Game of Thrones: The Watchers On The Wall   Show Only 
June 8, 2014 9:08 PM - Season 4, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Jon Snow and the Night's Watch face a big challenge.
posted by desjardins (192 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Shiiittt, we forgot to freeze the tunnels.
posted by pwally at 9:13 PM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Leadership Lessons from Alliser Thorne.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:18 PM on June 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was seriously disappointed with this episode. What the hell is going on with everyone else? Brienne and Pod could have been dead for weeks for all we know.
posted by desjardins at 9:24 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Was not a fan of this episode, but I'll stick with just one criticism: Why didn't Jon Snow order the tunnel sealed after the battle? Even if they didn't have a ton of time, they could have at least partly blocked it or booby trapped it.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:24 PM on June 8, 2014


Clearly they've been saving up to use the special effects for this episode.

Sam's been thinking and reading a lot about his vows. Always go with the nerd.

The term is no longer "manning up", but "samming up"

What did Mance do to light such a big fire?

Giants riding mammoths, shooting spear size arrows. 'Nuff said.

The set of Castle Black is huge, that tracking shot about 40 minutes was great.

Ser Alliser was an ass, but he made his exit with style. Janos Slynt? The less said, the better.

The scythe thing on the wall? Sweet.

Sorry to see you go Ygritte, but occasionally revenge does rear its head.

Jon, that's a dumb ass plan. Fill the tunnel with rocks now, ok? Keep the Scythe thing going on the wall, along with barrel's of oil.

The set of castle black is huge. That long tracking shot was very well done.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 PM on June 8, 2014


Dude Jon go out the other gate with a couple of suitably messed-up buddies and go south and beg for help, maybe, Mr. Assassin The Wildlings Would Recognize
posted by furiousthought at 9:35 PM on June 8, 2014


I'm still waiting for this scene from S3E10 to be paid off. But where Gandalf and Eomer showed up just in time, of course GRRM would ensure that Melisandre and Stinkface are late.
posted by homunculus at 9:42 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dude Jon go out the other gate with a couple of suitably messed-up buddies and go south and beg for help

They should deliver the corpse of the giant in the tunnel to Roose Bolton, the new Warden of the North. Here's what's about to ravage your lands milord, can you spare some reinforcements?
posted by homunculus at 9:46 PM on June 8, 2014 [15 favorites]


all wall
posted by Golem XIV at 9:48 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was seriously disappointed with this episode. What the hell is going on with everyone else?

I was impressed with this episode. Forget everyone else, let's focus on one story for one episode. Then we can watch Penny Dreadful.
posted by homunculus at 9:49 PM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dude Jon go out the other gate with a couple of suitably messed-up buddies and go south and beg for help, maybe, Mr. Assassin The Wildlings Would Recognize

Exactly! Why didn't they sound ravens ages ago talking about Mance Rayder's army?
posted by shivohum at 9:49 PM on June 8, 2014


Jon Snow should have given Ollie the elevator operator the most sarcastic thumbs-up ever.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:50 PM on June 8, 2014 [25 favorites]


Also, this seems a little late to be introducing giants and mammoths and absolutely huges all of a sudden.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:53 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was just going to comment on Olly's self-satisfied look after he shot Ygritte. Jon was like "uh, yeah, great job," in order to not hurt the kid's feelings.
posted by desjardins at 9:53 PM on June 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Sys Rq - we've seen the giants and mammoths before.
posted by desjardins at 9:54 PM on June 8, 2014




They should deliver the corpse of the giant in the tunnel to Roose Bolton, the new Warden of the North. Here's what's about to ravage your lands milord, can you spare some reinforcements?

Based on that scene from last episode with Ramsey and Roose, the Wall's something like hundreds of miles north of the Dreadfort, and it's hours before the next attack, not weeks.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:55 PM on June 8, 2014


Huh. I guess giants and mammoths just seem like something I would've remembered.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:57 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why didn't they sound ravens ages ago talking about Mance Rayder's army?

They did! Tywin mentioned the Wildling army to Oberyn (RIP), but I don't think anyone believed the part about the Walkers except Stannis.
posted by homunculus at 9:57 PM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


the Wall's something like hundreds of miles north of the Dreadfort, and it's hours before the next attack, not weeks.

Details.
posted by homunculus at 9:58 PM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can't believe y'all are ok with the Fenns not eating.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:59 PM on June 8, 2014


Ramsey and Roose were riding up to Winterfell in the last episode, not the Dreadfort.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:02 PM on June 8, 2014


Giants riding mammoths, shooting spear size arrows. 'Nuff said.

The Night's Watch should be trying to recruit these guys. You can have the Wolf's Wood as long as you help us fight the Walkers, our mutual enemies. Okay?
posted by homunculus at 10:02 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't believe y'all are ok with the Fenns not eating.

I'm just glad Ghost got a snack.
posted by homunculus at 10:03 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


What about a giant riding a dragon?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:03 PM on June 8, 2014


As a player of Skyrim type games, I promptly lost my entire shit when I saw the giant get his bow out. And fire it. And it went SMASH through the thing. Glorious.
posted by saturnine at 10:04 PM on June 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


I guess giants and mammoths just seem like something I would've remembered.

Jon Snow also mentioned the giants again in S04E07 as the reason they should seal the tunnel, based on his (now proven correct) estimation that the outer gate couldn't hold up against one:
We should seal the tunnel. Plug it with rocks and ice. Flood it and let it freeze.

And how would we range north?

We wouldn't.

Coward. You would cut off our legs, pluck out our eyes, leave us cowering behind the Wall hoping for the storm to pass?

We can't defend the gate against 100,000 men.

This castle has stood for thousands of years. The Night's Watch has defended her for thousands of years. And in all those centuries, we have never sealed the tunnel.

Have you ever seen a giant, Ser Alliser? I have. The tunnel's gate won't stop them.

The bars on those gates are four inches thick. Cold-rolled steel.

And they won't stop them.
So Chekov's giants have been a thoroughly established part of the show's world for a while now...
posted by Jacqueline at 10:11 PM on June 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Was that...was that Hawkeye Gough??
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:11 PM on June 8, 2014


I know I mentioned the Wilding's score last week but seriously: their march up to the Wall was straight out of a Warner Brothers cartoon. I was watching the episode with my best friend and his son and we all spontaneously sang the tune to Powerhouse.

Though maybe the Looney Tunes reference was intentional...after all, we do see Jon Snow get hit in the head on an anvil, followed by him knocking a guy in the noggin with a hammer.

NEXT WEEK: Jon tricks Mance Rayder and his men by painting a large black tunnel on the side of the Wall.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:23 PM on June 8, 2014 [39 favorites]


That was almost an annoying "bottle episode" like when Breaking Bad was stuck inside the lab for an hour. It didn't look like Castle Black would win that battle but then they suddenly did.

Also, how are they going to wrap up the dozen storylines in a single last episode?!
posted by mathowie at 10:26 PM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


ANCHOR OF DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!!!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:27 PM on June 8, 2014


So since there's really only one thing to talk about this episode, I'm wondering what the meaning of that one thing is. This first possibility that leaps to mind: The Wildings do punch through the Wall and the Night Watch is annihilated, making it easy for the White Walkers to follow in their path. This finally gets the South to sit up and pay attention, dragging in the Boltons and Stannis as well to fight the Wildings, and for the next season the whole action of the show basically turns to the North.

It only really makes sense to lavish such attention on one battle if that battle is the key to a huge number of future events. The Battle of Blackwater got that treatment, but no other has to my recollection, and that battle was hugely significant, with the Lannisters consolidating their hold on the Iron Throne. Also, having Jon walk out the door does make you feel like the whole rest of his supporting cast is doomed. GoT loves to surprise people, though.

Other possibilities include either the Boltons or Stannis showing up at the Wall in time to affect the battle with the Wildings.

