Taking Tormund To Task

TormundHeader

At the conclusion of the seventh season of Game of Thrones, the laconic leader of the White Walkers directed his resurrected dragon to attack the Wall, the primary barrier between the North and the Even More North. Zombie Viserion’s eldritch blue breath weapon blasted a huge hole in the Wall, allowing the Night King’s undead legions access to the Seven Kingdoms. Things are heating up in Westeros.

Plotwise, I mean. Otherwise things are getting chillier.

Besides ushering in a ghoulish invasion of Westeros, the destruction dealt to the glacial border-fence had other consequences: it also eliminated Eastwatch-By-The-Sea, one of the few manned fortifications of the Night’s Watch. Of more importance to some fans was the fate of Tormund Giantsbane, who was atop the Wall at Eastwatch at the moment of the attack.

Eastwatch

It’s possible that Tormund died when Eastwatch fell, but there’s a reasonable rule of thumb that if viewers don’t see the body, we should at least investigate the possibility that the character in question is still alive. After the episode aired, fans pored over the video footage of the attack, building a speculative case that the Free Folk legend survived.

Before anyone gets concerned, let me assure everyone that I have no advance knowledge on if Tormund survived or not. I haven’t been tracking whether the actor has shaved his beard or made radical changes to his hairstyle, or even if he has been seen in Belfast. Or whatever. Anything I propose is pure speculation for purposes of this article.

Tormund is an experienced Wall-surmounting raider, having made many trips over the barrier in his raiding career. It’s not hard to conceive that he made his way to a secure part of the Wall before the section holding up Eastwatch collapsed. (Maybe with Beric Dondarrion hanging onto him? Maybe?)

There are narrative reasons in favor of Tormund surviving and being active in Season Eight: he’s one of the last wildlings we know by name. Almost every other wildling who has had any significant role in the show – Craster, Mance, Osha, Ygritte, Rattleshirt, Orell, Styr, Karsi – they’re all dead. If we lose Tormund, we lose our familiar connection to an entire population. Unless the wildlings are going to be rendered irrelevant (like the Dornish) in the last stretch of this story, Tormund probably survived so he can continue to be their representative. For this same reason, I’ll never be worried about Grey Worm not making it through a battle. Not until we get to know some other Unsullied.

In fairness, Tormund isn’t the only living wildling that we know of. Gilly is still alive and she’s definitely a wildling, but I don’t think the show would have her be Jon’s diplomatic envoy to the Free Folk refugees. Realistically, Tormund is needed for that.

Therefore, Tormund is most likely not crushed beneath a ton of ancient ice, news that might make most fans happy. But should we be happy? Tormund dying at the Wall is a fate he probably deserves. There’s a certain ironic rightness about a Free Folk raider dying in the role of a crow, a wildling’s traditional enemy.

My ancestors would spit on me, if I broke bread with a crow. – Thenn leader at Hardhome

Looks like we’re the Night’s Watch now. – Tormund at Winterfell

Although this end to Tormund might be ironically fitting, I’d rather discuss Tormund’s death being satisfying in a karmic sense.

Tormund

Karma, the idea that “what goes around comes around” is a bit of a latecomer to the events on Game of Thrones. Early on the central theme of the show might have been best described as Good Guys Finish Dead. Honor and other virtuous attributes were presented as lethal liabilities; choosing a path other than ruthless self-interest often led one to an early grave. (If your corpse wasn’t just tossed into a river or something.)

But in later years there’s been some re-balancing of the scales in regards to the practitioners of treachery reaping what they’ve sown. Most of the villains have met with some kind of reversal. Sometimes career-ending reversals.

  • Cersei has lost all of her children (and with them, her humanity)
  • Tywin was killed by his son
  • Roose Bolton – a Red Wedding architect like Tywin – was also murdered by his son
  • Walder Frey was not only killed, his face was used to facilitate the execution of his sons and grandsons.

In those instances, it seemed as if the karmic shoe had dropped on our wrongdoers, justifiably so.

But what has Tormund done to deserve karmic backlash? He’s been a stand-up fellow, supporting Jon Snow – a character who is probably the closest thing to a traditional virtue-driven hero since Ned Stark and Robb Stark were killed. Tormund is one of Jon’s trusted lieutenants and therefore one of the good guys.

