn’t have a compound bow, come on, brother! A Giant smirks, stands next to him, and loads up a freaking harpoon that not only gets to the top of the wall, but obliterates a shed and some poor sucker, sending him off the other side and down to the courtyard.

Now that’s an arrow.

Also, from a directorial standpoint, great way to bring us back to the other fight happening in the courtyard. It’s hard to tell who’s who, just that there’s a lot of bloodshed, and Scarface Thenn is really skilled with his Thennish Battleaxe (enchanted with soul trap and fear drain for 20% increase in DPS, plus he has the Devastating Blow perk). Also, no one can match Ygritte on bow. No one. She’s clearly scared, but she’s straight up badass.

Cap’n Yeah Boss gets down, sees the mayhem, and promptly runs away to the same storage shed as Gilly for a cry and a thumb suck. Pyp and Sam work together loading up cross bows and taking people out; Pyp gets one Thenn right in the noggin!

Sam: Well done! So we should pack up and call it a day? [Hahahaha!]

And then Pyp gets an arrow in the throat box, courtesy of Ygritte. War…war never changes. People who shouldn’t die usually do. Eh, he was a red shirt from day one, we knew this. We have to love them deeply to cry for them. [cries about Oberyn again]

Jon gets some barrels dropped down below (why weren’t they lit? Were they just filled with bolts and things?), but the Mammoths and Giants get hooked up to the gate and start pulling. AHHH, I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS! The heft, the sense of scale—it’s so, so amazing. Jon tells Buddy Redbeard to take a small contingency down to the gate and hold it. It’s a death wish, and they both know it. But Redbeard swears they won’t get through. [sniff] You’re a good man, Redbeard! [pounds chest to dislodge lump in my throat] A good man. [Sings “Dust in the Wind.”]

Lord Butthurt sees Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër and they go at it. Wow, they are well matched, and it’s good to remember LBH is a great swordsman and an awesome fighter in his own right. But Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër is slightly better, getting in a good gut slice. LBH drops to safety, is pulled inside, and Sam is left holding Pyp’s dead body. He grabs the crossbow and joins the fray, taking out one of the Thenns as well. Aww, yeah! He takes a moment to calm down Olly, the little kid who mans the Elevator, and gets up to the top of the Wall, yelling for the kid to get a weapon and fight. Olly grabs a discarded bow.

The Mammoths are starting to do real damage to the gate, so Jon looses some barrels of oil, lit, and all props to the Sound Guys, because that was awesome, the whoosh of those falling with fuses lit. One of the mammoths’ butt catches fire, spooking it, and it crushes one of its handlers and everyone goes scattering, including a giant. Someone on the wall with a harpoon gun manages to make an incredible hit on the running Giant, pissing off Giant #2, who goes at the gate with pure rage and massive fists.

Sam gets to Jon, gives an update, and Jon gives Edd orders for what to do, grabs a handful of men, and heads down to clear the courtyard. Edd proves he’s a good choice as a backup. Redbeard and his band of men stand shaking in their boots as they see the angry Giant pulling up that massive gate, getting inside and heading towards them. (me, too!!) They start reciting their vows as men of the Night’s Watch and it’s powerful, that moment. I had chills, not going to lie, and you know they’re scared, know they won’t live, but they are men of honor, they made a promise, and they know they must stand fast. “I am the watcher on the Wall! I am the shield that guards the realms of men!”

Jon gives Sam the key to Ghost’s cage. HELL. YEAH. Gimmie that puppy! Jon backflips out of the elevator before it comes to a stop, because he ain’t got time for y’all, he needs to show off those Winterfell-trained skills. And let’s not forget that his blade is Valyrian steel, so he is essentially fighting with the Hope Diamond. And so begins the coolest single tracking shot in the whole episode, moving around the entire courtyard, highlighting the characters we know: Jon, Scarface the Thenn, Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër, Sam running to Ghost’s cage, and then Ghost comes out and goes straight for throats. Yay, puppy! Who’s a good boy?

Gjördkr has arrows in his body, but it doesn’t matter, he’s not going down. Scarface sees Jon and heads over, swinging his ax, but Jon’s a good fighter and can hold his own. Ygritte spies this, gets close, and keeps on taking out Crows while she tries to get closer to Jon. Scarface manages to unhand Jon, conks his noggin on an anvil (OH MY GOD), and it’s not looking good for our hero. (And let’s all acknowledge that Ygritte, watching how well Jon handles himself in battle, is totally turned on. Me, too, Ygritte. Me, too.)

Scarface makes the classic Evil Villain mistake of wanting to draw it out, giving Jon a chance to grab a hammer from the forge and embed it in Scarface’s think boxer. (And not only did you level up your Melee, Jon, but you also added to your Smithing!) Jon’s in bad shape, but he’s still standing. And that’s when he comes face to face with Ygritte, bow drawn. And what does he do? He smiles, happy to see the girl he loves. AHHHH. She can’t let her arrow fly, either, because she loves him. God dammit, now that she’s faced with him, she’s unsure. She wants to stay true to herself, but who is that? Is it the girl who fell in love and had a whole new world opened up to her? Or is the Wildling Warrior?



Aaaand the answer is taken from us because Olly, following orders, gets off a one in a million shot, right through Ygritte’s heart. (It was broken already. YEAH, I SAID IT.) Jon grabs her, devastated, and after saying how she wished they never left their love cave, she gets off the only last line she could ever say: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” And she fucking DIES.

This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful life!

This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful life!

Here’s why I’m unhappy: it’s not just that one of the badass lady warriors died, it’s that we had way too much time in between seeing her and Jon together for this to have the weight it needed. I should be devastated. I should be Oberyn levels of crying, because I loved her. I have gone on record as having loved this girl, loved them together. But there wasn’t enough, and it feels like a waste, and I’m just sad for the wrong reasons. :(

Hey, I know what will cheer me up! “USE THE SCYTHE,” Edd calls up on the wall, because the climbers are getting too close. The freaking scale of this, the heft and weight of that weapon as the snow and ice shard off the cliff face, and that giant knife pendulums those climbers to their death was so great. (And this should have happened before Ygritte, too, because I needed that scene to have emotional weight and LINGER, dammit!) I love that it’s not a one-time weapon, as well. They hoist it back up, see the Wildlings retreating for the night, and know that they can catch their breath for now, at least.



Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër is all who is left, because he’s the best of all of them. He’s very Black Knight about it, “’Tis only a flesh wound,” as he’s riddled with arrows and almost broken completely. “I’ve had worse!”

Jon orders him put in chains, Gjördkr says he should have thrown Jon off the Wall, and Jon agrees. “Yeah. You should have.”

The sun rises, Gilly sees that Sam made it, we see Cap’n Yeah, Boss with mess in his pants (he totally put on his brown pants in preparation, didn’t he?) and the boys outside pile up the Wildlings to be burned.

But let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks yet, The Wolf (Jon) says to Sam. He’s going to Mance to face certain death, or rather, to prove that Ned Stark’s old fashioned honor isn’t completely gone from the earth. No one else has any ideas, they see Redbeard dead on the ground alongside a dead giant (You’re my boy, Red! You’re my boy!), so he gets Sam to raise the gate (did it really need to go all the way up? I mean, is it like a garage door where there’s a trip sensor at the bottom?), hands off the Hope Diamond of swords to Sam, and Jon heads through the gate to his certain doom. I mean, what else can happen, right?

(Oh my god, don’t tell me.)

This is a man with nothing to live for, but honor. He's Nothing. (Sam foreshadowing things, maybe?)

This is a man with nothing to live for, but honor. He’s Nothing. (Was Sam foreshadowing things earlier, maybe?)

I have no idea what to expect for this last episode, you guys, no idea.

Okay, I need them to use that open gate to grab supplies off the dead giants and Wildlings, unhook those chains from the gate – those can totally be reused – cut off some Mammoth meat, and refortify that gate. Look, I’ve played these games—I know what’s important.

I’m guessing people are evenly divided on this episode: people who thought it was awesome because it was a 45 minutes action sequence that was really well shot and executed, and those who hated it because not enough happened. (That’s where my husband is on this.) As a non-book reader, it worked for me.

We’ve been saying since the beginning that Winter Is Coming. Well, now it’s here. We’re in a total state of flux—war coming from every angle, everyone is dispersed and nothing is going as it should. Perfect way to get us all amped up and stressed for the last episode of the season, even if that’s going to make us chew through leather. And after last week — OF WHICH WE WILL NOT SPEAK — we needed something good to happen to the good guys. We needed a win in their column. It wasn’t a pretty win, but it still counts. My two cents.

Remember: no spoilers here, no in depth book talk, but that doesn’t mean you can’t speculate! Just make sure we all know that’s what you’re doing. We’ve gone almost four complete seasons without spoiling anyone (read: me), so let’s keep that going!


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  • lightandstars

    OMG, Laura — lol, LOL OLOL. you are the funniest. Talented lady. I have to be somewhere in half an hour. I want badly to stay and comment, I’ll be back. LOL.

  • Genevieve

    I’m just came to look at the pics in your review. I have to go to sleep. I will come back to read your review. I always read your reviews last. I get some liquor and stuff and savor every little word. Just wanted to show some love for your always hysterical posts.

    • YOU ARE MY KINDA GAL, WITH THE BOOZE AND AFFECTION. That’s my banner, legs in the air from a tipped over barstool and a shout of “I love you, man!” But in Valyrian. :D

  • Christina

    I kept yelling at my screen during that Redbeard et al Vs. Enraged Giant scene. DUDES. Back away from the gate that’s about to be flattened on your heads. Shoot arrows while you have distance. Or at the least back up so you have a couple of seconds to attack the giant before he regains his footing, damn.

    Oh, Jon Snow. De-facto leader of Castle Black wanders alone and unarmed into enemy territory, without Ghost, to meet the man who wants him dead. Smarts are not really a Stark trait, are they?