I confess, the Wall bits are some of my least favorite, so I'm going to be annoyed if the whole next season is all Wall all the time.
posted by Diablevert at 10:31 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


NEXT WEEK: Jon tricks Mance Rayder and his men by painting a large black tunnel on the side of the Wall

Jon Snow tunnels into Mance Rayder's tent and hands him a lit stick of wildfire while munching on a carrot

Jon Snow sows dissension in the Wildling army by cunning placement of "Giant Season" and "Human Season" signs

Jon Snow rides up in a wagon offering cannons to the Wildling army, cannons that of course explode out the back, turning Wildlings into piles of consternated soot

Jon Snow just straight up saws off the entire top part of Westeros north of the Wall
posted by furiousthought at 10:43 PM on June 8, 2014 [30 favorites]


So Chekov's giants have been a thoroughly established part of the show's world for a while now...
Also everyone constantly saying but there is no such thing as giants.
posted by deathpanels at 10:46 PM on June 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am hoping that big old-looking giant was like, the Barrack Obama of giants, and now the giants are out. Honestly I was half expecting Jon to get killed in this episode. I know he's the hero and all but I'm slightly disappointed that the Stark family trait of stubbornly leading everybody to die for Our Honor isn't cast more as a character defect like it seemed to be during the first and second seasons. Now we've got straight-up evil non-human things like giants and the walkers around to justify violent acts of courage and bravery, whereas it all just seemed like pointless bloodshed when it was Westerosi vs. Westerosi.

Or I maybe I'm just being contrarian.
posted by deathpanels at 10:52 PM on June 8, 2014


Now we've got straight-up evil non-human things like giants

Why are the giants evil? The Wildlings are trying to get South of the Wall because they know the Walkers are going to kill them all if they stay, and I assume the giants among them have the same motive.
posted by homunculus at 10:59 PM on June 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


Well, I'm sad about Ygritte. Her death was obviously coming, but it was as pointless as so many other deaths on this show. Phooey.
posted by homunculus at 11:03 PM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


As soon as I realized that Ser Allister was redeeming himself a little I was like "Oh. Oh, fuck. Oh, poor Ser Allister."
posted by KathrynT at 11:04 PM on June 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wow, that episode was stressful.

Ser Alliser was an ass, but he made his exit with style.

Is he done? I found it a bit confusing; he falls from his fight with Tormund, but aren't those Brothers that drag him into Castle Black, not Wildlings?

I rather liked his role this week as a turnabout from dude-you-love-to-hate of the previous episodes. He's an ass, but he's their leader for a goddamn reason.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:05 PM on June 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


We did see giants, but I don't think we've seen the mammoths before, BTW.

I liked 'em.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:07 PM on June 8, 2014


an annoying "bottle episode" like when Breaking Bad was stuck inside the lab for an hour

Hey: Fly's a awesome bottle episode.

Note sure yet about this one; they certainly spent a lot on it, but I'm not sure it's as cohesive an episode as Blackwater.

(Also, no drunk Cersei.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:10 PM on June 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ser Alliser was an ass, but he made his exit with style. Janos Slynt? The less said, the better.

Alliser was injured but still alive last we saw him. As for Slynt, I couldn't tell if Gilly killed him or just knocked him out.
posted by homunculus at 11:55 PM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


To me, it looked like Slynt was just being a little mouse in the corner.
posted by Night_owl at 11:58 PM on June 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


Is this the first episode in which all the action takes place in a single location? The only other one I could think of was the premiere, but that had a scene in the very beginning north of The Wall.
posted by sfkiddo at 12:05 AM on June 9, 2014


Is this the first episode in which all the action takes place in a single location?

I think Blackwater was the same. And it had drunk Cersei, to boot.
posted by homunculus at 12:18 AM on June 9, 2014


homunculus, I wasn't sure about Blackwater, but that seems right. I love drunk Cersei. This episode would've been better if she had been at The Wall drunk and making snide comments about how they're all gonna die.
posted by sfkiddo at 12:24 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Do you remember that cave? :(
posted by homunculus at 1:06 AM on June 9, 2014


deathpanels: “Or I maybe I'm just being contrarian.”
Not at all. Here's being needlessly contrarian: This is the first episode I've watched any part of this season. I only saw the last half-hour, but it confirmed for me that I made the right decision to stop watching this show.
homunculus: “Well, I'm sad about Ygritte. Her death was obviously coming, but it was as pointless as so many other deaths on this show. Phooey.”
Precisely. It seems like this show relishes viciousness and cruelty. That may be "realistic" but, at least for me, it's the opposite of entertaining. Given Martin's apparent predilections, there is no probable outcome that would make it worth it for me.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:33 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


This episode was definitely Helm's Deep in the snow, as my SO termed it. I found it boring, tons and tons of blood notwithstanding. What about Tyrion? What about Brienne? What about Arya?

And that hammer bit was tooooooootally unnecessary. I think my comment at the time was, "Gah, again with the gushing and burbling blood noises!"
posted by chainsofreedom at 3:15 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]




Here's that amazing panning shot of the battle. It's all real and the cast did it five times to get the right shot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:13 AM on June 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


Same director, Neil Marshal, as Blackwater so I guess that he's the go-to guy for the giant battle episodes.
posted by octothorpe at 4:26 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


This episode made me remember listening to Ronald D. Moore's podcast commentaries for Galactica and how he'd complain how much money it cost each time you saw a silver toaster Cylon on the screen. I assume that it's the same here for the giants and elephants which is why we haven't seen them in a few seasons. This episode probably cost as much as half the rest of the season.
posted by octothorpe at 4:33 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


As a warning, that Maisie Williams Tumblr post has spoilers towards the end.
posted by codacorolla at 4:37 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


does anyone have a gif of the kid shooting Ygritte, and then giving jon snow the fucking family guy "everybody gets one" nod?

Because everyone in the room where i was watching it looked at each other and totally cracked up at that. It was completely over the top corny cheese.

See also: the closeup of the hands still hanging on the climbing axes after that giant boat anchor scythe cut everyone up.

And of course, the whole "normal guy shoots an arrow, it just falls flat. Giant shoots an arrow, it impales a guy through a roof, flings him all the way over the wall, and he lands in front of some guy who basically goes "shit, lol"" routine.
posted by emptythought at 4:41 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Putting overall commentary on the episode aside from a moment, I must say that I really liked how they handled Ser Alliser.

A lot of writers fall into the trap of making those who oppose their heroes just irredeemably bad at everything. It's not enough to have someone in authority disagree with the hero -- no, they need to also turn out to secretly have been a coward, or an incompetent.

With Ser Alliser, though, the GoT writers actually have shown a much more realistic character. Sure, he's a total jerk, and he absolutely let his ego get in the way of taking Jon Snow's reports more seriously. However, he was also the master at arms at Castle Black when Jon Snow showed up, and as this episode demonstrated, there's a reason for that.

For all his many bad qualities, dude knows how to lead men into battle, and how to kill with a sword.

So, kudos to the writers for not making Ser Alliser crumple like tissue paper in a real battle.

(Slynt, on the other hand, was a total cowardly weasel, but really, that's totally in keeping with his character. It's been established more or less from Season 1, I think, that the only foes he's got the courage to kill are literally helpless babies.)
posted by tocts at 4:47 AM on June 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


I really thought Sam would come down at the end to see Gilly and have her apologetically point to Slynt's dead body in a corner as he was weaselly enough to threaten her baby while Gilly was close to a frozen leg of meat.
posted by viggorlijah at 5:03 AM on June 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Maester Aemon Targaryen was in Grandpa Simpson mode tonight.
posted by almostmanda at 5:06 AM on June 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


I agree that they handled Ser Alliser well in the end, but watching the episode I really wanted Jon to respond to "Do you know what leadership means?" by just saying "Yes" and walking away.

Optional: Ser Alliser is halfway into his monologue before he realizes he's talking to himself.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:08 AM on June 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also, how are they going to wrap up the dozen storylines in a single last episode?!

Well, by now we can kinda guess: they're not!
posted by Riton at 5:28 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, one of the reasons they showed two Veep episodes this week is that next week's GoT is extra-long, running until 10:15.

(How much of that extended running time will just be True Blood and The Leftovers promos remains to be seen...)
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:31 AM on June 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


I really thought Sam would come down at the end to see Gilly and have her apologetically point to Slynt's dead body in a corner as he was weaselly enough to threaten her baby while Gilly was close to a frozen leg of meat.

I actually thought Gilly had been badly influenced enough by the wildlings to have slaughtered and butchered him, and was brandishing a lower limb.
posted by tracicle at 6:14 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it looked like Slynt had something protruding from his belly, so I thought Gilly had stabbed him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:15 AM on June 9, 2014


A lot of writers fall into the trap of making those who oppose their heroes just irredeemably bad at everything. It's not enough to have someone in authority disagree with the hero -- no, they need to also turn out to secretly have been a coward, or an incompetent.

