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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