Game of Thrones: Hardhome   Show Only 
May 31, 2015 7:05 PM - Season 5, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Tyrion and Dany connect. Arya makes progress in her training. Sansa confronts Theon. Cersei struggles. Jon travels beyond The Wall to Hardhome with Tormund to meet with the Wildlings.
posted by zarq (239 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
HOLY FUCK.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:10 PM on May 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


Note to all characters: Move to Dorne. NOW.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:13 PM on May 31, 2015 [11 favorites]


EW: "It was three to four weeks of shooting for a sequence that should add up to [more than] 20 minutes,” Harington said. “We shot less than a minute a day! It’s so CGI-heavy it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done on Thrones. I’ve always been proud of the way Thrones doesn’t go overboard with special effects, but in this sequence they had to. I think it’s going to be spectacular.”

...

“Every fight I would shoot three times,” Harington said. “First against a man in a [greenscreen-projectable suit], the second with man who’s not in a green suit, but has full-on makeup to look like a dead person, and the third time I would just fight [without an oppoent, striking open air]. It gave them the option of using whichever way looked the best. [The Battle of Castle Black in] episode 9 last year was the hardest thing I’ve done. This was twice as hard as that. It was exhausting.”

The sequence required about 400 extras and 50 stuntmen. Harington pointed out the production was also aided by having a bigger budget for the battle scene than in previous seasons..."

posted by zarq at 7:14 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I'll be right behind you."

She was doomed.
posted by homunculus at 7:26 PM on May 31, 2015 [15 favorites]


I...

Whoever directed this episode should just direct every episode. I understand they must have been throwing money around like it was going out of style for this but everything about the fighting and battle scenes was absolutely top notch. Compared it to the Dorne fights. Except you can't because it's like they were different shows.

It's actually exactly like that, of course, since they have completely different crews filming in the various locations. But still... whoever is doing the stuff with the Night's Watch battles needs to give lessons to the folks doing the Sand People battles.

Or maybe that's what happens when you have ten times the budget or whatever. I'm not wrong, though, am I? The directing, pacing, cinematography, and fight choreography really was head and shoulders above what we've seen previously this season?
posted by Justinian at 7:34 PM on May 31, 2015 [19 favorites]


They've been doing something interesting with directors this season, where there's only five directors, each directing two episodes back to back. Miguel Sapochnik directed last episode and this one. These are the first GoT episodes he's done.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Miguel Sapochnik" sounds like a completely made-up name
posted by clockzero at 7:38 PM on May 31, 2015 [11 favorites]


Give Sapochnik some more episodes then 'cause I thought he was the best this season by a bunch. I guess you are constrained by the material, though, and he didn't have to direct Dornish Mean Girls or Sansa Abuse Fest 2015.
posted by Justinian at 7:39 PM on May 31, 2015


The scenes with Tyrion and Daenerys were also in a league above the rest of this season, dialogue-wise.

Something tells me Widow's Wail isn't gonna hang out with Joffrey's corpse much longer. Brienne is also toting around Valyrian steel. Are there other known Valyrian steel swords on the show?
posted by almostmanda at 7:40 PM on May 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


They could do a whole episode of Tyrion and Daenerys talking as they stroll around Meereen and meet with various people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:41 PM on May 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


Valyrian steel weapons
posted by homunculus at 7:44 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


The scenes with Tyrion and Daenerys were also in a league above the rest of this season, dialogue-wise.

Agreed. This season has been so disappointing until tonight's episode, I actually breathed a sigh of relief when they started talking.
posted by homunculus at 7:49 PM on May 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, last week we had Olenna and Littlefinger scheming in a busted up brothel and they managed to make it boring as hell. This felt like a return to form.
posted by almostmanda at 7:54 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


GOT:WWZ
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:59 PM on May 31, 2015 [9 favorites]


After last week's general malaise about the slow pace of the politicking and scheming, it was so very refreshing to be reminded both by Dany and by OMGZOMBIEARMY that none of the Stargayren-Boltrell-Marnnister machinations really matter at all.

but Cersei in a cell is still pretty great to watch.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:05 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


White Walker General
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 PM on May 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


There was only one scene that dragged: wooden Ollie's second round of screen time to ask stupid questions. I fear we're being set up for a plot twist involving him. Since he brings up the family-killed-by-wildlings story, I can see it going two ways: a) he does something rash once the surviving wildlings/crows return to the wall, like killing the guy with the red beard or b) he's been convinced by Jon/Sam so he does something uncharacteristically heroic. I prefer whichever gives him less screen time.
posted by carmicha at 9:16 PM on May 31, 2015 [17 favorites]


I just have to say that I loved that the White Walker King's raising-the-dead gesture totally had an air of "come at me, bro" at the start.
posted by TwoStride at 9:32 PM on May 31, 2015 [17 favorites]


for a half second I thought he was going to somehow freeze the bay and lock the ships in but displaying "Oh wait now my numbers are even larger" is better
posted by The Whelk at 9:33 PM on May 31, 2015 [13 favorites]


that was awesome

But i was a little surprised the dead guys were so constrained by not having boats
posted by Hoopo at 9:36 PM on May 31, 2015


Being dead isn't everything!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:37 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am so glad they didn't pull the cheap "have the guy in the hood be dead when zombie king raises the zombies", because I was worried about it. I wonder who he is though - they seemed to be telegraphing that he was both elderly and important.
posted by corb at 9:41 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just have to say that I loved that the White Walker King's raising-the-dead gesture totally had an air of "come at me, bro" at the start.

I think you mean this (from a Vanity Fair article which is dark and full of spoilers, but the linked standalone GIF is spoiler-free).
posted by maudlin at 9:47 PM on May 31, 2015 [13 favorites]


I think you mean this (from a Vanity Fair article which is dark and full of spoilers, but the linked standalone GIF is spoiler-free).
HA! Thanks for linking just to the gif--I've been avoiding all spoilery things so hadn't seen it!
posted by TwoStride at 9:49 PM on May 31, 2015


I just compulsively watched that fifteen times
posted by corb at 9:51 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Would the giant fit on one of the big boats? Surely he isn't walking all the way...
posted by Justinian at 9:52 PM on May 31, 2015


I thought the giant was at least going to tow Jon Snow's boat for him...
posted by TwoStride at 9:54 PM on May 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Surprised at the reactions here—I thought tonight's episode was terribly boring. I'm a huge non-fan of the white walkers. Big deal—they're just a bunch of ice zombies with no motivation except Pure Evil™ and turning more humans into undead. The "turning points" of the big fight, such as they were, seemed meaningless to me. "Go search for the dragon glass!" "ZOMG it's not there!" "Ruh-roh, look at those extra-badass zombies on horses up above!" etc.

And then at the end, lo and behold, the dead zombies and the newly dead humans all rise when the zombie king raises his hands. Meh. That's what zombies do. If the zombies had some kind of purpose to them, then I'd be more into the storyline. Otherwise they just seem like CGI plot-pushers.

I was also really disappointed that a big, important political turning point (the agreement of many of the Wildlings to head south) ended up in a random enormous battle that just happened to happen at the very moment John Snow showed up. I'm really not a fan of storytelling-by-coincidence, and just too much of that has taken place for my liking this season.

As someone pointed out above, the second Ollie scene, which was identical to the prior one, was painfully dull. And Mormont also got cast out of Mereen... a second time. And now his plan to come back is... to win a big fight in the pits! Just like the scheme that already didn't work. What the...? And Cersei made the exact same death threat to that septa as she did last time. Just a lot of repeated stuff.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:55 PM on May 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


What's that business Arya is getting mixed up in? Is it some kind of star chamber?

GOT:WWZ

Yeah, when the wights jumped off the cliff and landed on top of each other it reminded me the scene in WWZ when the zombies piled on top of each other trying to climb the wall around Jerusalem.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:56 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, how come in the final moment of the final scene, the oarsmen in Jon's boat weren't even rowing? And why can't zombies swim?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:57 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


My only complaint was the brief story life and silly death of the Wildling Chieftainess (played by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen from Borgen.) It would have been more dramatic if they'd killed Tormund and passed the torch to her instead. One thing's for sure: if they had killed Tormund they wouldn't have had him freeze at the sight of the zombie babies, which I guess are like kryptonite to Wildling women.
posted by homunculus at 9:57 PM on May 31, 2015 [19 favorites]


They weren't rowing because they were pissing in their pants I thought
posted by Hoopo at 9:58 PM on May 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


Of course, Tormund is hard to kill since he's actually a wizard.
posted by homunculus at 10:00 PM on May 31, 2015 [8 favorites]


Yeah I spent an unusual amount of time trying to figure out what accent the Wilding Chieftaness had (Frisa? Frika?) but apparently it's "Danish speaking english in Ireland trying to sound like a rural winter warrior"
posted by The Whelk at 10:02 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


No. No that can't be him. I've seen the commercial a couple times and was like "that guy looks like Tormund". Tell me it isn't him.
posted by Justinian at 10:02 PM on May 31, 2015


THATGUY TORMUNDUS EST.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:04 PM on May 31, 2015 [10 favorites]


Also Tormund murdering the interim wildling boss in front of anyone. I'm going to remember that one if I ever wind up in management, it was very effective
posted by Hoopo at 10:05 PM on May 31, 2015 [19 favorites]


My actual thought: That impressive looking skull helmet means he's going to around for a very long or very short time
posted by The Whelk at 10:09 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Skeletal zombies have no body fat to give them buoyancy. But that shouldn't stop them from marching along the ocean floor.
posted by ktkt at 10:17 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Inevitable that Cersei's pride would be her downfall. I'm pretty excited for the trial though.

Also: yaaaay Daenerys and Tyrion! More!
posted by Zephyrial at 10:49 PM on May 31, 2015


Would have loved to seen Dorne with this level of commitment.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:04 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised I'm the first to mention the scene where the giant groans and then the subtitles literally say "THE FUCK ARE YOU LOOKIN AT?" Took me right out of it, but boy did I laugh.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 11:18 PM on May 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


Aha, I thought Arya's first customer of the day, Lhara, looked familiar. Arya remembered her name, but Salladhor didn't (nsfw).
posted by homunculus at 11:24 PM on May 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


As so many have said before me: so THAT'S why the Sand Snake fights have sucked so bad.
posted by KathrynT at 11:24 PM on May 31, 2015


I'm worried Sam's whole "make tough choices" spiel may have just inadvertently given Oillie permission to try to kill Tormund upon his return to Castle Black.

Paging FrankenMountain-- it should be fun to watch him rip shit up and then maybe get confused and accidentally kill Cersei in her cell or something darkly hilarious and ironically plot twisty like that. (Which of course means I'm guessing wrong and she'll be rescued.)

