Game of Thrones S5x08 “Hardhome”
Wow. Game of Thrones just might have given us one of the best episodes not just of the season, but the entire series, with an excellent episode that featured the heights normally reserved for the fabled ninth episode, the likes of Blackwater, The Rains of Castamere, The Watchers on the Wall – that end fight alone could have made the episode hit top marks, but it wasn’t just the end fight alone. We got some excellent scenes with Tyrion and Dany as well that really got their partnership running, and has shown us that the show can achieve great things without relying on the books because these two characters haven’t quite yet met. It’s something that’s no doubt very interesting and has loads of potential, with Tyrion offering to become an advisor for Dany as someone who knows Westeros, and knows which houses may or may not ally with her.
First off, we got a pretty powerful scene between Sansa and Theon in this episode as Theon told her that the boys that were killed were not really Bran and Rickon. Theon couldn’t find them so he used other farmboys instead, and this was handled much better than other Sansa scenes that we’ve had in previous episodes. Whilst it is by no means going to be the most talked about scene of the episode in an episode as big as this, it was still pretty impactful and shouldn’t be ignored. Sansa’s the first person to make the discovery outside of Theon which makes things pretty interesting indeed, and again, another change from the books as most characters don’t even know that the boys are still alive. And on top of that, going on changes from the books, Sansa’s not meant to even be here at all.
Sansa was not the only Stark girl that we spent time with this week as Arya returned after a week out, and her training to become a Faceless Man continued. She’s lying, blending in, and her first contract happened fairly early on to kill a man who refused to pay his dues to a widow and child. Lots of potential there to come before the end of the season as well, which is pretty awesome. Hopefully we’ll get Arya returning to Westeros as well later down the line as a fully trained assassin although that almost certainly won’t happen this season not with how few episodes there are left.
Cersei was another character who we spent time with this week as well, as we’re continuing to see her behind bars. The High Sparrow now knows of all of her crimes that she committed like the incestuous relationship with Jamie, and the murder of King Robert Baratheon (which Tyrion used as an example to Dany as to what happens in arranged marriages). It remains to be seen what will happen to King’s Landing without her calculating involvement, however given what’s in store for her character in the books I have a vague idea of what the big scene in the next episode or the following one may be.
The Tyrion and Daenerys meeting was quiet and understated, but effective nonetheless with the two terrible children of two terrible fathers finally having a good long conversation. They need to work out how to be the right kind of ruler if they’re going to earn the support of some of the Houses in Westeros, even if they are going to earn the support of any at all. I loved Daenerys’ comment about how she intends to break the wheel, and it should be very awesome indeed when the character does eventually (after almost five seasons now) set foot on Westeros. We’re certainly edging towards some sort of an endgame with not only her being closer to getting her goal than she has been in the previous seasons, but also, the White Walkers are more active than before in a ruthless, exciting and terrifying ending to the episode that ramped up the tension as the show attempted to outdo every zombie movie ever in the space of 20 minutes.
How awesome was that ending, though? The moment where Jon Snow realised that a White Walker could be killed was awesome and the fight leading up to it was just as brutal and effective. The chilling atmospheric build up to the attack was fantastic as it served as another huge break from the confines of the books in a bloody, effective way that was one of the finest battle sequences of the series. Part Helms-Deep, the Wildlings were slaughtered and the silence after the gate was closed on them led to the undead swarming the walls. It’s clear that these guys are the biggest threat to the kingdoms south of the great wall and it’s certainly looking more and more likely that we aren’t going to get an Independence Day style moment when the various Houses put their differences aside to try to stop the White Walkers, who can only be stopped by the extremely rare Valerian Steel. It’s certainly heading towards a battle between fire and ice, with Daenerys approaching from the south and the walkers from the north, with the politics of King’s Landing caught in the middle. It’s certainly going to be a very interesting future for Game of Thrones.