Game Of Thrones Season Five, Episode Eight Recap: Hardhome

Wow. Last night’s episode of Game Of Thrones saw the explosive return of the White Walkers. It was one of the most nail-biting moments in the show’s history and a cold reminder of the otherworldly fate that could soon befall all of Westeros. If you've been disappointed by Season 5 thus far, last night was the Lazarus-like comeback you've been waiting for -- literally.

Warning: Spoilers within!

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After enjoying four seasons of universal, unequivocal acclaim, Game Of Thrones has had a divisive year. There have been grumblings that the plot is meandering to the point of being boring (a criticism also levelled at the corresponding books) and then there was that rape scene. Thankfully, last night provided the jolt to the heart that viewers have sorely needed. Hurrah!

Episode 5.8 opens in the throne room of Mereen where Jorah Mormont and Tyrion Lannister await the queen’s justice. Neither of them have a great track record when it comes to Targaryen loyalty – Jorah sold her secrets in the hope of a royal pardon while the Lannisters brutally murdered her father, aunt and cousins. In other words, they’re not the kind of peeps you want to keep around as cup bearers.

After some ponderous deliberation, Daenerys decides to keep the Imp as an advisor while the luckless Ser Friendzone is banished from the city. Again. Undeterred, he decides to become a gladiator in the re-opened fighting pits where the queen is scheduled to make an appearance. Dude, give it up already! She’s just not that into you.

Once Jorah has been kicked to the kerb, Daenerys and Tyrion sit down for a D&M about their dour, deceased daddies. We're also treated to an impressively lengthy info dump to bring casual viewers up to speed. But the most interesting revelation came at the very end of the conversation: Daenerys doesn't intend to rule the noble houses of Westeros like the dragon lords before her. Instead, she wants to smash them all into oblivion. Looks like somebody woke the dragon.

In King's Landing, Cersei is still supping on the sour taste of her just desserts; slapped, starved and sleep-deprived in the High Sparrow's dungeon. Her sole visitor is the creepy ex-maester Qyburn who urges her to confess. (Given the nature of her crimes, this seems like exceedingly poor advice.) So far, the Faith Militant has been kind of acting like Spanish Inquisition Lite. However, we suspect Cersei's suffering is about to get much worse. Doubtlessly book readers will be pleased.

Over in Braavos, Arya's training with the Faceless Men has progressed from sweeping to spying. She is now known as Cat o' the Canals (a nod to her dearly departed mum, perhaps?) and spends her days selling oysters to the sailors, moneylenders and whores who fester on the harbour. This plot line is starting to feel like it's treading water. Still, any scene featuring Arya is always welcome. That lethal little sprog is awesome.

Sansa, meanwhile, finally finds some backbone and gives Theon/Reek a much-deserved dressing down for his assorted sins against the Starks. This leads to a confession that the battered bride wasn't expecting: her two younger brothers were never murdered. The revelation is well handled, but it's also fairly pointless from a story perspective -- Jon Snow already knows about Bran and Rickon's survival and we doubt Sansa will be seeking either brother out any time soon. Nevertheless, it was a good, powerful scene.

Finally, we finish up the episode in the titular Hardhome; a wildling settlement north of the Wall. It is here that Jon Snow attempts to sweet-talk the free folk into joining forces with the Night's Watch against their common enemy. As if on cue, the White Walkers suddenly descend on those assembled with the all-encompassing ferocity of a snowstorm. (They bring one of those too.)

The scale of the spectacle is truly astonishing: there are rampaging wights, spear-throwing White Walkers, Harryhausen-esque skeletons, emaciated kid zombies and even a giant swinging a telegraph pole! We also get another glimpse of the so-called Night's King who appears to be something of a badass. By the end of the episode, most of the wildlings have been transformed into a freshly-slaughtered army of undead minions. Yikes.

In conclusion, Hardhome had everything you could possibly want from a Game Of Thrones episode. Virtually every scene was well-acted, spectacular to behold and furthered the plot in a meaningful way. We can't wait to see how the final two episodes play out. But that's enough waffling from me: what did you guys think? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments section below!

Note: Please, no spoilers from the books in the comments below!


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Comments

    I said it before, I'll say it again.

    Season 5 was the Calm Before the Storm. Anyone who thought otherwise needs to rewatch this episode. Season 2 had it, albeit to a lesser degree.

    Edit:
    Tyrion + Danny have now laid the plans for becoming an incredibly solid force, but will it last? Queue Episode 9.
    Tormund beating the shit out of Rattleshirt/Lord of Bones (He's not Mance, book readers muaha): +1
    I felt more attached to Wildling Lady than the Sand Snakes, was interpreting her as Ygritte 2.0. HAH sucks for her. +1
    Longclaw. Valyrian Steel. When all hope was somewhat lost. Was actually expecting a few other Fan Theories to come to fruition here but they didn't.
    Ninja Updates:
    WUN WUN! Wun is love, Wun is lyf. Seriously. This guy is meant to be bigger than Mag the Mighty (Season 4 Episode 9). Didn't think he would make it to the sea, but he did.