I am so very happy this became a sweet ass zombie horror show tonight. Right down to the zombie movie trope of the lack of cooperation between the living often being nearly as big a threat as the zombies themselves. Loved the four horsemen of the apocalypse shout out. Jon's look in the final scene and the eerie silence as credits rolled was perfect-- even though I had to shout "ROW, DAMMIT!!!" at my TV.

Sansa vs Reek was awesome. She'd be within her rights to tattle on Reek, but I bet he'll self-report.

Interesting that Tyrion brought up the idea of a future alliance between Dany and The Tyrells. Tyrion is one prescient guy sometimes - he has no idea how badly The Tyrells have been effed over recently.
posted by hush at 11:26 PM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Paging FrankenMountain-- it should be fun to watch him rip shit up and then maybe get confused and accidentally kill Cersei in her cell or something darkly hilarious and ironically plot twisty like that. (Which of course means I'm guessing wrong and she'll be rescued.)

As he was leaving, Qyburn told Cersei "the work continues." I hope that means he's getting FrankenMountain ready to be deployed.
posted by homunculus at 12:02 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm worried Sam's whole "make tough choices" spiel may have just inadvertently given Oillie permission to try to kill Tormund upon his return to Castle Black.

I thought he might have already poisoned Sam's food, and Sam had just given him justification for it. But I do feel the kid is going to try to kill someone and someone will die. (Sam might take an arrow for John, an extra might take an arrow for Tormund.. ect) I hope the kid gets executed for it though ;_; He must pay for what he did to Ygritte!
posted by FallowKing at 12:16 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Qyburn's "there is a way, a way out" had nothing to do with confessing. The long stare he gives her makes me think that she inadvertently confirmed the charger/rumors by suggesting it.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 12:18 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


If Qyburn didn't know she was bad news I'll eat my hat.
posted by corb at 12:29 AM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was very impressed with Tormund's negotiating strategy re: Skeletonguy. I was also impressed with the acrobatics they put Jon through.

They couldn't have telegraphed Mamma Wildling's death any more obviously, which is sort of lame. I almost hoped they'd avert it just for giggles.

Really, it was a terrible idea to leave anyone north of the wall when it was built. Nobody up north => no zombies... just a few White Walkers who are probably killable with a few volleys of obsidian-tipped arrows.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:38 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


My only complaint was the brief story life and silly death of the Wildling Chieftainess

They couldn't have telegraphed Mamma Wildling's death any more obviously, which is sort of lame.

Seriously, how do you give Katrine Fonsmark a promising role and then kill her in the dumbest possible way
posted by edeezy at 2:20 AM on June 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


Maybe Zombie Fonsmark will be back?
posted by Justinian at 2:53 AM on June 1, 2015


Adding my vote for continuing Zomsmark...
posted by prismatic7 at 3:48 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


My only complaint was the brief story life and silly death of the Wildling Chieftainess

I dont' think it was silly so much as a foreboding about how hard it could be to fight Wights who were previously known friends and family.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 AM on June 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


As someone pointed out above, the second Ollie scene, which was identical to the prior one, was painfully dull.

It highlighted how angry Ollie is about the making peace with the Wildings. He's trying to understand it, but it's just not adding up for him.

And Mormont also got cast out of Mereen... a second time. And now his plan to come back is... to win a big fight in the pits! Just like the scheme that already didn't work.

But now he has greyscale. What strange devotion from a follower, to bring a possible disease back into the city.

nd Cersei made the exact same death threat to that septa as she did last time. Just a lot of repeated stuff.

Except now Cersei is starting to realize how hollow they sound as she's reduced to licking water off the floor.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:05 AM on June 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Those weren't her kids. Her kids made it on to the boats. I thought Jon was foolish to leave Castle Black but he was right. Summer and fall the zombies could pick up babies occasionally or pick off some wildling stragglers but they hit the jackpot at Hardhome.
posted by rdr at 5:09 AM on June 1, 2015


Those weren't her kids. Her kids made it on to the boats.

Right, but I got the impression she knew who some of those kids wights were, which sparked her fear and giving up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:10 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whoever the kids were, it doesn't change for me the notion that they over-telegraphed her demise to a level that it messed with the flow of an otherwise pretty good episode, and that she was a pretty interesting character that the show desperately could use compared to a lot of the boring shit they've got going on right now.
posted by tocts at 5:19 AM on June 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


As a side note, totally screwball theory:

1. Gendry was established as a talented blacksmith in Season 1
2. Gendry was last seen drifting out to sea on a boat to escape harm in ... Season 3?
3. We've just learned that Valyrian Steel seems to work against White Walkers (via Jon's use of Longclaw)
4. Nobody knows how to make Valyrian Steel anymore
5. Old Valyria is basically a ruined land of islands/shoals inhabited by the diseased and the crazy

Hypothesis: Gendry is going to wash up in Old Valyria, rediscover the secrets of making Valyrian Steel, and equip the armies of men with the weapons they'll need to fight off the invasion of the White Walkers.

(I mean, probably not, but it's a fun theory ...
posted by tocts at 5:35 AM on June 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


I also kind of rolled my eyes at her obvious imminent death, but then was like "Wait....from what? And soon? Before she gets on a boat?" so it worked for me. I'm used to this show's big battles happening in ep 9 or 10, I wasn't expecting it.
posted by almostmanda at 5:38 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, her death was over televised, but I was surprised it was so soon. I hope there's something more there, 'cause otherwise it just reads too me as lazy and tropy. Trozy?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 AM on June 1, 2015


But now he has greyscale. What strange devotion from a follower, to bring a possible disease back into the city.

Well yeah, the disease is going to destroy him, so he'd rather go out fighting, and remain close to his queen in the only way open to him.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:22 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just...don't see how Jorah thinks this will work out for him.
posted by corb at 6:44 AM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


He's a dead man walking, so to speak.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:48 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Jorah's motivations are definitely kinda weird and muddied. Like, I get what they want us to take it as (that he's just that madly in love / devoted / obsessed), but it doesn't feel like it jives with his past actions.

It really does feel a bit like he's been handed a season-long idiot ball.
posted by tocts at 6:51 AM on June 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


if they had killed Tormund they wouldn't have had him freeze at the sight of the zombie babies, which I guess are like kryptonite to Wildling women.

I get your point, but to be fair, that shot of the zombie kids was the creepiest thing I've seen in a long time. Everything but my asshole would have frozen up in that scenario.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:06 AM on June 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


Or it's an interesting flip side of a ruler has to deal. A rebellion can be terrible, but so can fanatical followers. Both Jorah and the freed slave adviser that was executed acted very rashly for the "right" reasons.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:07 AM on June 1, 2015


Didn't one of the zombie kids look just like the girl who was impaled to the tree in the first scene of season 1, episode one?
posted by Alison at 7:13 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Sansa vs Reek was awesome. She'd be within her rights to tattle on Reek, but I bet he'll self-report."

Tattle on him for what? To tell Ramsay that Theon didn't really kill the Stark boys? I think Ramsay already got that knowledge out of him, but maybe I'm mis-remembering.
posted by komara at 7:25 AM on June 1, 2015


"My actual thought: That impressive looking skull helmet means he's going to around for a very long or very short time."

He's been around for a while - I had to go look it up but his first appearance was in season 2. He sticks out in my mind though because a guy wearing a skull mask is relevant to my interests.
posted by komara at 7:29 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Quotes from the episode:
--

Tyrion [to Dany]: “You want revenge against the Lannisters? I killed my mother, Joanna Lannister, on the day I was born. I killed my father, Tywin Lannister, with a bolt to the heart. I am the greatest Lannister killer of our time.”
--

Jon: "I'm not asking you to forget your dead. I'll never forget mine. I lost 50 brothers the night that Mance attacked the Wall. But I'm asking you to think about your children now. They'll never have children of their own if we don't band together. The Long Night is coming and the dead come with it. No clan can stop them. The free folk can't stop them. The Night's Watch can't stop them. And all the southern kings can't stop them. Only together, all of us. And even then it may not be enough, but at least we'll give the fuckers a fight."
--

Tormund [To the Free Folk Elders about Jon]: “He’s prettier than both my daughters, but he knows how to fight. He’s young, but he knows how to lead. He didn’t have to come to Hardhome, he came because he needs us. And we need him.”
--

Tyrion [to Dany]: “A ruler who kills those devoted to her is not a ruler who inspires devotion.”
--

Tyrion: "When I was a young man, I heard a story about a baby born during the worst storm in living memory. She had no wealth, no lands, no army, only a name and a handful of supporters, most of whom probably thought they could use that name to benefit themselves. They kept her alive, moving her from place to place, often hours ahead of the men who'd been sent to kill her. She was eventually sold off to some warlord on the edge of the world and that appeared to be that. And then a few years later, the most well-informed person I knew told me that this girl without wealth, lands, or armies had somehow acquired all three in a very short span of time, along with three dragons. He thought she was our best, last chance to build a better world. I thought you were worth meeting at the very least."
Daenerys: "And why are you worth meeting? Why should I spend my time listening to you?"
Tyrion: "Because you cannot build a better world on your own. You have no one at your side who understands the land you want to rule. The strength and weaknesses of the houses that will either join or oppose you."
Daenerys: "I will have a very large army and very large dragons."
Tyrion: "Killing and politics aren't always the same thing. When I served as Hand of the King, I did quite well with the latter, considering the king in question preferred torturing animals to meeting his people. I could do an even better job advising a ruler worth the name.”
--

Loboda: "My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a crow."
Karsi: "So would mine. But fuck it, they’re dead."
posted by zarq at 7:33 AM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Daenerys: "And why are you worth meeting? Why should I spend my time listening to you?"
Tyrion: "Because you cannot build a better world on your own. You have no one at your side who understands the land you want to rule. The strength and weaknesses of the houses that will either join or oppose you."
Daenerys: "I will have a very large army and very large dragons."
Tyrion: "Killing and politics aren't always the same thing. When I served as Hand of the King, I did quite well with the latter, considering the king in question preferred torturing animals to meeting his people. I could do an even better job advising a ruler worth the name.”


I really hope that she said the bolded part as a test for Tyrion to pass and not because she actually believes that dragons and violence means she can rule effectively. Given her behavior this season I truly have no idea.
posted by gatorae at 7:44 AM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just...don't see how Jorah thinks this will work out for him.

You know, I was wondering about that, too. We've been looking at Jorah as the sad puppy/hopelessly devoted type. He captured Tyrion in a desperate attempt to be brought to Dany so that he could win her approval and love or at the very least bask in the glory of her presence once again.

But what if that's not what he wants? He gave his life to her and she spurned him. Maybe instead of being devoted to her, he's the jilted lover who wants revenge. And all of his actions have been about him getting close enough to Dany not to win her back, but to kill her. It certainly wouldn't be the first time a Nice Guytm turned nasty as soon as he didn't get his way.