That's one of the things I enjoy and respect about the show as a whole, really.
posted by Diablevert at 6:35 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


So how many storylines do we have to wrap up? By my count:

- Tyrion's execution (or not)
- Mance Rayder's next attack on The Wall
- Danerys and the Dragons
- Arya and the Hound
- Sansa and Baelish
- Tommen and omg I forgot her name, Joffrey's widow
- Stannis and Melisandre
- The Boltons (and Reek)
- Grey Worm and Missandrei
- Brienne and Pod
- Bran and Hodor (HODOR!) and those other 2 kids
- Rickon and whats-her-name (Isha?)
- White Walkers and babies

Are there any I'm missing? I don't feel like Jaime/Cersei are really a storyline right now, they're just kinda hanging out.
posted by desjardins at 6:47 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I guess Tywin/Jaime are a storyline - is Jaime going to be sent back to Casterly Rock to produce an heir?
posted by desjardins at 6:49 AM on June 9, 2014


I don't know if you'd call it an active storyline, but Gendry is still in a rowboat off the coast of Dragonstone for all we know.
posted by almostmanda at 6:55 AM on June 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


- Tyrion's execution (or not)

Easily wrapped up.

- Mance Rayder's next attack on The Wall

Next season is fine.

- Danerys and the Dragons

What is there to wrap up? It's an ongoing plot line, across seasons.

- Arya and the Hound

Could well be across seasons as well. Why would it have to be wrapped up?

- Sansa and Baelish

This has only just started and will clearly continue into next season.

- Tommen and omg I forgot her name, Joffrey's widow

Again, across seasons, easily.

- Stannis and Melisandre

This has already crossed seasons so why would it be wrapped up now?

- The Boltons (and Reek)

Across seasons. The scope of what is happening is rather larger. How could one expect it to be wrapped up within one season and episode. They've just introduced taking possession of Winterfell.

- Grey Worm and Missandrei
- Brienne and Pod
- Bran and Hodor (HODOR!) and those other 2 kids
- Rickon and whats-her-name (Isha?)
- White Walkers and babies

All across seasons, as many of these things have been.
posted by juiceCake at 7:01 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


- Mance Rayder's next attack on The Wall

We don't know if there's going to be another attack, just that Jon rode off to meet Mance and hug it out.

- Danerys and the Dragons

What about'em? It's been establisihed that Daenerys pays for the damage they cause

- Sansa and Baelish

Not much there, other than they're clearly working together and Sansa is spreading her wings.

- Tommen and omg I forgot her name, Joffrey's widow
Margery Tyrell. It appears as though she'll have him wrapped around her finger.

- Stannis and Melisandre
Stannis got a loan from the bank and appears to be heading somehwere.

- The Boltons (and Reek)

Time to pick out color chips and rearrange the furniture at Winterfell

- Rickon and whats-her-name (Isha?)

They headed south, to put Rikon under the care of House Umber.

- White Walkers and babies
We know the white walkers are coming. Now they need a babysitter while they're off invading.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:04 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell: "Why didn't Jon Snow order the tunnel sealed after the battle? Even if they didn't have a ton of time, they could have at least partly blocked it or booby trapped it."

You know nothing, o'Donald o'Dell.
posted by barnacles at 7:10 AM on June 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


mathowie: "That was almost an annoying "bottle episode" like when Breaking Bad was stuck inside the lab for an hour."

Holy moly. That was among the most interesting episodes in the entire run of Breaking Bad! You also know nothing, mathowie!
posted by barnacles at 7:12 AM on June 9, 2014 [15 favorites]


So how many storylines do we have to wrap up?

The only story that I see "wrapping up" next week is the question of Tyrion's execution (I'll wager that he escapes with help of Jaime+Varys).

Everything else that has happened this season is obviously ground laying for further stories -- we are only half way through this show.

Why are the giants evil? The Wildlings are trying to get South of the Wall because they know the Walkers are going to kill them all if they stay, and I assume the giants among them have the same motive.

If the Wildlings were really just afraid of the Walkers, they could have gotten south without quite so much murder. Send some ravens to Castle Black and the northern castles, have a parlay or two, agree to abide by the laws of the south. Sure, some of the petty lords would try to screw them over, here or there, but overall, they could have existed as another (very large) faction in Westeros proper. Instead, they are coming in as an invasion force, killing and pillaging for no real reason.


All being said, given this show's penchant for having the penultimate episode of the season be a Big Fuckin' Deal, I was a little disappointed in this episode. The only thing that could have made it cheesier would have been Stannis & Co. riding in on Shadowfax when at dawn, everyone looked to the east.

I mean technically, the battle was great. Sam was a perfect audience surrogate, that one tracking shot blew me away once I realized what they were doing, THE SCYTHE! Ser Allister putting his money where is mouth is. Ser Slynt...not. (also, props to the show for not doing the rapey thing that I expected when he walked into that cellar).

But storywise? Eh... was anyone predicting anything other than a pyrrhic victory? I guess the one thing the watch has going for them is that Mance still believes there are 1000 men at the wall, and given that Tormund's raid failed, Mance might be believing that he underestimated their defenses.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:27 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I thought the big reveal of the episode (slyly) was that Maester Aemon was really Aemon Targaryen. Was that known before? I feel like that might be a big deal later on.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:37 AM on June 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


I thought the big reveal of the episode (slyly) was that Maester Aemon was really Aemon Targaryen. Was that known before? I feel like that might be a big deal later on.

I caught that too and was like, whaaaaaaaa? But to be honest I haven't paid as much attention to the Wall scenes before this episode. We had to look up the Targaryen dynasty online because I had not only not known that Aemon was a Targaryen, I had no clue WHICH one he was!
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:40 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I haven't read the books and was pretty sure I knew that from one of his other appearances. Aemon is also a Targaryen family name that has been mentioned before.
posted by almostmanda at 7:41 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why didn't Jon Snow order the tunnel sealed after the battle? Even if they didn't have a ton of time, they could have at least partly blocked it or booby trapped it.

I assume he wants to come back through the gate at some point. Not sure his plan is so great, but I doubt he wants to climb the wall again.

The Scythe was awesome. I loved this episode because it got to be a big dumb action flick for a little while. It was nice not to ping-pong around seven different storylines, none of which would be resolved this season anyway. If/when we finally get to a large battle involving dragons, I hope it gets the same treatment.

As for Mance still thinking there's 1000 men at the wall, wouldn't the warg have been able to discredit that? Or maybe he could have but then died in the battle?

Ygritte's final words were the worst thing about this episode. They were cheesier by far than any of the other questionably cheesy dumb action moments.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:48 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I thought the big reveal of the episode (slyly) was that Maester Aemon was really Aemon Targaryen. Was that known before? I feel like that might be a big deal later on.

This was known as far back as season 1. Maester Aemon brought it up when attempting to talk Jon Snow out of deserting the watch. Jon was all hot and bothered about the fact that he had a duty to his family (the Starks) in the wake of Ned's execution, and Aemon pretty much said "yeah, well, I had a duty to my family, the Targaryens, when they were being overthrown during Robert's Rebellion, and I nonetheless kept to my vows to the Night's Watch by staying out of it".

He's the uncle of Aerys Targaryen (the Mad King), and thus great-uncle to Daenerys.
posted by tocts at 7:50 AM on June 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


I also want very much to believe that Aemon's former love was a certain Tyrell girl.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:53 AM on June 9, 2014 [17 favorites]


He's the uncle of Aerys Targaryen (the Mad King), and thus great-uncle to Daenerys.

AKA, super old. Like, really, really old. He had great-great-nieces and nephews.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:56 AM on June 9, 2014


AKA, super old. Like, really, really old. He had great-great-nieces and nephews.

Yeah, I have serious doubts that his lineage is going to lead anywhere. It's an interesting little note, but the guy is incredibly old, blind, and has served the Night's Watch faithfully for decades, during which time he pointedly sat out of helping his family in arguably their greatest hour of need in order to keep his vows to the Watch.

At this point, if this is all tied to some sort of scheme, it'd be a hell of a long game.
posted by tocts at 7:59 AM on June 9, 2014


Here is the Season 1 Aemon scene, one of my favorites.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:01 AM on June 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


If the Wildlings were really just afraid of the Walkers, they could have gotten south without quite so much murder. Send some ravens to Castle Black and the northern castles, have a parlay or two, agree to abide by the laws of the south. Sure, some of the petty lords would try to screw them over, here or there, but overall, they could have existed as another (very large) faction in Westeros proper. Instead, they are coming in as an invasion force, killing and pillaging for no real reason.

