Season Five, Episode Eight
By this point, we’ve become aware of how GoT likes to progress. Its penultimate episode every season contains such memorable moments that as a viewer, the slow-burn throughout the first half of the season is tolerated with anticipation for the ending. And even though this wasn’t that far off from the penultimate episode, I’m sure we were as surprised as Jon Snow was when the white walkers stormed the wildlings camp. But let’s back up a little bit.
Leading up to this epic battle, Jon Snow along with Tormund entered Hardhome to try and convince them it’s in everyone’s best interest to team up against the walkers. It was going to be a tough sell, but as Tormund discovered himself, Snow is a very good leader and everything he says makes a lot of sense. But the wildlings are a stubborn group of people, led by the Lord of Bones who stops them in their tracks only a few meters from the dock. If there was any question that Tormund would back-stab Snow, it was squashed the moment he beat the Lord of Bones to death (this was a great, dark comic relief to get on with more important and urgent matters).
When Snow and Torumund meet with the elders to discuss the proposal, you can feel the tension building inside of the tent. The wildlings and crows have been sworn enemies for decades, and now Snow is asking for the two to fight side-by-side with each other. No one trusts each other and no one can forget the pain both have imposed, but when asked Tormund tells the wildlings that he is behind Snow on this matter. This divides the wildlings as only part of them board their ships and rafts to travel to the Wall while the rest stay behind. And this is when the fun begins.
Unlike the last few huge battle sequences (Blackwater and at the Wall), this comes out of nowhere. GoT wasn’t leading up to this epic event like it was with Stannis storming King’s Landing and the wildlings sprinting towards the Wall. This was a surprise assault on the wildlings by the white walker army, and boy was it intense! I don’t know if I can compare the battle of Hardhome to the others quite yet, but for starters it helped that this battle mainly centered on two characters: Snow and Tormund. It made the chaotic sequences a lot more focused, but gave me a feeling that neither of them would die. Nonetheless, the showdown between Snow and the white walker was great in all fronts. The action was great, plus we learn something new: Snow’s Valyrian steel sword not only withstood the walker’s strike, but it cut through the walker and shattered him into pieces. Go Snow!
All of this happens during the last 20 or so minutes of the episode, and while this was the most heart-pounding event all season long, that didn’t mean nothing else occured during “Hardhome.” For starters, we continue where last week left off with Jorah and Tyrion in front of Daenerys. The dialogue between Tyrion and Daenerys is everything I was hoping for. She boats her thick skin and cold stare at the Lannister, whom her family has always hated. Tyrion continues with his mildly sarcastic tone, but rich with logic and advice. He soon realizes that Varys was right, there is something about Daenerys that is worth staying alive for and even helping out. Those two are going to make one hell of a team.
The central theme throughout “Hardhome” was forgetting the past and moving forward with what’s best. The Targaryens and Lannisters have never been friendly, but these two main characters figured out that they’re a lot stronger with each other than they are by themselves. The same goes for the wildlings and the crows. It’s imperative they team up with one another to stand a fighting chance against the white walkers.
Continuing one with the theme, Arya attempts to forget her identity and take on a new one, Lana, an orphan who sells oysters to learn everything she can about a gambler from Braavos. It’s always exciting to see Arya’s journey with Jaqen H’ghar and that smile on her face as she learns her mission explains everything she’s feeling.
And then back at Winterfell there’s Sansa, screaming at Theon for betraying her yet again. We get a glimmer of good from Theon, who likely does feel he’s doing the best for Sansa by not helping her escape. Like he says, Theon tried to escape but Ramsay caught him and made him pay the price. He would do the same to her. But the real moment here is when Theon admits to Sansa that he didn’t kill Bran and Rickon. Right there, you see a flickering hope in Sansa’s eyes for the first time in a long while. Maybe there is something worth fighting for now that she knows she has family out there, somewhere.
Finally, there’s Cersei, unwilling to confess her sins to the Fath Militant and finds herself rotting in prison, sucking up every last drop of water from her own prison floor. She’s someone who simply cannot escape her own past and move forward. She knows what she has done and has made plenty of poor decisions up to now. She has made enemies, but none that she hasn’t faced the consequences for. With the sparrows marching around, her plan to keep her status at King’s Landing backfired tremendously. She keeps trying to hard to maintain everything that she has lost throughout the years, but like “Hardhome” has shown, her inability to leave the past behind her has forced her inside a dark pit with no hope of getting out. While everyone else are making changes and adapting to their situation, Cersie kept on plotting for her own gain.
With only two episodes left this season, I wonder if there will be anything close to as exciting “Hardhome” was, or did GoT use up all of its budget for that one sequence. That being said, there are still plenty of things that must be addressed. Will Stannis march onto Winterfell and will the Boltons be able to fend them off? Will Jaime Lannister be able to retrieve his daughter? Can Brienne rescue Sansa? What is Ramsay’s plan where he only needs twenty men? Let’s see what kind of surprises GoT will throw our way during these final episodes of season five.