And ever since Valyria, all he has to do is touch her.
posted by Uncle Ira at 7:48 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Where's Grey Worm? What have he and Missandei been up to the past few episodes? We need answers to the pillars and stones question!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Cersei situation has me conflicted. On the one hand she's evil enough that seeing her get comeuppance is great. On the other hand, as a gay atheist who's really had fucking enough of religious prigs in real life, I actually hope Cersei somehow gets to revenge herself on the Faith in some horrible blood soaked way.
posted by dnash at 8:02 AM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm a huge non-fan of the white walkers. Big deal—they're just a bunch of ice zombies with no motivation except Pure Evil™ and turning more humans into undead. The "turning points" of the big fight, such as they were, seemed meaningless to me. "Go search for the dragon glass!" "ZOMG it's not there!" "Ruh-roh, look at those extra-badass zombies on horses up above!" etc.

And then at the end, lo and behold, the dead zombies and the newly dead humans all rise when the zombie king raises his hands. Meh. That's what zombies do. If the zombies had some kind of purpose to them, then I'd be more into the storyline. Otherwise they just seem like CGI plot-pushers.


You don't like zombie movies, do you? Because you just described zombies - they have no other purpose than to strike fear into the hearts of the living. They aren't evil, any more than a lion stalks and kills a zebra is evil, but the zebra fears the lion all the same.

Why do they long for the flesh (or specifically brains) of the living? Generally because that's what they do. Some people posit that brains ease the pain of being dead, while Romero always shrugged off the "why" of zombies and focused on them as a force to elicit varied and interesting responses. I understand neither response necessarily makes you any happier about the wight army, but they're keeping with the general "zombies don't need a reason" style of all zombie movies.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:06 AM on June 1, 2015


Skeletal zombies have no body fat to give them buoyancy. But that shouldn't stop them from marching along the ocean floor.

Yes! See the trope: Walk, Don't Swim.

> Paging FrankenMountain-- it should be fun to watch him rip shit up and then maybe get confused and accidentally kill Cersei in her cell or something darkly hilarious and ironically plot twisty like that.

> Qyburn's "there is a way, a way out" had nothing to do with confessing.

I secretly hoped he meant FrankenMountain, too, but without the (accidental) death of Cersei

As for her fate at the hands of religious fanatics, I can see how someone would want to see the faith lose, but in this case, the faith 1) is something empowered DIRECTLY BY CERSEI, and 2) stands (at some level) as an equivalent of the power of the masses, instead of the power of the nobles (see the High Sparrow's comment about the few trying to control the many).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:10 AM on June 1, 2015


filthy light thief, I think Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell does have a point there - this isn't just zombies. Everything you described about how zombie movies work is correct, but in this show we're being presented with a zombie army that is ostensibly under the control of non-zombie characters. Zombies themselves are generally a creeping unstoppable brainless horror and that's why fighting them is exhausting, because you can't ever convince them they're defeated.

In GoT, however, we're being presented with some Big Bads who clearly have brainpower and agency and yet it still just boils down to "they're just a bunch of ice zombies with no motivation except Pure Evil™ and turning more humans into undead."

Are they just meant to be the personification of snowy cold, to give more heft to the threat that winter is coming? Do they only want to travel so far south and then stop, leaving humans in peace? We don't know and (even though the battles are entertaining to watch) I personally don't care. They're a dull motive-less enemy in this series that has so far been all about motives and machinations. I mean the (HBO) series is called "Game of Thrones" not "Humans vs. Ice Zombies." I think they're the wrong kind of cog to have in the machine.

But maybe by the end of this season we'll see one of the Boss White Walkers actually talk to a human and then things will get interesting. I can hope, at least.
posted by komara at 8:23 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


"And why can't zombies swim?"

"Skeletal zombies have no body fat to give them buoyancy."

Gotta say, there were plenty big numbers of freshly-turned zombies right there on the shoreline that had all their parts (and body fat) intact and who could have been commanded to swim out and destroy the ships. Gotta wonder why that didn't happen - and if there's no good answer eventually given then it was kind of a bullshit way to end that scene.
posted by komara at 8:26 AM on June 1, 2015


To redirect for a moment, can I just ask what in the actual fuck is going on with Sam and Gilly back at the wall?

I mean, as near as I can tell, we're at the morning after an attempted gang rape that turned into two brothers of the watch beating the hell out of another one. And on this morning, we've got Olly being like "oh, I heard what happened". OK, so even the steward knows what's up, and the consequences are ... nothing?

Am I to understand that, for example, back in the days of Lord Commander Mormont, when the Lord Commander was out on a mission of some sort, Castle Black was just a lawless land of beatings and rapes, and nobody in the entire hierarchy of the Night's Watch did a goddamn thing about it? Because if that's not the case, what in the fuck is going on now?

Even if people disagree with Jon's plan with the wildlings, it seems super nuts that there is nobody within this group (at least half of whom, let's remember, cheered Jon into the Lord Commander's spot in the first place) who still has any concern for the vows that they've previously claimed to take so seriously.

I feel like there's a bunch of heavy story lifting that the writers have failed pretty spectacularly to manage in that storyline.
posted by tocts at 8:39 AM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


OK, so even the steward knows what's up, and the consequences are ... nothing?

Essentially, yeah. Thorne's in command and he has no problem with Brothers beating on Sam. He's had that attitude towards Sam ever since the beginning, probably feels the beating "toughen" him up.

I doubt he gives a damn about Gilly and what happens to her either.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:43 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yep, komara, you've put it very well. I love GoT because, at heart, it's a political drama. I love the scheming, the infighting, the real fighting, the alliances, the betrayals, and on and on. But Zombies vs. Humans offers none of that. It's just motivation-less undead versus terrified living. So to address FLT, nope, I don't care for zombie flicks.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:57 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seems very plausible that Sam would catch a whooping while Jon's away. He's always been seen as a weak link who only survives by having a powerful benefactor. The Wall is very much a place where you have to carry your own weight, and most of the creeps up there have long been openly contemptuous of how much weight Sam carries (pun intended).

Also very plausible that rapists and criminals would try to assault Gilly. I don't like it, but it's plausible.

Game of Thrones is political drama for sure, but the zombie plotline does not come out of nowhere, it's been there from the very beginning. It's a show about zombies that has had very little zombie action up to this point. The scheming, infighting, alliances and betrayals are starting to have a focal point, a common enemy, which I think will continue to make for interesting television. Plenty of room for drama still, but you're going to get a lot more zombie army action in the rest of the series.
posted by GrapeApiary at 9:09 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I also suspect that we'll learn the reason why the Walkers want to destroy the realms of men, in time. Probably an old blood or land feud or some shit like that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:13 AM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


They're a dull motive-less enemy in this series that has so far been all about motives and machinations. I mean the (HBO) series is called "Game of Thrones" not "Humans vs. Ice Zombies." I think they're the wrong kind of cog to have in the machine.

They're an allegory for climate change. They don't really have to make sense beyond that. They're the grim threat of the capital-R Real standing just offstage, waiting to show up all of the purportedly serious machination going on down south as a stupid, wasteful, violent game of thrones, a game that no one should be playing at all.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:19 AM on June 1, 2015 [15 favorites]


It's just motivation-less undead versus terrified living. So to address FLT, nope, I don't care for zombie flicks.

They also represent, I think, a really interesting thematic and possibly (in the future???????? maybe???????) plot-related contrast with the Targaryens.

Both groups are set on moving into Westeros, both kinda pale-colored, but opposed in every other way -- fire versus ice, heat versus cold, aerial dragons versus walking zombies, gold lighting for the Targaryens and blue for the ice lords with blue and yellow being on the opposite sides of the color wheels, and above all, the very human Targaryens with their distinct personalities and motivations and capacities for good and evil and charm and love and madness that the show has been developing all season versus the distant, inhuman ice lords who apparently just want to Fuck Shit Up.
posted by joyceanmachine at 9:19 AM on June 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


"all of the purportedly serious machination going on down south as a stupid, wasteful, violent game of thrones"

You forgot "wildly entertaining" and "the entire reason we've been watching so far" but otherwise I guess you have a good point.

I'm not arguing that the White Walkers don't make sense in the GoT world - we've already seen other instances of strange magical stuff. I'm just saying I don't particularly care for a voiceless motive-less unstoppable* force in a show that's been about the exact opposite for several seasons so far.

* I tell you what, though - I bet some dragons could stop them. I'm just sayin.
posted by komara at 9:23 AM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


all of the purportedly serious machination going on down south as a stupid, wasteful, violent game of thrones

Yes and no. It does matter who's on the Iron Throne, as a good ruler would be able to unite the Kingdom against the coming threat and a bad will not. But a lot of the fighting for it has been short-sighted and petty in retrospect, more concerned with bolstering a particular House instead of caring for the Kingdom.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:37 AM on June 1, 2015


I thought it was possible that cutting down the magic red trees in the north had done something to anger/empower the White Walkers. Other than that, I guess they provide a reason for the Targaryen claim to the throne (since presumably dragonfire annihilates ice zombies) to be the one people rally around.
posted by tautological at 9:38 AM on June 1, 2015


Zombies have always represented, to me, the past coming back to haunt and dominate the present, which is all over much of our own history and which is certainly a huge factor in what happens in Westeros which ties in with the smashing the wheel metaphor. The wars, rivalries, and so forth of the past forge and influence the actions of the present, often to destructive consequences. Daeneyrs and Tyrion, during their discussion, speak of the past of both their families and how given that, she should have Tyrion killed. Both she and Tyrion have largely been about how they are trapped by their own families and both try to make changes. If the powers that be in Westeros, and of course individuals with little power as well, continue to lead a life shaped by the concerns and events of the past they will never escape it. The White Walkers smash the wheel in a different way, by killing and enslaving everyone killed. Daeneyrs looks to smash the wheel by abolishing not just literal slavery, but slavery to the system.

Of course psychologically, people are often far more focused on secondary concerns rather than primary concerns and the zombie army manages to get a bunch of Wildlings who prioritized their secondary concerns (can't break bread with a Crow) to very quickly dismiss them for the primary concern of survival. Of course survival within the Game of Thrones framework for the "nobles" is all about the game itself. The game, the system, becomes the focus and some are really good at survival within it but it divides people up into artificially significant differences that don't bode well for ultimate survival of everyone in the kingdom, and certainly never bodes well for peace.