They are called Wildings because the refuse to pledge fealty to the lords of the South, refusal to participate in the whole feudal system of loyalty and obligation, IIRC. When you say "agree to abide by the laws of the south" you're saying "willingly sell themselves into slavery." In order to be absorbed into Southern society, they would have to become landless peasants or servants, allowed to live and farm on a noble's land in return for eternal fealty. Serfs, in other words.

It's not clear to me that the south could absorb that number of migrants, even if the Wildings were to want to. Plus, I think they may be hunter-gatherers, some of them? I dunno how much farming they could be doing in a place as cold as the far north seems to be.


I mean, saying all that, even if it was the case that the Southern lords would be happy to give hundreds of thousands of Wildings some huge reservation cut from their own lands, the Wildings would probably still go for war anyway, they feel themselves to be subjugated and consider non-Wildings their enemies. But I don't think there was any realistically peaceful solution here. Even today, mass refugee migrations spark huge conflicts and often immiserate the refugees.
posted by Diablevert at 8:17 AM on June 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh, Jon Snow.

"Well, things are looking pretty grim here. I'm going to head towards an army of people who want every member of the Night's Watch dead, and see if I can get near their leader. Also, I'll be doing this alone."

"Uhh...that seems like maybe it's not a great plan."

"Oh! Yeah, I can see how it would look pretty suboptimal. Allow me to put your mind at ease: I also won't have a weapon."
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:18 AM on June 9, 2014 [23 favorites]


Also, holy shit, the scythe. This episode ruled.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:21 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


He also didn't take Ghost with him.

WHY WOULDN'T HE TAKE GHOST WITH HIM EVERYTHING GOES OK FOR HIM WHEN THERE IS GHOST.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:22 AM on June 9, 2014 [22 favorites]


There were two exclaim-out-loud moments for me.

"Mammoth!" (I don't remember seeing giants or mammoths before either.) I loved it when the mammoth cried and ran away like a scared little dog when fire was rained down on him.

And when that slicey thing was released across the wall: "WHOA!" That was some awesome bit of kit.

I liked this episode. I think the previous episodes have had the Night's Watch as an afterthought, and it's been too easy to forget about what they're facing. I think the single focus of this episode was fantastic.
posted by essexjan at 8:41 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


WHY WOULDN'T HE TAKE GHOST WITH HIM EVERYTHING GOES OK FOR HIM WHEN THERE IS GHOST.

I know, it really really bothered me that Ghost was released this episode and then we saw NOTHING about where he went or what he did afterwards. I was assuming he'd come down the tunnel before Jon left but--nope.
posted by torticat at 8:49 AM on June 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


The AV Club recap is really good, and spends a lot of time thinking about story structure:
As an episode, “The Watchers On The Wall” is the kind of thing that needed to happen years ago. The episode has done more to make that place and those characters come alive than anything yet. And it’s nice to see an on-screen battle for a change on this show that’s been in a state of war for three years. But in the Episode Nine slot, it’s here just to deliver spectacle, and that spectacle doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much as things we put on hold. “The Watchers On The Wall” makes a strong episode in itself until the ending. It’s the show that doesn’t really support it.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:52 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


They are called Wildings because the refuse to pledge fealty to the lords of the South, refusal to participate in the whole feudal system of loyalty and obligation, IIRC. When you say "agree to abide by the laws of the south" you're saying "willingly sell themselves into slavery."

Yeah, I'm not saying that the Wildings would enjoy integration into the South. Nor would it be easy... if they can field a fighting force of 100,000, is it two much of a stretch to say that there are a cool (getit?) million Wildings north of the wall. What's the total population of Westeros?

But to call them "not evil", it would have been nice to see them be willing to at least consider a concession or two, instead of just "we'll be taking your stuff now, thx"
posted by sparklemotion at 8:54 AM on June 9, 2014


When they deployed the Scythe, after our initial "WOW!," my gamer husband realized to his horror that his GM was probably just that minute being inspired with even bigger and nastier ideas for their next session.
posted by telophase at 8:55 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Giants riding mammoths, shooting spear size arrows. 'Nuff said.

Man, if I'm ever shot by a giant's spear-sized arrow and catapulted into the sky like a ragdoll, I really hope I have the presence of mind to yell, "I CAN SEE MY HOUSE FROM HERE!" just before I drop hundreds of feet to the ground below.
posted by PlusDistance at 9:03 AM on June 9, 2014 [16 favorites]


Yes, count me in as a member of the "What Happened to Ghost Club." I think we only saw him chew up one baddie after Sam risked life and limb to release him. I also think Ghost would've served as the perfect surrogate for Jon's fancy sword in the final scene. I guess Castle Black needs every hand (or paw) available for the next onslaught.
posted by firemouth at 9:07 AM on June 9, 2014


If there was a website that mashed up Game Of Thrones screencaps with Arrow quotes instead of Arrested Development quotes, I'd send them pictures of Jon and Sam's final conversation with the following caption:

Jon: As far as plans go, this is not a good one.
Sam: This was your plan.
Jon: I didn't think you'd actually say yes.
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:11 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


As I don't think we saw the camera pan down as we watched the top half of Jon march away into the North, my prediction is that one of the opening shots of episode 10 will be seeing that again, with the camera panning down and Ghost running after him. At least, I hope so.

Was anyone else annoyed that they lifted the outer gate all the way, instead of just enough that Jon could crawl under it? If any Wildlings were hiding out there, they ought to be trying to rush the gate at that point. (I know, I know, dramatic effect trumps sense.)
posted by telophase at 9:13 AM on June 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Holy moly. That was among the most interesting episodes in the entire run of Breaking Bad

Suffice it to say it was divisive. I hated it so much I didn't go back to Breaking Bad for over a year. It was like "Yuck. Fuck these two assholes, I don't like either of them enough to bother anymore".

all wall

By coincidence I've been reading a lot of Hop on Pop, over and over and over again recently and I couldn't help but quote it: All fall. Fall off the wall.
posted by Hoopo at 9:18 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I called the Wildings "baddies" but I sympathize with them too. They really are trapped between a rock and a hard place and, if I understand correctly, aren't they victims to ancient Westeros sprawl?
posted by firemouth at 9:19 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why are the giants evil? The Wildlings are trying to get South of the Wall because they know the Walkers are going to kill them all if they stay, and I assume the giants among them have the same motive.
The Wildling attacks are reprisals against the crows, right? I don't see their raids as desperate attempts to escape the Walkers. If you were desperately trying to escape the north and you had the ability to climb the wall, as they seem to, why not climb the wall twenty miles east of Castle Black?

And I mean as far as we know the Walkers have a perfectly good reason for moving into Wildling territory. Maybe there's something worse than Walkers up north. Ice dragons or whatever.
posted by deathpanels at 9:27 AM on June 9, 2014


Also - as for the complaints that the entire episode took place in only one location, I guess maybe the show hasn't done a good enough job driving home why what happened in this episode is such a big deal? To me, I took the fact this entire episode was about only the Wall as a reminder that the most immediate threat to Westeros might not be the lady with the dragons or a bunch of plotting and scheming in Kings Landing. This turn of events struck me as potentially world-changing.
posted by Hoopo at 9:30 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


The raids were meant to draw out the crows from Castle Black, I thought. In order to weaken them before the first assault.
posted by GrapeApiary at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you were desperately trying to escape the north and you had the ability to climb the wall, as they seem to, why not climb the wall twenty miles east of Castle Black?


I doubt that every Wildling has the ability to summit the wall. It takes hours, and Wildlings have children (and probably old/infirmed loved ones) to take care of. For the most part, the only Wildlings we've seen are the warrior types, but to support an army of that many, there have to be families.

So, since all of the tunnels except for Castle Black have been sealed, the only way to get a large mass of people through is Castle Black. Mance can send advance parties to climb at less patrolled areas of the Wall (like Ygritte and friends), and probably should have sent more than that one band, but eventually that gate's gotta open.

Question regarding Jon's Bad Plan*: Does Mance know that Jon went back to the Watch? I feel like the whole "betrayal" happened after the advance party summitted the wall, and they haven't been in communication since. Maybe Jon can just be like "wow, it sucks how bad we all got slaughtered there, but you know those crows be fierce"

*any plan vere you lose you hat iz?
posted by sparklemotion at 9:36 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I guess maybe the show hasn't done a good enough job driving home why what happened in this episode is such a big deal?

I don't know, I picked up on it. I thought the stakes were spelled out fairly well (if the Night's Watch lose, the short-term forecast calls for a lot more Mole's Towns and the long-term forecast calls for ice zombies all up in the collective grill of Westeros) and so were the odds (a hundred men* holding a castle and a wall against ten thousand savages and some giants and some mammoths). All in all I thought it was a great episode.

