THIS BLOG IS FULL OF SPOILERS.
GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS…
YOU REALLY SHOULD HAVE PICKED THAT UP FROM THE TITLE
IF YOU DIDN’T AND YOU’RE STILL HERE ANYTHING SPOILED IS ON YOU
I’M ONLY GIVING YOU A FEW MORE CHANCES HERE
I MEAN IT.
GO AHEAD AND CLICK THE X IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE NEWEST EPISODE OR ARE UP TO DATE ON THE BOOKS
THIS IS IT
I MEAN IT.
HERE WE GO!
It is no matter a question of winter coming; this Sunday, winter came, it saw, and it collectively kicked both the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings’ ass.
Episode 8, titled “Hardhome,” was easily the best episode of this slow-burn season as well as one of, if not THE, most satisfying episodes this show has delivered to date, and a large part of that has to deal with being on the edge of my seat for the first time this show started.
We’ve officially finally reached the crossroads we’ve been anxiously awaiting with good ol’ Game of Thrones. There have been numerous changes up to this point, but as book readers, we are now officially in uncharted territory. The only four BIG moments left in the book up to this point are as follows: the assassination of Jon Snow (Something I think will happen within the next two episodes given the heavy indication that Olly will be taking the place of Bowen Marsh in the books.), Stannis’ siege on Winterfell (an event that seems like it is going happen under much different circumstances than it does in the books), Drogon’s fiery rescue of Danerys and Cersi’s walk of shame. All of these events serve effectively as cliff-hangers in the latest book so we (meaning book readers) have absolutely no idea how either of those play out which is downright terrifying/exciting. And let me stress that I am not trying to elevate my sense of self worth by saying I’ve read the books. I fucking hate it when other people do that. I am not above however excitedly comparing the two in how they differ. I only read them AFTER I saw the first season so I am effectively still a newbie to this franchise that started over 20 years ago. I just need to highlight how unique and exciting this situation is.
The point of this blog, unlike the last two GoT-themed posts, is the celebrate this change of pace. The only other show I can think of that got ahead of its source material and that is the original Fullmetal Alchemist. The case for that show is very similar to GoT’s. The show simply got ahead of the books and kept a pace that the author of the source books simply couldn’t maintain. It’s the biggest drawback to adopting something that doesn’t have an author approved ending. Unlike Fullmetal however, its been stated time and time again that showrunners David Benioff and B.D. Weiss know where and how George R.R. Martin ends his series of books. The real weakness of the first Fullmetal anime series is that its ending is completely unsatisfying and wholly inferior to the ending of the manga. (Which was thankfully corrected with the second anime, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.) Whether that ultimately hurts how we read the books (that he has yet to publish) is completely up in the air. I imagine they will both end up in the same place ultimately, but the journey to get there will be completely different. Martin is able to take all the time he needs to set up and then pay off the countless narrative threads in his books. The showrunners have to do it in 10 hours.
Let’s get back to the episode, and what an episode. While slow, this season hasn’t been bad. It had the burden of having to adopt parts of the most boring book. The only downright terrible/disappointing aspect has been Dorne and the Sand Snakes. Everything else has been pretty solid. I have absolutely no qualms about a slow-burning show (Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Mad Men, True Detective, and more all rank fairly high on my favorite TV show list) but I’ll admit it is odd to see GoT do it this season given just how much ground it has to cover with all of the characters it juggles season to season. That slow streak effectivelly ended on Sunday when things got kicked up to 11.
The best aspect of this episode, across the board, was the White Walker’s assault. Finally we are get a sense of just how FUCKED Westeros is. We’ve really only gotten snippets of the undead army that is very, VERY slowly heading south. We got the cliffhanger of Season 2 (with the battle largely happening off-screen) and the attack on Bran, Hodor and the Reeds at the end of last season. There was also the tease last season with the baby.
We’ve been warry of the wights and the White Walkers, but they seemed like a distant threat. This episode gave us a frightening reminder that we, just like a majority of the other characters not at the wall, that is force greater than anything ever known is coming and it’s going to take some major team-work to hold back. It single handedly made every other conflict look like a squabble by comparison.
We also got some very crucial information delivered brilliantly…
The stock in Valyrian steel just skyrocketed. This is a very talky show (it honestly needs to be given the amount of information that needs to be conveyed within an hour) so its always refreshing to get a massive revelation with little to no dialogue. Here it was simply two swords smashing together followed by “HOLYFUCKINGSHIT” faces from Jon Snow and the White Walker.
It’s a battle scene so good that I can only assume the creators’ intentionally kept hanging on moments we (me especially) it would cut to black and fail to deliver us any undead action. I fully expected all the Wildlings trapped on the other side of that wall to die off screen and we would simply here their screams as the joined the ranks of the dead. Remember, we’ve really only gotten bait-and-switches with the White Walkers up to this point. What we got was effectively the first battle in war that is finally beginning that has us all collectively singing the Doom Song until the next season.
The other scene I would be remiss if I didn’t at least dedicate a few paragraphs to discussing would be the scene between Tyrion and Daenerys.
This may just be the best-written, fully-realized narrative convergence the show has managed to pull off thus far. Tyrion’s analysis of Danerys’ situation, the simple banter between the two and even both coming to realize they share more than they think was just so satisfying to a scene we’ve wanted to see for so long now.
With this episode, as Danerys said, the wheel was broken, but in more ways than one. For the past five seasons, we’ve been caught up in the politics of Westeros, but in a brilliant stroke, our collective attention is now squarely turned to the north. This episode also served as a distinct reminder that the future is no effectively up-in-the-air for everyone who considers themselves fans of the series. This episode actually surprised me for the first time in the history of this show. I knew the Battle of Blackwater was coming. I knew the Red Wedding was coming. I knew about the Viper’s unfortunate head popping incident. Now only have suspicions about what will happen, and I finally can’t wait to see what happens next.
(Fingers crossed that it can mean that the Hound is still alive…please?!….yes, I know he probably is in the books but I need…er…want him back on the show. K thanx)