If you’ve sufficiently recovered from that intense episode of Game of Thrones, dive into our recap to see what we thought of “Hardhome.”
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The post and the comments section will contain spoilers! If you haven’t read the books yet, please check out our non-book-reader recap. Thanks!
After being presented to Daenerys as a “gift” at the fighting pits in the last episode, Tyrion is brought back to Dany’s pyramid along with Jorah for the most awkward-silence-filled portion yet of their road show.
You have to admire Tyrion’s chutzpah. As far as he’s concerned, he’s not offering his services to Daenerys- she’s auditioning for him. He manages to talk her into not killing him for the moment by marveling over her progress in the last few years, and advises her not to kill people who are as devoted to her as Jorah has been. With that said, he then tells her she can’t have Jorah by her side. She sends the lovelorn Jorah away again. (He can’t catch a break this month, poor guy.)
In King’s Landing, Septa Unella pops into Cersei’s cell for a little tormenting- she demands she confess, and of course Cersei remains obstinate. The septa is unmoved by Cersei’s repeated threats.
In Braavos, Arya’s lies have improved. She tells Jaqen of how she is becoming Lana, an orphan who sells seafood. In Ragman’s Harbor, she sees many things, including a thin man who sells ship insurance. As Jaqen points out, the thin man is not honest about paying out people who are owed, and “Lana” will be returning to the docks with a “gift” for the thin man.
After Arya leaves, the Waif tells Jaqen she doesn’t think Arya’s ready, but Jaqen shrugs her off, saying it’s “all the same to the Many-Faced God.” That’s the Faceless way of saying, “Oh god, no one cares. Go away.”
Back in King’s Landing, Qyburn visits Cersei in her cell to update her on pressing matters. Tommen is barely eating or leaving his rooms, and Kevan Lannister has been made Hand of the King. Cersei will be tried for incest and murdering King Robert. She refuses to even consider confessing to the High Sparrow to get out of the trial. He reassures her also that “the work” is continuing. (Damn, Cersei- you know things are bad when your best friend is that creepy mad scientist who plays with dead bodies.)
At Winterfell, Sansa demands to know why Theon- no, Reek- told Ramsay about her asking for help. She presses him further about her brothers, and eventually he breaks and admits, it wasn’t Bran and Rickon he killed- it was two other boys he burned because he couldn’t find her brothers.
After all these years- her little brothers are alive.
Meanwhile, the Boltons prepare for Stannis’s attack. Roose is confident they can withstand a siege but Ramsay wants to take the fight to Stannis in order to make a statement. He asks for the men to make that happen. (Bonus: Feast for Crows reference!)
Dany and Tyrion meet- she wants to talk about why he killed Tywin, but Tyrion isn’t drunk enough yet for that.
She may say she hasn’t accepted him yet as an adviser but she clearly has. With Jorah gone and Barristan dead, she’s in need of more councilors. After sparring a bit, Dany admits the obvious, that she’s not going to kill him, and that she wants him to help her get what she wants-the throne, of course.
Tyrion suggests she stay in Meereen, but Daenerys wants to go home. (And to break the metaphorical wheel. Of course I’m not sure how she can accomplish that, but alright.)
Jorah approaches the fighting-slave-owning Yezzan and asks him to take him back so that Jorah can fight in the great pit of Daznak in front of Daenerys. Yezzan agrees, since Jorah can make him money.
The septa returns to Cersei’s cell. Cersei tries bribery with a position at court for about ten seconds before she returns to hissed threats. The septa pours the drinking water out, and Cersei is left trying to drink drops of water from the floor while she cries.
Up at Castle Black, Gilly tends to Sam’s bruised face before their gentle moment is interrupted by Olly bringing in food. Olly has Jon’s trip on his mind, since he’s hung up on his hatred of wildlings (really belaboring this point with his sidelong glance at Gilly as she left, aren’t we?). Sam reassures the boy that Jon has made the right choice in making the journey and allying with the wildlings even if it seems like a bad idea.