* and a wolf
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:38 AM on June 9, 2014


The Wildling attacks are reprisals against the crows, right? I don't see their raids as desperate attempts to escape the Walkers.

Nope. They are indeed trying to escape the White Walkers. The reason they all banded together under Mance's leadership is because they know they'll die if they don't get south.

They're attacking the Night's Watch because that's what stands between them and where they need to go to survive.

If you were desperately trying to escape the north and you had the ability to climb the wall, as they seem to, why not climb the wall twenty miles east of Castle Black?

The Wall is over 700 feet tall. Climbing it can be deadly even to able-bodied adults equipped with climbing gear. So just climbing over a spot not guarded by the Night's Watch isn't an option for 100,000+ people.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:59 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Had to suspend a wee bit of disbelief when we saw what could only have been Gilly and her baby go scurrying along the small cliff above the Wildings' war camp, like, in full view of any one of the hundreds of them who might have looked up at that moment.

As soon as Gilly and baby were safely inside Castle Black, I knew Ygritte's prior good deed was not going to go unpunished.

Then when Sam empowered Olly the Elevator Kid to do some fighting, I knew Olly would be the one to kill Ygritte. (Hello, spoiler in the Previously On, and like, a trope from Every Action Movie In The History Of Ever.)

They totally should have ended Ygritte's character with this: "You remember that cave? We should have stayed in that cave.”

and then (after Ygritte dies) Jon Snow's response: “We'll go back there."
posted by hush at 10:02 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Anyone else feel like a Night's Watch of hundred or two hundred men is actually really understaffed even if it's just a shunt for disowned noblemen, thieves, and "rrrrraaaperrrs" (as the show puts it)? Like, Westeros should probably have at least a couple thousand rejects at any given time, not including ordinary prisoners kept in ordinary dungeons?
posted by furiousthought at 10:03 AM on June 9, 2014


Last episode I was pretty down on GoT. Oberyn was a great character and a symbol of hope, justice and damn good parties. But after the battle where he killed the Mountain and avenged his sister, thus leading to him withdrawing from public life back in Dorne, which explains why everyone thinks he's dead, it seemed like the show runners were just kicking fans in the teeth for little reason.

With Sam becoming a more proactive and the Night's Watch fending off the attack, things feel more balanced, story-wise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:10 AM on June 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Anyone else feel like a Night's Watch of hundred or two hundred men is actually really understaffed even if it's just a shunt for disowned noblemen, thieves, and "rrrrraaaperrrs" (as the show puts it)?

There may be a few reasons for this.

For one thing, it's been pretty clearly spelled out that in recent years (for at least a few generations, it seems like), the notion of "taking the black" for honorable reasons has fallen very far out of favor. One of the big "growing up" moments for Jon Snow is his realization of this as he arrives at Castle Black. Of course, the Starks (with their inexhaustible supply of honor) seem to be among the only noble house that actually still does this, but most of the other nobles in the service of the watch are there because they did something wrong.

A knock-on effect of this is, the people in control of the purse strings (e.g. the nobles still in power throughout the seven kingdoms) aren't really all that invested in the safety of those at the wall. This effect is multiplied due to the fact that it's been so long since a serious northern threat was around, and so many in power view the tales of the old battles against wildlings, giants, and the like as pure fiction.

So, all this leads to: the Night's Watch is chronically under-funded. Even if they took more criminals and undesirables in, there are only so many they have the money and supplies to outfit in any sort of fighting shape.

It's entirely likely that the black brothers who go down looking for recruits are taking the best they can find (not very good), but even then, are limiting themselves on the total number, because bringing another couple hundred random criminals to the wall with no food, weapons, or armor to outfit them with would be worse than useless -- it'd actively deteriorate the Night's Watch's ability to do its job.
posted by tocts at 10:40 AM on June 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Anyone else feel like a Night's Watch of hundred or two hundred men is actually really understaffed even if it's just a shunt for disowned noblemen, thieves, and "rrrrraaaperrrs" (as the show puts it)?

The fact that the Night's Watch is understaffed has been a plot point since pretty much S1E1. Here's Tyrion getting guilt-tripped in S1E3*

Even if the rest of Westeros' rejects end up "sent" to the wall, it's still a journey to get there (remember when Yoren tried to get a handful of trouble makers up there?) How many people destined for the Wall escape their captors and go hide in some other region (or book it to Essos)?

*this scene is so much better than I remember... I need a rewatch.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:42 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


So how many storylines do we have to wrap up?

IMO the only ones that really need to be resolved this season are Tyrion's execution or escape (I suspect the later), Arya and the wounded Hound at the Vale (I fear for Sandor), Stannis's and Melisandre's travel plans, and Jon's chat with Mance. Everything else could wait until next season if they can't make it fit.
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Of course, the Starks (with their inexhaustible supply of honor) seem to be among the only noble house that actually still does this, but most of the other nobles in the service of the watch are there because they did something wrong.

That's what I am saying though – there's gotta be more than a couple hundred nobles in all of Westeros that need to get shipped off somewhere quiet! And that'd just cover banished nobles. For being a waste pit for the entire continent it seems very underutilized. And of course even if they did have the thousand soldiers Jon Snow told Mance they did, they still would be pretty understaffed & not the elite force young Jon Snow thought they were...
posted by furiousthought at 10:55 AM on June 9, 2014


Anyone else feel like a Night's Watch of hundred or two hundred men is actually really understaffed even if it's just a shunt for disowned noblemen, thieves, and "rrrrraaaperrrs" (as the show puts it)?

Another thing is, Jeor Mormont took a huge ranging party north of the Wall which was decimated by the Walkers at the Fist of the First Men. I think it was about 200 Night's Watchmen, so about two-thirds of their number. That hurt.
posted by homunculus at 11:04 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I agree with all of that, homunculus.

Beyond that, I'd say no need for any more Danaerys this season. I'd rather pick up her thread next year, with hopefully the rest of her boring storyline happening off-screen in the meantime, so we can get straight to some action.
posted by GrapeApiary at 11:05 AM on June 9, 2014


If the Wildlings were really just afraid of the Walkers, they could have gotten south without quite so much murder. Send some ravens to Castle Black and the northern castles, have a parlay or two, agree to abide by the laws of the south.

I seriously doubt anyone would listen. They all seem to view the Wildlings as vermin and would never allow them south of the Wall under any condition. The Night's Watch has been fighting them centuries and aren't inclined to listen, and hardly anyone else believes the Walkers are real, so that reason would fall on deaf ears. Even if they did allow a few through, they would never allow 100,000 through.
posted by homunculus at 11:09 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's what I am saying though – there's gotta be more than a couple hundred nobles in all of Westeros that need to get shipped off somewhere quiet!

I think you're over-estimating just how many nobles there are in Westeros, as well as the frequency with which they're actually punished for crimes (not frequency of committing crimes, mind you -- just frequency of actually getting punished).

My own interpretation of what was probably true of the historical nobles who joined the Night's Watch is as follows:

First, the majority joined of their own free will. Certainly some were criminals, but you have to go pretty far as a noble to reach the point of having to choose between a gibbet or a life on the wall.

Second, the majority were younger sons. First sons are too important in keeping the family line going, so by and large, they're not going to the wall. So, we're talking about second, third, and fourth sons. There's only so many of these, and second sons are useful for sealing alliances, etc. Add to this, Robert's Rebellion is only 20 years or so past, and that must have eaten up a lot of noble sons (with the younger ones tending to be front line footsoldiers).

All this leads me to believe that there probably legitimately are not that many nobles who are both unimportant enough to their houses that they could go to the wall, and would either choose to or be forced to. Without family honor being so buoyed by them doing it, lords and ladies are finding other, more useful ways to expend their younger sons.

That's my own theory, anyways.
posted by tocts at 11:12 AM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I knew Olly would be the one to kill Ygritte. (Hello, spoiler in the Previously On)

That's exactly why I skip over the "Previously On" bit for my first viewing. It often totally telegraphs what's coming, in a "remember this guy? he's going to be significant this episode" way.