But is he a good guy?

There’s so much horror and savagery on the show, it’s hard to keep them all in mind, so please forgive me if I remind us of some of Tormund backstory details. By way of a little bit of imagined dialogue…

Tormund wasn’t the only person we viewers knew at Eastwatch, and I assume he and Beric Dondarrion would pass the time chatting while on watch for the White Walkers.

BericTormundOnWatch

Tormund: I’ve never seen a man with more scars than you.
Beric: Most were given to me by the same person. Ser Gregor “the Mountain” Clegane.
Tormund: A nickname to be respected. A big man?
Beric: He was monstrous. And not just in size.
Tormund: How so?
Beric: He once led a group of raiders through the Riverlands, slaughtering innocent smallfolk who had no other wish than to be left alone.
Tormund: And?
Beric: What do you mean?
Tormund: I want to hear about him being … monstrous.
Beric: Well, he has done other reprehensible acts, but wouldn’t massacring defenseless villagers qualify as monstrous?
Tormund: This Mountain. Did he eat any of the villagers?

Hopefully that will serve as a reminder that in Season One, Beric Dondarrion was sent to arrest the Mountain who was rampaging through the Riverlands. The purpose of Ser Gregor’s chevauchée (look it up) was done to scatter the Riverlands responders so Tywin Lannister could make an unimpeded rush at Riverrun.

This is not so different from Tormund’s behavior at the end of Season Three and throughout Season Four.

In preparation for Mance Rayder’s assault on Castle Black’s section of the Wall, Tormund had been sent with a team (including the inside man, Jon Snow) south of the Wall as special forces. Tormund’s initial plan was to approach Castle Black in secrecy, to attack with surprise when Mance made his move. This meant killing anyone they came across who could possibly raise an alarm. Like old harmless horse breeders.

Jon broke from the group at this point, getting to Castle Black ahead of the wildlings (with a few of Ygritte’s arrows in him for his pains) to alert the Watch. With a surprise attack impossible, Tormund’s tactics changed to something more brutal.

Reinforced with a squad of Thenns, Tormund and company began to rampage through the North, massacring villagers (while sparing one or two to spread the word of the terror attacks.) The hope was to pull defenders from Castle Black, to facilitate things for Mance Rayder when he made his large-scale assault.

VillageAttackMore

The Watch would not rise to the bait, regardless of how many villagers were put to the sword. Not even when the inhabitants of nearby Molestown were butchered. In the end, the murder of non-combatant northerners gave no advantage to the wildlings.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows, and it’s understandable why the Jon Snow administration isn’t turning up the heat on Tormund and any of the original wildlings who raided with him. There are certainly bigger fish to fry in regards to an army of the dead coming from beyond the Wall, and as stated earlier Tormund is more-or-less the ambassador between the wildlings and Jon Snow. Tormund helped Jon fight against Bolton forces, and has accepted a role in manning some of the Night’s Watch castles. There’s been no official pardon mentioned, but it’s almost been implied.

So I comprehend why Jon is overlooking Tormund’s violent actions. I just don’t know why we fans are.

TormundNorth

Okay, I’m not blind. Kristofer Hivju, who plays Tormund, has a ton of charisma; it’s hard not to be charmed by him. And he hasn’t been a butchering monster for several seasons, so it’s convenient to forget the wholesale bloodshed at the northern settlements and get invested in him as an ally against the supernatural White Walkers. But I don’t want to too easily accept that. Otherwise, if the Mountain had just been more playful and charming, would we fans have warmed up to him? (Before he became an uncharismatic zombie, of course.) If Jon had somehow brokered a truce with Ramsay Bolton, to unify the North against the White Walkers, and Ramsay had distinguished himself as a competent monster-fighter, would we be rooting for a redemption arc for him?

I posed this question to a psychologist buddy of mine – trying to see how Tormund and his vicious ways matched up with Ser Gregor and his rampaging actions on behalf of Tywin. My friend pointed out that Ser Gregor had a lot of strikes against him, not only the torturing of Riverlands peasants which had earned him a place on Arya’s list, but also for the brutal killing of Elia Martell and her children.

It’s harder for fans to overlook these past crimes of the Mountain’s, particularly Elia’s rape. Fortunately, Tormund doesn’t have anything like that in his past. Or does he?