    • I DID THE SAME. I totally thought that wall was going to crush them like a piece of garlic. SQUISH. D: Arrows through the gate, yep. I shouted, “SHOOT HIS SHINS!” as he was raising the gate. Pah. This is why we should be in charge.

      WHY DIDN’T HE TAKE HIS PUPPY? I almost wish they never introduced us to the Direwolves so I wouldn’t wonder why on earth those ENDANGERED SPECIES aren’t being treasured?

  • Sue

    Until he needs to get back to work because the Riccola horns start blowing.

    AHHH, THAT SOUNDED SO AWESOME. I was getting some serious Isengard warning horn feels from that. Right??? That was some serious Helm’s Deep shit.

    Ygritte!!!! Yes. I should have had my heart torn out. It wasn’t enough to show me the moist cavern of love in the previouslies, I needed to be reminded of the epic cunnilingus love these two shared. However, Jon’s brilliant smile did go a long toward decimating my heart when that arrow struck.

    I love Samwell Porkins and I’ll leg wrestle anyone who says different!

    • IT WAS SO HELM’S DEEP. So awesome. I’m a sucker for the classics.

      I needed little sprinklings of her love for Jon, how DIFFICULT this should have been for her along the way, not just that one (great!) shot before she was shot. I needed more. WE needed more. Of all of it. (Hey, hey, you know what I’m saying) His SMILE of love! Oh my gosh. I do like Jon Snow, I do.

      Samwell is all of us, he’s the best of Everyman, when an Everyman can rise and do real good. What a great character.

      • Marilyn

        Yeah, I feel like she was really one-note all season: here’s some rage with a little bit of rage–oh, and how about a soupçon of rage on the side? It’s not Ygritte’s fault, and it’s not Rose Leslie’s fault–she simply did not get enough screentime. But that hurt them this week.

        Also, from a character development/arc standpoint…I get that she feels like Jon chose the Watch over her, which is totes soul-crushing for a lady in twu wuv. And I think her response to that betrayal is magnificent. But. BUT. Are we ignoring the fact that Ygritte knew all along that his true loyalty was to the Watch, not the Wildlings? And that she was the one who proposed that they stick together AS OPPOSED TO sticking with their respective groups? When Jon was asked to do something (she knew) he believed to be morally wrong, why on earth was she surprised that he would ditch? If her loyalty was truly to Jon + Ygritte (as she said it was), did she not go with him–or really do anything other than punishing him for leaving the Wildlings to whom she knew and accepted that he had no loyalty?

        It never made sense to me that she would see this as a display of disloyalty to HER, mostly because they had portrayed her as prioritizing their relationship over her loyalty to The Cause. It wasn’t until this episode that they gave us any indication that Ygritte had some kind of ideological dedication to the Wildlings’ fight, which changes the nature of their ENTIRE relationship as well as our understanding of her actions this season. For instance–Ygritte is a spearwife, so obviously she is going to be fierce and deadly, but why is she killing women and children and unarmed peasants? Oh, because she has a grudge about the existence of The Wall. Good to know! Honestly, it felt like it was shoe-horned in to explain away the character’s behavior, which they’ve been manipulating because plot point.


        • I have a hard time not flying off the handle when I come across Ygritte negativity. I MEAN, WHAT? She was AWESOME. Yeah, she killed that parent in front of a child. Hey, where are Ygritte’s parents? Who on this show hasn’t killed someone, FFS? And I love that you brought up the point that she KNEW where Jon’s loyalties lay. And she TOLD HIM: you will no longer honor being a Crow. You will honor ME and our RELATIONSHIP. That trumps allegiances. Except — as you pointed out — her allegiance to her own cause WAS important. (Personally, I feel that she came to that conclusion after Jon betrayed her — You will stand by your woman — and left, because what they had didn’t matter. And it’s BECAUSE of that fooking wall, that wall that destroyed families and lives, that left one side superior, hunting down the other.

          So hell yeah, she’s going to be angry. SO MANY LAYERS of anger. And I wish we would have had more time to see that.

          *high fives the hell out of you*

          • Marilyn

            Hrm. I’m getting tangled up because I feel like she should have understood that, since his loyalty was to her, not Mance, then OF COURSE he wouldn’t be okay with doing something naughty, and OF COURSE he would bail at that point. She could’ve bailed, too; if she didn’t want to bail, then it’s HER decision to break off the relationship. Right? If her loyalty is to the relationship? Jon is expected to give up his whole world and everything he’s known, and it doesn’t even occur to her that she might have to do the same.

            Maybe it’s a situation where she didn’t realize how loyal she actually really is to Mance and the Free Folk until Jon didn’t want to be a part of what they were doing anymore. HRM. That is actually working for me. That fooking wall. *glare* But it was built to keep the ICE ZOMBIES ZOMG out, not the Free Folk. They chose to stay North so they didn’t have to be kneelers. So. Mixed bag, that.

            I see your high five and raise you a *WINDMILL EFFING HIGH FIVE*.

            BTW, are you emotionally prepared for a Death Scene vid? One that involves Bon Jovi? Or have you seen it already?

            • I have SEEN that vid! (And I love that people are being so considerate of my feelings, ahahaha. I’m such a crybaby.)

              I think you’re spot on with her not realizing how loyal she was to the Free Folk. Like, maybe she thought Jon would be loyal to her and they’d live in Tralaladeay just the two of them, no worries about either side. THERE IS JUST A LOT OF CONFUSION. We simply needed more, you know?

              • Marilyn

                We did! So did they, poor little lambs :(

  • JP Johnson

    I tend to look at this show with two competing facets of my identity; the guy who read and loves the books, and the guy who wants to enjoy the show at is. As the first facet, and I suspect most of the book readers who didn’t care for this episodes, we really really really wanted to see what happens to Jon when he leaves through the gate and were denied; as well as shock that at least one character who does not die here did in fact die. The other part of me mostly consists of excited shouts about GIANTS RIDING MAMMOTHS and EXPLODING BARRELS and A CHAINED SCYTHE TO MAKE UP FOR THE MISSING CHAIN AT BLACKWATER (that last one was a little long, and is my book reader side leaking in). Mostly it was just an hour of awesomeness.

    I am looking forward to next week’s episode which should prove to be awesome, for many reasons, but I’m wondering if the finale may be overwhelming.

    • Let me say how much I love finding a book reader who can appreciate that the show is a different animal.

      While I can’t address the things in the books, obv., I can share your jumping up and down excitement over MAMMOTHS and GIANTS and HOLY SMOKES that was so, so awesome. Ugh, such a great battle scene! That stuff is my jam. :D

      I almost wonder if it was a point to have this episode be focused solely on one place, one battle, so that the next episode doesn’t totally overwhelm? Time will tell…

      • Sean

        Awww you love me! You really really love me!

  • Richard

    Awesome read as usual! The geek references had me rolling on the floor :P
    I honestly feel this episode will get severely underrated because a good chunk of the fan base (through no fault of their own) just have no vested interest in the wall. Which is why Blackwater will still be more compelling for them as they really cared about the outcome of that fight. I couldn’t help but think about Jorah’s line on “There’s good and evil on both sides of every war” but to even take things further, the wildlings technically aren’t the “bad guys”.

    As Ygritte erroneously pointed out (since even the First Men displaced the current residents thousands of years ago), they set up shop and a bunch of religious wackos came from the south, erected a 700 ft wall and told them to GTFO. Not only that but the real reason Mance pointed out for their invasion is because of the rise of the frozen zombies that was decimating his people.

    It almost feels like illegal political refugees trying to flee a war torn country only to be stopped by the border patrol. You’re absolutely right though when it comes to Ygritte’s arc here. They definitely needed to showcase her a bit more in order to remind people that she really was Jon Snow’s ex-gf. The camera work from Neil Marshall when it comes to action scene is just ridiculous. Those arrow PoV shots as Ygritte was firing was just too awesome and that panoramic shot of the chaos around gave a sense of scale even Blackwater couldn’t do.

    The poor red shirt who got hit by the giant arrow was a moment that was hilarious (well for us, probably not for him), when that Scythe from Hell came scratching down though…. All in all I really enjoyed LBH’s portrayal here. He’s a douche, he’s petty but at the end of the only thing he truly gives a fuck about is guarding the wall (unlike that sackless Slynt). Yet another example on how not everyone is black and white but shades of grey. As much as people might hate him for perma hazing our emo hero, he was right that every little smartass would be questioning the leader’s decisions and that he had to live with his decisions.

    PS: Sam accomplished so much this episode after landing on first base. One has to wonder what more he could achieve when he hits that home run haha. I too am worried how much they can cram into the finale, it better be 2 hours long…

    • Oh, I love finding fellow geeks! :D Oh, I read that next will will extend to 10:15pm, so if you’re recording, make a note!

      It’s interesting to hear book readers may not care much about the Wall, since as a show watcher only, it seemed like one of the most significant points on the map. “Winter Is Coming.” We had the Predetor-Fremen Ice Dudes in Episode 1 to show us why the Wall is really there. I’ve been wanting this battle with Mance and the Crows for sometime, now, and I’m so glad it didn’t disappoint. And I know it’s just one of many, which is even more exciting.

      Ygritte pointing out that they’re getting their’s back was great. There’s a REASON she’s angry, beyond Jon, and it’s because of the history of exile the Wildlings have been living. (Well, there are some schmucks over there, too, of course, but you feel me.) Her dodging that one flaming arrow before letting one fly was a thing of beauty.

      “Sense of scale” – that’s the most impressive feat in the whole episode, right? That Wall felt REAL, those insurmountable obstacles FELT that way. *slow clap*

      I loved LBH being able to back himself up, you know? Cap’n Yeah, Boss was obviously a puling, whinging turd from day one, but LBH was clearly a bad ass in some ways, and we wished he’d give Jon the credit Jon deserved. Because he’s someone who carries weight, even if he’s a jerk. His battle with Tormond was AMAZING. So fluid, so awesome.