    *I fucking hate Thenns.*

    This also brings forth the most vital character that has not had ANY screen time at all this season.
    Brandon Stark. I'm sure you guys can piece it together.

    And then the Night's King. Seriously, this GIF sums it up.
    http://photos.vanityfair.com/2015/06/01/556bc21c378caf0d670e4d8c_come-at-me-crow-nights-king.gif

    Now all we need is Coldhands.
    BTW Benjen is casted for episode 10... Benjen not been seen since S01E03 == Benjen = Colhands :P

    Last edited 02/06/15 9:08 am

      Nope benjen is not coldhands firstly GRRm already debunked this officially, and the writers of the show said coldhands won't be making an appearance ever in the series...

      It's like benjen stark is very much still alive, he could be converted into a white walker for all we know?

        Yeah well aware that GRRM debunked that. Sorry, should have mentioned /s in my comment. However the fact that DB & Weiss mentioned that is interesting, do you have a source for this?

        EDIT: As of recent Benjen's no longer on the IMDB casting for Episode 10. It's possible that someone's yanking the chain though.

        Last edited 02/06/15 10:48 am

    I've quite enjoyed S5. There doesn't need to be battles and surprise deaths for it to be good - it's been quiet tension escalating since about episode two. Loving it.

    Last edited 02/06/15 9:20 am

    Warning: Spoilers within!
    Seems a little redundant when you put a major episode spoiler in the cover image and first sentence >_<

    OT: was a great episode

    Last edited 02/06/15 9:26 am

      I agree, I was severely pissed off when I browsed through IGN and they had a white walker as a pic for their episode recap. They've since changed that, Kotaku US probably won't.

        This is an Australian article anyway. Should be very easy to get it changed. But you'd think that it would be obvious enough not to post a spoiler image in the first place?

          Ah, I thought Chris was a US writer. But yeah, common sense doesn't come across when people expect everyone to drop everything and watch the latest episode straight away

      Yeah, seriously, just put the GoT logo or something on the first page, you spoiled it already.

      Strongly agree. @chrisjager et al, PLEASE adopt generic headline images for these articles, seriously. I was fortunate that I was able to watch it last night, but normally it takes a couple of days before I do. These articles then get blanketed across the Allure network and some degree of spoiler is unavoidable.

      In this case, it would have spoiled what is probably going to be the highlight of the entire season. The onslaught by the walkers was a serious "holy shit, that is so cool, something is finally happening!" moment that I was not expecting when I started watching. I assumed it was going to be diplomacy stuff with maybe a swordfight fight or two.

      In short, your network's approach to these articles make me less likely to want to read your sites for a couple of days, rather than more likely. Your data may show that I'm in the minority, but it doesn't change that it's a jerky thing to do.

        Sorry guys. I struggle with this every week. The lead image shouldn't be massively spoilery (like showing a character's death) -- but it also needs to be interesting enough to click on. I figured the white walkers are already a known entity, so showing one standing in the snow wasn't a massive spoiler.

          Thanks. I guess the way to decide is whether, knowing nothing about the developing plot, the image would be a surprise. A massive spoiler, if you will! ;)

          Interesting returning characters and climactic battles are probably right up there with deaths as key spoiler moments - and this ticks both those boxes.

          Fair enough, but the pic shows ... I'm still calling him Darth Maul for now, in the village. Kicks it up from "White Walkers in the episode" to "White Walkers launch an attack".

    Great episode BUT... this episode have a different director? It felt so different than any other episode. Every scene had 101 camera angles they'd switch between every 2 seconds and the lighting seemed to be turned way up. It seemed like spring is coming, not winter.

      GOT (like a lot of TV shows) has different directors from week to week.

      I just checked the IMDB page for this season and they've had four different directors so far, each doing two eps.

    I've watched it luckily but seriously why have the white walker as the articles cover image? THAT'S A SPOILER!

    Anyway the first part of this season was just saving budget for this episode, the fight scene was done better than some recent movies.

    Having Danny and Tyrion converse was already a win for me, but the last 15 minutes. My god!

    Holy fucking shit.

    That is all.

    Wow, way to go putting a huge spoiler as the headline image. I know posts reviewing/discussing eps are everywhere and part of pop culture news (I love them myself), but if you don't publicly list them in a spoiler free way as a heads up for others to steer clear before watching the week's episode, then that is just rude.

    Arya isn't known as Cat of the Canals now... in the show she's "Lana"....

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