A common sentiment is this season hasn’t had that wow factor. That moment or event were all fans are raving about around the water cooler. Sure, there was a highlight scene with Tyrion and Jorah versus the stonemen in Valyria. While the consequences of that scene is still reverberating on a personal level as Jorah comes to terms with grayscale disease, it’s implications won’t ripple into other storylines.
Then there was Sansa’s wedding night which garnered lots of heated discussion but was divisive of the fan base rather than something everyone could get behind. This all changed in a big way in Hardhome. As good as all the other scenes are, the epic battle against the undead army stole the episode and ramps up this season’s momentum several notches.
When the show deviates from the source material there are often mixed results. But when done well, it’s exciting not knowing what will happen next as is the case with the battle at Hardhome. We actually have seen and know more about the White Walkers on the show than in the books.
The White Walkers and the undead army threat makes all the other drama in Westeros feel minuscule in comparison. For all the death and destruction that occurred in Hardhome, this is really the tip of the iceberg if the White Walkers go further south. If Jon was petty, I wouldn’t blame him if he were to say “so what do you think about my plan now?!” to all the wildlings and men of the Night’s Watch who were against him.
The battle itself is well structured and executed starting from the build up which created a lot of tension to giving Jon Snow an earned hero moment. The variety of undead was cool to see. Some are mainly skeletons and some had plenty of rotting flesh on their corpse. These aren’t slow lumbering creatures either; a personal favorite are the axe-wielding zombies.
I have to say I cared more about the wildling woman in her brief scenes than I do about the Sand Snakes. We didn’t get to see giants fight like this at the Wall last season, this battle made up for that as this badass giant had plenty of highlight reel moments, so glad that he survived.
Up on the cliff, the white walkers looked like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. It’ll be fascinating to learn more about the white walkers. Will we get to see them communicate with each other? What is their plan? When the Night’s Watch will inevitably face off against them again, at least they’ll be armed with the knowledge that valyrian steel will not only withstand the White Walkers weapons, but will kill them.
The big battle took up about 15 minutes of the episode. Of the first 45 minutes the strongest scenes were in Meereen. On-screen chemistry can be hard to accomplish especially for actors who haven’t worked together before. However, both Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke played off of each other very well. The feeling out process between Tyrion and Dany had many good back and forth exchanges. It ended on a strong note when Dany promised to “break the wheel”. One, I’m excited that Dany is turning her thoughts towards Westeros. Second, I like to think that the end game will be more than just who will sit on the Iron Throne. We’ve seen her abolish slavery in Meereen, I’m intrigued by how she might change up the political system in Westeros.
Quick Bullet Points:
• Back at the wall, Sam and Gilly’s scene may seem like it’s just to check in on them. But I have a strong hunch, this scene will have a significance in the finale.
• So Ramsey will take 20 men with him to fight Stannis’ army? It doesn’t sound like this will be an epic battle but it’s more exciting than the Bolton’s hunkering down in Winterfell until the cold weakens Stannis.
• Oh Cersei, getting beat with a wooden spoon. How humiliating and sad to see her slurp up the water on the floor like a dog. It was great! All she has to do is swallow her pride and confess to get out of prison.
Maybe it’s because the weakest storyline which is Dorne wasn’t featured, this episode felt really strong even before the final scenes. After plenty of set up, Jon Snow’s storyline payed off in an exciting way. This season needed that extra punch and what we got was a home run. Tyrion and Dany’s scenes were on point, making me excited for what’s to come for the both of them. Arya’s scenes which I liked weren’t as satisfying as they normally are but I think it’s mainly because this is set up for her first assassination mission. Heading into the final stretch, I expected the last three episodes to be the strongest of the season. Hardhome delivered on that front, delivering a climatic episode 9 type event, yet there is still a lot of ground to cover as we anxiously await the final two episodes.
What do you think about the Battle at Hardhome? What did you like or dislike in this episode?