      Cut Scenes: Sam actually daring to hold Gilly’s hand as a slow bass line plays. :D

      • yeah, I thought it was good that Ygritte got the lines about the Wildings’ point of view.

        Also appreciated that Gilly still referred them as fellow Free Folk.

        • That was SO IMPORTANT. I mean, there’s a FB comment below that is essentially glad the Mean Girl is dead, and while everyone is CLEARLY entitled to their own opinion, she’s not a Bad Person. There are REASONS for her to be angry, and they’re good ones. Like someone else mentioned here, Jorah Mormont’s “There are good and evil on both sides, Khaleesi.”

          Gilly is just the cutest. I love that little momma.

      • Lyanna Mormont

        It’s totally not a coincidence that the four intro locations that have ALWAYS remained are King’s Landing, Winterfell, The Wall, and Wherever Dany Is. I strongly suspect that will remain the case, right up to the time when Wherever Dany Is becomes the same as one of the other three. (Assuming that happens at some point.)

  • Ivo

    Point totally taken about the odd lack of emotional weight of the Ygritte death scene. I think it’s simply because they’ve been apart for so long we don’t even think of them as a couple anymore. Incidentally, the “Previously on…” reel might as well have been saying “LITTLE KID WILL KILL YGRITTE”. I mean, come on, guys.
    Mammoths + giants = awesome. That giant running through the tunnel, severely ticked off, and Grenn and his boys standing fast – wow. Double wow.

    Fantastic episode. Not as development-filled as some, but a great palate-cleanser for the finale.

    And your recap is better than the episode. Again. I am going to read all your books.

    • Yes, yes, there weren’t enough recent interactions (or Jon flashing back on it, SOMETHING) to make my heart beat faster and break. And plus 1 to the Previously On moment telegraphing the kid killing her. Ugh.

      Grenn, aka Redbeard, what a freaking awesome Red Shirt he was. He was doomed, he knew it, and yet he was going to do it for his boy Jon Snow. That’s a guy you want next to you in a foxhole. And I totally agree that this was being set up as a palate cleanser – I have NO idea how to deal with next week!! Or what even to expect!

      (And thank you!!!)

      • Lyanna Mormont

        He is The Shield That Guards The Realms Of Men – even if it kills him. All hail Grenn. And the five who stood with him.

  • Bee

    Awesome review, as always! I have to say I’m siding more with your husband’s opinion on this episode, though. No matter how well the entire sequence was composed (and there’s no doubt that it was), I just didn’t feel nearly as invested as I expected to.

    Highlights for sure included those mammoths and giants (points for being both slow and lumbering in the most realistic way), as well as Gjördkr the Chîcken Eåter’s unparalleled badassery (dude had at least four different arrows lodged in various appendages while it takes poor Ygritte only one through the chest to bite it in less than two minutes). Even Samwell Porkins managed to step it up, and I especially loved the sass he threw Pyp up on the balcony before the sadtimes happened.

    On a brighter note Jon Snow’s winter ‘do was especially on point this time around, all curled out and perfectly unkempt and slightly parted to the side like unf. Boy must be using up that Pantene, is what I’m getting at.

    • Hey, Bee, thanks! And yeah, I’m not shocked at book readers feeling let down, given the emotional reaction the Mr. had. (Because of lack of whatever it was in the books that was missing, next, IDK.) And I’m definitely not pleased with the dropped weight at Ygritte’s death, because that should have ripped my heart out, and it didn’t. I’m still trying to think of ways this could have been done differently to make it work. Hmm.

      Wow, is there nothing cooler than large things in CGI having actual heft? The mountain shaking as that scythe came scraping towards those unlucky climbers is another great example of that. LOVE IT. Love it.

      I will say in my girl Ygritte’s defense, that arrow went straight through her chest and heart and out the other side, while Gjördkr had them embedded in shoulder bone and his hip. AHAHAHA. Oh my gosh, that man was so tough. I couldn’t decide who I wanted to win when he fought Lord Butthurt Alliser – the “good guys,” aka, the Crows, or Gjördkr. I mean, he’s got the Thenns with him, and they’re no good (let’s pit them against the Boltons!), but Gjördkr? That’s a man with heart and reason.

      Jon Snow wraps his curls up in strips of cloth and does a hot oil treatment on Saturday nights, there is no question. Mmm, lemme get my fangers up in there, Jon! :D

      • Marilyn

        I couldn’t decide who I wanted to win when he fought Lord Butthurt Alliser – the “good guys,” aka, the Crows, or Gjördkr. I mean, he’s got the Thenns with him, and they’re no good (let’s pit them against the Boltons!), but Gjördkr? That’s a man with heart and reason.

        YES. We need more time in the North. It’s been lost in all the King’s Landing machinations and Dany’s Dude Drama that there are ice zombies preparing to conquer the world. Winter is freaking COMING, guys, and there’s a reason Gjördkr and the Thenns are fighting together. The dragons are so much more interesting than climate change, right? I mean, who cares about seasons, amirite? But it matters–gawd, it’s officially FALL now, and that means WINTER IS COMING WITH ICE ZOMBIES, y’all!

        Most of Westeros is full of not-care, and that’s significant. They’ve really skimmed over the importance of the Night’s Watch and its waning support; we as the audience should understand by now what a huge mistake everyone is making by focusing inwardly down in King’s Landing with their tiny, petty wars. They made sure to register Cersei’s error in disregarding Dany and her dragons, but they’ve made no such effort to highlight the epic blunder it’s been to disregard the myths and stories about the North.

        And then they relayed this episode almost entirely from the Crows’ point of view, with a brief stop to mention the Free Folks’ disgruntled attitude about the Wall and the Crows–once again failing to even mention ICE EFFING ZOMBIES.

        • WE ARE MIRRORING OUR OWN WORLD BECAUSE NO ONE CARES ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE HERE EITHER AHHHHHHH!!! The freaking Predefremen White Walkers are going to come marching down Main Street and kill us all!! *hyperventilates* WINTER IS COMING!! I mean, that’s been the tag line since DAY ONE.

          I do care about every storyline, truly, but when people say the Wall doesn’t matter… THAT IS FREAKING JUDGMENT DAY, FOLKS. (I assume.) But from a storyTELLING point of view, it’s PERFECT for people not to care. It’s just what you want, them caught up in their petty throne swaps and lovers quarrels so when the Big Shit comes rolling into town, you have Maximum Panic. The ants freaking TOLD the grasshoppers to prepare, but they tutted that off, because what was happening now was all they could think about.

          What I’m saying in a nutshell, Marilyn, is that you and I will know where to hide, what provisions to keep, what we’re freaking UP AGAINST, and we’ll live happily ever after in Dorne where life is fine (I assume). Ahahaha.

          • Marilyn

            Wait, wait, so basically they’re throwing people off ON PURPOSE and we’re just too smart for that ish? HA! I really like that interpretation, and I accept it whole-freaking-heartedly.

            We are seriously going to have the BEST time in Dorne. We can help Jon “recover” from his broken heart.

  • Ivo

    Incidentally, I can now no longer remember Ginger McBeardy’s real name, for me he will always be Gjördkr the Chîcken Eåter, thanks to you. Thorvald? Thorbridge? Ezekiel? Bob?

    • HAHAHA, Thormond? IDK, I just want him and The Hound in a chicken wing eating competition. Now THAT would be gripping! :D

      • Ivo

        Well yeah but that beard would probably be Not Pretty at the end of it. He could probably make soup with that beard after a few days.

    • Dragonslayer

      Tormund Giantsbane (or Thunderfist).

      • Thunderfist sounds like a hardcore BDSM porno. NOT THAT I AM JUDGING, just saying that it sounds like one. :D

        • Lyanna Mormont

          Tormund Giantsbane, Tormund Thunderfist, Tall-talker, Horn-blower, and Breaker of Ice, Husband to Bears, the Mead-king of Ruddy Hall, Speaker to Gods and Father of Hosts. According to himself.

          Although Ygritte clearly doesn’t buy the Husband to Bears part. And Tormund Thunderfist just sounds like a LOTR dwarf name to me. Tall-talker definitely fits, though!

  • Elgin01

    Ahahaha! I was wondering when the Skyrim references would show up again. Shame they couldn’t have a giant punt someone into orbit.


    • I was waiting for my moment! :D OMG, the giant punt. AHAHA! Well, clearly I need to create a new avatar and play a round of Skyrim when the show goes on hiatus. CLEARLY.


  • JadedDM

    GILLY: “Promise me you won’t die.”
    SAM: “I promise I won’t die.”
    ME: Shit, he’s gonna die.

    But surprisingly, he didn’t! Actually, there were several points where I felt for sure he was going to die, as well as Jon, but they both told Death ‘not today.’ I guess that’s the good thing about GRRM’s wonton killing of main characters. When one’s life is in danger, you believe it–you don’t just roll your eyes and say, “Of course he’ll live, he’s a main character!”

    A Giant smirks, stands next to him, and loads up a freaking harpoon that not only gets to the top of the wall, but obliterates a shed and some poor sucker, sending him off the other side and down to the courtyard.

    He used to be a Night’s Watchman, before he took an arrow to the knee entire torso.

    Also, that whole scythe thing was kind of pointless, wasn’t it? I mean, even of those wildlings made it to the top of the 700 foot wall, wouldn’t they be too exhausted to actually fight? But it was so damned awesome to see, I guess I don’t much care about its tactical worth. So cool.

    • I was very shocked that Sam didn’t die, either! But then, he’s our Everyman, who we can most identify with, so they can’t ALL die.

