Spoiler note: The discussion in this post is primarily for non-book readers (book fans can discuss the show here). We ask that all Sullied book-readers refrain from posting spoilers in the comments here, veiled or otherwise. This show is best viewed without knowing all the surprises beforehand or afterwards, so please be respectful of your fellow fans. Thank you!
Oz of Thrones: When the only impulsive complaint a man can reasonably come up with immediately following an episode of a television series is that it simply wasn’t long enough, it can only mean that someone did something right.
Add in the fact that said episode took place in only one location and involved a grand battle sequence that many weren’t all that excited about only because other stories within the same series seemed more compelling, the accomplishment cannot be overstated.
The Epic 9’s remain solidly intact, and their continuity should obviously have never been in doubt… but I do have questions.
For many of the Unsullied, there was doubt about this battle. Maybe it was the hangover from one of the newest, most intriguing characters ever introduced in this show having his head crushed in by a man-beast. Maybe it was because elsewhere, there remains so much unfinished business that many feel is more pivotal to the future of the story. And maybe, it was simply because the buildup to the battle this season has been slightly underwhelming in the opinion of many.
Regardless of the “why”, a battle of epic proportions was served that fans of the series will never forget.
From the onset, the landscape and the visuals of the Wall at night remain breathtaking. The torches outlining the top of the wall through the mazes of icy walkways look so realistic that I sometimes have to remind myself that this is not a place in which I can buy a plane ticket and book a tour.
For a battle to be convincing, the stage needs to be as believable as the living, breathing personnel swinging the swords and shooting the arrows. Mission accomplished.
To enhance the setting of the stage, the sound must be strong and dramatic as to emphasize the emotional moments and bring to life the gruesomeness of the accompanying deaths. The sound effects can make a scene seem harshly realistic or embarrassingly fake. To put it mildly, the audio here was fantastic including not only the timeliness of the effects but the musical score itself.
And while the sword fighting and the flaming arrows and the explosions and the biggest fire the North had ever seen were well-choreographed and damn near perfectly executed, maybe the major difference in this battle was the emotional attachment magnified by the obvious theme of relationships. The examples were plentiful and came from some expected characters and some that were not-so expected:
Sam and Jon discussing being with a woman; Sam disclosing that the Wildlings had already done the worst thing they could do to him; Tormund and his Sheila; Ygritte confronting Styr about her Crow boyfriend and threatening anyone else that killed him with an arrow; Aemon and Sam discussing love; the friendship between Pip and Sam, and their last moments together; the admittance of Thorne to Jon that he should have allowed the tunnel to be sealed; and of course, Jon and Ygritte.
The emotions of the episode were high and at times made it difficult to know whom to root for. When Ygritte didn’t want to talk about fooking a bear, she recalled how wrong it was for a Wall to be built to keep her kind out and then to be hunted. Who was right? Who was wrong? Can either side be classified as either?
A battle also calls for a great motivational speech and as bad as I despise the guy, Alliser pulled it off beautifully (albeit, quickly). As he came down off the Wall to rally the troops protecting the Castle, there was no doubt as to where his loyalty stood and that he was owed respect for not only being a man of his word, but a man that would stand behind it and would fight at the front gate to uphold his vows. Thorne was an asshole; but he was the necessary asshole that every great platoon needs to be successful.
On the other hand, Slynt did exactly what I expected him to do. He pulled a Joffrey.
But we can’t leave without talking battle visuals, and damn, they did not disappoint. The giant on the mammoth with the glow of the fire behind the forest trees was something to behold. These were a couple of my favorite battle snippets:
- The giant shooting the oversized arrows and blowing the Crow completely off of the Wall.
- The boiling water thrown in the face
- The mammoth attempting to pull the gate off the tunnel
- The mammoth’s ass being set on fire
- Tormund vs. Alliser
- The giant in the tunnel
- Jon vs. Styr
- The dropping of the scythe (especially the dropping of the scythe)
And then of course there was Ygritte, who stood ready to finally end her relationship permanently with Jon Snow until revenge for a lost relationship between a son and a father was taken. Olly’s shot was true and struck Ygritte where the pain had struck him giving a quiet ending to she and Jon while surrounded by blood and chaos.
Perhaps they should have stayed in the cave the same way Sam could have stayed in the basement with Gilly. But then love would have truly been the death of duty.
Episode 409 Personal Awards
Favorite Battle Scene: Too many to pick, but I’ll never forget the force of arrow from the giant sending the Crow out into the night sky. And the scythe.
Favorite Dialogue Scene: Aemon and Sam. If a book were created based only on the wisdom of Aemon alone, I would go pick it up today.
There were so many great one-liners in this ep. Here are a few, but there were plenty to choose from.
Favorite Quote #1: “How big were her feet?” -Sam
Favorite Quote #2: “Right now, I don’t want to think about the bear you never fooked.” -Ygritte
Favorite Quote #3: “But if he starts second guessing himself, that’s the end. For him. For the clever little twats. For everyone.” –Alliser Thorne
Favorite Quote #4: “I’m not nothing anymore.” -Sam
Favorite Quote #5: “I said nock and hold, you cunts!” -Thorne
Favorite Quote #6: “Jon… come back.” -Sam
Ow, That Shit Hurts Award: The hammer in Styr’s head and the burning mammoth ass
Jackass Award: Janos Slynt. Forever.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought the episode was outstanding from a battle sequence standpoint. It rivaled most big budget, full-length films that have tackled battle scenes in the past on a fraction of the budget, and was tremendously executed. The emotional impact from the relationship portion made it even more dramatic.
However, I do have a few burning questions (no pun, yada yada).
Why did they choose to end the episode with no real outcome? With an entire episode dedicated to one location, I think many of the Unsullied believed that the outcome of the Crow/Wildling issue would be resolved. Yes, Mance was testing the defenses, but in the process he used his forces south of the Wall, which may have been his greatest asset in getting the gates open. There could potentially be some of them left, but wouldn’t it have made more sense to use them when the full court press was on instead of the testing phase?
Furthermore, how are all of the open story lines going to be tied with only one episode to go? Don’t misunderstand my inquiry here… we know from past seasons that they won’t be. But in review, there are quite a few loose ends hanging around to be covered in only a slightly extended season finale. I hope it doesn’t feel rushed.
And what does Jon hope to accomplish by meeting with Mance? It is true that the Watch most likely has no chance considering what is left of their lot against the Wildling numbers. And Jon knows it. But a diplomatic resolution seems highly unlikely at this point. Then again, I know nothing. And I love it.
That’s it for me today fellow WiCsters! Tell me what you thought of the episode, your favorite scenes and quotes, and let’s discuss burning questions.
Look me up in the twittersphere @ozofthrones where we can discuss all things Thrones related (or anything else interesting that might pop).
Only one more to go before hiatus hell sets in, so let’s get it while we can. I’ll see you Friday or Saturday for the last Looking Forward of the in-season. Drop on by… this is it for a while!
BUT NO SPOILERS HERE! NO HINTS! NO BOOK RELATED DISCUSSION!
Until then, have a great week, and may there always be peace in your realm. –Oz
“Unbowed. Unbent. Unsullied.”
PLEASE BE MINDFUL OF THE UNSULLIED… Do not post spoilers in this comment thread!
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