But yes, the kid-gets-revenge trope was pretty much on rails: Olly's father was killed right in front of him by Ygritte's arrow during one of the earlier Wildling raids, and then during the training scene at Castle Black Olly pipes up that he's the best archer in his village.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:33 AM on June 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


I thought "drop the side" was still more strange Martinish vernacular. And then they dropped the scythe. Schwooosch. Loved it. I thought the tracking shot was wonderful, even if they of course had stitched it together in post. And then you tell me it's real! Yay!
I'm not much for the goings on on the wall much as Jon and Ygitte are the prettiest of things but I still found this to be a wonderful romp and wouldn't begrudge them their showpiece ep. Gods know, I can't bear to see the sun shining on the streets of Kings Landing quite yet.
posted by Iteki at 11:36 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ha... I hadn't even made the connection that that was supposed to be the same kid. Good on you, Olly. Plz don't die.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:36 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think you're over-estimating just how many nobles there are in Westeros

Maybe – I'm going from historical Europe and mentally scaling it to Westeros and the scaling of Westeros is famously odd to begin with. Still, the numbers they are using seem low for even one of the more sparsely populated European kingdoms... *shrug*
posted by furiousthought at 11:41 AM on June 9, 2014


Good on you, Olly. Plz don't die.

I think you just cursed him.
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm considering a rewatch just to get a Crow body count.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:08 PM on June 9, 2014


P.o.B.: "I'm considering a rewatch just to get a Crow body count."

Good luck. I found it pretty hard to figure out who was killing whom much of the time. The baddies mostly looking like the good guys, except for the Thenns or the redheaded wildlings (Tormund and Ygritte).
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:29 PM on June 9, 2014


Really dug this ep, Ygritte's schmaltzy end and all. So nice to see Jon Snow really come into his own. He and Danerys are going to make a lovely ruling couple :)

And the scythe was 1) super cool and 2) made it clear how a vastly under-staffed Castle Black can hold the wall against so many. That thing rips!
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:02 PM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


According to legend, giants helped Bran the Builder to create the Wall. Maybe there's an old treaty buried in the bowels of the library which requires the Night's Watch to let the giants through, and compels the giants to help fight the White Walkers. Get on that, Sam.
posted by homunculus at 2:51 PM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


That's exactly why I skip over the "Previously On" bit for my first viewing. It often totally telegraphs what's coming, in a "remember this guy? he's going to be significant this episode" way.

As soon as I saw that the "Previously On" was all shots of the Wall, I turned to my SO and said, "No Tyrion?!?!?!?!?!" quite pathetically.

Damn it, I'm going to be at my parents' house next Sunday, and they don't get HBO. Boooooooo.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:08 PM on June 9, 2014




- Danerys and the Dragons

What about'em? It's been establisihed that Daenerys pays for the damage they cause


That might not work if they eat the shepherd rather than the flock next time. They're going through their teenage rebellious phases, after all. Or someone is going to try to trick Daenerys into paying them by killing and burning another person and claiming the dragons did it. One of those scenarios seems inevitable to me.
posted by homunculus at 4:53 PM on June 9, 2014


Bon Jovi. It's what you think it is.
posted by absalom at 5:10 PM on June 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


I had forgotten that Janos Slynt betrayed Ned Stark, (with help from Littlefinger, natch) which pretty much led directly to Ned's beheading. (Lightbulb moment). THAT's where Maester Aemon was going with reminding the viewers/Sam once more that he was actually a Targaryen, but his duty to the Night's Watch trumps not only blood ties, but also Love.

So the main accomplice to Ned Stark's murder is there at Castle Black, right under Jon Snow's nose, currently pulling his own version of Joffrey Baratheon in hiding at the Blackwater. Damn.

Janos Slynt hiding with Gilly and her baby also reminds me of Drunk Cersei, Sansa, Shae et.al. plus Joffrey being hidden away as well, with Ilyn Payne standing ready to kill them should Stannis have won. Yeah, plenty of parallels there.

I can't help but draw comparisons between Jon Snow's unforeseen leadership role here, and Tyrion Lannister's leadership role (which only Varys seems to remember) in The Battle of the Blackwater.

Here's hoping Jon Snow can pull some proverbial Wildfire out of his hat. And not regret his heroic actions later, a la poor Tyrion.
posted by hush at 5:20 PM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


> so it's that time of week again

Indeed.
posted by homunculus at 5:40 PM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Olly = Anteros?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:51 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's hoping Jon Snow can pull some proverbial Wildfire out of his hat.

I hope he returns triumphantly to Castle Black on the back of a mammoth.
posted by homunculus at 5:51 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]




> Tyrion Lannister's leadership role (which only Varys seems to remember)

Huh; is that what Varys meant? I didn't think we'd been told what Varys was specifically alluding to. I assumed we'd either find out in a future episode... or not at all.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:33 PM on June 9, 2014


is that what Varys meant?

Just a hunch. After Blackwater, Varys visited the injured Tyrion, brought Shae to him, and told him that there are many who know that Tyrion saved the city from certain defeat. Varys warned Tyrion that Joffrey would not give him any honors, and the histories would not mention him, but reassures Tyrion that those that know the truth will not forget.
posted by hush at 7:08 PM on June 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


I suppose I understand why some folks feel disappointed, but that was one of the best extended battle scenes I've seen on film in a long time. The bit with the oath and the giant at the inside gate really hit the spot, and the story of the fight flowed and shifted beautifully. After years of hinting and pontificating, we finally got a sharp sense of the importance of the Night's Watch, even in its diminished state.

I didn't mind the whole-hour focus at all. And yeah, this show doesn't really do seasons in any kind of consistent way for most of its storylines. Pretty much every season ends with tons of open-ended plots still waiting for any kind of resolution. So, yay for the Watch, even if most of them are going to end up dead.

Oh, and right before the tracking shot, when Jon has just killed three men after leaping out of the elevator, then bashes and kicks another down the stairs, then pauses at the railing to survey the scene (looking very, very regal) was another neat moment. They don't linger on it, but I liked that brief glimpse a lot.
posted by mediareport at 9:12 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Totally thought Ygritte was going to ARROW'D! Jon Snow. Was glad Olly got his revenge. Good shot kid.

It was great to see a good seige battle where the defenders looked like they knew what they were doing (for the most part) and were reasonably well prepared. The scene in the tunnel with the giant was amazing (although as he was lifting up the outer gate we were yelling at the TV "shoot his knees with flaming arrows!!!") - was fully expecting the giant to flatten the gate (and defenders) without slowing down though! Giant arrow vs guy on battlements, ballista vs giant, the scythe, flaming arrows whizzing through the night like tracer bullets - so many good bits in this episode.

that was one of the best extended battle scenes I've seen on film in a long time. The bit with the oath and the giant at the inside gate really hit the spot, and the story of the fight flowed and shifted beautifully. After years of hinting and pontificating, we finally got a sharp sense of the importance of the Night's Watch, even in its diminished state.

That, basically.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:22 AM on June 10, 2014


I had forgotten that Janos Slynt betrayed Ned Stark, (with help from Littlefinger, natch) which pretty much led directly to Ned's beheading.

As I alluded to in an earlier comment, he was also the person who oversaw the implementation of Cersei's orders to kill all of Robert Baratheon's bastards, during which he personally killed a baby in front of its mother. He's pretty much a total coward and a terrible person, and untrustworthy to boot. Tyrion sent him to the wall because he couldn't trust him, and replaced him with Bronn.

I'm rather hoping his comeuppance is at hand, in the wake of his cowardice during this recent battle.
posted by tocts at 4:08 AM on June 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I had forgotten that Janos Slynt betrayed Ned Stark ...

I may have to rewatch the series this summer, I seem to have forgotten half of it.
posted by octothorpe at 4:28 AM on June 10, 2014


If the Wildlings were really just afraid of the Walkers, they could have gotten south without quite so much murder. Send some ravens to Castle Black and the northern castles, have a parlay or two, agree to abide by the laws of the south. Sure, some of the petty lords would try to screw them over, here or there, but overall, they could have existed as another (very large) faction in Westeros proper. Instead, they are coming in as an invasion force, killing and pillaging for no real reason.

"Everybody loves immigrants!" said no country ever.
posted by srboisvert at 5:01 AM on June 10, 2014 [7 favorites]




Half the battle
posted by homunculus at 10:28 AM on June 10, 2014


> so it's that time of week again

Indeed.


Oh man, I had totally forgotten about the bad-ass prep cook. That kitchen fight scene was awesome.
posted by Hoopo at 10:46 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Anyone else feel like a Night's Watch of hundred or two hundred men is actually really understaffed even if it's just a shunt for disowned noblemen, thieves, and "rrrrraaaperrrs" (as the show puts it)?