      …right? Oh God, GRRM’s gonna kill them all. And how freaking awesome was that missle launch of an arrow? That was an anti-aircraft weapon, if ever I saw one. I was surprised Grenn and Co. didn’t Frag Cap’n Yeah, Boss right up there. A little kick to the back of the knee and down he’d go…

      Tactically speaking, yes, the Scythe was probably not entirely necessary. WAIT! Oh, wait, what if the climbers had ropes/etc. on them and were going to hook them at the top, sacrificing themselves so the others could belay themselves up to the top lickity-split while the Crows were busy killing them? The Scythe slowed that plan way down, taking out scores of helpers. (I just… it was so COOL looking.)

      • JadedDM

        Yeah, it was all pretty tense. I’m not sure how they’re going to even try and wrap up everything with one episode left…but I heard the finale will be 66 minutes long instead of 50, so that should help a little.

  • Anthony Stark of Winterfell

    As a recently converted reader of your hilarious website, I haven’t yet learned my lesson… don’t read these at work! I guffawed like a half drunk Robert Baratheon (and half my floor turned and looked at me) at “Cap’n Yeah Boss sucks balls, and not in the fun Mole’s Town way.” I now have to behave myself for the rest of the day. DAMNIT

    I am one of those avid book readers who LOVES the North and the Wall and cannot get enough of it! The show has made this even more fun for me because I get to actually see some of the stuff I imagined while reading. This episode was pretty amazing and when looked at as prepping for the end of the season was pretty perfect. If looked at just by itself the pacing and arcs were a little weird because nothing gets resolved. Tomorrow’s battle at the wall AND Jon’s foray north of the wall could be another full episode in itself!

    Some of my observations from last night (not near as funny as yours):
    You could see that fire in the sky, do you really need Harry Potter’s Hooter on top of a 700 Ft wall mentally fucking a Cannibal to figure out it is Go time? Now I see why they failed at taking the wall in the past!

    What do you say to a Wooly Mammoth with Ginger Mange? Stop drop and R’hllor (best I could come up with.. shut it)

    The Wall looks much younger now that it has trimmed down below. (that Scythe was AWESOME!)

    • Hahaha, thanks, Anthony! I love that you laughed, yay! I am a mother, ergo, I have blanket permission to grant you an excuse.
      Please excuse Anthony [may or may not be his real name], who is allowed to slack off work today should he find the need to talk GoT or laugh. Or nap. Or take a 4 hour lunch.

      That should do it. *dusts hands*

      Oh my goodness, that first full shot we got of the Wall when Jon was a spy was so amazing. I love knowing that you, as a book reader, are enjoying those scenes! It’s one of those things that I can imagine is a very specific mental image as you read along. “If looked at just by itself” AH, and that’s where you show your smarts! Because it’s not a stand alone, none of these eps are. And when you go back and watch them (in three episode chunks, that’s how they’ve done the short arcs) one after another, the fluid connection between episodes is so apparent. I really think this is the tightest written season yet, and that’s as an Unsullied trying to follow along with a massive story.

      AHaha, I was actually shocked that no one in Castle Black saw the damn camp fire from Ygritte’s gang! No smoke? Light? NOTHING? Pfft. Some Watchers…

      Your mammoth joke made me snort. GOOD THING I HADN’T TAKEN A DRINK OF WATER, BUDDY. And I want to watch the Scythe let loose on a loop, that was so amazing!! Glad you joined us over here! We have a blast all week in comments, btw.

      • Anthony Stark of Winterfell

        The name truly is Anthony, it also worked to properly show my house affiliation and give outside geeky references. It was lazy, but I’ll live with it for now.

        I have printed off your excuse and set it on my Boss’ desk (he is also a GOT book reader fan, but waits to watch each season all at once… so he misses out on all your Snark!) I’ll let you know how he reacts to it tomorrow.

        There are many things about the show that I absolutely love seeing on screen… the Wall is amazing, the Others cool as hell (I’m really failing at humor today) as are many of the characters that I didn’t appreciate as much in the books. Other things just can’t live up to my imagination (Several of the Castles are not as cool visually as they were described in the books, and other relatively minor details changed from the books) but it is resoundingly a fun experience, episode writing IS amazing and I have purchased every season so far and my fair share of GOT related merch. I also LOVE reading Unsullied reactions and theories. Wink Wink Nudge Nudge Say no more!

        Keep up the hilarity, depending on the Khal Bosso I’ll be back in comments as much as I can!

        • Ooh, I can see the appeal of waiting to watch all in one fell swoop. That’s how I watched Breaking Bad after S2, and while it was brutal to not know until the end, wow, did those story arcs hit even harder. (He can still come over and chat in comments! We stay active for a long time.)

          So basically you’re telling me you’re the Dream Fan? I’m sure D&D/GRRM are VERY happy to have you in the ranks. Man, there is nothing like being a happy fan with so much source material to roll around in. I can’t imagine NOT being a fangirl, not having places to talk to other people who are just as excited by something? HOW DO MUNDANES DO IT? ;D

          • I have been a HUGE fan of the books since I read the first one in 2000 and was extremely worried about the show taking a mammoth sized dump on the story like some other Fantasy shows did (Legend of the Seeker anyone?) The show has been a pleasant surpise and even though I sometimes am bothered a tiny bit by the minor changes (Grenn and Pyp are still alive in the books!) I am just happy to see the material shown the proper amount of respect.

            I also geek out to several of the other shows you review (Hannibal, Walking Dead, Vikings, True Blood, Orphan Black, etc), so I’ll be checking out your other reviews as well! Orphan Black, holy beard!

            • You know, I’m shocked that the mammoth didn’t take a fear dump when it was CAUGHT ON FIRE. Just a side note.

              Well, whatever happens in the books will stay a mystery to me until the show ends and I can suck down this series. (Oh, what a great day that will be!) But their deaths on the show carried weight, especially Grenn’s. I loved the circle all the original boys who came up with Jon have traveled.

              Orphan Black… wow, that show is AMAZING. I’m so happy to see it catching on with people, too! I’m just getting into it because of time constraints, and DUDE. It hits so many of my faves, I can’t even. I hope you find some good stuff to like! We’ll be adding the new HBO show “The Leftovers” once that gets going.

  • It was like Manny from Ice Age…meets Apocalypto..meets LOTR. I LOVED the scythe bit, I don’t know what was better, actually making-the-climbers-go-all-squishy-splat or the look of glee on Edd’s face when he uses it!

    And I was sad when Pyp died. Sure he was a thief and bony and all, but he was NICE. I met him in real life too, such a nice chap :(

    • OMG, that is the most perfect comparison, all three of those!! I love that Edd had a grin – I love that he was GOOD as a leader! Him, Grenn, Pyp, Sam and Jon were the original scabs, the guys no one had any faith in, and look at them now. <3

      Pyp was a good guy, and I loved that he was able to take out a Thenn - those guys are tough! But he was too nice to live. Which is weird that Sam is still alive... (Aww, I love hearing when actors are lovely in RL!)

      *plays TAPS for poor, dear Pyp*

  • Some one pointed this out on reddit, and I thought it was a really nice touch by the show. When John and Styr are fighting, he gets “hammered” into an anvil and “thrust” into a fire. He was metaphorically being forged.

    As to why people might be disappointed, book readers are disappointed about *spoilers*, while many tv show watchers, I feel, are maybe not as emotionally invested in the wall relative to the rest of Westeros and Dany of course. I think that the tv show has made people far more invested in Tyrion and Cersei and Jaime and Arya then in Jon, and the episode suffered for it a bit, because the show has neglected him and the rest of the cast at the wall. More than the other places, the Wall was always a more ensemble effort because Jon is such a straitlaced character. He needs other people to bounce off as sounding boards.

    That tracking shot was pretty amazing. Did anyone catch Gjördkr laugh during it? I literally laughed out loud. I hope he gets to finish his bear story sometime.

    • Oh, that’s brilliant! Quickened and purified by fire, the waste burned off and nothing but pure steel left behind. And now, made stronger, he heads off to find Mance Rayder and maybe end this thing once and for all. <--- MY OPTIMISM, LET ME SHOW YOU And my husband had his fist crammed over his mouth to keep from spoiling me, so I assumed there is Something Amazing (Bad/Good) that happens after he goes through the Gate that we didn't see. And I totally agree with you that the show has made us care about the King's Landing crowd (and Arya) more than Jon. I do care, I just haven't had enough in recent memory for the wallop of Ygritte's death and Jon's reaction to it to really resonate. Maybe if he'd been able to be a bit more poetic with Sam in the beginning instead of going for the "knows nothing" joke? IDK. That tracking shot was SO. COOL. ANd I did catch Gjördkr laughing! That man is a straight up Boss, and make no mistake. I definitely need more of him in the episodes to come. He's had my attention since the first chîcken eåten... :D

    • Maxwell James

      rajeev – I see what you did there. Well played, ser.

      And yeah, that tracking shot was amazing. As impressive in its way as the much longer tracking shot on True Detective.

      • That single take tracking shot on True Detective is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen on television EVER.

        • Maxwell James

          It was hugely impressive. Can’t say I’m a huge fan of the show as a whole (and I’ll probably be annoyed when it sweeps the Emmys over shows I much prefer), but no denying that it was made with consummate skill in every way.

          • There were things that I was utterly blown away by with TD, but there were also things that fell flat for me. I will say this: Matthew McConaughey has never acted so well in his career, and that includes Dallas Buyers’ Club, which was outstanding. I’ve thought about watching the whole series over from the beginning and recapping it here this summer, if time allows.

            • Maxwell James

              If you can spare the time I’d totally show up for that! I may not have loved TD, but am sure your recaps would be another story entirely.

              Honestly, have wanted to follow the Orphan Black and OITNB threads but am far behind on those shows.

              • Keep your eyes peeled come July, then, because I’m really hankering to watch TD all over.

                OINTB is one we just added! Hillary is pretty snappy and insightful, I’m excited for her to get her feet under her with some readers. And Orphan Black – I’m going to guzzle that down this summer, too, because that’s right up my alley.

    • Lyanna Mormont

      Hammered and forged – excellent point! And then the steel was quenched in Ygritte’s blood, to complete the process.