“He was a wildling,” Bran said. “They carry off women and sell them to the Others.” – A Game of Thrones, Bran I

Then a hue and cry would go up, ravens would fly, and as often as not the Night’s Watch would hunt them down and hang them before they could get back with their plunder and stolen women. – A Storm of Swords, Jon IV

I’ll admit that my following argument is a bit tricky, since I’ll be presenting evidence from the books that I don’t think has been mentioned on the show. Feel free to take it with a grain a salt (and some bread, if we’re observing guest rights…) I appreciate the position of those who want to consider things from a show-only context, an approach that differs from mine.

The abduction of women from the south appears to be a feature of wildling raids. Some of this might be northern propaganda – Old Nan’s stories to Bran about the Free Folk might not be all that accurate, but Jon’s knowledge of captured wildling raiding parties and abducted women can probably be trusted.

The reasons for wildling men to abduct women can probably best be explained by a likely gender imbalance up North of the Wall. The death of mothers in childbirth doesn’t seem to be a rare event, even among the noblewomen of the Seven Kingdoms who have maesters to attend to their medical needs. I assume it would be more pronounced up in the wilds.

Craster: Wrong. I’m the reason for the gender imbalance. I have a disproportionate amount of the women.
Sam: I’m impressed by your vocabulary. And aren’t you dead?
Craster: Aye. Gone but not forgotten.

The wildlings are fond of Darwinian rationalizations when it comes to justifying their raids. In the view of the Free Folk, the Gift is largely unpopulated not because of raids but because the northmen weren’t strong enough to weather the raids and stick it out. Or to properly defend their women.

I’m not accusing Tormund of anything specific, I can’t claim that he personally carried any women back over the Wall for himself, but I’m not necessarily comfortable with rooting for a romance between Tormund and Brienne of Tarth.

TormundAndBrienne

One reason we might hold Ser Gregor accountable for Elia of Dorne’s death, but give Tormund a pass on the death of multiple innocent villagers: Elia had a strong advocate in Oberyn Martell. He carried the pain of Elia’s death, and his burning desire for revenge like a banner. It would be hard not to respond to that emotionally.

By contrast, the only advocate for justice against Tormund was little Olly.

OurOlly

I think it’s fair to say that fans don’t have the same regard for Olly as they did for Oberyn. I have no interest in trying to change anyone’s feelings towards Olly, but he had a legitimate grievance in regards to Tormund, as legitimate a grievance as Oberyn’s against the Mountain.

It’s just lucky for Tormund that Arya hadn’t been nearby to witness the attack on Olly’s village. She’d have put “big, red-headed wildling” on her list.

Tormund isn’t alone as a character who has done evil things but is still alive. (Assuming Tormund is still alive going into Season Eight, an assumption I am comfortable with.) Jaime Lannister hasn’t had to account for pushing Bran Stark out a window. Sandor Clegane killed an innocent butcher’s boy, and of course there’s Theon Greyjoy. But all of those characters have had some experience with karmic consequence.

Jaime lost his sword hand, the Hound was put on trial by Beric Dondarrion for young Mycah’s death, and Theon Greyjoy has been Karma’s broken plaything for seasons and seasons.

But Tormund really hasn’t been put on the spot.

FightingTormund

Unless you count Tormund’s capture by the Night’s Watch during his failed attempt to capture Castle Black. I don’t count that, feel free to debate me, but it’s hardly punitive recompense for his massacring ways, nor a step towards redemption.

Season Eight won’t be airing anytime soon, but it’ll be the final chapter in this story. It’s reasonable to assume that characters are going to die. I’ve got Tormund fairly high on my deadpool list, not because I necessarily want him to die, but he is expendable. And equally a good candidate for being punished by Karma or someone who sacrifices his life in a final, redemptive act.

Then, maybe Olly can finally rest in peace.

47 responses

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    1. “eldritch” definition: weird and sinister or ghostly

      Thanks! Always great to learn a new vocabulary word while dawdling here on WoW.

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    2. “A chevauchée (French pronunciation: ​[ʃəvoʃe], “promenade” or “horse charge”, depending on context) was a raiding method of medieval warfare for weakening the enemy, primarily by burning and pillaging enemy territory in order to reduce the productivity of a region, as opposed to siege warfare or wars of conquest.”