This is almost exactly what I was thinking about the US Veteran's Administration this morning, so I don't find it far-fetched.
posted by vitabellosi at 12:20 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]






I can't help but feel like the Night's Watch needs a better communications director. A little A/B testing should easily confirm that "hundreds of thousands of Wildlings attacking the wall, send reinforcements!" would get a better clickthrough rate in the South than "hundreds of thousands of Wildlings AND ICE ZOMBIES..."

(Quoth Tywin Lannister: Sorry we couldn't get back to you sooner, Night's Watch - your ravens got caught in our spam filter...)
posted by kythuen at 12:31 PM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can't help but feel like the Night's Watch needs a better communications director.

Back in the first season, after Jon Snow saved Jeor Mormont from the wight, Jeor sent Alliser Thorne to King's Landing to show the wight's hand to the new boy king. At the time I was expecting a scene with Joffrey staring in horor at an animated hand, like Thing from the Addams Family, but I don't think that was ever paid off. Thorne came back and there was no mention of the hand.
posted by homunculus at 12:57 PM on June 10, 2014




At the time I was expecting a scene with Joffrey staring in horor at an animated hand, like Thing from the Addams Family yt , but I don't think that was ever paid off. Thorne came back and there was no mention of the hand.

There's been several attempts by the Night's Watch to get help. All have been dismissively ignored. The most positive response was Tyrion's, who still didn't believe a plea fromMormont, yet noted that Mormont wasn't a liar so maybe there's something going on.

Stannis got one of the ravens MaesterA emon sent out to the entire kingdom and had plans to bring an army to the wall, but he didn't have money or troops, hence the trip to Braavos, where he got money for troops. The last we heard on that front was Davos summoning his pirate friend Salladhor Saan and telling him they had work to do. This was while Davos and Stannis were in Braavos, so...who knows what Davos meant. Maybe we'll find out in the finale.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 PM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hodor is a DJ?
posted by bq at 4:49 PM on June 10, 2014


Hodor!
posted by homunculus at 4:51 PM on June 10, 2014


Stannis got one of the ravens MaesterA emon sent out to the entire kingdom and had plans to bring an army to the wall

Here's that scene. At this point I'm expecting Stannis to show up with the cavalry right after everyone at the Wall has been killed.

Khuu! Khuu! Khuu!
posted by homunculus at 4:52 PM on June 10, 2014


About Ygritte.

I think I read this joke somewhere else, but she died doing what she loved: saying her catchphrase.
posted by clockzero at 4:56 PM on June 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


Had to suspend a wee bit of disbelief when we saw what could only have been Gilly and her baby go scurrying along the small cliff above the Wildings' war camp, like, in full view of any one of the hundreds of them who might have looked up at that moment.

They couldn't see her because she was wearing her Gilly suit.

I'll see myself out.
posted by Uncle Ira at 6:11 PM on June 10, 2014 [20 favorites]


I didn't really understand why the defenders needed to set fire to every arrow they shot off the Wall. Wouldn't a flaming arrow be easier to see and dodge than a non-flaming one? Or was the idea that they acted as tracers, so the archers can see how far their shots are going, and how accurately?

Or was it mostly for effect? I.e. it looks cool for the television audience, and looks scary for the attackers?
posted by good in a vacuum at 6:31 PM on June 10, 2014


There are logical in-story explanations, which you've covered well enough, but I suspect the real reason is that we the viewers wouldn't be able to see anything otherwise.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:34 PM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, you're probably right. Hard enough for the audience to see what's going on in a night battle as it is.
posted by good in a vacuum at 6:43 PM on June 10, 2014


they kept mentioning dropping oil, and not every barrel they dropped was lit. when it first started, at least, i was assuming that they covered certain areas(like the ground around the gate) and people/mammoths/etc with oil and then shot flaming arrows at it to light it.

but then i realized those were just like, powderkegs... and that they were dropping lit barrels of oil?

It doesn't totally make sense, but i'll give them a free pass on it being cool.

Although, they did show them dipping the arrows in oil, and the arrows having a little wrapping of some kind of substance to wick the oil. Maybe it was meant to splatter all over you flaming like a molotov sort of? The people they showed get and go down the arrows were still on fire on. Maybe the idea is to create a hard to traverse battlefield of flaming, downed allies for the wildlings to move through?
posted by emptythought at 6:52 PM on June 10, 2014


I'm willing to bet being shot with a flaming arrow is a lot more painful and debilitating than being shot with a regular arrow.
posted by deathpanels at 7:21 PM on June 10, 2014


I'd totally forgotten about the bad-ass prep cook. That kitchen fight scene was awesome.

Yeah, that was another wonderful moment: when you realized the fucking *kitchen staff* at Castle Black were actually capable of kicking serious ass. It's part of what I loved so much about this episode - the revelation of strength showing up in unexpected places in the sadly depleted Night's Watch. Ser Alliser turning out to actually walk the walk he'd been talking about knowing how to fight, the almost hilarious way command was tossed around at the top of the wall with everyone who got it (except Slynt) rising to the occasion beautifully, the battle with the giant at the inner gate, the courage of the nameless Watch members who kept fighting and dying against the obviously stronger Wildlings, Sam's not-quite-completely courageous arc, Olly's first kill...the whole episode was just a great exploration of fear and courage in the midst of utter hopelessness.

I find myself strongly disagreeing with folks like Alan Seppinwall who complain that the episode was fundamentally unsatisfying because it didn't do anything to advance the plot. He says that, unlike the "Blackwater" episode, in which "Stannis was completely neutralized as an impending threat to the crown," this episode "ends with Jon pointing out what an utterly minor victory they've just won." As if an episode that finally shows the Night's Watch doing what it's supposed to be doing, against tremendous odds, with emotional payoffs for a number of characters, some of whom die and some of whom don't, can somehow be said to be unsatisfying because it happens in the midst of an increasingly hopeless situation.

*shakes head*

I just don't understand some critics sometimes.
posted by mediareport at 8:11 PM on June 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think part of the frustration that some may feel comes from the fact that there is so very little GoT. 10 eps doesn't give you space to cover much ground, and a whole episode that is a single battle without a clear resolution can feel like a waste of precious resources.

I do feel this sometimes in individual scenes — Tyrion and Jamie talking about the beetle-killing cousin was a recent example. Not much time! On with the plot or at least something fighty or smashy!

But I personally found this episode super satisfying. BIG THINGS. FLAMING EXPLODY THINGS. SAM GROWS UP. JON SNOW LEADERSHIP WEBINAR.

All the things. Happy.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:19 PM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


a whole episode that is a single battle without a clear resolution can feel like a waste of precious resources.

Yeah, like I said above, I understand the perspective that feels that way. I just don't feel that way myself. It was a great episode - hell, I'd say necessary, given how the importance of the Wall had been teased for years. It felt surprising, exciting, emotional and essential to give the Night's Watch this critical moment.

And seriously: no season of this show has ever ended without major hanging threads of plot. Get over it. We're talking about a larger, longer whole work that's being arbitrarily divided into 10-episode segments. It seems a little silly to watch TV critics like Seppinwall complaining about a show not adhering to some artificial idea of "seasons."

What year is it again?

I will agree, though, that the beetle-killing conversation wasted too much time. It just went on and on. Ugh. Some empathy for the audience wanting multiple interesting payoffs after watching 8 hours of your show wouldn't be so bad, HBO writers. I just disagree that an hour devoted to a sharply written and tightly directed trial-by-fire for the Night's Watch, even if it left them in the same hopeless situation at the end they faced at the beginning, is comparable to that clumsily written and mostly pointless beetle-killing scene.
posted by mediareport at 8:38 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fuck I have spent this entire season thinking Mance Rayder was the red-haired guy leading the raiding party and who was captured at the end of the battle at Castle Black. Was super confused when Jon said he was going to speak to Mance (thinking he meant he was going to speak to the prisoner) and then he went out the gate.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:19 AM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Although, they did show them dipping the arrows in oil, and the arrows having a little wrapping of some kind of substance to wick the oil. Maybe it was meant to splatter all over you flaming like a molotov sort of? The people they showed get and go down the arrows were still on fire on. Maybe the idea is to create a hard to traverse battlefield of flaming, downed allies for the wildlings to move through?

I wondered if there was a tracer-bullet effect too, so you can judge (in the dark) how far you're firing your arrows and adjust your aim (since the defenders are for the most part firing in the general direction of the wildling army rather than at specific guys).