I quite enjoyed this episode except for the times when the writers, producers, director, whomever, felt that they couldn't trust the audience to understand Karsi was lying to her kids. It was entirely obvious but then they had to have a long (in terms of time) shot of her staring at her kids as they float away, just in case we didn't get it.
posted by juiceCake at 9:51 AM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, my issue with the Sam / Gilly storyline isn't that I think it's not plausible that the attack happened. What's implausible to me is that instead of this being either a catalyst for them to flee, or a situation where what happened is kept under wraps in a "tell anyone and you're dead!" way, what we got was apparently: "Oh hey, I was hanging out at the water cooler, we were all chatting about your assault last night. Anyways, here's breakfast."

It seems like for things to be so dysfunctional that something like this is out in the open and just common knowledge (with nothing done about it), there needed to have been a lot more build-up than telling Sam he's running out of friends.
posted by tocts at 10:02 AM on June 1, 2015


Bear in mind that there are historically NO women at Castle Black, or anywhere on the Wall, for precisely the reason that everyone assumes that if there were, they would be under constant threat of assault.
posted by KathrynT at 10:03 AM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


"I'll be right behind you."

She was doomed.


I actually thought the same about Jon Snow when Sam said "He always comes back". In fact I was almost certain he was going to bite it against that white walker, on account of how the show likes to destroy all the characters you can actually sort of root for.

Gotta wonder why that didn't happen


I've been thinking about this some more and I think it's not actually a problem now. If "Winter is coming" and all that, and it's expected to go on for years and years, and you have an army of zombies that only gets bigger and all that...what's the hurry? They crushed the wildlings in all of half an hour and came out even stronger. They've encountered what, 1 or 2 guys that actually pose a threat to them so far, because of dragonglass or valyrian steel? They can probably take their time and assess how to get past the wall, because the people in their way don't pose much of a threat. "Come at me bro" indeed.

But what if that's not what he wants? He gave his life to her and she spurned him. Maybe instead of being devoted to her, he's the jilted lover who wants revenge

I was thinking he was basically a broken man, and that this was a desperate move -- he might want to get in the pits and not even put up a fight to see if Danerys still gives a damn at all. If not, fuck it, he'll die and he'll be OK with it because mopey emo Jorah with the fatal disease and that'll show her; and if she does care, she'll stop the fight and he'll have forced her hand and we all know she likes him because the lump in her throat every time she throws him out of the city.

But maybe not
posted by Hoopo at 10:12 AM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Gotta say, there were plenty big numbers of freshly-turned zombies right there on the shoreline that had all their parts (and body fat) intact and who could have been commanded to swim out and destroy the ships. Gotta wonder why that didn't happen - and if there's no good answer eventually given then it was kind of a bullshit way to end that scene.
posted by komara at 8:26 AM on June 1


I think Whitewalker Bald Guy wanted to avenge the death of Whitewalker Long Haired Guy by personally killing Jon Snow. Perhaps just having him torn to shreds by the undead was too easy and he wanted to fight and kill him with his own hands. He was looking pretty pissed (and maybe a little impressed?) when he was watching Jon Snow from the mountaintop.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 10:32 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


The way I figure it, Jorah has decided that if he's gonna die, he's gonna die historic on the fury road.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:32 AM on June 1, 2015 [21 favorites]


What I cannot figure out is why Jorah is willing to infect the whole damn city with greyscale. He clearly understands how infectious it is.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 10:33 AM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought greyscale transmission occurred only via human-human contact, hence all the Jorah-Tyrion "Did they touch you?" concern after their boat was boarded by infected ninjas.
posted by carmicha at 10:36 AM on June 1, 2015


Anyways, here's breakfast

Fair enough. Sam probably has to stick around to open the gate for Jon Snow & The Wildlings since Ser Alliser is likely going to be a dick about it. Which reduces Sam to a plot device yet again and doesn't fit a realistic motivation scenario.
posted by GrapeApiary at 10:41 AM on June 1, 2015


I thought it was possible that cutting down the magic red trees in the north had done something to anger/empower the White Walkers.

The heart tree Brann went to nullified the power of the Walkers. As I understand it, the Weirwood trees are associated with the Children of the Forest, who are adversaries of the Walkers, so cutting down all those trees was a gift to the Walkers. Stupid Andals.
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seems like for things to be so dysfunctional that something like this is out in the open and just common knowledge (with nothing done about it), there needed to have been a lot more build-up than telling Sam he's running out of friends.

It' s completely plausible because Thorne has been shown to be such vengeful and petty prick from the very beginning. He was fine with others beating up on Sam and he took great pleasure in personally putting down Jon at every chance.

So yeah, the message that it's ok to mess with Sam, the pal of the guy who wants the Watch to work with Wildings and the guy who has a goddamn girlfriend on site, is totally plausible.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:55 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I thought greyscale transmission occurred only via human-human contact, hence all the Jorah-Tyrion "Did they touch you?" concern after their boat was boarded by infected ninjas.

There's Stannis' story about Shireen's doll, though, which seems to indicate the vector for infection can linger on cloth.
posted by rewil at 11:03 AM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Cersei slurping water up off the floor was almost enough to make me care for her. Still hope FrankenMountain can't save her though.
posted by dogwalker at 11:04 AM on June 1, 2015


filthy light thief, I think Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell does have a point there - this isn't just zombies. Everything you described about how zombie movies work is correct, but in this show we're being presented with a zombie army that is ostensibly under the control of non-zombie characters.

Good point. In various forms, zombies have been created as a force by someone with a purpose, and if you take it waaay back, you get Haitian zombis, living people controlled through voodo/vodou. I overlooked the role of the White Kings in replying to CCoDoD's comment.

Zombies have always represented, to me, the past coming back to haunt and dominate the present, which is all over much of our own history and which is certainly a huge factor in what happens in Westeros which ties in with the smashing the wheel metaphor.

Interesting. Zombies have been used to portray a number of fears and concerns, from the early Haitian vodou zombis becoming boogeymen for white audiences to Romero's Living Dead series, which spans racism, consumerism, military-industrial complex, and how the ruling class relates to the unwashed masses.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:16 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just to be clear, my issue with the Sam / Gilly storyline isn't that I think it's not plausible that the attack happened. What's implausible to me is that instead of this being either a catalyst for them to flee, or a situation where what happened is kept under wraps in a "tell anyone and you're dead!" way, what we got was apparently: "Oh hey, I was hanging out at the water cooler, we were all chatting about your assault last night. Anyways, here's breakfast."

In the prior discussions of Gilly's almost rape, many agree that a huge issue is that the event will become a plot point for Sam as protector of Gilly the victim, rather than Gilly as her own person. This episode clearly chose the first path, in my eyes. Gilly shrugs it off, asking Sam how he was, because he was the one who was hurt.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:19 AM on June 1, 2015


Well, Gilly was trying to learn to read, and she complained about being only useful for sweeping floors, so hopefully they're going to do something with her. But it's always very up and down on stuff like that with GoT. For instance, what happened to Ramsey's bed warmer who was angry and messing with Sansa? She seems to have completely disappeared from Winterfell.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:30 AM on June 1, 2015


Game of Thrones is political drama for sure, but the zombie plotline does not come out of nowhere, it's been there from the very beginning. It's a show about zombies that has had very little zombie action up to this point. The scheming, infighting, alliances and betrayals are starting to have a focal point, a common enemy, which I think will continue to make for interesting television.

Think about it: what does GoT tell us about politics? About war? The wights blindly following the White Walkers, even to their own physical destruction, unquestioning, unreasoning, are far more like all of the human armies we've seen than one might want to concede.

From the White Walkers' perspective, why are the human rulers so much better than they? The great houses (as the high sparrow pointed out) use the 'smallfolk' like beasts of burden, to toil in their fields and produce enough wealth so that Olenna and Cersei can wear golden clothes, so that Robert, Rhaegar and Aerys can cause the deaths of tens of thousands -- maybe more! -- over what, the favor of one woman?

GoT is interesting because, by having purposive commanders directing the zombie hordes, and controlling the process by which people are made into zombies, it breaks one of the internal laws of the modern zombie myth and turns the figure into something much more like its Haitian or West African namesake: a slave. Or a serf.
posted by clockzero at 11:37 AM on June 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


Brandon, Ramsay's friend is just hanging out with Gendry and Varys, who was lucky enough to get a namedrop in this episode.

Random little thoughts from this episode:
Jon Snow: We won't become friends today. This isn't about friendship. This is about survival.
(But Friendship is Magic, and you really need some magic about now!)

Lord of Bones: You and the pretty crow do a lot of talking, Tormund? And when you're done talking, do you get down on your knees and suck his cock?
(You know who else did a lot of talking? The now dead Lord of Bones)

Wildling leader: I'll never trust a man in black.
(Poor Johnny Cash, he doesn't get any love north of the wall)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:39 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Paging FrankenMountain-- it should be fun to watch him rip shit up and then maybe get confused and accidentally kill Cersei in her cell or something darkly hilarious and ironically plot twisty like that.

...guys, I'm a little worried about Tommen.
posted by almostmanda at 11:42 AM on June 1, 2015


Question: Didn't Margery refer to Tommen as "King Tommen, first of his name" in a previous episode? In that link about Valyrian steel above it says that a King Tommen II lost the Lannisters' only Valyrian sword, which is why Tywin was so eager to melt down Ice for Jamie and Joffrey. Wouldn't Margery know better about the Lannister lineage? Was that a gaffe on the writers' part or am I mistaken?
posted by GrapeApiary at 11:54 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]




For some reason I find the look on the Walker's face when Jon's sword didn't break really funny.
posted by homunculus at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2015




New name for House of White and Black: Identity Theft School.
posted by mysticreferee at 12:05 PM on June 1, 2015


Question: Didn't Margery refer to Tommen as "King Tommen, first of his name" in a previous episode? In that link about Valyrian steel above it says that a King Tommen II lost the Lannisters' only Valyrian sword, which is why Tywin was so eager to melt down Ice for Jamie and Joffrey. Wouldn't Margery know better about the Lannister lineage? Was that a gaffe on the writers' part or am I mistaken?

I think it's correct because that Tommen was only the King of the Westerlands, not the entire Kingdom. That was before the Targayen invasion/unification.
posted by homunculus at 12:06 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


ahhh, I see. Thank you, homunculus.
posted by GrapeApiary at 12:12 PM on June 1, 2015


Loved the four horsemen of the apocalypse shout out.