      I did look it up, and that is a great word! I can almost hear Tywin’s voice telling Gregor: Burn the villages. Burn the farms…”

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    3. “…..So I comprehend why Jon is overlooking Tormund’s violent actions. I just don’t know why we fans are.”
      ………….

      1. Because King Crow Jon Snow, at Hardhome, vowed that bygones would be bygones: both sides had conmitted atrocities against the other.

      2. Because Tormund rallied the Free Folk to risk and give their lives to help Jon oust the Boltons (not part of their original deal).

      PS F*ck Olly.

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    4. Sorry, I’m not able to read the entire thing at the moment…

      but… haven’t we seen sign of him in Belfast with others and had some quotes from him somewhat recently? I seem to remember it being “nearly confirmed” in a thread here a while back that he will be around for S8.

      I don’t and never have doubted that he did NOT die in the Wall breach. He’s just too cool of a character and massive fan favorite to die in a fashion us that would scene have given.

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    5. “Tormund isn’t alone as a character who has done evil things but is still alive…..Sandor Clegane killed an innocent butcher’s boy….”
      _______________

      On behalf of the S.C.A.D.L.*, I object:
      • As the Prince’s sworn shield, it was not Sandor’s place to question Joffrey’s account that the butcher’s boy attacked him;
      • Sandor’s “not guilty” plea was vindicated. As Beric pronounced after Sandor prevailed in his trial by combat – despite Arya’s protestations that Sandor was guilty – in the eyes if the god(s) Sandor was innocent. “Go in peace, Sandor Clegane. The Lord of Light isn’t done with you yet.”
      • Brother Ray recognized Sandor had been spiritually absolved for his past sins.
      Sandor: “If the gods are real why haven’t they punished me?”
      Ray: “They have.”

      * Sandor Clegane Anti-Defamation League

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    6. Tormund’s raiding is consistent with the actions of the wildling clans. He is acting in a way that is acceptable in their culture. The Mountain was a Westerosi knight, raised in a culture and religion that find actions like his unacceptable. To me, that aberration is what makes his killing spree murders instead of warfare or survival.

      But, I also think Tormund is unlikely to make it to the end!

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    7. Clob,

      I have been keeping my fingers crossed that we won’t see WightTormund to open S8.

      I am cautiously optimistic both Tormund and Beric made it out alive. After all, Beric’s parting words to Sandor were:

      Beric “We’ll meet again, Clegane.”
      Sandor: “F*cking hope not.”

      So of course they will meet again.

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    8. Clob,

      As Patrick says in the article, he is not tracking filming spoilers. Many do not. This is a spoiler-free article, so let’s not post filming spoilers in comments uncovered. 🙂

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    9. This article offends me…j/k. I just love that ginger, and therefore he can do no wrong.

      But seriously, while I do think you make some good points, I do believe that Tormund is completely different than the Mountain. He admitted at Hardhome that both sides have been killing each other for generations and that it was time to put all that aside. Plus Tormund, unlike the Mountain, would never follow someone like Cersei. There is a reason he followed Mance and now follows Jon. They are good people who are worth following. And you are right that Kristofer does an amazing job playing Tormund. I honestly could not picture anyone else playing him. He’s perfect for the role.

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    10. Ten Bears: Sandor Clegane The Anti-Defamation League

      Consider me a member, too! I was greatly impressed by Book Sandor’s eloquent defence and attack upon the self-righteousness of the Brotherhood w/o Banners. The show did an incredible job with the fight in the cave between Beric and Sandor. And yes, the Hound has been punished.

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    11. I agree with you that if you don’t actually see a body there is a good chance a character is still alive somewhere. I still don’t believe the Blackfish is dead. I hope not, anyway.

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    12. Boojam:
      “Laconic” … for NK? Not a word that springs to my lips for that guy!

      I’m curious of your usage of laconic, or why you think it’s so wrong for the Night King.

      A laconic person usually means a person of few words. The Night King uses perhaps the fewest number of words.

      Not trying to be snarky, I appreciate all of the feedback. I just think that my word usage here isn’t wildly out of line.

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    13. Ten Bears:
      “…..So I comprehend why Jon is overlooking Tormund’s violent actions. I just don’t know why we fans are.”
      ………….

