If you have not seen Game of Thrones season 5 episode 8 stop right now. There are spoilers below and you don’t want to do yourself a disservice.
This weekend’s Game of Thrones episode “Hardhome” was a much needed and deserved “edge-of-your-seat” installment to season 5’s more gradual build up. All the chess pieces have been meticulously placed as last weekend’s episode reached its climax. Cersie has been imprisoned and charged with incest. Jon Snow has been appointed Lord Commander of the Knight’s Watch. Tyrion has finally met Daenerys. And the Red Preistess has informed Stannis that he must sacrifice his daughter (Princess Shireen) in order for his destiny as the rightful ruler of Westeros be fulfilled. Although most would probably suggest the pace has been rather sluggish this season due to a lackluster of fight scenes, a lot seems to be happening. This weekend’s episode and the fight against the Sons of Harpy both prove otherwise. I may be one of the few who rather enjoys the series downtime, dedicated to plot development & political usurping. If I wanted nonstop adrenaline filled with sex, violence, and shocking visceral moments (and I do at times), I’d watch Spartacus. GoT is not that type of show; although it ever so often feels that way. GoT is more of a fantasy set political strategy series and to appreciate it you have to welcome its slow burn storytelling approach. This weekend’s episode served as a great pay off and sets us up with extremely high expectations for the season finale.
Before I jump into the last epic 20 mins of Hardhome, lets talk about the episode as a whole. Any back and forth with Tyrion Lannister is always an appetizer worth having. The episode starts off with Tyrion being tasked with selling himself to Daenerys as an adviser that will be instrumental in achieving her goals all in a hopes she will let him live. Their little exchange is filled with clever observations and witty comebacks ending with Daenerys declaring she outright aims to break wheel of power in Westeros. Cersie, now in chains and with no one at her corner has been humbled to slurping up water from the ground but ultimately proves resilient enough refusing to confess her sins to the High Sparrow. The once brooding illegitimate son of deceased Eddard Stark is now…well, still brooding…occasionally, but more importantly commanding with great authority. Jon Snow makes a bold move by approaching the Wildlings with the intent of joining forces against the White Walkers despite their longstanding rivalry. Jon Snow delivers his speech declaring “We’re not friends; We won’t become friends; This isn’t about friendship; This is about survival”. His offer is initially met with skepticism and about half eventually choose to accept his offer.
The last 20 mins is filled with a glorious yet seemingly hopeless battle…oh and ofcourse a giant. The scene is introduced as screams are heard in the distance. Before we can tell exactly what’s happening, the Wildlings begin closing their gates to protect themselves against mankind’s greatest enemy. You guessed it. The White Walkers decide to crash their party. The Wildlings are ambushed by a swarm of “Wights”, undead beings controlled by the Walkers. The battle is graphic as it is gritty. Ominous music plays in the background as the undead approach. Suddenly an eerie silence descends as four Walkers appear on a cliff above them. What struck me as most interesting was the tone of the battle rather than the battle itself. We’ve never truly felt the Walkers presence as a legitimate threat up to this point due to their minimal appearance in the series. A Walker attacks Jon Snow which Jon initially seems incapable of defeated as his weapons simply cannot hold up against the Walker’s. Jon narrowly escapes death by using a different sword made of Valyrian steel that not only clashes with the Walker’s sword to both of their surprise but cuts through the Walker with ease. The Night King shows up in a very daunting and dramatic manner raising the dead behind him. As the scene comes to a close you can see him remaining calm and reassured that the inevitable will occur as he shares a moment with Jon Snow silently declaring his victory.
If you want a more detailed breakdown of the episode, check out the link below.