With just three episodes to go in season 5 of Game of Thrones, there should be plenty of developments this week. We know (from the title, among other things) that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) are heading beyond the Wall to rescue the Wildlings trapped at Hardhome.
HBO’s synopsis: “Arya (Maisie Williams) makes progress in her training. Sansa (Sophie Turner) confronts an old friend. Cersei (Lena Headey) struggles. Jon travels.” Masters of understatement, whoever writes those lines.
We open in Meereen, inside the big pyramid as Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) look down on Jorah (Iain Glen) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). Of course Tyrion’s doing most of the talking. (Especially since she won’t let Jorah talk.) Dany wants Tyrion to say something to keep her from having Jorah executed, and of course, Tyrion obliges. “Remove Ser Jorah from the city,” she says, but at least she does spare his life. It’s obvious that his betrayal still hurts her, but not nearly as much as it’s hurt him. He’s clearly miserable to be in her presence while she looks at him with such disdain, knowing at last that she’ll probably never forgive him.
In King’s Landing, Cersei is clearly not thriving in her new surroundings. She’s in prison and looks horrible, but she’s still got her sharp tongue and is still threatening everyone within earshot. Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham) who will give her water if she’ll but confess, hits her with the ladle when Cersei mouths off. Septa Unella is my new favorite character.
In Braavos, Arya is telling Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha) a story about a girl named Lana, a fish monger. This is apparently “the girl’s” new persona, who will make a “good servant for the many-faced God.” Jaquen sends her to the docks to kill a “gambler” who makes his living wagering on other people’s lives. The other trainee assassin does not think Arya is ready to be carrying out covert ops yet.
Qyburn (Anton Lesser) is visiting Cersei, to give her all the news of the court that she’s missing while she’s incarcerated. First, there’s the happy news that she’ll be put on trial for fornication, incest, and the murder of King Robert Baratheon. Oh and Grand Maester Pycelle, who is defacto in charge at the moment, has brought Kevan Lannister back to King’s Landing to serve as the “Hand of the King.” Speaking of the king, Tommen is still on a hunger strike and won’t visit his mother. Qyburn urges confession. His parting words, “Good bye my queen. The work continues.” One can only assume that means his Dr. Frankenstein-like experiments down in his laboratory. When are we going to find out what the hell he’s making and what its relevance is to Cersei Lannister? Will she live to find out?
Up at Winterfell, Sansa is demanding answers from Theon (still insisting he be called Reek and referring to Theon in the 3rd person), chiefly, why he ratted her out. He tells Sansa about the horrors he’s suffered at the hands of Ramsey and that he was saving her from a similar fate. Sansa is not moved. Reek (Alfie Allen) is full of remorse, and he FINALLY tells her that the boys he murdered back when he was still Theon and life was full of possibilities, were not her little brothers, Bran and Rickon, but two farm boys! Which is bad enough considering their gruesome fate, but Sansa at least is hopeful for her brothers and that her entire family has not, in fact, been wiped out. But we know how dangerous it is for Sansa to have hope.
Roose (Michael McElhatton) and Ramsey (Iwan Rheon) Bolton are still dithering over King Stannis’ imminent arrival. Roose wants to sit safely at Winterfell while the snow piles up around him, but Ramsey, still searching for a way to cement his position as Roose Bolton’s true son and heir (plus he’s an egomaniacal psychopath) asks for twenty “good men” to ride out to meet him. That he thinks twenty men can defeat Stannis Baratheon’s army makes me wonder what he’s really up to.
Back in Meereen, Tyrion, who finally has some wine, and Dany are discussing their horrible families and whether or not she’s worth his service and he’s worth keeping alive. Tyrion tells Dany that not only does he trust Varys (strangely absent for the past three episodes) but that Varys may be the reason Dany wasn’t killed in her crib. By the end of their discussion, Dany says she won’t kill Tyrion and she wants him to advise her. He tells her the first hard truths that anyone has in quite some time.
Jorah, meanwhile, goes back to his “owner” because he wants to fight in the “great pit” to fight in front of the queen again. Ya gotta give it up for his tenacity.
