Game of Thrones S05E08: Hardhome
The hype train arrived and delivered. Has there ever been a greater hour of television? Winter has come, and so have I.
!! This post contains SPOILERS for both the books and TV Show !!
Do not proceed if you aren’t caught up with both
How I feel about this episode largely sums up the entire situation in the show. I bounced in my seat over clever winks like, “A feast for crows,” and, “He always comes back.” Seeing Danaerys and Tyrion finally meet is gratification the book readers have been waiting for since the cockblock that was A Dance with Dragons, as was Sansa at last hearing that Bran and Rickon are still alive.
And then we reach Hardhome, where we are harshly reminded of the real threat they’re facing. As emotional of a roller-coaster King’s Landing is, it’s all bread and circuses in comparison to what’s coming.
The buildup was incredible. First, the dogs lost their shit. Snow rolled ominously over the cliff sides, drifting through the feet of the Wildlings. And then, the panic. When these tough as bones Wildlings start running for their lives, you know it’s going down. They throw their selves at the gate so hard it nearly bows in.
And then, silence.
The sound design in this sequence was seriously well done. The subtle thumping when it panned across the four horsemen overseeing the slaughter gave me chills. The final silence as the Night’s King basically shrugged and doubled his motherfucking army really drove home the defeat here. How do you fight this? What can you say?
This is what everything’s really about here, and the ragtag group of felons manning the wall aren’t going to cut it. Danaerys is the only hope anyone has of survival, and she’s sipping wine and talking about breaking wheels. The king has locked himself in a room with one of the precious Valyrian swords, sad that his mommy and wife are in cells. White Walkers aren’t even on his radar. They’re totally fucked.
I wasn’t a fan of the hoppy skeletons that jumped out of a D&D book to the roof of some hut, but otherwise, the show’s portrayal of the White Walkers is absolutely terrifying. When they launched off the cliff and sprinted after Jon from the bottom, I totally fucking lost it. “Run! Run, bitch, run!” I can’t wait to see how the show deals with a full on invasion, should they pass the Wall.
Of course, this scene was totally new for book readers. In the books, we’re told about Hardhome mostly in letters from an expedition that Jon had sent earlier.
At Hardhome, with six ships. Wild seas. Blackbird lost with all hands, two Lyseni ships driven aground on Skane, Talon taking water. Very bad here. Wildlings eating their own dead. Dead things in the woods. Braavosi captains will only take women, children on their ships. Witch women call us slavers. Attempt to take Storm Crow defeated, six crew dead, many wildlings. Eight ravens left. Dead things in the water. Send help by land, seas wracked by storms. From Talon, by hand of Maester Harmune.
While dead things in the woods and dead things in the water is sufficiently chilling, there isn’t anything to indicate a large-scale attack had happened. Of course, it could happen later – we’ll probably never find out. Jon sends Tormund to Hardhome, while he fixes south to Winterfell.
I’m glad they took a different direction in the show, and we finally got some hard answers about the White Walkers.
- They can be killed with Valyrian steel.
- Travel by day is possible in a snow storm. Previously it was believed they could only travel at night.
- Apparently the Horsemen are so cold they extinguish fires? Dude walked into a burning hut and the fire just disappeared before him. I can’t tell if this is a fact or an oversight.
“I fucking hate Thenns.”
The Wildling leader introduced in this episode was rapidly on her way to becoming a new favorite character. Everyone at The Wall is so serious that it can be a bore to watch sometimes, so I was really enjoying her sharp tongue and colorful personality.
While she was resistant to leaving, it was the mention of the children that finally persuaded her to join the exodus. By the regret she showed at putting her children on the boat, you could really see how much her children meant to her.
Naturally, a mob of motherfucking kid zombies took her down. In each rotting face, she saw her own daughters and the fate she feels they will inevitably succumb to. It paralyzed her, and dashed my hopes for some much needed spitfire at the Wall. With this one character in a single episode, the writers managed to do a better job humanizing the Wildlings than they have through the entire show. Truly heart-wrenching.
“If it weren’t for you, I would still have a family.”
Up until now, everything Sansa’s done has been based on her belief that she is the last remaining Stark. That’s a lot of weight on such a young girl, and you have to proceed very carefully to ensure that your family line isn’t completely extinguished. Now that she knows Bran and Rickon are still alive, what does this mean for her?
I mean, beyond the fact that she has a family again, she’s no longer the sole heir. Littlefinger flashed the “last remaining heir!” card to persuade her into marrying Ramsay., because there is no way she would do that if she had known the true heir is alive somewhere. She no longer needs to endure a bunch of bullshit, just to make sure she stays alive and the Stark name with her. Sansa can take risks. Sansa can be aggressive. This really puts her in a position to finally shank Ramsay in the balls, and flee Winterfell with Theon in search of her brothers.
She’s getting there, you guys.
It’s interesting that this was both the furthest they’ve departed from the books, and the best episode of the season. Hardhome was completely new, Sansa was new, Tyrion and Danaerys were new. Almost the entire episode was either new or altered information and, for the first time, I loved every scene. It really helped separate the books from the show for me, and I think I can continue watching and enjoying the show for what it is.
There is a glimmer of hope that Winds of Winter will be released before the next season. If not, I’m perfectly happy seeing what the show becomes. The Sunday night excitement of the Game of Thrones theme calling everyone to the living room will not be lost any time soon in this household.