Podcast Season 4

Game of Owns: The Battle of Castle Black

Recorded minutes after the battle’s momentary finish, Game of Owns heads up the Wall for a closer look at the trouble below.

Episode 224 – The Battle of Castle Black

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Recorded minutes after the battle’s momentary finish, Game of Owns heads up the Wall for a closer look at the trouble below.

Discussion Topics

Love is the death of duty
Tactics, command
Ser Alliser Thorne
What’s next?
Episode 9s
Taking it to screen
Pypar and Grenn
Losing Ygritte
Owns of the Episode
Reads the Tweets


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  • Eric,

    Thorne was being carried off by men of the Night’s Watch – NOT the cannibals.

    And also, you guys were mistaken – Blackwater DID take place solely at King’s Landing.

  • John M W,

    Yup, and deep inside of the bay. Not unlike Forward Camp Tormund in this episode. (I think Eric was on the cider(s))

  • Also, I’ll be honest and say that I’m in disagreement about the ending. While I’m a little worried about packing the finale with too much stuff, I thought the ending was perfect.

    I’m not sure why some feel that the Night’s Watch/Wildling Battle had to be confined to one episode. I love that it’s spilling into the finale. It gives breathing time to the story and adds enormous anticipation to the last episode.

    Also, I do not agree that 10 more minutes would have given time to wrap this story up.

  • John M W,

    Agree with you. This episode was all about the Nights Watch, and if it ended the way everybody wanted, it would have stopped being an episode about the Nights Watch. Plus ending on a cliffhanger isn’t anything new.

  • Why would Pyp be practicing with a real sword? They spar against each why would they use edged swords for that? And he’s a steward.

  • I’m also going to take exception to Kate’s stance on the episode being “boring” because it was mostly action. If it was just a lot of hacking and slashing, I might agree. But there was so much drama within the action. I was on the edge of my seat for so much of the hour (or 50 minutes ;)).

    Having moments like Grenn and the other men of the Night’s Watch reciting their vows in the face of certain death & Sam finding his courage throughout the battle are what raises the show above most Hollywood action drivel that you see in theaters.

    And I most certainly don’t feel that you could “take this episode out” and not skip a beat. This episode was crucial to defining the entire season. It was about the struggle and bravery of the Men of the Night’s Watch and the perils they face – as well as the Wildlings’ utter determination to escape the North. It reinforced that all the political mechinations going on elsewhere in the Seven Kingdoms really mean next to nothing compared to the goings-on North of the Wall.

    This episode took a season that has had so much focus on the politics and distractions of other conflicts, and flipped the board to remind the viewer where the real stakes are.

  • Kate, I agree with you. I love GoT, but fights or battles for their own sake are not the reason I watch it. The episode was better than I expected and had its moments. But I’m much more looking forward to next week!

    Own: Sam for owning the interpretative wiggle room of the Oath of the Night’s Watch.

  • I’m with Kate in not loving the show for the fights. I fell in love with the show and eventually the books because of the enormous amount of complex characters and their mysterious, awesome, and wonderfully interconnected stories. GRRM’s prose is magnificent, as well.

    Talking about not advancing the storyline, Kurt Vonnegut says, and many authors have said something similar, “Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.” In television, that would have to translate to every shot, I would guess, although TV is a different medium from books. But I would agree that this episode lacked the character and story development of a typical GoT episode.

  • Ginevra,

    I like Vonnegut, but I hate that advice. There is so much more to literature (and to life, and the universe) than “character and action.” I have found some of the deepest truths in novels (and films) reading passages that had little to do with the development of a character, or the furtherance of a particular plot point. The right description of a landscape, for example, can strike the soul.

    IMO, this episode struck a very human chord with me. A yearning for lost worlds, perhaps.

  • Liked the podcast a lot. I strongly disagree that the decision to put Jon meeting Mance in the next episode was a network decision.

    The episode was not building up to a meeting between Jon and Mance. Ygritte’s death was the natural climax of the episode. To try to cram buildup to meeting Mance, and whatever happens at that time, would have felt forced and would have felt completely separate from the rest of the episode.