Yes. It really surprised me because it was so on-the-nose and I'm not sure I understand why. Are there (or were there) only four White Walker generals?
posted by fuse theorem at 12:36 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


In case you didn't notice, the episode featured a cameo from Mastodon.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:58 PM on June 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


I don't think there's much known in the show about how the White Walkers are organized, but there was a longer shot in the end of Oathkeeper (S04E04, FanFare thread) where the Game of Thrones Wikia says there were thirteen of "ruling White Walkers" (with icy crown-like spikes on their heads). Here's the scene. D&D said they like the old monster movie ploy of "the scariest thing is the thing unseen," so they're keeping vague about the White Walkers.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:02 PM on June 1, 2015


Is Tommen the first of his name because he's King Tommen Baratheon instead of Tommen Lannister?
posted by artychoke at 1:08 PM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Even though he IS Tommen Lannister. Or Tommen Lannister-Lannister. I feel like Cersei and Jaime would hyphenate.
posted by artychoke at 1:10 PM on June 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


In the prior discussions of Gilly's almost rape, many agree that a huge issue is that the event will become a plot point for Sam as protector of Gilly the victim, rather than Gilly as her own person. This episode clearly chose the first path, in my eyes. Gilly shrugs it off, asking Sam how he was, because he was the one who was hurt.

Gilly spent her entire life being raped by the only man she knew, she probably expects it to happen sooner rather than later while she stays at the Wall. It doesn't surprise me that she would be able shrug off this failed attempt. Compare her reaction to it to, say, Sansa after she was attacked in Season 2.

It also doesn't surprise me that her priorities are trying to keep her baby safe, and trying to protect/heal the one man who has ever shown her kindness. If anything, Gilly's cold practicality about it (don't interfere Sam, you'll just make things worse, etc) is Gilly being her own person.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:18 PM on June 1, 2015 [15 favorites]


I said a lot of things above about how zombies are boring and how I don't care about the White Walkers and all that jazz because it's just wordless Evil, but all it took was this one AV Club article (with spoilers for this episode plus possible book-based spoilers) to get me interested again.

[to clarify: link gives only back story information about the White Walkers and the one in particular we saw on the shore, not spoilers about events in the future of the books or show, in case you are reluctant to click.]
posted by komara at 1:24 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gilly spent her entire life being raped by the only man she knew, she probably expects it to happen sooner rather than later while she stays at the Wall.

Yeah, this exactly.
posted by KathrynT at 2:03 PM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Good episode. I didn't understand why Cersei would bother to slurp a little water off the floor, though, when there was clearly a fairly decent stream of water dripping from an opening in the ceiling right behind her. It would be more convenient and probably cleaner to just get her mouth under that.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:45 PM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Cersei isn't the brightest bulb in the pile of dim bulbs.
posted by Justinian at 3:46 PM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


ahahahaahah. "My womanly weakness will not allow me to kill children!" I love that recap, it expresses everything I hated about that scene.
posted by corb at 3:53 PM on June 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


If I saw the zombie kids I would feel only relief since they are probably easier to kill, being small and weaker.
posted by Justinian at 3:56 PM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also I hate kids.
posted by Justinian at 4:03 PM on June 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


In a fight, how many zombie 5 year olds could you beat?
posted by Balna Watya at 5:03 PM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I deleted it off my DVR too quickly so will have to record again, but didn't the whole white walker attack start right when the giant stroked the dragon glass? Even if that was not connected at all, why the scene focused on the giant still having one of the daggers with no follow up of him using it?
posted by SpookyFish at 5:33 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Skeletal zombies have no body fat to give them buoyancy. But that shouldn't stop them from marching along the ocean floor.

They'd stop as soon as they were immersed: water absorbs the RF signal that controls them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:39 PM on June 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Hardhome was a stock pen. If Stannis' boats were not there, very few wildings could have escaped via the sea. It makes sense to attack them as soon as possible before they can escape. Of course, it made as much sense to attack them a week earlier. Once you see them loading the boats you have to attack.
posted by rdr at 5:41 PM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Pretty much. Why let all those potential recruits for your zombie army get away?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:53 PM on June 1, 2015


George_Spiggott: "They'd stop as soon as they were immersed: water absorbs the RF signal that controls them."

You need to read a book called Rasputin's Bastards. It's pretty good stuff, and this is highly relevant.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:03 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


God, that was a crazy-good episode. The only black spot is that dead wildling Chieftess. "Oh no, my uterus can't fight babies! Guess I'll drop my weapon and give up now." *dies*


As soon as they had her loading her kids on the boat I knew they were going to kill her. But it wasn't enough that they kill her, no, they have to have her do fine and dandy until Zombie Kids show, Because Vaginas. For once I would like to see a male character who gets weak at the knees at the thought of fighting children. Or a female character who doesn't.
posted by schroedinger at 6:17 PM on June 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


Hypothesis: Gendry is going to wash up in Old Valyria, rediscover the secrets of making Valyrian Steel, and equip the armies of men with the weapons they'll need to fight off the invasion of the White Walkers.

Oo, and maybe do some recruiting? Stone men vs. the living dead! Sunday at the Metro Arena! Also, nitro-fueled funny cars!
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:42 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


But the majority of the zombies in that scene aren't skeletal remains, they're recently deceased people. People who knew how to swim. It just didn't make sense. I thought this was kind of a weak episode from a writing standpoint, though as others have pointed out the directing and choreography was amazing.
posted by deathpanels at 6:59 PM on June 1, 2015


Sunday at the Metro Arena! Also, nitro-fueled funny cars!

My long wait for the hilarious cars category to grow in popularity continues.
posted by juiceCake at 7:12 PM on June 1, 2015


I am assuming there are magical reasons they can't swim - otherwise the Wall is just a Westeros Maginot Line.
posted by corb at 7:19 PM on June 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think the point about stopping at the water was simply that no person or zombie or whatever can catch people in boats on open water, not that there's some magical anti-Whitewalker property of water. Swimming/walking after boats is just futile, so it's not surprising the Walker general - who we saw multiple times carefully observing the evolving battle - wouldn't order something so stupid. Save your undead troops for something useful instead, you know?

Neat discussions here, btw. Totally agree with schroedinger on the idiocy of one of the toughest wildlings - one who directly confronted a peer about the bizarre and horrifying things they'd already seen north of The Wall - simply giving the fuck up when faced with kid icelings. The writers made sure to focus on her when Jon tries to get the wildlings to think about their children, too. Yeesh. The gender politics of this damn show sometimes...
posted by mediareport at 7:42 PM on June 1, 2015 [4 favorites]




The sound editing in this one was fantastic! That Thundersleet white walker arrival slayed me, literally and figuratively.

I would very much like a short film of just Wun Wun, the stoic giant's daily adventures.

Jon's slapstick comedy search for the bag was good for close up viewing of the General but otherwise annoying, save the genius sound dampening that evoked the sense of cold/exhaustion.

That Wight Avalanche reminded me of roaches scattering under light.

So. Many. Thoughts.

I want to be the comically tiny pal of Wun Wun, because I always befriend the tallest person in any room (I am a sneeze over 5 feet tall).

Watching Ginger Prince Tormund just obliterate that guy was amazing; brave as balls but no hysteria or hesitation. No wonder he was Mance Rayder's natural successor.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:11 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seriously, how do you give Katrine Fonsmark a promising role and then kill her in the dumbest possible way

er you seem to be forgetting what franchise this is
posted by Apocryphon at 9:24 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


His name is Wun Wun?

*checks wiki*

Heh, I thought Tormund was yelling "Run! Run to the sea!" I hope they give us the tale of how Wun Wun and Tormund Giantsbane became friends.
posted by homunculus at 9:37 PM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


And Ghost will finally have someone who can play fetch with him.
posted by homunculus at 9:39 PM on June 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


I had loads of stuff to say about this ep but then they wasted a badass hero in the most pathetic way possible, and even if the actress will be back the character is gone, and on eventual return will be the meat puppet of an ice-king without agency instead of the swordfighting wildling deciderer we fleetingly had. Says something about who is on offer to me if I fully invest in a character after 45-seconds of screen time, even in this show.
posted by Iteki at 1:55 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I felt the same way about her. In her small amount of screen time, I found her vastly more interesting and magnetic than a bunch of our now-regulars, even if i've been very fond of them in the past or really enjoyed watching them. (See: Jaime, Tommen, Littlefinger.)

It really felt like this episode had an injection of something, some energy, that all the other episodes this season have lacked. I suspect it's partially that, and the far better writing, that let us get so invested so fast.
posted by pseudonymph at 3:27 AM on June 2, 2015


I'd bet they gave her that screentime to set up a touching reunion with her kids at the Wall so that the magical Harry Potter power of a mother's love can save her from killing them, or some such garbage. Or, of course, the opposite - she remains mindless and we're supposed to be extra- horrified as she eats her kids.
posted by GrapeApiary at 5:36 AM on June 2, 2015


They could do a whole episode of Tyrion and Daenerys talking as they stroll around Meereen and meet with various people.

It's called The Station Agent and it is wonderful.
posted by srboisvert at 5:52 AM on June 2, 2015 [14 favorites]


I also suspect that we'll learn the reason why the Walkers want to destroy the realms of men, in time. Probably an old blood or land feud or some shit like that.

I hope not. I much prefer completely alien inscrutable evil. It's a much more frightening and realistic evil IMO than a lame because x and y NBC Olympics bio quality exposition.
posted by srboisvert at 6:06 AM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Would the giant fit on one of the big boats? Surely he isn't walking all the way...

Of course not, that'd be silly.

He's going to swim.
posted by scalefree at 6:30 AM on June 2, 2015


For some reason I assumed that the female Wildling leader freezing in front of zombie children was because they were her children. Or did I just imagine that? I could have sworn there was some mention of her children earlier. Well, in any case, the male leaders could have just as easily been knocked into catatonic shock by seeing their dead babies walking around. I agree this was a poor choice.
posted by deathpanels at 6:48 AM on June 2, 2015


She did have children, that the camera lingered on lovingly as she said "goodbye, I'll be right behind you." That is the moment that I looked over at Mr. Motion and said "it's too bad that she has to die." It's possible that the wights that killed her were other children she had who had died before, or they could have just been other children that she knew.

So, I know the mother-who-is-too-heartbroken-by-dead-children-to-fight trope is lame as hell. But I'm wondering if it's possible to be more charitable about the scene and say that it wasn't so much that they were children that stopped her as it was the sheer number of them all being focused on her at once? I mean, most of the rest of the fighting was a couple of three Wildlings/Crows taking down a few wights at once. Karsi got separated and surrounded. I mean yeah, the zombie children probably threw her off more (like they would throw any of us off... creepy) but maybe it was the numbers, not the ovaries?

I was also kind of disappointed that the asshole Thenn guy (Loboda) died too. I mean, he was a dick, but a least kind of an interesting dick. And given that they killed off the Lord of Bones, I was hoping for a Wildling antagonist to make it over the wall.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:18 AM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


On rewatch I realized that this battle has a pretty obvious parallel with the overall struggle against the white walkers. Just as Thorne's desire to keep the wall sealed against the wildings plays into the walker's favor, that Thenn guy's decision to immediately close the gate did exactly the same thing one the scale of this particular battle.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:29 AM on June 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


For some reason I assumed that the female Wildling leader freezing in front of zombie children was because they were her children. Or did I just imagine that? I could have sworn there was some mention of her children earlier.