      1. Because King Crow Jon Snow, at Hardhome, vowed that bygones would be bygones: both sides had conmitted atrocities against the other.

      2. Because Tormund rallied the Free Folk to risk and give their lives to help Jon oust the Boltons (not part of their original deal).

      PSF*ck Olly.

      This seems to echo what I said in regards to Jon pardoning Tormund.

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    14. Ten Bears,

      Sandor still did things, and is still alive. Further along in the text, I mentioned that he’d been put on trial for killing Mycah, which is more or less Karma catching up with him. Sandor faced consequences.

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    15. Sarah:
      This article offends me…j/k. I just love that ginger, and therefore he can do no wrong.

      I appreciate what you’re saying. I don’t necessarily equate Tormund and the Mountain, but I think it’s wrong to kind of overlook bad stuff too. We don’t necessarily overlook Jaime’s problematic stuff, we kind of embrace him (me and others, I don’t want to speak for everyone) warts and all.

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    16. LadyGoodman:
      Tormund’s raiding is consistent with the actions of the wildling clans.He is acting in a way that is acceptable in their culture. The Mountain was a Westerosi knight, raised in a culture and religion that find actions like his unacceptable. To me, that aberration is what makes his killing spree murders instead of warfare or survival.

      But, I also think Tormundis unlikely to make it to the end!

      I appreciate your position, my lady. The Mountain’s actions are more heinous than Tormund’s, because of his violation of norms. But because Tormund’s behavior is expected savagery, it kind of paints Tormund in a different, but also bad, light.

      If I must be honest, of course I consider Tormund of much better character than the Mountain, but his raiding is the closest thing to Tormund (and Styr – I’m surprised we haven’t seen him talked about as a culprit) and the actions against innocent villagers.

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    17. For The Wildlings raiding farms was their way to survive. They have no harbour or money. Crasters lived from material The Nightswatch brought him. They were cut off from the rest of the world by The Wall. The few who tried to get through were hunted down by The Nightswatch or other northeners.
      Ygritte asked Jon: “Why you’re fighting us?” They are all northeners, blood of the first men, only The Wildlings were on the wrong side of The Wall.

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    18. Patrick Sponaugle:
      Ten Bears,

      I’m glad you liked my use of eldritch and chevauchee. (Chevauchee is a fave word of mine. It just is. No other context will be provided.)

      It’s just so rare that someone uses an obscure word in the proper context. I appreciate it when someone does.

      Yours truly,

      Stannis B.

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    19. Another great essay, Patrick! Although I’ll echo Ten Bears’ thoughts about Sandor. He’s done some terrible things, but from what we’ve seen (and read), he spent years following orders from “superiors” in a world where not doing so likely would have resulted in execution. He willingly left that world, and–unlike his utterly psychopathic brother and quite a few of Tormund’s former allies (the Thenns foremost among them)–never took pleasure in torture and rape. (Killing, yes. More than one soldier has told me that one of the dirty secrets of soldiering is that it can be immensely satisfying to kill one’s enemies. Of course, that takes us into one of the most terribly gray areas of all, the morality–or lack of–of killing, and perhaps even more so, of enjoying it. Would Brother Ray have approved of Sandor’s furious joy while executing Lemoncloak? I doubt it.)

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    20. Patrick Sponaugle,

      True. But the strange thing (to me, as a non-book reader) was that Sandor was oruginally put on trial for crimes he did not commit: the BwoB were accusing him of “murder” because of atrocities committed by Gregor.
      “Is being born Clegane a crime?”

      It was only when Arya accused him of killing Mycah – which Mr. Blunt Honesty freely admitted – that Sandor was sentenced to trial by combat “because no one knows the truth of the charges so it is not for us to decide. Only the Lord of Light” can do that.

      As an admitted Sandor partisan, I felt the BwoB had no right to abduct Sandor and accuse him of anything to begin with.

      (And can you imagine the BwoB’s reaction if they had executed Sandor, only to realize later “Oh sh*t, we killed Azor Ahai. Now we’re f*cked.”)

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    21. Chilli,

      Yup. And to the Free Folk the Crows are the savages who commit atrocities, and vica versa. Ygritte and Karsi made that clear, and so did Tormund in “Eastwatch” when he discovered Jorah was Jeor Mormont’s son.