Also what was the deal with the first lot of unlit barrels they dropped right by the gate? Was that just extra oil that was supposed to ignite when they later dropped the lit barrels?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:22 AM on June 11, 2014


As if an episode that finally shows the Night's Watch doing what it's supposed to be doing, against tremendous odds, with emotional payoffs for a number of characters, some of whom die and some of whom don't, can somehow be said to be unsatisfying because it happens in the midst of an increasingly hopeless situation.

I'm kind of with Sepinwall. I've always found the Night's Watch bits some of the most boring bits on the show, probably because I find Jon Snow boring. He's one of the least complex, most blandly heroic characters on the show. Whatever the honourable, nobly self-sacrificing thing is, that's what he'll do. There were a couple glimmers this season of him being a bit more hardened and cynical, but glimmers is all they were. So there's less of a capacity for surprise with him.

I think the whole the Night's Watch thread this season suffers from that a bit as well --- they lack the capacity to fundamentally change their situation without help from outside, so every scene with them was just another five minutes in the waiting room before this battle. And then the battle came, while there were a ton of fun action scenes, basically nothing has changed. The big question you have about the Night's Watch as a viewer remains unanswered --- will they be wiped out or rescued? The answer to that question is hugely important to the whole series, but we just spent an full hour with them and didn't get even the start of an answer. Bit frustrating.

It'd be one thing if we spent all that time with them and at least moved their own plot thread forward --- then it'd be less bothersome that so many other character's fates were left hanging, because one big piece would have been settled. But to lavish an hour on action and have that action be fruitless does seem a bit of a waste, meta-plot wise.
posted by Diablevert at 7:12 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I will agree, though, that the beetle-killing conversation wasted too much time.

Having rewatched that episode recently: I disagree, and I liked it even more this time. It's a lovely bit of writing; it gives Dinklage room to shine; and it provides a nice breather between the choppy "gotta visit all these characters" first half of the episode and the adrenaline rush of the duel.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:31 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I belatedly remembered that what I was expecting to happen was that the Night's Watch leadership would wind up making strategically disastrous decisions at the start of the siege – following up from the refusal to block the tunnel – and Jon Snow & company would be forced to stage a coup before the fight started. Which would have complicated Jon's character at the expense of Allister's.
posted by furiousthought at 7:32 AM on June 11, 2014


Oh, and Sepinwall's "at a minimum" is dancing around "has all the charisma of wet cardboard, and comparable acting chops" here, no?
Jon Snow is perhaps the TV show's least interesting main character: a noble, straightforward, but ultimately dull hero. I don't know how much of this is on the writing (certainly, Benioff and Weiss seem more engaged by writing for the misfits and unlikely heroes) and how much is on Kit Harington (who at a minimum doesn't bring anything extra to the material in the way that so many of his co-stars do), but in general, scenes at or around the Wall the last few years have tended to rise and fall based less on Jon Snow than on how much John Bradley has gotten to do as Sam.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:35 AM on June 11, 2014


I side with those who think it was a great episode. A lot of things were settled or kindled in this episode. Ygritte and Jon's story comes to a close as does the Wildling ranging party. Alliser Thorne yields to Jon. Slynt is exposed, which may set up some formal proceedings for Jon to get revenge for the betrayal and murder of his father. Sam and Gilly seal it with a kiss. Olly gets his revenge and who knows, he may end up being a long haul character (if he's not, then yes, it was kind of cheap that he fired the shot). I don't know, I'm sure I haven't found all the threads in that episode. What I know we did get was absolute spectacle and there's nothing wrong with that. This is a fantasy series and this episode put the fantasy front and center. The episode's detractors seem to favor the soap opera aspects of the show over the swords and sorcery. Which is fine, but hey, here's a little something for fans of giants and swords.

Years from now I doubt anyone will hate on this episode.


doesn't bring anything extra to the material
um.....BARREL ROLL OUT OF ELEVATOR. he brought the heat.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:46 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've always found the Night's Watch bits to be the most boring parts of the show. Both because the characters are dull - even Sam, probably the most interesting character up there, is broadly-drawn and his arc as been fairly predictable - and the Crows just seemed to be locked in a holding pattern.

So, I was kind of expecting to not like this episode, but I wound up liking it a lot more than I thought I would. The effects were awesome, and - like Blackwater - it captured the tension of battle really, really well. It also was great to see an actual, concrete demonstration of the Wall's importance. Thus far, that importance has either a) been hinted at via White Walkers, or Mance's raiders, or b) been explicitly stated, usually by Night's Watchmen themselves. But we have not seen much of what it is the Wall and the Night's Watch are there to do. I think it was important to give the audience a concrete example of that.

I also don't understand the criticism of the ending. I mean, yeah, the Crows are badly, badly outnumbered, but they are also protected by a fucking 700-foot tall ice fortress that is hundreds of miles long, plus they've got lots of really cool weapons. Considering what Mance is attacking, it makes sense that he wouldn't be able to defeat them in one fell swoop. Maybe if he went at them with everything he has all at once he could overwhelm them, but the idea that he would wear them down a little at a time isn't totally unbelievable. And Jon's whole "I'm going to go talk to and/or kill Mance" plan appears supremely boneheaded, but it's entirely in character. I'm fine with dangling plot threads, GoT is all about the long game.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:24 AM on June 11, 2014




On rewatch I noticed that the guy Sam killed was the Thenn Warg. So far Sam has slain a White Walker and a warg; if he fells a giant next he'll get the Northern trifecta.
posted by homunculus at 5:42 PM on June 11, 2014 [5 favorites]




Season 5
Episode 1 - After saving a young woman from drowning, Podrick finds himself accidentally betrothed. Brienne agrees to help defend the young woman's village from bandits but soon discovers things are not always what they appear ...

Episode 2 - In order to save a village from a mysterious illness, Brienne and Podrick must steal a magical stone from a heavily-guarded castle.

Episode 3 - Our heroes discover an ancient amulet which causes them to switch bodies. Before they can switch back, Podrick must compete in a tournament and Brienne must act as his squire.

Episode 4 - When Brienne and Podrick have to return a baby to his mother, they must face their greatest challenge yet, changing diapers.

Episode 5 - Podrick realizes they are repeating the same day over and over.

Episode 6 - Brienne faces a dark figure from her past. Podrick adopts a cat.

Episode 7 - Brienne and Podrick become trapped in a cave. Only by combining their talents can they manage to escape before it collapses.

Episode 8 - Brienne and Podrick discover a village where the local lord has banned wine. Podrick is sentenced to death and Brienne fights as his champion.

Episode 9 - Some stuff happens to characters that are not Brienne and Podrick.

Episode 10 - Brienne and Podrick arrive at the Vale.
posted by RobotHero at 7:18 PM on June 11, 2014 [26 favorites]


Okay, but then season 6 is The Direst Hobo.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:03 PM on June 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


We're talking about a larger, longer whole work that's being arbitrarily divided into 10-episode segments. It seems a little silly to watch TV critics like Seppinwall complaining about a show not adhering to some artificial idea of "seasons."

But it's not arbitrarily divided. For better or worse each season has episode 9 set aside for some big event. The problem with this one is that with some minor shuffling of previous Night's Watch scenes it could have been moved an episode or three back and it wouldn't have affected the overall plot much at all. Everything in season two built to Blackwater (and honestly the characters involved in that episode are way more compelling) but the events of this episode, while important, doesn't set up anything except Jon's silly idea.
posted by edeezy at 12:47 PM on June 12, 2014


So I mistakenly went into the book thread and just spoiled all the major events that could happen in the next episode. Is it possible to have the word Books Included in even bigger red letters? ;_;
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 4:03 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]




Photographers ruin everything, don't they?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:35 PM on June 12, 2014




Just a quick note - the clip linked above is crude in language and probably not something to click when your kids are in the room.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:10 PM on June 12, 2014












RE: Unlit barrels. They're barrels full of rocks. At some point someone (Edd?) talks about them, but just as "the rocks."
posted by ocherdraco at 4:03 PM on June 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, we re-watched the episode last night and the those barrels functioned similar to shrapnel bombs, spewing bits of rock everywhere.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:26 AM on June 15, 2014






If anyone wants something to read to pass the time until tonight's episode, here's a nice little story about giants: The Giantess’ Daughter
posted by homunculus at 2:12 PM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


In other news: three Black-footed Cat kittens named after Daenerys's dragons are thriving at the Philadelphia Zoo.
posted by homunculus at 2:23 PM on June 15, 2014


Beautiful Death: You know nothing Jon Snow
posted by homunculus at 11:53 AM on June 16, 2014


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