    I’m sad that my family’s living room TV has a warped screen that makes everything look 10x darker. A lot of the visual effect is lost in the many darker-lit scenes of the show.

    One day, we’ll have a new screen.

    Also, even though I read the books, your nicknames for the characters tend to come up when I’m watching the show!

    • So many shows have their shots so damn dark you can barely see what’s on screen unless you’re in the pitch black already. Add in a wonky screen, and I can appreciate how frustrating that must be for you.

      And nothing makes me happier than knowing the nicknames have stuck, AHAHAHA! *fist pump of success*

  • I just finished this, and all I wanted–ALL I WANTED–was for you to make the Skyrim references. And you did NOT let me down. And that’s all the reaction I had to this ep–it was fantastic action, absolutely stunningly shot, but I could only keep yelling at the screen, “BE LEVEL 15 BEFORE YOU EVEN TRY THE GIANTS. AND HIDE UP ON A ROCK AND SHOOT THE FUCKER WHERE HE CAN’T REACH YOU.” And only some of them listened, sob.

    • I WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN WHEN IT COMES TO BETHESDA. (There’s even a Fallout reference buried here!)

      Seriously, you fight Giants like you fight trolls: high place they can’t reach, enchanted bow, lay into them until they die from it. (Or if you play like me, have the most badass Dwarven Warhammer you can smith and go for the knee caps!) :D

      AHH, this was such a great visual feast!!!

  • Kevin H

    Thanks, great synopsis as always. Love the GRRM cartoon “khuu, khuu….” it explains a lot. From the books, the barrels Jon dropped first were filled with ice and stones to smash. As a book reader, I agree with your husband’s take on the episode, not the most satisfying episode 9. Truly looking forward to next week’s finale.

    • Oh, the barrels being filled with ice (especially!) makes sense. I am SO excited for next week. I loved this ep, it kept me on the edge of my seat, so from a non-book reader standpoint, it totally rocked. But I don’t have all the knowledge of the world-building you book readers do, so I can appreciate you wanting more than you got!

  • Aaron L

    I too was like ur husband a little disappointed. Tho i was on the edge of my seat pretty much the whole episode. I did enjoy it. I was just waiting for more of the story in the battle. I know its hard to do a battle scene like this and give justice to thousands of words in a book. It just didnt have the same feeling to me as i read it. Apples and oranges i know. I still appreciate the episode as a whole for the season, and this war is far from over. So im positive they will give it justice they havent failed once yet. I see the show as the show and the book as the book. I love them both differently. Just had different expectations is all. The fight scenes and graphics and of course giants and mamoths were AWESOME

    • “More story of the battle” – yep, that’s just what my husband said, too. GREAT MINDS, AARON. And I like that you’re saying “this is just ONE night in a long, long battle/war” because we still have so much more to go.

      GIANTS. MAMMOTHS. MAMMOTH GO EEK AND SPLAT HIS HANDLER. I mean, that was worth the price of admission, right? :D

      • Aaron L

        LOL yes it was :)

        I hate to sound like Im complaining or a broken record. Because I think D&D have done such a Wonderful job with this show. Its just after watching this Ep I fealt a little unfulfilled to some degree. I am going to watch it again tonight, and Im sure I will see things I missed, and enjoy it more tho.

        I totally agree with Maxwell on Jon suffering the most in translation. Jon was in my top 3 POVs in the book, and in the show, not so much. There isn’t as much screen time for him. I do understand why. Theres so many characters that you have to give them ALL some time to develop, so we can fall in love with them or hate them. There just isn’t enough time in each episode to devote it to book Jon. They could have a spinoff of just Jon chapters and The Wall, and beyond the Wall. Then I guarantee Ygrettes death would have Red Vipered everyones ass to tears and beers (and a bottle of wine or 2 ;)

        • Oh, I wanna know if you change your mind on anything, Aaron! And I know you, and I know that you’re down with the whole “let’s not hate watch things-life’s too short” so I don’t ever think of you as a complainer. Being critical of something you like/love is one thing. Shitting on something is another. <3

          Every time you guys talk about what you loved in the books I get so excited for the day I finally get to read the damn things. There are so many bullet-proof loves happening in them: POV switching, world building, brutal honesty... AHH.

          • Aaron L

            I did enjoy it a lot more. I have a better feelin theres more to come. Either nxt sunday or next year. ;)

            Oh I CANT WAIT for you to read these Laura. I know weve talked about it before. Youll probably read 5000 pages in a week ;)

            • I am going to lock myself in a room with a bucket, a huge jug of water, some booze, and come out shaking, looking like Howard Hughes. JUST A GUESS. :D

              • Aaron L

                LMAO HAHAHA Yes i see this in your future. Dnt forget toilet paper ;)

              • Lyanna Mormont

                You’re going to need a computer, too, so you can blog your reactions for all of us to share with you, so we can virtually hold your hand and wipe away your tears and fill up your wine glass and fistbump you when things go right.

        • Maxwell James

          Without spoiling anything for our hostess – I think the thing about Jon in the books is that he’s much younger, a teenager, and Martin never lets you forget that. The pangs of adolescent loneliness are much more poignant as a result. He also comes off as sharper and a bit funnier in the books, in part because we’re more privy to the thoughts in his head.

          While I think Kit Harrington has done well with what he’s been given, he’s one of the show’s weaker actors (in what is a very, very strong cast). I do sometimes wonder what someone like Harry Lloyd, who more resembles the Jon I imagined while reading the books, could have done with the role.

          • Kit Harington is very handsome and very pouty. The moment he smiles at Ygritte, we finally see him get to DO something, so I agree with you totally here.

            • Marilyn

              I feel like Jon’s been kind of a sleeper agent so far, both within the Watch and when he was north of the Wall, and he’s going to really get to Do Things from now on. Which hopefully will mean Kit Harrington can step it up and really convince us.

              At least we have his pouty mouth and puppy eyes and perfect hair in the meantime. ;)

          • Aaron L

            Yes i agree Maxwell. Harry is more what i invisioned too.
            Kits got the looks but there is something missing from show Jon to book Jon. I think you nailed it with what hes been given its hard to compare the two different entities.

  • Colleen

    Know what? Screw this show. Seriously, screw it. Martin is emotionally brutal, but these show runners are worse. They’re just killing off people that don’t need to be killed off. Ygritte was enough, Pyp and Redbeard (Grenn, btw), should be eating some piss stew in the hall with the rest of them and gearing up for round two. Nope, not bitter.

    You hit upon this best thing of this episode, Jon Snow’s smile for Ygritte. Mr. Stoic cannot stop himself from smiling at someone he loves, even if she’s got an arrow pointed at his know nothing face. That smile, that glimmer of “hey, there’s love and good things” just shattered what was left of my GoT smashed heart.

    But hey, hooray for ADD because there were giants and mammoths and Occum’s Razor of Death. Well done CGI crew! Fabulous recap Laura!

    • Aww, Colleen!! *hugs you and rocks side to side* Don’t be like that! I mean, I think you know how upset I’ve been over people dying on the show, but there’s so much more story to tell! We all knew going in (or at least we imagined we knew) that it was going to be a rough ride. And it’s a huge battle! :( Look at it this way: Grenn (I know, I just like using nicknames) defended the most important part of the castle against a freaking giant. He went out a hero.

      A HERO.

      As for Ygritte, well, I loved that character and found her fascinating and funny in turn. Let’s raise a glass to her being one of the best warriors in 100,000 men, one Mance himself knew would be necessary on the front lines, and imagine she’s forever young and happy in her cave of love, waiting for Jon to join her. *clinks mead cup against yours*

      • Colleen

        Oh suuuuureeeee… make me feel better!!! LOL

        *clinks mead horns* To Ygritte, the finest redheaded warrior made since Merida! Also to Redbeard (love the nicknames), he was the best of us. Maybe there’s a special Night’s Watch Heaven where he’s finally getting laid.

        • AHAHAHA, I can’t help it, I want everyone happy. :D And failing that, I want everyone drunk. *tops you off*

          OMG, I had planned an YGritte ode! I’ll have to add that. Maybe I’ll make a separate post with all the Odes to all the people we’ve lost over the seasons…

          *adds bonus points to your column for the Merida mention*

  • Maxwell James

    So the one time these books ever made me cry was the part where Ygritte dies (on my second read-through, interestingly; tnhe first time I was too much in a constant state of shock and awe to feel much of anything else). It was just the simplicity of it. Jon and Ygritte have the one not-totally-fucked-up heterosexual romance in the whole series, other than the wee detail of being on opposite sides of a war. It should have worked out for those two crazy kids!

    So yeah, I hear you when you say that it didn’t have quite enough oomph (though I did get a bit choked up anyway). But I don’t think it was the script or the acting so much as the time constraints, dammit. They just didn’t have enough scenes together in the first place. I am going to miss Rose Leslie, who acted her heart out in this episode.

    But otherwise… I’m not sure what my fellow readers were unhappy with, because that was freakin’ amazing. No, it wasn’t Blackwater – but even in the books, Blackwater was unparalleled. As a screen translation of a nonetheless-astonishing battle scene though? It was fantastic. And the action and camerawork surpassed Blackwater, honestly, even if the drama did not. That 360 shot! The mammoth! The giant archer! The scythe!

    (This is where I note that it’s long struck me that of all the storylines in ASOIAF, Jon’s has suffered the most in translation. And that is bizarre, because you’d think that the Hollywood execs at HBO would be like “Handsome young white man with daddy issues but a good heart? WE’VE GOT THIS!!!” And yet, while it’s often been good and in this episode was great, Jon’s story is decisively better in the books. It’s interesting.)

    So now: if shocking death is 4.8, and 4.9 is this season’s Blackwater… what could that possibly leave for 4.10?