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    22. So I comprehend why Jon is overlooking Tormund’s violent actions. I just don’t know why we fans are.

      Well, first because we like intelligent people, and second, because it’s a story, and it has a framing, duh.

      First, about the intelligence: Tormund is written as funny and intelligent. Intelligence should have no bearing on our perception of morality, but, unfortunately, it does. Without changing anything else, give the Mountain an acerbic, sarcastic sense of humour – like the Hound has – and you’ll see how fast people will flock to him as a favourite character.

      And second, about the framing, most of Tormund’s scenes are those of him ‘being on the right side’. Shift the balance of the framing a bit, give him *more* scenes of him slaughtering innocent people – or maybe just let the other characters call him out on this – and you’d see more discussion about him.

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    23. Ten Bears: It’s just so rare that someone uses an obscure word in the proper context. I appreciate it when someone does.

      Yours truly,

      Stannis B.

      Thank you, your grace!

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    24. Wolfish,

      Thanks for the comment! I do appreciate people coming to Sandor Clegane’s defense. He’s one of those stand-out characters who is far different from how he was originally presented in the first book.

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    25. Chilli:
      For The Wildlings raiding farms was their way to survive. They have no harbour or money. Crasters lived from material The Nightswatch brought him. They were cut off from the rest of the world by The Wall. The few who tried to get through were hunted down by The Nightswatch or other northeners.
      Ygritte asked Jon: “Why you’re fighting us?” They are all northeners, blood of the first men, only The Wildlings were on the wrong side of The Wall.

      The wildlings have a hard life north of the Wall, but the majority of the population survives from the land. If the thousands of wildlings (I think we can estimate over 100,000) depended on constant raiding to bring back food for all of the Free Folk, they’d all live real close to the Wall, and there would be a hot war between the wildlings and the Watch, who would have more men because the threat from wildlings would be constant and amplified.

      Raids couldn’t have been a sufficient or reliable food source, since the Gift at Jon’s time was mostly depopulated.

      The history of the Watch, the wildlings, and the Wall is something that we can debate, but no one has much facts on. The wildlings, who don’t keep records but do keep grudges, have their version of the story, but I don’t necessarily agree with them.

      Allegedly the Wall was built with the help of giants, the tunnels through the Wall are large enough for giants to pass through, which implies that at one time, the Watch or Wall-wardens were friendly with this specific wildling-allied population.

      There’s some complicated history that I hope we learn one day.

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    26. Presumably Bran has gone back to see how he came to lose the use of his legs, and I expect it will be, ahh, “interesting”, when Jaime gets to Winterfell in season 8.

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    27. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Right….I don’t think raiding and pillaging were the Wildlings’ means of survival. At least on the show, I recall Ygritte trying to tempt Jon to be “free” by telling him she could show him the streams to fish and woods (?) to hunt. “You’re a pretty lad. Girls would claw each other’s eyes out to get naked with you.”

      Oh god. I miss Ygritte. Think I’ll go watch that Red Nose Day video of Kit & Rose winking at each other while he sings “Wildling” (adapted from The Troggs’ “Wild Thing”).
      I am such a rabid fanboy.

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    28. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Thought provoking essay, Patrick. Can’t say I share ur enthusiasm for the word “chevauchee”, since I have a little family history with it.
      My mother’s grandmother was a victim of such a military policy during the 2nd South African war c. 1900. British burned the homestead and placed women and children in concentration camps. Tywin’s words made fact.

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    29. Ten Bears,

      S2e7 Ygritte

      Ygritte: You could be free, too. You don’t need to live your whole life taking commands from old men. Wake up when you want to wake up. I could show you the streams to fish, the woods to hunt. Build yourself a cabin and find a woman to lie with in the night. You’re a pretty lad. The girls would claw each other’s eyes out to get naked with you.

      Jon: Walk.

      Ygritte: I could teach you how to do it.

      Jon: I know how to do it.

      Ygritte: You know nothing, Jon Snow.

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    30. Yaga:

      Without changing anything else, give the Mountain an acerbic, sarcastic sense of humour – like the Hound has – and you’ll see how fast people will flock to him as a favourite character.