Back to jail where Cersei is bent, but not yet broken. She’s still telling her jailers that she’s going to kill them. No one is buying the act, especially not the Septa who dumps out the water Cersei so desperately wants. When the priestess leaves, we actually get to see Cersei slurping water from the filthy dungeon floor like a dog. Oh how the mighty have fallen. But we mustn’t ever forget that wounded Cersei is even more deadly than regular Cersei.
At The Wall, Gilly (Hannah Murray) and Sam (John Bradley) are being affectionate when Ollie (Breneck O’Connor) wants to talk about Jon and his trip to try to convince the Free Folk to abandon their settlement and come to Castle Black for safety. Ollie is still very pissed at Jon for leaving to help the people who murdered his parents.
“Try not to worry, Ollie, I’ve been worrying about Jon for years. He always comes back,” Sam tells him. Good lord, if that isn’t a bad omen, I don’t know what is! IS he coming back?! People die on this show! (I’m throwing salt over my shoulder and making the sign of the evil eye before I can continue typing.)
Cue Jon, Tormund, Eddison (Ben Crompton), and company arriving at the fishing village known as Hardhome. The Wildlings greet the party at the harbor wearing the skins and bones of god knows what kind of freaky animal (or human) and are not at all happy to have visitors. Their leader immediately calls Tormund a traitor. Tormund immediately bashes the man’s head in. Addressing the Wildlings, Jon tells them he knows they don’t trust him. He says he doesn’t want to be friends, but he does want to help them and wants them to help him and the other Crows. They’re skeptical about anyone being able to kill White Walkers. Jon shows them the Dragon Glass and tells them that if they’ll help him win the war against the White Walkers, he’ll give them the land south of the wall. When one of them asks about their leader Mance Rayder, Jon tells them the truth about their leader’s death and that he was the one to shoot him in the heart with an arrow. Luckily Tormund explains that it was a kind act to put him out of his misery, before they can tear Jon’s head off.
The Free Folk don’t trust Jon, but do trust Tor to do right by them, until some big bald guy called Loboda (Zachary Laharov) speaks up to remind everyone AGAIN that the Crows are their enemy and they aren’t going anywhere with them. A Wildling Chieftess (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) has some sense, however, and they get the old folks and children onto the boats. While everyone’s at the docks, the mountains start to rumble and dogs start to howl. They close the gates of Hardhome, but an army of White Walkers have arrived and the battle begins.
Instead of getting out while he can, Jon leads the Night’s Watch in a charge. They are clearly outmanned, even with the actual freaking GIANT of a Wildling stomping on the White Walkers. While Jon searches for the Dragon Glass that he somehow forgot to keep on his person at all times, he is attacked by a WW general. He’s wounded. Badly. He never gets the dragon glass but oh what’s this? His sword of Valyrian steel works the same way! A development that will undoubtedly come up again, but for right now, Hardhome is completely overrun.
Jon, Tor, and Eddison retreat to the boats while the giant battles the monsters before joining them by walking into the sea. They’re watched from the shore by The Night’s King (Richard Brake) who looks like he escaped Sauron’s Orc factory. He raises his arms and the dead Wildlings begin to arise as newly form White Walkers. The way he was staring at Jon makes me wonder if he used to be someone Jon knew.
As the few who made it out alive sail away…we’re out.
HO.LY.CRAP! That battle was brutal and intense! The snows are falling and the White Walker army has come down from the mountains. Looks to me like Winter isn’t coming, it’s already here. (But what do I know. I haven’t read the books.) Join me next week, same bat time, same bat channel, for the penultimate episode of season 5: “The Dance of Dragons.” Here’s a preview:
A few memorable lines from season 5, episode 8 (Tyrion has quite a few):
“He’s prettier than both my daughters, but he knows how to fight.” – Tormund Giantsbane (about Jon Snow)
“It may not be enough, but at least we’ll give the fuckers a fight!” – Jon Snow
“I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel.” – Daenerys Targaryen
“Here we sit, two terrible children of two terrible fathers.” – Tyrion Lannister
“Under my rule, murder will once again become entertainment.” – Dany
“Belief is so often the death of reason.” – Qyburn
“A ruler who kills those devoted to her is not a ruler who inspires devotion.” – Tyrion
“Killing and politics aren’t always the same thing.” – Tyrion
“I am the greatest Lannister killer of all time.” – Tyrion
– Recap by Sheri Young