    • I was definitely sad, but you’d think that for me, with the Ygritte flag I’ve been waving, I would have been devastated But it was just sad. I agree, time constraints were the reason why this didn’t hit so hard. Rose Leslie was such a delight, and her lip wobble as she continued to shoot arrows into Jon as he rode away stands as one of her most emotional scenes.

      THIS EPISODE WAS SO AMAZING, RIGHT? I agree completely that the camera work, the technical ballet that happened to produce this episode in particular is unparalleled. Just breathtaking, and it was the second time I watched, as well.

      Let’s see, 2.10 had Tywin being called the Savior of the City and A Man changed his face. 3.10 brought us Theon’s…sausage served up, Arya killed a man who claimed to have been at the Red Wedding, Ygritte shot Jon up, and Dany became the Great White Hope. 4.10: hopefully we’ll get a Sansa and Arya reunion, Tywin is going to either triumph once more or be served some humble pie, and Jon is going to see the White Walkers/Ice Dudes? WHO KNOWS. I would like to see some dragons, though.

      (And agreed on your points about Jon: that’s ratings gold right there!)

      • Lyanna Mormont

        4.7 – Lysa dies. One shocking death, very few people mourn.
        4.8 – Jorah banished, Sansa comes into her own, Oberyn dies. Lots of people mourn very deeply. One death, one death sentence, and the end of a relationship that’s been one of very few that’s lasted since Season 1.
        4.9 – Ygritte, Grenn, and Pyp die, along with a whole lot of nameless crows and wildlings. Heavy on the action, a few touching goodbyes, but none as deeply felt as Oberyn.
        4.10 …

        Well, what haven’t we tied up? (Speculating purely based on the show, here, obviously.)

        They’re surely not going to leave Arya and the Hound standing at the Bloody Gate until next season. Sansa could go either way, depending on whether Arya and she meet or not. Brienne and Pod were heading that way, too.

        Bran needs to actually get somewhere. And the finale is called The Children, which seems like it could potentially mean the Children of the Forest, which is right up Bran’s alley. (Also, preview.)

        The Wall, obviously. Jon looking for Mance, a Wall without a leader – is Ser Alliser dead, incapacitated, or just wounded? Is Dolorous Edd still in charge, or Janos “Coward” Slynt?

        Dany could theoretically be left where she is, except that we never have a season finale without Dany in it. (Also, preview.)

        Stannis, Davos, Melisandre, Selyse, Shireen – are they going to be left hanging two seasons in a row? That would be bad writing.

        And, of course, Tyrion in King’s Landing, facing an execution. All Lannisters will be in this one, I’d bet almost anything on that. Well, Tommen could sit it out. We need some kind of look-in on Ellaria after the way last episode ended. And are we not going to see the Tyrells again? What about those much-discussed weddings?

        • I definitely think we’ll see something regarding Tyrion’s outcome. My vote is on something external interrupting the trial/execution/whatever stage is next to throw them into flux. I bet we’ll end with Bran getting where he needs to be/having a vision. I almost think we’ll START with Jon getting to Mance/being intercepted, then that’s it for him until next season. I jsut have no idea!!

    • I agree that Jon’s storyline is better in the books… but we also get to hear how he feels in the books which helps me a lot.

      I think this season has been better for seeing Jon’s face get harder and more stoic and watching him try to get his emotions in check. You can almost feel him cracking under his emotions and trying to keep himself together by watching him. I enjoy that quite a bit!

  • Raja Tiwary

    That cannot be a Fallout reference in there, can it?

    Either ways, it’s fascinating seeing the disconnect between the reviews of book readers vs only show watchers. I have a fairly good feeling as to why the former didn’t like this episode as much as show watchers, but oh well.

    I think the reason the Jon/ Ygritte thing suffers a bit on the show is possibly due to the fact that in the books, all of that happened in one book as opposed to over two seasons, so it’s much more in the now as opposed to the version we have in the show. For me though, I quite liked it because it’s hard for me to detach myself from what I feel for the characters in the books. As an aside, I really want to see a Ygritte and Brienne odd couple story line, but alas, we’re never going to get that.

    That scene in the tunnel with Grenn and the mammoth gives me chills every time, and given that I can’t read battles on text at all ( I have zero idea how people do it, I just can’t picture it at all ) it lived up to all my expectations.

    • Raja Tiwary

      Gah, I wish I could edit my comments! I agree that the bigger stuff was very very good, but what gets me most is the smaller scene. My favorite one is probably when Jon tells Grenn to go hold the gate, and just before it cuts away from them you see Jon tearing up because he knows it’s the end of Grenn, I love all that stuff. This might be the first episode I rewatch in a long time.

      • (You don’t have an edit button after posting?? Hmm, I’ll be sure to look into that tweak. I thought you could!)

        I loved that moment you mentioned, too. Tiny scene, BIG emotion. Well done, actors!!

    • OH, YEAH, RAJA. IT IS. Because if I love Skyrim, then I am OBSESSED with Fallout. Obsessed. That there is my JAM.

      What’s been really neat all day is to see book readers slowly changing their minds, if they were disappointed, that is. I love it when someone is able to fundamentally GET that a book is a totally different experience than a show/movie. I mean, take a hamburger and a steak. They’re both cow, but you experience them (and their presentation) is totally different. And one isn’t necessarily better than the other, they’re just different.

      Oh, great point about Jon/Ygritte happening in one book. Yeah, the time tables for the show weren’t helping. I mean, I still cared, don’t get me wrong, and I think Rose Leslie is WON-DER-FUL, but I should have been immobile as I watched. But then, they are in the middle of a giant battle, so there were still lives at stake and… :(

      I’m high-fiving you on the scene in the tunnels and the chills. The hair on my neck literally stood on end as they began chanting their vows more and more frantically as that giant bore down on them. I’m a visual person, too, and I’m baffled at how it’s going to read when I finally get to the books!

      • Raja Tiwary

        I will say though, I could never even come close to finishing Fallout, the graphics were horrendous and I didn’t ever feel immersed in the game. Also not a big fan of steak ( it has no taste at all! How does anyone survive on it?)

        (Not sure about the editing comments part, I’m not doing it through a social ID so perhaps that’s why?)

        Back to GoT though, I’m almost curious to see if they could have done season 3 and season 4 as one season, perhaps 15 episodes long, or something like that. It’s unfortunate that the Jon/Ygritte scene didn’t pop as much for you as it did to me, and you’re certainly not in the minority when it comes to that. I’m curious though, what sort of stuff do you think we’re going to see next episode? I’m assuming you have some predictions regarding the various plots.

        • *cries a lot* The graphics were horrendous?! Hmm, maybe they are off PS3, but seriously, that is my most favorite game HANDS DOWN. But then, you don’t like steak, so clearly I have to break up with you. “We could have had it alllllllll!” Hahaha.

          I have been on the 16 ep a season bandwagon from Day 1, but this is an expensive show, plus there is SO much coordination that goes into each scene, that unless they had four or five AD units of really top-notch directors, it would just be impossible. :( The books have so much story (I assume) that we’re just not going to be able to get. I’ll always go with “gimmie all you can” though, it’s how I’m built. I’m greedy. :)

          • Raja Tiwary

            I think the books have more depth, especially with the characters because hey, you’re actually inside their head but the show is hitting the important plot points and fleshing out the characters very well, and at times better than the books ( see Tywin, Margery). 10 does seem too few, I think George said something like 12 episodes would be ideal, something like Mad Men I suppose, but I’m certain this costs much much more than Mad Men. I do hope you read them though, and do reviews or something, I’m sure that would be popular.

            Nah, I was on the 360, I could have stuck to the game but meh. Skyrim is lots of fun though, I’ll give you that. Hah, no, I think the deal breaker is calling fallout your favorite game *shudders*

            • I GREW UP IN AN APOCALYPTIC RELIGION, RAJA! I was trained for End Times from day 1! I can’t help it, gimmie all the dystopian/post-apocalyptic futures, for therein lies my strength and my skill set. :D Look, I’m just saying that when the dead arise, I’m the person you want protecting your ass. :D

              • Raja Tiwary

                *Points to bookshelf with World War Z and Y: The Last Man*
                There’s more than one way to prepare for the zombie apocalypse!

                • This is true! And I have studied them all. I’m a Walking Dead fan, too. In the recaps I post here, they include Helpful Protips on how to live better. Ahahaha.

                  Now I want to re-read Y: The Last Man. One of my all time faves.

                  • Ivo

                    When I was a wee bairn and I started scouring my parents’ giant bookcase for books to feed the monster (I’d pretty much read my way through the kid’s section of the library by then) I found this old hardback (1930s old) by a Dutch writer called Kees van Bruggen. The book was called “The disturbed ant-hill” and it’s essentially an “everyone’s dead except one guy” book. I’ve been a fan of that genre since then. “Earth abides”! “I am legend”! And as post-apocalyptic fiction goes, “A canticle for Leibowitz” is still my favorite.
                    I loved “Y” too but I’m more impressed by “Saga”.

                    • I have Saga right by my bedside. :D I’m also waiting for life to slow down so I can suck down Lazarus. I have Vol 1&2 right now–it looks pretty good, but we’ll see!

                  • Raja Tiwary

                    I’m only halfway through The Last Man, it’s interesting to say the least. I gave up on the Walking Dead long ago, I feel like I would have liked the graphic novel had I not seen the show.

                    Zombie books are generally my favorite though, at the moment, WWZ is probably the best one I’ve read.

  • Lee No

    Hilarious recap, as always :D Bethesda games references will never go unappreciated here! (I noticed the Fallout one as well, reminds me that I have to play it again sometime soon)

    I know Gjördkr the Bær Fuçkër (hahaha his name has made me crack up every time I read it since season 2) is basically just a grumpy viking but I think he’s awesome.

    Giants and mammoths are endangered species too! Don’t shoot them! Poor things, especially the mammoth mounts which I now need in my life.

    Ygritte’s death was almost Old Testament “an arrow for an arrow” retribution, from the kid’s perspective. I was sad.