      I’m not convinced. The Hound’s “acerbic, sarcastic sense of humor” comes from a place of profound grief, loss, and regret, punctuated by the understanding that the rules of the world in which he lives are completely f****d. The Mountain feels little, thinks less, and derives all his joy from torture, rape, and decapitation. Comparing the two is akin to comparing a foot soldier who regrets all the orders he followed in war before finally turning tail to the commander who gleefully carried out mass rape and ethnic cleansing.

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    31. Patrick Sponaugle,

      Funny: I was thinking of Book!Hound when I wrote the parenthetical. If I remember correctly, a line of dialogue given to Daario in the show (“The two sweetest things in the world are killing and fucking”) was the Hound’s in the book. Yet even in the first book, there were redeeming qualities already evident in his character.

      I know many of us love the “every f*****g chicken in this room” scene and all the great memes it spawned, but I must confess: I’ve sometimes missed the far more antagonistic relationship the Hound and Arya had in the books, in large part because the fact that he comes to care for her is shown in far subtler ways. There’s a chicken scene in the book, markedly different from the one in the show, that’s one of my favorites. When I first read it (it concludes a chapter, if you’ll recall), I thought, “Well, that didn’t go well.” But when I woke up the next day I realized that it actually had–that GRRM had revealed something fundamentally important about Sandor, and about his love for Arya, in a way that forces the reader to read between the proverbial lines.

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    32. Wolfish,

      ”I’m not convinced. The Hound’s “acerbic, sarcastic sense of humor” comes from a place of profound grief, loss, and regret, punctuated by the understanding that the rules of the world in which he lives are completely f****d.”

      ___________________
      Precisely! He gives us a window into that place of profound grief, loss, and regret – and betrayal – in that great scene with Arya in S4e7:

      ***
      Sandor: You say your brother gave you that sword? My brother gave me this. (Points to cheek.)
      It was just like you said a while back. Pressed me to the fire like I was a nice juicy mutton chop.

      Arya: Why?

      Sandor: He thought I stole one of his toys. I didn’t steal it. I was just playing with it.
      The pain was bad. The smell was worse.
      But the worst thing was that it was my brother who did it….My father, who protected him, told everyone my bedding caught fire.
      You think you’re on your own?

      Arya: Let me wash it out and help you sew it up at least.

      (With head bowed, Sandor nods. Arya comes over and tends to his wound.)

      P.S. Rory McCann briefly discusses that scene in his video interview by Ozzy Man, posted here on WoW yesterday.

        Quote  Reply

    33. On the subject of the Hound, and in reverting back to the question of favorite moments of the season, I actually think my favorite (and most comical) moments were when a frustrated and annoyed hound gave a vicious kick to the ribs of the bound WW who wouldn’t stop squirming and whining. The other was when a bored Hound picked up a rock and winged it at the stationary WW and hit it right in the noggin and the guy was just like, “well, fuck”. The latter scene was both funny and sad because it was clearly D & D having a good laugh at how little of a fuck they give about the writing process of GoT these days. It was almost as funny as Tyrion infiltrating the Red Keep just by walking straight in.

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    34. Wolfish,

      “There’s a chicken scene in the book, markedly different from the one in the show, that’s one of my favorites. When I first read it (it concludes a chapter, if you’ll recall), I thought, “Well, that didn’t go well.” But when I woke up the next day I realized that it actually had–that GRRM had revealed something fundamentally important about Sandor, and about his love for Arya, in a way that forces the reader to read between the proverbial lines.”
      —————————

      Now you’ve got me intrigued. What book chapter is that in? Though I’d been holding off reading the books, I think I’d like to take a peek at the passage you described. (Do you write teasers on book jackets for a living? If not, you should. 🙂)

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    35. LatrineDiggerBrian,

      ….“The other was when a bored Hound picked up a rock and winged it at the stationary WW and hit it right in the noggin and the guy was just like, “well, fuck”. The latter scene was both funny and sad because it was clearly D & D having a good laugh at how little of a fuck they give about the writing process of GoT these days.”

      ——————-

      Now come on, LDB, let’s give credit where credit is due. S7 had its misfires (eg, Arya-Sansa psychodrama, silly wight hunt plan), but Sandor throwing rocks at the wights was brilliant surrealistic comedy. The rest of the Snow Patrol is huddled together, thinking to themselves “Am I going to freeze to death, or get ripped apart by ice zombies?” Meanwhile, Sandor Clegane is simply bored, and decides to use the encircling wights for target practice.