In the meeting of the elders, she said "My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a crow. So would mine, but fuck 'em, they're dead." I don't think the undead Children's Crusaders* were her ancestors.

* Yes, I realize they weren't the same as the possibly mythical crusade, but that's what came to mind when I saw them.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:38 AM on June 2, 2015


So trying to think through who the hooded guy might be, I'm thinking of people we knew North of the Wall who Jon or the viewers might conceivably recognize and might be meaningful.

1) could Mormont have survived his wounds if spirited away by sympathetic wildlings?
2) What about Quorin Halfhand?
3) Benjen Stark was lost North of the Wall
4) mysterious turncoat White Walker? (that one seems pretty unlikely)
5) a Child of the Forest?
posted by corb at 7:38 AM on June 2, 2015


I mean yeah, the zombie children probably threw her off more (like they would throw any of us off... creepy) but maybe it was the numbers, not the ovaries?

But she didn't even try to fight back. She just closed her eyes and cried as she got eaten, when two minutes earlier she had been destroying zombies left and right.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:43 AM on June 2, 2015


Wow, a seeming bad ass gave up the fight. This might turn out to be a hard battle both physically and emotionally.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 AM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought I watched this episode pretty closely. I was certainly held rapt by the scenes in Hardhome, but I don't recall the hooded figure. Did he or she speak at all? Was this person easy to miss?
posted by firemouth at 8:41 AM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, in any case, the male leaders could have just as easily been knocked into catatonic shock by seeing their dead babies walking around.

Recall that a male crow abandoned his post in the pilot due to his absolute terror of the wights and had his head removed by Ned Stark as a result. Jon was more terrified then I've ever seen him in combat (very well acted by Kit). Different people have different terrors. It could be as simple as that.
posted by juiceCake at 8:53 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mr. Snow says we will protect you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Wildlings love their children too
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:57 AM on June 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Was this person easy to miss?

The hooded figure was sitting in the back of the row boat that Jon escaped on. He or she was only noticeable to me because of the fact that the person didn't move or speak or anything - seemed odd.

I'm wondering if the producers/directors just decided to cheap out on paying/putting makeup on an extra, and we the fans are speculating over something trivial, or if it's really Benjen Stark* on the DL.

*seriously this would be so great fanservicewise but also pretty terrible storywise unless they came up with an *amazing* story for how he ended up right there at that time.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:01 AM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]




Different people have different terrors. It could be as simple as that.
All the more reason why there needs to be more women of more types in tv and film so that we can see the different people having different behaviors instead of the same people having the same behaviors all the time. Show women who can get over their terror and men who give in to it and eventually it will stop feeling cheap.
posted by Green With You at 9:20 AM on June 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Was this person easy to miss?

Yeah, very. I only remembered t after it was brought up here. Basically in the last boat that Jon and the other badass good guys get on, there's a dude already in it and he's wearing a big good and you can't see his face. But then theres this image I saw online and I can't tell if this was before they arrived or after they left
posted by Hoopo at 9:25 AM on June 2, 2015


I don't recall the hooded figure. Did he or she speak at all? Was this person easy to miss?

Sort of. We first see him/her being sheltered by Badass Wildling Girl - he/she is the second (and only) person we see her personally saving, after her own children. She puts Hooded Figure in the boat where Figure remains until Jon and the others need a boat and get in it.

I may be reading too much in, but given that Hooded Figure is literally the only person in a face hiding hood in the entire episode, and that we saw so much telegraphing of this otherwise nobody, and that he was important enough to Badass Wildling Girl to save, I"m pretty sure there is a reveal waiting.
posted by corb at 9:28 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


"this image I saw online and I can't tell if this was before they arrived or after they left"

That would appear to be them arriving.

I too am curious about the identity of this hooded figure. I assumed it was a trap when they raced to get into the boat and hoodie there didn't move or react, but then nothing ever came of it.
posted by komara at 9:31 AM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


corb, are you saying that Karsi's children were waiting on the same boat with Hooded Figure the whole time? Or are you saying that Hooded Figure went and dropped the children off and then came back?

If the latter, how do we know it's the same Hooded Figure?
posted by sparklemotion at 9:32 AM on June 2, 2015


All the more reason why there needs to be more women of more types in tv and film so that we can see the different people having different behaviors instead of the same people having the same behaviors all the time.

Sure. Thankfully GoT has a lot of diversity amongst both women and men. I look at drama from a dramatic perspective first, symbols, metaphors, etc., rather than a real world framework. Unfortunately education on how drama works and is structured is all but absent. Even in University, study of drama and literature often ignores the structure of both and looks at everything through lens of an ism, such as Marxism, Capitalism, etc.

On the dramatic front, with the exception of this episode, the show has been pretty awful lately.
posted by juiceCake at 9:34 AM on June 2, 2015


Karsi, thank you. So Karsi dropped off her children on boat 1 , which was rowed away. They asked her to come with, and she said something about having to get someone/the elderly (can't recall this precisely). Then we see Karsi running through a battle, supporting Hooded Figure (henceforth to be called HF) and dropping HF into a boat before heading back to the fight - as though HF were her last priority and now fighting time can happen fully. HF stays slumped in the boat. Then when we see Jon, etc, running for the boats, we see them jump into boat with HF in the exact same position - slumped in the prow-. I actually was pretty sure it was going to be a surprise zombie reveal (ie one of Karsi's sisters), but that didn't happen, so now I'm wondering what was up with it.
posted by corb at 9:37 AM on June 2, 2015


Ok, I forgot that she did manage to successfully get at least one "old folk."

I personally am going to lean towards assuming that HF was just some old guy that was too tired/old to move much and that the showrunners thought him too unimportant to bother showing us much more of him.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:43 AM on June 2, 2015


Thanks, all, for the details about the hooded wildling. It must be someone who doesn't know Jon Snow or doesn't want to reveal their identity to him. And it must be someone of importance to the wildlings. I wouldn't be surprised if the Black Watch is totally omitted from next week's episode but I hope more is revealed soon.
posted by firemouth at 9:45 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


But she didn't even try to fight back. She just closed her eyes and cried as she got eaten, when two minutes earlier she had been destroying zombies left and right.


I can only assume there were no actual mothers among the writers. Just witnessing the daily school run tells that mothers are more than willing to kill other people's children if theirs are protected.
posted by srboisvert at 10:49 AM on June 2, 2015 [15 favorites]


Maybe Karsi had just reached her breaking point. The wight children didn't show up in a vacuum, reducing her to hysteria. She was clearly some kind of clan leader. She had just witnessed her whole society crumble in the most violent, disturbing manner imaginable. Hundreds of her friends and family members had been ripped apart. She was physically exhausted. Maybe seeing those undead kids was just the final piece of a cumulative load. That said, having a male wildling break down upon seeing them would've avoided the trope and sent the same message.
posted by firemouth at 11:19 AM on June 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


3) Benjen Stark was lost North of the Wall

I think there's a good chance that Wight Benjen Stark is going to show up when the Walkers attack the Wall.
posted by homunculus at 11:25 AM on June 2, 2015


That would appear to be them arriving.

Ah OK, I thought for a minute the dude in the back was hooded dude with his hood down.

This really drives home for me how Jon Snow's range of facial expressions is pretty limited. Kinda-nervous-Jon-Snow showing up and exhausted-terrified Jon Snow are almost indistinguishable to me
posted by Hoopo at 11:34 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Sansa vs Reek was awesome. She'd be within her rights to tattle on Reek, but I bet he'll self-report."
Tattle on him for what? To tell Ramsay that Theon didn't really kill the Stark boys? I think Ramsay already got that knowledge out of him, but maybe I'm mis-remembering.
Reek mumbled something that indicated that Ramsay-Cray-Cray knows.

I watched with a show-only viewer and he thought it was awesome that she knows her brothers aren't dead, I think it's horrible. She's not the last Stark? She knows her husband knows? She's suddenly much more disposable than before, even if a Flayed Man house woman wedded to a Stark boy is less strong than a Flayed Man house man is wedded to the Last Stark woman. Part of her value is in being the last Stark and now she's not.
posted by tilde at 11:43 AM on June 2, 2015




Karsi's death in a nutshell.
posted by homunculus at 11:44 AM on June 2, 2015


Part of her value is in being the last Stark and now she's not.

That's a good point actually, but there also seems to be a bit of denial going on in Ramsay's head, too. He seems content to play out this charade for some reason, even when there's a lot going against him becoming heir to anything (as Sansa pointed out to him last week). I'm not sure he even cares. Either that, or Ramsay is only concerned with actually getting himself into that position, and then dealing with competing claims/cementing himself there by dealing with them in whatever sick and twisted way he can.
posted by Hoopo at 11:48 AM on June 2, 2015


Kinda-nervous-Jon-Snow showing up and exhausted-terrified Jon Snow are almost indistinguishable to me

very different - he has a small streak of blood on his forehead as he's departing.
posted by isthmus at 11:49 AM on June 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


The guy in the hood unties and pushes the boat off the dock as they are leaving. I think it's just an overdressed extra/crew member. (But I also hope I'm wrong.)
posted by jimw at 11:59 AM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


She's not the last Stark? She knows her husband knows? She's suddenly much more disposable than before, even if a Flayed Man house woman wedded to a Stark boy is less strong than a Flayed Man house man is wedded to the Last Stark woman.

Except in a patriarchal society, a stark man wedded to a Bolton woman furthers the Stark line and doesn't cede the rights to the North to the Bolton line. Sansa is still valuable because she can produce a Stark heir with the Bolton name.
posted by bfranklin at 11:59 AM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, exactly. Sounds like once she gets pregnant she's screwed, especially if it's a boy. But it sounded like that before she knew about Bran and Rickon. It just seems ... worse.
posted by tilde at 12:04 PM on June 2, 2015


tilde: "She's not the last Stark? She knows her husband knows? She's suddenly much more disposable than before

To the contrary—she's more valuable this way, or at least, her value is undiminished. Bran and Rickon only pose threats to the Boltons, in the same way Jon Snow does. (That's why Roose Bolton sent his henchman to the Wall to try to kill Jon, but he got Hodor'd.) Ramsay and Roose definitely don't want male Starks running around.

But Sansa can be "used" by the Boltons to cement their legitimacy. "See? It's a union between the two great families of the North: the Starks and Boltons!"
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:05 PM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bran and Rickon only pose threats to the Boltons, in the same way Jon Snow does. (That's why Roose Bolton sent his henchman to the Wall to try to kill Jon, but he got Hodor'd.)