    The fact that the book readers on the podcast cannot explain why they were dissatisfied with the ending without giving spoilers shows that the episode stood on its own. If the episode’s ending was objectively weak, then an explanation can be given. It’s just that numerous book readers were really looking forward to Stannis’ arrival, and with LotR and Blackwater as their background information, they assumed it would happen here, but in honestly wouldn’t have worked in this situation.

  • Also, I found Grenn and Pyp’s deaths powerful, and for that reason I don’t think you can say it was a “needless” change. Having a supposedly devastating battle in which none of the named characters die would have been a serious cop-out (sort of like the result of the Fist of the First Men Battle at the beginning of Season 3). That’s why, in the books, there were a couple of minor characters who died during the battle. But because there are significantly fewer named minor characters on the Wall in the show, they had to dip into a couple characters that were still around in the later books.

  • I also completely agree with some of the stuff spilling from this episode to the finale. I was so looking forward to Stannis arrival in this episode and was dissapointed earlier but when i watched it for the second time, I now agree that this episode wuld have ended like Blackwater. And the biggest thing that wuld impacted this episode was the time duration. the duration wuld have been too short and the events would have been too fast in this episode.

    Hence, I disagree with Kate that this episode was boring. This episode can be better understood when u watch it for the 2nd time.

    And I completely agree with the point that the Owl should have been noticed but, on second thought it was only Jon Snow who completely believed in Wargs and when he tried to tell others about what he had seen, they ignored it. Hence, if Jon Snow had noticed the Owl, he might have done something but if someone else had noticed the Owl, they wuld have just ignored it or not noticed it at all.

    P.S: I complete 500% agree with the person who commented when the giant used the bow & arrow, it took me to Dark Souls game

  • Disagree with Kate about this episode being boring, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. All the political machinations and other stuff Kate mentioned that she watches the show for (and which I agree are awesome) basically are meaningless if we don’t have episodes like this showing consequences of actions and in this the inaction of Kings landing to help the Nights watch.

    I also think we did get character development, I thought we had a big leap forward in Sam evolving, and John exhibited his leadership and bad-ass abilities which I think is important.

    Also add me to the list that doesn’t think 10 minutes would have been enough to really wrap up what was missing and actually do it justice, but I do agree it felt off not having that extra bit conclude the arc.

    I found both Pyp and especially Grenn’s death to be very poignant and so I don’t think they were throw away kiling offs I thought they added some personalization to the episode.

  • I think in any discussion of the how/when the episode ended, it’s worth remember that the episodic structure only really matters the first time you see it. For the rest of human history, anytime someone wants to watch Game of Thrones, they’ll most likely have the whole entire story to consume at their own pace as the 70-hour or 80-hour film that the producers are essentially making it as.

    If you think of episodes 9 and 10 of this season being one unit (which like I said, will be what it is once everyone is watching at their own leisure on box sets beyond the original broadcast), then you will get the payoff(s) that book readers assumed they’d get in this episode.

  • I’m sharing my Own equally between Grenn, Hill & Cooper for going out killing Mag the Mighty, King of the Giants! Really glad they didn’t kill Edd & Olly too.

  • Just to clarify the aemon story, her was sent to study at the citadel since he was the forth son of the king, and when they offered him the crown and he refused he decided to join the night watch to avoid any controversy or to stop other people from using him to usurp his younger brother.

  • God, I love Kate. Hands down the smartest and funniest of the Game of Owns crew (though I like them all). Something tells me she’s gorgeous as well.

  • ArgonathofBraavos,

    I love you too.

    Everyone: thanks for the discussion and disagreement! I know my opinion is unpopular. The point that this is the culmination of so much of the politicking in the cities, that this is where the action actually is, these are the men paying the price for the freedom everyone takes for granted: a terrific point. I plan to rewatch with that in mind.

  • Kate:

    I love you too.

    Everyone: thanks for the discussion and disagreement! I know my opinion is unpopular. The point that this is the culmination of so much of the politicking in the cities, that this is where the action actually is, these are the men paying the price for the freedom everyone takes for granted: a terrific point. I plan to rewatch with that in mind.


    I know. :-)

    One small favor. Could you just say to me: “You know nothing, ArgonathofBraavos.”


  • Own of the episode goes to the episode this week for owning the curtaincall segment here on WIC.

  • My ‘owned’ went to Jon for learning from his fight with Karl at Craster’s Keep and fighting dirty with the hammer, he really does know something !