      I think it was my top nominee for Funniest Scene of S7.

        Quote  Reply

    36. Ten Bears,

      That’s what I’m saying though. But, I also think it was just D & D being lazy in the writing department, because I believe him throwing the rock was what put the wheels in motion for the WW crossing the frozen lake, and I still have no idea how it made any sense. I think they were just like, fuck it, he throws rock, then stuff happens.

        Quote  Reply

    37. Adaephon Ben Delat:
      Patrick Sponaugle,

      Thought provoking essay, Patrick. Can’t say I share ur enthusiasm for the word “chevauchee”, since I have a little family history with it.
      My mother’s grandmother was a victim of such a military policy during the 2nd South African war c. 1900. British burned the homestead and placed women and children in concentration camps. Tywin’s words made fact.

      Adaephon,

      That’s a rough story about your maternal great-grandmother, I’m sorry to hear about that.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, I appreciate the feedback

        Quote  Reply

    38. Ten Bears,

      I was mistaken! It’s not a chicken. It’s a hare. The last couple of pages of the second-to-last Arya chapter in A Storm of Swords (the last Arya chapter in the book is when she abandons him). But you’d love the whole chapter; it’s also where “That’s where the heart is” happens.

        Quote  Reply

    39. Ten Bears:

      Now come on, LDB, let’s give credit where credit is due. S7 had its misfires (eg, Arya-Sansa psychodrama, silly wight hunt plan), but Sandor throwing rocks at the wights was brilliant surrealistic comedy. The rest of the Snow Patrol is huddled together, thinking to themselves “Am I going to freeze to death, or get ripped apart by ice zombies?” Meanwhile, Sandor Clegane is simply bored, and decides to use the encircling wights for target practice.

      I think it was my top nominee for Funniest Scene of S7.

      I agree – the wight plan itself and its execution were ridiculous but once you suspended disbelief, it was very enjoyable. Even Gendry running. Even Jon Snow miraculously pulling himself out of the lake. Even Benjen riding to the rescue. Even Sandor throwing the rock. Especially Sandor throwing the rock.

        Quote  Reply

    40. Gwidhiel: I agree –the wight plan itself and its execution were ridiculous but once you suspended disbelief, it was very enjoyable. Even Gendry running. Even Jon Snow miraculously pulling himself out of the lake. Even Benjen riding to the rescue. Even Sandor throwing the rock. Especially Sandor throwing the rock.

      The set up of our heroes on the frozen lake, with the wights surrounding the lake was one of my favorite things about season seven.

        Quote  Reply

    41. LatrineDiggerBrian:
      Ten Bears,

      That’s what I’m saying though. But, I also think it was just D & D being lazy in the writing department, because I believe him throwing the rock was what put the wheels in motion for the WW crossing the frozen lake, and I still have no idea how it made any sense. I think they were just like, fuck it, he throws rock, then stuff happens.

      The second rock rock skidded on the surface, indicating to the zombies that the lake surface had (re-)frozen. I thought that was pretty clear.

      Think of it this way:

      Rock #1 = The Dumb C*nt Rock
      Rock #2 = The Oh F*ck Rock

        Quote  Reply

    42. Ten Bears,

      I can’t be sure (obvs), but what I think LDB means is that it makes no sense that Sandor would have done something that stupid, bored or not. And I must confess, I agree: As much as I loved the comic setup for the scene and the drama after, that moment paints Sandor as an impulsive child whose bulb has momentarily dimmed… and we know damn well he wouldn’t be alive still if that were true.

        Quote  Reply

    43. Very interesting article. Tormund is one of my favourites, because I believe he’s one of the good guys and I love his wit and interaction for comedic relief at times (a little like the Hound).

      Whilst most of what you write is factual pretty much all characters on thrones have done messed up things, Jamie, the Hound, Dany being good examples and all three have loyal fan bases who perceive them to be ‘good’ in the grand scheme.

      Sadly I agree Tormund is likely to die in season 8, I include a minor spoiler or sorts from a GOT journalised called

      James Hibberd who hinted on twitter that Tormund is likely to return but may not make it out of the first episode alive

        Quote  Reply

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