Jon, Tormund and his crew arrive at Hardhome to a less-than-friendly welcome from the wildlings there. Tormund wants to call a meeting with the elders but Rattleshirt questions the alliance aggressively. Tormund settles this by beating him to death. (Dead in the books, dead on the show. I like the balance.)
The elders debate the wisdom of trusting the crows, with the Thenns predictably against it, but Karsi, the female wildling chieftain, is more in favor of trusting Tormund’s judgment. Wun Wun of the giants appears to trust Tormund as well. Jon even admits to killing Mance but Tormund vouches that it was a mercy killing, and for his abilities in general. Basically all gingers love Jon Snow, it is known.
The people of Hardhome load up on the boats, though not all of them. Karsi sends her children off a boat and stays to help others. Some will stay behind, much to Jon’s chagrin. As they’re getting ready, the weather changes, the winds blow and there’s a noise, a rumble…
There’s something outside the gates of Hardhome- the Thenn leader Loboda screams for the gates to be shut, even though there’s dozens of wildlings still out there. The doors slam shut, with people screaming to be let in. There’s strange figures in the distance approaching…
The cold winds rise and the screams outside the gates die quickly. Inside the gates, everyone stands at the ready, including Jon, Tormund and the wildling leaders. Loboda peeks through a crack in the gates and of course we get a good horror-movie scare of a blue-eyed wight attacking right at us!
Then the fighting starts, and I can’t put it delicately. It kicks an enormous amount of scary, icy ass, with the wights bashing through the fence to get through to the remaining wildlings on the shore.
The living fighters take out bunches of wights and then Jon catches sight of White Walkers on top of the cliffs- and then he remembers the dragonglass that Sam gave him take on the trip. He runs for the hut where it was last seen, the one the giant is tearing up and it’s on fire currently so that should be no problem, right?
Jon and Loboda run to the hut- and right into a White Walker. Jon goes for the dragonglass while the Thenn leader takes on the White Walker with predictably fatal results. The White Walker turns his attention to Jon then, tossing him around easily and things aren’t looking so good for Our Hero.
Jon crawls through the snow, managing to grab hold of his Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw- and with it, is able to defend himself from the White Walker’s sword that seems to destroy everything else. Longclaw blocks the icy sword, and Jon slices through the White Walker, shattering him completely.
Far above, the White Walker king watches this new development with- I want to say interest, but it’s not easy to interpret the facial expressions of ice zombies.
The hand-to-hand fighting continues with Tormund holding his own. Karsi is killing many of the undead army but when confronted with a pack of child wights, she freezes. The small wights swarm and kill her.
Edd finds Jon on his knees, and tells him it’s time to leave. Up above, the wights are jumping off the cliff for another attack and the fences are collapsing entirely. Finally, the last survivors retreat with Jon, Tormund, and Edd running toward the boats, and Wun Wun bringing up the rear. Safely on the water, they look back and see the White Walkers and wights on the shore slaughtering the wildlings.
The White Walker king stands on the end of the dock, facing Jon Snow. He lifts his hands.
All the fresh dead on the ground rise, their eyes bright blue.
Jon sees, and then turns away as they sail and leave Hardhome behind.
Sansa knows!: It feels like pieces of a puzzle coming together, her knowing Bran and Rickon are alive. One step closer to a Stark reunion?
Arya in Braavos, Phase II: I’m enjoying her scenes a lot, and really looking forward to next week when she finishes the job.
The laugh before the storm: Edd and Wun Wun’s moment with the giant’s translated ‘the fuck you looking at?’ had me laughing so hard. It’s nice to have a giggle before the carnage.
Karsi, we hardly knew ya: Birgitte Hjort Sorenson’s character put a face on the wildling people of Hardhome. I liked her, and was sad to see her die.
The king is a character – The White Walkers tend to be ambiguous but I loved how much we saw going on with the White Walkers tonight, especially with their king and how you could see some personality. It’s more interesting than mindless malevolence.
Dany’s Adviser: Dinklage brings out the best in Emilia Clarke, and I already love how Tyrion is pointing out tough realities along with smart advice, exactly what Dany needs in her camp of advisers.
Hardhome VFX, stunts, you name it– Game of Thrones went all out and it shows. Holy shit.