I thought Locke's mission was just to retrieve Brann, which is what he was doing when Brann Hodor'd him.
posted by homunculus at 12:29 PM on June 2, 2015


This was the Army of Darkness remake that we've all been waiting for, whether we knew it or not. Great episode. I loved Tyrion and Daenerys' scene.

Also, I have to give props to whoever's doing the giant effects for this show. I abstractly know it's a guy in a suit (yay!) but they're integrated into scenes really well.
posted by brundlefly at 12:35 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I still wish they'd had Locke see the White Walker, drop Brann in astonishment, and had Branndor just knock him out and leave. He could have had an interesting character arc as someone who had seen the real threat and come to realize how pointless the political shenanigans of the Realm really were. What good was the farmland Bolton promised him when The Walkers were coming? Oh well.
posted by homunculus at 12:36 PM on June 2, 2015


Watching this episode, I came up with a theory on how the white walkers' control of zombies fits into the magic of the Game of Thrones world. Basically the white walkers could be warging with dead bodies/ animals like Brann and the other Starks do with the wolves, Hodors, etc. and the Targaryens do with dragons.

My support for this theory is mostly that the eyes of the zombies and white walkers are similarly colored, and that when Brann wargs Hodor there is similar eye color action (or maybe their eyes just roll into the back of their heads?). Sadly looking at the internet I'm not the first person to have this theory, but this episode seems to provide the best support for it.
posted by _cave at 12:46 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


If so, _cave how does the Stone Men disease fit in? I've been trying to fit it into what they're doing here since they introduced Stannis' daughter.
posted by tilde at 1:03 PM on June 2, 2015


I think there's a good chance that Wight Benjen Stark is going to show up when the Walkers attack the Wall.

Then we can see Jon hit his breaking point and collapse in the face of the relative he revered and had considered long dead, an undead relative whose only motivation is to kill all living things, mirroring Karsi's fall and responding to the gender bias in a positive way. Except it won't happen like that, because Jon is made of Sterner Stuff, or has a Larger Purpose, or something that isn't exactly about him being a dude and Karsi being a lady, except that it is.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:19 PM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I like this, it makes the zombies/grey scalers sound like a botnet.
posted by pmcp at 2:06 PM on June 2, 2015


I'm curious about the instant zombification that occurred. Those behind the fortress wall became zombies without being killed first . It was just magic gas. Why wasn't this used before? How does a poorly constructed wooden wall stop it?
posted by srboisvert at 2:57 PM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


homunculus: "I thought Locke's mission was just to retrieve Brann, which is what he was doing when Brann Hodor'd him."

Oh right, sorry. According to the wiki, Locke was sent to kill Bran and Rickon.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 3:15 PM on June 2, 2015


I'm curious about the instant zombification that occurred. Those behind the fortress wall became zombies without being killed first . It was just magic gas. Why wasn't this used before? How does a poorly constructed wooden wall stop it?

I thought that everyone beyond the wall was screaming and running away because they saw the zombies coming, then they stopped because they were all killed by the zombies.
posted by _cave at 3:18 PM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell: Surprised at the reactions here—I thought tonight's episode was terribly boring. I'm a huge non-fan of the white walkers. Big deal—they're just a bunch of ice zombies with no motivation except Pure Evil™ and turning more humans into undead.

I don't mind that the White Walkers' motivations are opaque or non-existent. I've been viewing them as the GoT equivalent of global warming. They're a dire, possibly existential threat that affects everyone, but everyone is either sticking their heads in the sand or squabbling over other less important things.

So I don't need to know the backstory of the "come at me bro" ice zombie. He's just there, doing his thing, and what's important is how the mortals react to it.
posted by brundlefly at 3:36 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't mind that the White Walkers' motivations are opaque or non-existent.

Everyone else in Game of Thrones is fighting over land, surely the White Walkers are doing the same. Why stay in the North when they can take everything else.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:58 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought that everyone beyond the wall was screaming and running away because they saw the zombies coming, then they stopped because they were all killed by the zombies.

Except they suddenly went silent in just moments while the fight behind the wall took forever. Plus they were defeated and resurrected in less time than it took undeadbro to do his come at me gesture at the end of the episode. Was it gas mist rolling down the hills at the start of the battle or was that zombie generated steam or what? I enjoyed all the wildlings and nightswatch squinting at it though - it was like they were trying to get past the pixelation of a bad episode release.
posted by srboisvert at 4:52 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The live viewership numbers bounced back over 7 million this week. That's weird, wouldn't you expect a bounce the week after a good episode? This episode wasn't leaked in advance. Maybe its just random fluctuation.
posted by Justinian at 5:29 PM on June 2, 2015


I don't think there was any gas/steam. It was an avalanche of zombies, that you couldn't tell was an avalanche of zombies, because of the snow rolling in with them. They killed everyone outside the walls (who weren't fighters, or prepared to fight), then proceeded to break through the gate. The folks outside the gate weren't resurrected. At least not immediately.
posted by team lowkey at 6:47 PM on June 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


I just slomoed through and took a couple of screen grabs of HF. I don't know who he is but there is no secret about him that I can see.
posted by unliteral at 6:48 PM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


don't viewership numbers account for everyone who watches live plus those who watch on demand within 24 hours? I think whenever there is a big social media "OMG" wave over an episode, they can count on a viewership bump.
posted by skewed at 7:04 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


brundlefly : "I don't mind that the White Walkers' motivations are opaque or non-existent. I've been viewing them as the GoT equivalent of global warming. They're a dire, possibly existential threat that affects everyone, but everyone is either sticking their heads in the sand or squabbling over other less important things."

I hear that, but I guess if so, that storyline doesn't really interest me. As komara said, it's the political intrigue that has made this show so interesting, and why I keep coming back week after week.

Put another way, I'd tune in to watch a TV show or movie about US or world politics. I don't think I'd tune in to watch a show about efforts to stop global warming. It would be hard to make that interesting, though I think the parallels to Westeros (petty squabbling, in the scheme of things) vs. The Wall ("Hey, guys, there's a super-serious threat up here that you really should pay attention to!") are actually quite close.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:56 PM on June 2, 2015


Interesting that Tyrion brought up the idea of a future alliance between Dany and The Tyrells. Tyrion is one prescient guy sometimes - he has no idea how badly The Tyrells have been effed over recently.

The Tyrells supported the Targaryens during the rebellion, so I assume there's no lingering resentment between them. The more I think about it, the more I think Loras would be the perfect political marriage choice for Dany if she actually returns to Westeros: he's heir to one of the wealthiest and most powerful Houses, which also happens to be the largest food producer in the soon-to-be-starving realm, and privately they would leave each other free to take the paramour of their choice. And that way her Small Council would have both Olenna and Tyrion on it, which would be awesome.
posted by homunculus at 8:04 PM on June 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


I had missed a few episodes and had to catch up last weekend, so I hadn't been reading FanFare. I went back and glanced at some old threads, and I came to the conclusion that either some people are just geniuses at figuring out how the show will develop, right down to minor plot points... or that they're just teasing book knowledge by (deceptively) framing things as "maybes" and questions.

I really hope the latter's not the case, but I was amazed by some of the very small things people picked up on. I readily admit that I'm not good at that sort of thing, though.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:19 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


So much speculation about hooded guy. Pretty clearly it was just whoever they got to mind the boat, which with a fairly large boat in some ocean-ish body of water, is a complex task. You can occasionally spot similar extras wrangling horses in scenes in past episodes. They never quite fit in because they're hired for expertise, not to fit the general look of the scene -- but putting a big hood on one and having Jon stand right next to him during some lingering cuts made it unusually obvious.
posted by joeyh at 9:05 PM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Except it won't happen like that, because Jon is made of Sterner Stuff, or has a Larger Purpose, or something that isn't exactly about him being a dude and Karsi being a lady, except that it is.

one of them is an insignificant minor character we know next to nothing about and has been in all of two episodes, while Jon Snow is one of the most imprtant characters in the entire series driving the narrative. the way they killed her off was pretty corny, but we don't even know her well enough to say it was out of character, let alone start arguing that Jon should probably die the exact same way because it's a guy's turn now and fair is fair. Because yeah, he does have a "larger purpose", not because he's male but because he's a main character we've been following for 5 seasons. There's definitely a point to be made about the way they killed off Karsi (honestly didn't even know her name before this thread) but that was a weird way to try and make it
posted by Hoopo at 10:20 PM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Except its not. It's at least as close enough to exactly how it is for it to feel that way to huge numbers of women watching media. You say he has a larger purpose not because he is male but because he's a main character, but he's a main (doing things) character because he's male. There are almost no women characters *doing* anything. Arya is almost doing something, but it's mainly what she's told, and Brienne, our only real action figure is mainly waiting. Brienne is great, she's nobledumb, butch AF and will kick in your sternum, and it's good I like that because its the only female action character I get. If I am picking dude action avatars I have a huuuuge range of motivations, fighting styles, ethoses and looks on display, you might think the Hound if your guy, another might be feelin' Jorah's feels, I myself am mourning Oberyn, but I'll get over it because there are others and none of these dudes has to carry all our hopes alone. I realise this sounds super melodramatic, but I just got back from Fury Road and am feeling deprived.
posted by Iteki at 2:44 AM on June 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


Fury Road has that effect, doesn't it? You get mad about how shoddy other media is because you've how awesome things could be.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:19 AM on June 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I realize a lot of people liked this episode... but fuck this season is still really disappointing me.

The battle of castle black came after an otherwise strong season of interest, foreshadowing, and just general story progress. Even a year later, not having rewatched, i remember the story beats pretty clearly. This season is just sort of... mush.

It's not even the cheesy Kevin-Sorbo-As-Hercules fight scenes in Dorne, almost all the episodes just felt bad. Hell, in a previous thread someone else described one as "uncomfortable doctor who bad"

This was beautifully choreographed, wonderfully executed stuff. It rivaled quite a few movies i've seen and was literally lord of the rings quality in a fucking tv show. But it was basically just that. A bit of Cersei suffering, some Arya stuff, then ZOMG EPIC BATTLE.

It just feels like so little story movement has happened, and what has happened sort of jolted forward in little spurts between long meandering... meh sections. Most of what's happened with Arya the entire season has basically been filler and her getting slapped. Most of the Dorne storyline seems irrelevant and ineffectual. The kings landing storyline was stuck in neutral until the faith militant thing which, with how they've shown tommen handling it so far and the lack of any feeling of consequence(which i get the growing feeling they're just going to kind of end on) just doesn't feel like much. It just doesn't make you care about the characters when once they're chucked in, they don't even really get revisited except for Cersei. And i echo the sentiments about sending Olenna in to just... act in a way that doesn't even feel like her character at all.