    But then battle and CGI and giant ice hooks and giant giants and mammoths and Ghost awesomeness helped. I am now calling my genetic experiment guy to pre-order my mammoth mount.

    • LEE!! You got lost in the shuffle, I didn’t mean to skip you, promise!

      Gjördkr is SUCH a great character. He’s gruff and angry and funny and loves life to the fullest. What’s not to love? I am always harping on these people for the killing of endangered species. Every time a Direwolf dies, a Lannister loses a testicle. Let’s get that trending. :D

      When you get those mammoth mounts sorted, put me down for one, as well.

  • Kat

    I was a bit underwhelmed, because battle scenes just tend to bore me. It was pretty good for an all battle episode in one of my least favourite locations (The Wall, because as pretty as Jon Snow is, he’s also a bit boring to me).

    Next episode will be crazy, though. I’m so psyched for that one.

    • “battle scenes just tend to bore me” WHAAAAAAT?!?? I mean, obviously, you like what you like, etc., but that was so amazing!! Fair enough, it’s not your thing, which must have been incredibly frustrating since the entire ep was a battle scene!

      NEXT WEEK. We are all going to need a BIG glass of wine and some hand holding, I’m guessing. If only because it’s the last we’ll get for ten months!

  • lightandstars

    Hello Laura – here I am, a day late but hopefully better late than never. Are you and Colleen still toasting Ygritte? Let me in on that, I brought some wine, too.

    I’ve been reading about how nobody was terribly moved by Ygritte’s death – I must be a very emotional sort, then, because I cried the first time I watched and more every time I rewatched.

    Also, am I the only one who watches each episode multiple times? I guess I’m your resident weirdo, then.

    Loved what the poster said about Jon being forged as steel. The only thing I thought when Styr bounced Jon’s head on that anvil was “OUCH!” But of course being forged as steel is what that was. More examples of the excellent thought put to the writing. What amazing care and imagination to write the words that end up displaying such a thing, and how amazing the human minds that actually get it. Damn, I’d love to hang around those writing rooms while these episodes are being discussed by D&D. To be able to listen as they discuss the reasons for what should be left in, what’s out and how to carry out an arc in the most meaningful yet poetic manner. Sigh …. the wine is getting to me. But I know you have wet dreams about the craft of writing as well. Love what you do and how you do it.

    Which leads to the next question: WHAT THE HELL ARE WE ALL GOING TO DO WHEN GoT IS OVER? Guess I will have to follow you over to the orphan show or the new one that’s coming up. Shows how much I love you, cuz that new show looked kinda bleak bleak. But if you’re there, it will make it more ok, I think.

    • There is no such thing as too late in a comments thread! <3 *tops you off, sings Bear and the Maiden Fair*

      I was moved, don't get me wrong, I just expected to be moved like I was with Oberyn. (Oh my god, I still laugh every time I see that picture I posted of my SERIOUS FEELINGS ahahaha.) The more I think on it, the more I realize that I just couldn't, and not because of anything WRONG with Ygritte, etc., but because it's the middle of a battle, it was a stupid way to die (I'm not criticising the show, I'm pointing out that a child got their hands on a bow and managed to take out the best archer there--war does that, if that makes sense), and yet there was still a massive battle raging all around. We couldn't focus on her death, because EVERYONE around her was facing death, too. I still don't know how I feel about that, if that's true and honest, therefore the right way for her to go, or if I would have liked that moment to stand out. I don't know, yet.

      And I watch each episode at least twice, if not three times. That's before I post the recap!

      Oh, wasn't that idea of Jon being forged BRILLIANT? I'm upset I didn't think of that. The directors have put so many beautiful layers in the show, an added treat for careful viewers. (Last week: Dany and Jorah and Grey Worm are positioned in an almost homage to Egyptian Hieroglyphics). WOuldn't those writing rooms be AWESOME? My dream job for YEARS was to work on a writing project with a group of intelligent (funny) people and create something wonderful. (Like writing for The Onion, Breaking Bad or True Detective. GAH.)

      I am definitely picking up The Leftovers, that new show on HBO, so you'll have me there! (And if Outlander isn't terrible, I'll give that one a whirl, too. I loved those books when I was younger. Let's see how it turns out?) Also, you (and the rest of the crew here in comments) are always welcome to come hang at my Pro blog. It’s not based on shows, but there’s a little something for everyone. Ivo and I are keeping each other honest on our writing tasks, for example. :D

      • Marilyn

        Did you guys spend the time when Jon was mourning Ygritte screaming at Jon to STAHP it already!, or was that just me? I mean, kneeling down in the middle of a battlefield? It was like he was ASKING to get killed. I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t part of the reason I wasn’t really upset about Ygritte–they tried to make the emotional impact of her death palpable but, unlike last week’s…um…incident. *clears throat* Well. It was totally understandable to get big reaction shots from Ellaria, et al, and it made sense given the setting. But this time I was really distracted by the ridiculousness of his little bubble of sorrow in the midst of the action.

        • Raja Tiwary

          I get what you’re saying, and I think they tried to address those issues by having that scene with Tormund almost going down with arrows and Jon killing the Magnar to show that ‘hey the battle is almost over, I can mope around for a bit’

          That’s what I thought anyway.

          • Marilyn

            Maybe. I guess with Mr. Tall, Dark, and Cannibal out of the melee, things were settling down? I know the bit with our bear-lover didn’t happen until afterwards and they were showing lots of people fighting in the background of Jon’s Sorrow Bubble. UGH.

            I’ll go with what you said, though, and assume that Jon sprang into action immediately if there was a threat directed his way. lol

            • Raja Tiwary

              Oh no, I meant the scene where he took an arrow and stumbled over the stairs, not the one at the end. I know viewers had the same problem with the scene that you did, so there’s certainly something there. To be fair though, at least that shot was fairly nice, especially with the fire in the background.

              • Marilyn

                Yeah, it really really was a gorgeous Bubble o’ Sorrow!

        • Lyanna Mormont

          THIS! So much this. Hello, Jon, while you’re clutching the dead girl, your friends are GETTING KILLED all around you!

          I had a touch of the same thing with Sam and Pyp, but less articulated, because we didn’t actually SEE the people dying. Also, Sam is nowhere near as effective a fighter as Jon.

          • Raja Tiwary

            Hah, Girl with red hair versus friends?

            That’s a easier choice than you would think!

  • Katy

    WOW! I’d kind of completely forgotten that the Battle of the Wall happened around this time. But boy did it deliver!

    I am with you that Ygritte’s death didn’t hold as much emotional weight as it should have. Damn but I’ll miss her. Jon Snow still knows nothing.


    As a book reader I am left wondering what will happen in the last episode. At the end of last season, my sister and I (both book readers) were trying to parcel out what would happen when. We were spot on with the Purple wedding/Joff’s death. But we forgot the Battle and now I have to re-evaluate certain things. I’m wondering what will be left to happen until next season.


    • Wasn’t that an amazing battle!? Just the visual treats alone… Then you throw in all the Sam/Gilly moments, the heartbreak for Jon and Ygritte (Ygritte going out like a warrior with her last words delivered in the arms of the only man she ever loved…) My reply to lightandstars just above this has some thoughts on Ygritte’s death. I’m still trying to work out how I feel about that, honestly.

      SAM TARLY IS GOING ALL THE WAY. <--shit, now that I said that, he's going to die. I TAKE IT BACK!! *panics*

      • Lyanna Mormont

        Sam Tarly, Ser Davos, and Brienne of Tarth. This series really really NEEDS characters like that to balance out all the stark (pun fully intended) bleakness.

  • noël

    Great recap as always!

    I didn’t expect to like the episode as much as I did (book reader and the wall story line is not one of my favs).

    I truly enjoyed the visuals, and the battle of Helm’s Deep feel of the whole ep.

    Also, I didn’t like Ygritte that much in the books and the show, but I still felt sad for the poor girl

    • Thanks, Noël! I’m so fascinated by how many book readers aren’t that interested in the wall. Then again, I know several Unsullied are that way, too. That’s what caught my fannish heart in the beginning, so I’m clearly an outlier and shouldn’t be counted. :D

      IT WAS SO BATTLE OF HELM’S DEEP! I mean, unique because of different source materials, but that sense of “We are all that is holding back certain death to our world” was definitely there in spades.

      • Michael Baker

        I’m a book reader who has always loved the Wall storyline. I think some people may not like it as much because it is the most stereotypically “fantasy” storyline in the series. “Honorable boy goes on an adventure with a trusty wolf companion, encounters many mythical creatures, and meets a girl.” A fairly significant portion of the fan base dislikes the Fantasy genre in general, but are still GoT fans.

        All that being said, thanks for the recaps/reviews. Reading them is easily my most looked forward to GoT related activity(outside the episodes/books themselves of course). ;)

        • Well, Michael, you have just met a non-book reader who LOVES the Wall (when we first see it? With Ygritte and Jon and the Wildlings? I almost stood up on my furniture, pointing in excitement.) and the fantasy storyline. I actually wish we had MORE of it (as well as more Direwolf puppies!) because as I’ve mentioned over and over to the point where I’m probably wearing people out, WINTER IS COMING. The Wall is essential to STOP THAT. :D

          And thank you so much for your kind words! I love the little family we’re building over here with smart, thoughtful fans, book and non-book readers alike.

          • Michael Baker

            Minor spoiler for PAST events in the books(not sure if you want to go into the books unspoiled on the differences).

            The Direwolves play a much larger role in the novels. So you’ll get your increased Direwolf puppy loving when you get a chance to read the series.

            • That is a (very minor) spoiler that I can be happy about!

  • Pingback: Written Round-up: Season 4, Episode 9 "Watchers on the Wall" - - News and rumors about HBO's Game of Thrones()

  • fezgod

    Haven’t finished your review yet but any review that mentions harvesting the giant’s toes already wins a gold star in my book.

    Skyrim giants were already terrifying but at least they don’t ride their mammoths nor use giant ass bows.

    • Ha! Welcome, fellow Skyrim fen! And clearly Jon Snow’s mother was a Nord, since he never needs a damn hat standing out in that freezing weather. *gets you a horn of mead and a knuckle of Mammoth cheese*

  • Tony

    Hi Laura!

    As a bookreader i just want to say your reviews are highly enjoyable and often hilarious! Nice to see you go through the countless twist and turns of the show! Keep it up!

    • Hey, Tony! So glad you’re enjoying my spastic flailings! :D Oh, how I love this show. And I cannot wait until I’m able to read the books. Stupid Unsullied Vow… Ha.

      Thanks for giving these a chance!

  • Avery

    I started reading your reviews this season (first time commenting) and they are quite enjoyable, everyone else has already expressed this better than I ever could but keep up the good work! Seriously though, I was despondent all week, I too am still mourning Oberyn (my fave character in the whole series). I also can’t get enough of Tormund, dude is a freaking tank. One of the incredible things about this show is how attached I’ve become to supporting or even minor characters. Next week should be appropriately mind blowing.

    • Hey there! Glad you popped up to say hello!

      And Avery, you are in welcomed company with those Oberyn feels. Oh, my heart still aches. ACHES, I tell you!! And Tormund is so damn fun. Talk about a hell of a warrior. The man is a beast! I loved that Alliser was almost as good as he was, too. Layers, our bad guys need layers.

      CANNOT WAIT for next week. There will be much flailing, I’m sure. :D

  • Lia

    As a book reader, I thought they managed to make Ygritte’s death scene much more dramatic and poignant than it felt in the written version. (I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say her final moments are nowhere near as cinematic in the book. Okay, shutting up now. :) I agree that everything would have carried more weight if Ygritte and Jon had had ANY other interaction this season, but, well…that part, at least, is true to the book and I need to believe GRRM wrote it that way for a reason! I haven’t read any further than Book 3, but…maybe her arc will be the catalyst for something really, really awesome in Book 4/Season 5!

    • Hi, Lia! Yeah, I’m hearing that a lot, actually, and thank you for being respectful for us non-book readers, too! Maybe if we’d felt Jon pining for her, or Ygritte’s internal turmoil of “will I kill him THIS time?” a touch more, but, as you say (and I LOVE this), we haven’t gotten the whole story, yet, so we don’t know what effect this has, or why.

      We need more story before we can handwave or write something off, absolutely.

  • Lyanna Mormont

    Whew. That was a lot of actioning. And not a good episode for the redheads, yeah? Ygritte and Grenn dead, Tormund pumped full of arrows and taken prisoner by the gang whose teammates he’s just killed a bunch of…

    I’m more in it for the character moments than for the action scenes, so the highlights for me were things like Sam asking Jon what it was like to be in love and be loved back, Maester Aemon talking about having been in love once, the brief moment of mutual recognition between Ser Alliser and Jon, the goodbye between Jon and Grenn, Sam holding a dying Pyp, and so on. But the action in this episode definitely held its own. Giants and mammoths and oil barrels, oh my!

    (Much love for Skyrim and Monthy Python references. As if that needs to be said. And yes, the Helm’s Deep parallells were hard to miss.)

    Where was Maester Aemon locked away while all the fighting was going on, since he wasn’t in with Gilly and Janos Slynt?

    And okay, that probably does qualify as “the biggest fire the North has ever seen.” But we still didn’t see Mance himself. How’s Jon going to find him? Sneak into the middle of an army 100,000 big? March up to the nearest wildling and say “Hey, take me to Mance Rayder”? Send a raven suggesting they settle it all with a duel? Stand on a hill, hair blowing in the wind, and wait for Mance to come to him?

    • Note: redheads don’t fare well in Westeros. See: ALL REDHEADS, including Sansa, Catelyn, etc.

      Man, that moment with Alliser and Jon, where Jon begrudgingly respects him (and Alliser begrudgingly respecting Jon) was just fantastic. Nothing is black and white here, no person, decision, nothing. One of the many reasons this world is so rich and engaging – it’s REAL. I mean, aside from the dragons. :D

      My assumption about Maester Aemon was he was up in the place where they keep ravens, hurriedly scribbling away what was happening and sending them off. BUT WHO KNOWS.

      I guess that the remaining 90,000 Wildlings are hanging back in the woods and will TAKE Jon to him when he comes out with a white flag. (He really should have grabbed a white flag.) I don’t know Mance well enough as a show watcher to know if he’ll respect the rules of parlay, though. *strokes chin*

    • Marilyn

      My favorite thing in this episode, aside from the score (which was just unbelievable and epic and marvelous and so on), was the conversation between Aliser and Jon. That was wonderful. I still think Aliser’s an idiot because OBVIOUSLY, but…I mean, props to the guy who can admit he’s wrong. And he’s so very right about how a leader has to make a decision and stick with it without second guessing himself or permitting others to second guess him publicly.

  • lightandstars

    I accepted the invitation you extended in that lovely reply to everyone to check out your Pro Blog. You are one accomplished lady for someone so young! The favorite line in your whole intro was “…and raising children. They’re not fully raised, but then, neither is she.” Honey, don’t ever lose that side of yourself. It keeps you young and open to learning new things in this wide wonderful world. You should be writing on a comedy show or writing your own comedy show. It would undoubtedly be a hit.

    • Hahaha! You are my favorite for calling me young! /will not tell you my actual age, lol I just have a baby face, promise. :D

      And from your lips to some Executive Producer’s ear! <3 I swear, I don't know how I ended up with such a great good of folks over here, but I'm certainly not going to complain!

  • thanners

    Great, funny recap as usual.

    It was an interesting episode. I found it very strange to have a vague feeling, despite the spectacle of the episode, the enormity, the action, the technical brilliance, that it was a sort of.. filler. No, that isn’t quite the right word; I don’t know what word I want. It might just be because I was still somewhat reeling from the previous episode. And in such anticipation of other storylines.

    That said, I still really enjoyed it. It’s so remote from everything else, and it may have put the other storylines on hold, but in being so different it gave me a chance to take a breath (hilarious that a full-on action episode felt like it there to give me time to breathe).

    It was an episode that needed to happen. I’m a book reader, but I still enjoyed it. In general, I like to _like_ things. I don’t know if that means I’ve just got low standards. I don’t think so, though. I simply just want to shift my state of mind to one that lets me most enjoy something, if possible, and if it doesn’t require too great a shift. (c: And I found that relatively straightforward this episode, got caught up in it, and yelled “No you bastards! (apologies, jon snow)” good-naturedly at the screen when I saw it fade to white and I realised they were pushing more resolution into what looks like it’s just gonna be an amazing episode 10.

    I can’t wait.

    • Thanks for that!

      You bring up a great point in that so many of us are probably still numb from 4.8. That leaves us wary, expecting the worst, so we’re not emotionally available — or emotionally firing on all cylinders? one of those — to deliver the same reaction as we may have for last week. Which isn’t saying that this episode didn’t deserve it or earn it, just that we may not be able to GIVE it. *strokes chin* I like this.

      I totally agree that this was a breather from everything else, which, as you say, is hilarious given that it was non-stop action. But it put us in fight-or-flight mode where we didn’t have to think about our hearts being ripped out, the complexities of what’s happening in KL, etc. There is only survival. Which lends credence to the first bit of your comment, and well done, you!

      “In general, I like to _like_ things” — you are shifting up the list towards my favorite person, Thanners, because ME. TOO. Life is too short and too awful in places not to want to fill the cracks with things that make us happy. I don’t want to hate watch, tear down, be miserable. I want to like things. And I don’t think that has anything to do with low standards, etc. We can still be critical–in the technical sense, not the emotional sense that people seem to want that word to mean when talking about art/media–of the things we love AND STILL LOVE THEM.

      I personally find it as a sign of intelligence when people allow themselves to enjoy the things they enjoy. I mean, why wouldn’t you? <3

      AND I AM SO EXCITED FOR NEXT WEEK. (Then comes the 10 month slog of tearing my hair out, desperate for this show to come back, ahaha.)

      • Marilyn

        Dang skippy. There’s another site I usually enjoy that tends to be so critical of all the shows it reviews that the site’s starting to lose its shine for me. They are just so particular, y’know? Like if a show’s not perfect it gets ground into the dust. Screw that noise. I’m here for good times!

  • Emma

    Ha, I thought the same thing about the gate! It seems heavy as studying for finals, you’d think Jon could have rolled under it so they wouldn’t have to rise it more than a couple of decimeters.

    Am I the only one who’s curious about who Aegon Targaryen was talking about? Maybe you have already discussed this in comments, will read through now.

    • You know, I didn’t think the girl Maester Aemon was talking about had any significance, just an old man telling a story before his inevitable death, but this is GoT – of COURSE it means something. So who? Lady Olenna!?

      • Emma

        Clever, must be her… come to think of it, didn’t she mention something about having been engaged to a Lannister?

        • Lyanna Mormont

          I would think Lady Olenna is at least 10 years too young to have been the one. (Or maybe I’m basing this off what I remember of book ages, and the show is going a different way. I honestly can’t remember if the show has given Maester Aemon an age.) Also, she went to considerable lengths to AVOID being married off to a Targaryen, which doesn’t sound like it would fit well with Maester Aemon’s backstory.

          • EDIT I removed my own comments related to the books…. I didn’t give anything away, but I can see why they may have been seen that way. Sorry Unsullied!

            Lyanna is correct. She is at LEAST 10 years too young!


              Let’s try not to have a lot of book discussion here, because I have no idea what is a spoiler and what isn’t. (I’ve been spoiled for certain things because book readers didn’t consider it a spoiler).

              (Every comment comes straight to me, btw.)

              • Sorry about that, I can see your point. I edited the previous comments to remove it.

                • Aww, you’re such a great guy!! Thanks, Anthony! I appreciate you.

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