Some of this is just following the books, but a lot of it is packaging and handling of that story skeleton and content. It just feels shitty and boring, in surprising contrast to... every previous season.

This episode was cool, but it wasn't really engaging. It felt like a cutscene in a really kick ass game tacked on to an otherwise meh episode. In a season of meh episodes. And even if the next two episodes are exceptional this still feels like a slump season to me.
posted by emptythought at 4:48 AM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


It just feels like so little story movement has happened, and what has happened sort of jolted forward in little spurts between long meandering... meh sections.

I completely agree. While there have definitely been parts of the various storylines that I've enjoyed this season (little quips or verbal sparring, etc), in general most of them feel like they're on auto-pilot.

I mean, for all that Tyrion was shown to get out of his box in the first episode, in reality he has basically still been sitting in that box for the first 8 episodes of the season. There's no reason they couldn't have found a way to get him and Daenerys together at least 2 or 3 episodes earlier. The same can be said of Daenerys' story -- most of what has been accomplished could have been done so in a couple fewer episodes, leaving more time in the season for real plot movement. And Arya, and Sansa, etc, etc.

Not a book spoiler (because I don't have none), but I caught part of a article a bit back that basically said that the showrunners are trying to realign the various storylines without getting too far ahead of the books (because certain storylines have already passed the end-point of the last book). I suspect that this is part of why this season feels so off -- they're basically trying to keep some of the storylines hovering in place to allow for the rest to catch up. Why, I don't know (if they're hoping GRRM will finish the next book before next season starts filming, they're delusional). But, that may be what's contributing to some of the dragging in this season.
posted by tocts at 5:21 AM on June 3, 2015


It just feels like so little story movement has happened, and what has happened sort of jolted forward in little spurts between long meandering... meh sections.

True, it does feel like the books at times!

I hasn't been a bad season, but it has been different from previous ones. Before there was a lot more explicit action mixed in with the character arcs, because of the war. Rob was in rebellion, running attacks and what not, but now that's over. So the general pace is slower while he story delves into the characters more, with less overt action. I'm ok with this, I love seeing the development here. For instance, if anything there wasn't enough Varys and Tyrion on the road, or Pod and Brienne.

Most of the season seems to have been setup to for these final three episodes. I say says because we don't know what's in the last time, but that's the general feeling I'm getting. If so, then this season will probably been one of the better ones as the earlier episodes will appear better in retrospect.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:51 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I went back and glanced at some old threads, and I came to the conclusion that either some people are just geniuses at figuring out how the show will develop, right down to minor plot points... or that they're just teasing book knowledge by (deceptively) framing things as "maybes" and questions.

Don't worry. In most of what's going on now, the show has surpassed the book such that book readers aren't sure what's happening either.
posted by corb at 7:09 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: For instance, if anything there wasn't enough Varys and Tyrion on the road, or Pod and Brienne.

Varys and Tyrion make a fine onscreen matchup, and I'd watch the hell out of a Midnight Run-style buddy movie between them. But once Tyrion became convinced that meeting Dany was worthwhile, I'm guessing there probably wouldn't have been much else for them to talk about that could further the story along. At least with Jorah and Tyrion there was some suspense.

As for Brienne, a great deal of her time on the show seems to be spent wandering through the wilderness. Love the character and the actress playing her, but without something more meaty to accomplish, she doesn't need more filler screen time.
posted by zarq at 7:15 AM on June 3, 2015


It really depends on what the ultimate arc of the individual characters. For instance, if Tyrion is ultimately meant to supplant Daenerys (total speculation on my part), then the voyage to visit her could have him and Varys discussing the power, Tyrion's desire for it and where he went wrong, what he'd do differently, etc etc.

More Brienne time would totally fine with me, especially with Poderick. Do the characters need it? Yes, yes they do, because I want it. So there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


In re the Why Don't Zombies Swim thing: I thought it was implied that the zombies exude a blast of cold in their general vicinity, so I assume if they tried to swim (or walk across the bottom due to lack of buoyancy) they'd just get bogged down in a morass of rapidly-solidifying ice crystals.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:34 AM on June 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


(although given how magically their locomotion seems to be powered, it also wouldn't surprise me if the answer is just a standard "vampires can't cross running water, ghosts can't step across salt lines, etc" kind of supernatural demarcation)
posted by Greg Nog at 9:39 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: It really depends on what the ultimate arc of the individual characters. For instance, if Tyrion is ultimately meant to supplant Daenerys (total speculation on my part), then the voyage to visit her could have him and Varys discussing the power, Tyrion's desire for it and where he went wrong, what he'd do differently, etc etc.

We're better off having him be introspective when he's bonding with Dany. Furthers the story along. There's an implicit assumption that Varys might understand Tyrion better than Tyrion knows himself -- and watching T figure out his path in life is far more interesting than having it handed to him on an expository platter.

Varys gave Tyrion an opportunity -- a second chance. The entertaining bit is watching what T does with it.

More Brienne time would totally fine with me, especially with Poderick. Do the characters need it? Yes, yes they do, because I want it. So there.

Pairing them up was something the show did well, yes. But this season has a lot of ground to cover.
posted by zarq at 9:40 AM on June 3, 2015


re: zombies not swimming. Why bother? They are an inexorable force moving south with the winter. They'll scale/breach the wall and slaughter everyone eventually. There's no need for a tricky assault on the boats, they'll kill the wildlings in good time. The "come at me bro" thing I took as an expression of "sure, run, we'll get you in the end".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:34 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


When have zombies ever swam?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


"When have zombies ever swam?"

In regular zombie shows? Never, that I can remember.

In this show, where they're not so much "zombies" as they are "freshly-dead un-rotten humans being controlled by an evil witch king" I figured anything should be possible.
posted by komara at 6:52 AM on June 4, 2015


Swimming is more precise movements. The wights are just an rolling force that slashes and stabs, doesn't seem to have much technique to them. I'd be surprised if they could swim, especially when carrying weapons and wearing heavy clothing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:50 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


When have zombies ever swam?

1979. The movie: Zombie. Here's a NSFW (nudity, gore) scene.
posted by zarq at 9:28 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Man, Shark vs. Zombie remains, to this day, one of my favorite scenes ever.

(that and the eyeball scene are the only things I much remember from the whole movie)
posted by tocts at 11:00 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]




I'm not sure I understand the issue with the water. Can people and even faster wights swim faster then boats that are propelled by oarsmen or sails? What would be the use of swimming out into the water but not get to the ships? The attack itself, seemed somewhat rushed as if they saw the Wildlings were leaving (or many of them) and saw a potential big decline in new recruits.
posted by juiceCake at 3:27 PM on June 5, 2015


The issue with the water is that if they can swim or go in the water, what prevents them from just going AROUND the Wall?
posted by corb at 3:57 PM on June 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


The issue with the water is that if they can swim or go in the water, what prevents them from just going AROUND the Wall?

What's to prevent them from just breaking down that door the giant smashed through last season? They didn't seem to have any issue with the beefy looking gates and walls at hardhome.

I'm assuming they're just taking the overland route to that gate, and ramming the shit out of it. The wildlings got there fine and i don't think they used boats with that many people.
posted by emptythought at 4:25 PM on June 5, 2015




What's to prevent them from just breaking down that door the giant smashed through last season? They didn't seem to have any issue with the beefy looking gates and walls at hardhome.

I'm assuming they're just taking the overland route to that gate, and ramming the shit out of it.


IIRC that tunnel can be frozen solid, and Jon wanted to do that before the battle but was overruled.
posted by bq at 5:14 PM on June 5, 2015


What's to prevent them from just breaking down that door the giant smashed through last season? They didn't seem to have any issue with the beefy looking gates and walls at hardhome.

There might be a bigger problem: if the Night's King knows about the secret passage at the Nightfort (where Sam and Gilly met Bran & Co. back in Season 3) he could send some of his forces right on through. Since the Nightfort is abandoned, there's no one there to even try to stop them.
posted by homunculus at 10:30 PM on June 5, 2015


Why not just put the Wights on ships and sail around the Wall?

if the Night's King knows about the secret passage at the Nightfort (where Sam and Gilly met Bran & Co. back in Season 3) he could send some of his forces right on through. Since the Nightfort is abandoned, there's no one there to even try to stop them.

Fill that with rocks and water too? Maybe station some troops there now?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:00 AM on June 6, 2015


The issue with the water is that if they can swim or go in the water, what prevents them from just going AROUND the Wall?

Did the scene show they had ships? I'm not sure sending 1000s swimming to the next destination is practical. On ships, sure, but do they have a capacity to build a naval fleet? Wouldn't swimming leave them open to easier attack?
posted by juiceCake at 12:03 PM on June 6, 2015


What's to prevent them from just breaking down that door the giant smashed through last season?

Those bars are 4 inches of cold rolled steel.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:55 PM on June 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


We know there are giants north of the Wall, but we've seen only three so far (the two at the Wall and Wun Wun.) I think there's a good chance there are some undead giants in the Army of the Dead, possibly riding undead mammoths, and if so they could get through the gate. It also remains to be seen if the Walkers can cause the bars to shatter just by touching their ice weapons to them.
posted by homunculus at 1:02 PM on June 6, 2015


I wonder if the bars are made of Valyrian steel. If I was building the wall (and knew that VS worked against White Walkers) that's what I'd do, yessiree.
posted by wemayfreeze at 6:47 PM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the gate even matters. As I understand it, the Wall was built after the Walkers were defeated during the last Long Night, so it's never actually faced a large scale attack by the White Walkers and their Army of the Dead. That makes the Wall an 8,000 year old experiment which has never been tested. We know that the Walkers make their magic weapons out of ice and they can craft ice in extraordinary ways, so how is a wall made of ice supposed to deter them? I guess if Bran the Builder used magic to create it then that's supposed to counter the Walkers' magic, but for all we know the Night's King is going to stroll up to the Wall, snap his fingers, and a section of the wall will just crumble to dust. It would be hilarious if after all this time it turns out that building and guarding the Wall was completely pointless.
posted by homunculus at 10:15 AM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh god, that would be awwwwwwful which means it's exactly like something he would do.
posted by corb at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


As soon as they had her loading her kids on the boat I knew they were going to kill her. But it wasn't enough that they kill her, no, they have to have her do fine and dandy until Zombie Kids show, Because Vaginas. For once I would like to see a male character who gets weak at the knees at the thought of fighting children. Or a female character who doesn't.

Apparently Karsi was originally going to be a male character, but they recast her because children.
posted by homunculus at 5:53 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Northern Line
posted by homunculus at 11:48 PM on June 25, 2015


« Older Game of Thrones: Hardhome...   |  Adventure Time: Business Time... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments