Written Round-up: Season 4, Episode 9 “Watchers on the Wall”
By Bex on in Recap.

Jon and Styr2

The ninth episodes of previous seasons of Game of Thrones have held epic battles, gruesome deaths and emotional shockers. This week, critics agree that this was a technically excellent episode hailing back to “Blackwater.” However, this crop of reviews also seems to be one of the most diverse in opinion this season.

 

Read the Books

James Hibberd – Entertainment Weekly

“The Watchers on the Wall” was an intense rousing hour of heroism and heartbreak that set a new bar for what this show — and TV — can do.

Charlie Jane Anders – io9

This was Game Of Thrones’ big battle episode, and it featured huge set pieces. HUGE. But you know what was really huge? The characters, and their incredible defining moments. There was sex, love, heroism, cowardice… and lots of killing.

Alyssa Rosenberg – Washington Post

For all the hardening experiences the young men at the Wall have been through, they retain some of the boyishness of their former lives. It was at its worst when the show served up a reminder that while David Benioff and Dan Weiss relish presenting us with the physical violence of Westeros, they sometimes shy away from the emotional violence that makes George R.R. Martin’s novels so striking.

Todd VanDerWerff - A.V. Club

B; “The Watchers On The Wall” is a technically impressive piece of television craft that seems designed almost explicitly to show off all of the various tricks in Game Of Thrones’ arsenal. On a purely technical level, this is maybe the series’ finest achievement yet. On a storytelling level, however, it mostly left me cold.

Sean T. Collins – Rolling Stone

Writers/showrunners David Benioff & Dan Weiss and returning “Blackwater” director Neil Marshall made the best of an interchangeably black-clad and bearded situation. Giants and mammoths aside, the warring parties were far more poorly equipped than the clash of kings, so there was nothing quite as spectacular as the wildfire explosion. Instead, there was simply an object lesson in memorable action-filmmaking, one in which the individual beats of the battle had such clear and obvious consequences that the action helped sell the character work, even if you came in un-sold.

More book readers and Unsullied recaps, reviews and reactions under the cut

James Poniewozik – Time

“The Watchers on the Wall” was an episode of Game of Thrones in which there was a hell of a lot of action and yet very little happened.

Myles McNutt - Cultural Learnings

“The Watchers On The Wall” wants to be “Blackwater.”

While a visceral piece of action filmmaking and a spectacle worthy of “Blackwater,” it proves less a climax so much as long-delayed rising action to finally bring The Wall into play in the season’s narrative.

Esquire Power rankings for Episode 9

Nina Shen Rastogi – Vulture

Like “Blackwater,” the second-to-last episode of season two, “The Watchers on the Wall” features two clashing armies, one defending a structure and the other battering it with all its might. But the anchors of this episode, its spine and its heart, are Jon and Sam.

Matt Fowler- IGN

“The Watchers on the Wall” was a triumphant, epic entry that – most of all – worked to reinvigorate one’s interest in The Wall storyline. By going bigger and bolder than “Blackwater” it almost over-delivered on the violence in order to make up for such a lengthy climb. And it was filled with many charged, excellent moments that I didn’t expect would give me goosebumps.

Scott Meslow – The Week

Game of Thrones managed to bring George R.R. Martin’s wildest visions to life. In pure visceral impact, this episode could stand up to most of the blockbusters being pumped into theaters this summer…when you look past the giddy glory of the action, “The Watchers on the Wall” feels awfully hollow.

Neil Marshall once again proves himself the master of bringing epic action sequences to the small screen, as “The Watchers on the Wall” attempts to outstrip “Blackwater” in the action and visuals departments… and succeeds handily, marking the best episode of the season. The unique dimensions of the battle on two fronts matched with Marshall’s assured direction and exceptional set pieces creates a thrilling piece of television.

 

Unsullied

Alan Sepinwall – Hitfix

“Blackwater” is probably still the series’ high point, so you can’t blame Benioff and Weiss for trying to replicate it here, but the parallels can’t be exact…That said, Benioff, Weiss, Marshall and the entire production team seem to have recognized that they were working with less important raw material, and that they needed to compensate with something else: spectacle.

Andy Greenwald – Grantland

“The Watchers on the Wall” delivered all the dopamine-soaked CGI thrills of a $200 million summer blockbuster in half the time (and, presumably, less than half the cost). To see something so visually stunning and so relentlessly, unfathomably, occasionally uncomfortably huge…was both astonishing and deeply gratifying.

Laura Stone – Hey, Don’t Judge Me

GO READ THE WHOLE THING!

Jordan Yerman – Vancouver Observer

[Another recap to read in entirety; great appreciation for all the macros]

This was my least favorite episode of the season, to be honest. However,  the awesome Dire Wolf attack edges it into more positive territory. I give “Game of Thrones” S04E09 three surviving Crows out of a possible five… and I can’t see how there could possibly be more than five.

A shame, really, since “The Watchers on the Wall” was such a hugely ambitious episode. I just felt like the emptiest one of the season for me.

A.V. Club

A-; “The Watchers On The Wall” has an exciting rhythm, alternating furious action with slower moments, conducting the different sections of the fight like an orchestra—only here that means a break to see mammoths and giants methodically prepare to tow the outer gate, instead of a drop-in with Cersei and the girls.

David Malitz – Washington Post

Episode 9. In the realm of “Game of Thrones,” it’s basically become code for “get ready.” Every season of the show has treated the penultimate episode (and not the finale) as the true climax, providing the definitive moment that kept people talking all summer.

Would an episode focused solely on The Wall and its related storylines and characters…rise to the occasion and captivate us like the next-to-last episodes of previous seasons? Almost, but not quite…Aside from the major moment with Jon Snow and Ygritte it was hard to feel too emotionally invested in anything that happened. And as visually exciting it was to watch everything unfold, the ending was surprisingly unfulfilling.

Jeremy Egner  - Arts Beat, New York Times

The episode conveyed the chaos of hand-to-hand combat without lapsing into the sort of dizzying, throw-everything-in-a-blender-and-set-it-to-11 cinematography that turns so many blockbuster action scenes into visual mush. In addition to the expected frenetic collages of swords and battle axes making splattery contact and the immersively depicted flaming-arrow onslaughts, there were other arresting moments small and large.

Kristy Puchko – Mary Sue

Unfortunately, Castle Black is not as well stocked with characters we love or love to hate as The Red Keep was, so the action in “Watchers on the Wall” wasn’t emotionally rich or compelling as that widely adored ep.

Brian Juergens – The Backlot

Much like in Season 2, Game of Thrones staged a massive standalone battle in its penultimate episode. It was bloody, brutal, and a heck of a lot of fun.

Peter Counter – Dork Shelf

The power of “The Watchers On The Wall” is that, after 38 episodes of being told again and again that good people are weak because of their codes, we are finally shown hope in the most unlikely of places.

I am tempted to say that…“The Watchers On The Wall” is actually the best episode of the series. It’s at least the best of season four and is certainly a thematic milestone.

It can’t stand alone in greatness, since the bleak outlook of every preceding episode is necessary for it to be truly cathartic, but it most certainly is the tightest, most affecting piece of storytelling showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have managed with the Song of Ice and Fire source material.

Please do not discuss probable events in episode 10 in comments without using the spoiler highlight! This week more than ever is hard to discuss without looking to next Sunday.


97 Comments

  1. spacechampion
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Grenn and Pyp! Pyp and Grenn!

  2. King Stannis
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    The cook at castle black with the clever!

  3. Hodor's Bastard
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    After two re-watches, I submit my pros and cons list for ep9. Its so damn cool that we get this kind of entertainment during spring. Absolutely love this show, warts and all!

    Pros
    - Physics-defying ice-scraper built from the unused Blackwater chain
    - Ygritte leaning back to avoid an arrow during the attack; the rage and determination within her; her standing up to Styr
    - Ygritte dying in Jon’s arms…just a perfectly-adapted scene
    - Pyp’s hands shaking, terrified; Pyp dying in Sam’s arms
    - Sam & Jon (“what’s it like?” very Monty-Pythonesque); Sam & Pyp; Sam the Thenn Slayer!; Sam’s “open the fucking gate!” to Pyp for Gilly; Sam kissing Gilly
    - Grenn getting Slynt away from the top of the wall so the real men can defend
    - Alliser & Jon; Alliser, you surprised us all, with speeches and swordsmanship!
    - Alliser vs Tormund. Tormund is a beast
    - The rolling camera showing the CB mayhem
    - Slynt’s cowardice, everywhere (Sam the Slayer should have “fetched a block” for him when he saw him cowering the corner)
    - Jon vs Styr….fight dirty (stop losing your sword!)
    - Jon’s “hold the gate” words with Grenn…powerful, daunting
    - Awesome Giant arrows (they could have destroyed the watch single-handedly, imho)
    - Aemon’s wisdom and more mysteries!
    - Mammoth on fire! Giants running!
    - Music throughout
    - Two blasts from the horn for the wildling attack south of the wall
    - Hobb and his cleaver! More Hobb please!
    - Dolorous Edd taking charge!
    - Grenn & co saying the NW words….powerful, emotional
    - NM cameo
    - Jon “It’s a bad plan, but what’s your plan?”

    Cons
    - Title sequence should have just zoomed to Castle Black and lingered in the surrounding area
    - Chekhov, ya little shit
    - Ghost disrespect
    - Too damn short! What shall the morning bring????
    - Jon walking into the light? Hmmmmm….a little heavy-handed foreshadowing?
    - Would have loved to see a bit more Grenn vs the Giant
    - Mance?

    Give me more, dammit! Yes, it is easy to compare/contrast, but this is so fun….

    Elio’s wasn’t a terrible review, either. Great reviews overall…. (awkward happy dance!) :)

  4. Bard
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    So apparently not everyone likes big battle episodes, but most of the reviewers were pleased.

    I agree though – “Blackwater” is still the best action episode, because it has more interesting characters.

  5. Maxwell James
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Marvelous episode. As with last week, I’m not taking the more dour reviews seriously – the reputation of this one will grow with time.

    I’m amused by the grousing of some readers who mostly seem to be annoyed that Stannis didn’t show up. Patience!

    I’m also amused by the assumption, by several of the Unsullied reviewers, that this was the big climax for season 4 and events such as Tyrion’s sentencing and the war with the wildlings will be postponed until the start of next year. Bwahahaha.

  6. Clob
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I think my cons would include the deaths of both Grenn and Pyp.

  7. Rahne
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes I really think I’m watching a different show then others…
    “hollow, cold, empty, not emotionally rich” ??

    I’ve been on the edge of my seat for the whole 51 minutes. I cried when Sam kissed Gilly, I was like ‘Noooooooooooooooooooo, not Pyp!’ when Pyp died. I cheered when Thorne gave his speech, even though he’s a total b@st@rd, but at that moment I was like ‘yeah! Go kick some wildlings @ss!’. I felt so sad when Ygritte died, they shouldn’t have left the cage :( That scythe on the wall was so awesome! Just WOW. And I wanted to strangle Slynt, the coward!

    The only thing I didn’t ‘like’ was the ending, it did feel “unfulfilling”… but that’s because I wanted MORE! The 51 minutes was just not enough for me ^-^

  8. fezgod
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    For me, this episode was one of my favorites of the entire series but I can see how some viewers and Unsullied were underwhelmed by this episode due to the lack of build-up. It’s a shame that the Wall plotline has been so neglected since season 2. Plenty of shit (like the Grey Worm/Missandei stuff) could have been cut and replaced with scenes of the Night’s Watch preparing defenses or whatever.

    Also, I’ll be perfectly honest, Grenn and Pyp’s deaths hit me more than Oberyn. Granted, I did read the books so it was hard to be impacted by a death that I knew was coming.

  9. Richard
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    The scythe is also a pretty effective weapon against any foe gathered at the foot of the wall. There will be a large mass of ice falling down after that. Just change the chain length and repeat and you can dump a bunch of ice on wave after wave of those silly enough to gather at the foot of the wall.

  10. The Watcher
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Having read a bunch of these, I found that people’s reaction to the episode was related to how much they cared about the Wall characters in the first place. If they were not thrilled with Jon and friends, they didn’t love the episode. If they did, they were more pleased with the episode. Most seemed to admire the spectacle and effects.

    I think Pyp and Grenn frankly needed to die. It wouldn’t have felt real if the whole battle happened but none of the named Night Watch died. In the books, we knew a few more characters liked Donal Noye, but they weren’t in the show.

    Oh, and I’ve said it before (and it looks like Bex agrees with me), but if you’re not reading Laura Stone’s recap, read it now. it’s awesome.

  11. Val
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Some of these reviewers are truly idiotic. ‘It’s trying to be Blackwater’ like ARE YOU EFFING SERIOUS? No it’s not trying to be anything it is its own thing and IMO it was better than Blackwater. There i said it. Also a lot of these people don’t seem to understand the IMPORTANCE of this story line. ‘The episode feels empty… the characters are not as important or compelling as King’s Landing ones’ wow really? Actually Jon and the wall are a way more important storyline in the big scheme of things than King’s Landing. They are the ones dealing with the actual threats like WW and wildlings about to invade Westeros. Some viewers are so moronic just because the drama and bitchiness happens mostly in KL suddenly the other story lines are not as interesting. Piss off..

  12. jentario
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Good episode, but season 4′s episode 9 will be the finale. We all know it :)

  13. A Man Grown
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Nice move on saying GO READ THE WHOLE THING! for Laura Stone. She and Greenwald are the two best recappers I think.

  14. Boojam
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    An especially informed and insightful care analysis is given by Myles McNutt at Cultural Learnings:

    [url]http://cultural-learnings.com/category/Game-of-Thrones/[/url]

    He gives a great one each week.

  15. Clob
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    A Man Grown:
    Nice move on saying GO READ THE WHOLE THING! for Laura Stone. She and Greenwald are the two best recappers I think.

    I wouldn’t disagree. :)
    Greenwald is a regular call-in guest on my choice of daily morning radio show and GoT comes up almost every time (he and one of the hosts are huge fans). He’s a really good read on Grantland for other shows as well – gets pretty deep with analysis.

    Laura is awesome fun to read. I already blew smoke her way early this season so I’ll leave it at that. :D

  16. Boojam
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Elio Garcia’s and Myles McNutt are the best.

  17. Maelina
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Val,

    Absolutely agree with you. It’s seriously frustrating to read some of these reviews.

  18. Greatjon of Slumber
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Hodor’s Bastard,

    NICE LIST!!! Going to throw out a few more of my own, and some that will serve as comments on yours:

    PROS:
    –Jon Snow, Jon Snow, Jon Snow. Kit Harington carrying the episode.
    –Using Littlefinger’s jet pack to convey the Blackwater chain (previously unused) to the Wall
    –Sam to Pyp, after Pyp says he hit one: “Oh. Is it over, then?”
    –Characters I care about. People say they don’t care but some of an action film is making you care about people through modest conversations. This does it better because most action films just don’t carry this kind of weight going in. Is it as monumental as worrying about Tyrion/Bronn/Cersei/Sansa/Hound/Davos? Ok, no, I’ll give you all that one. But how can you not care about Sam and Gilly, and Grenn, and Ser Alliser showing he’s boss, Ygritte, and of course Jon Snow?
    –Again props for Owen Teale and Ser Alliser. Some of sticking with a series for a long time is letting it SURPRISE YOU! And so having Alliser emerge as a stalwart, tough-guy hero in this thing really elevates the character. That’s what a good action film does.
    –Tormund relating his tall tale of fucking a bear. That’s the Tormund Giantsbane I love from the books!
    –The Styr taking a hammer to the head. No, seriously, fuck that guy.
    –OMG THAT’S A GODDAMNED GIANT ARROW BLASTING A GUY OVER THE WALL.
    –Grenn saying the vows. I always like when they say the vows – in Fire and Blood, when they first took them, when Qhorin Halfhand dies, and here.
    –The only one with any sense among the attackers? The mammoth, who knew just when to hightail it the hell out of there. “Dropping oil? I’m outta this one! Screw this!” (SPLAT)
    –Wildlings celebrating the arrows falling short only to see 3 of them taken out in turn
    –”Does hold mean loose? Does hold mean drop?? Do any of you want to die here? No? That’s very good to hear!”
    –Contra Hodor’s Bastard, only getting the outcome of the gate battle with the dead bodies. That was kept from the book, and masterfully done.
    –The awesomeness that is Maester Aemon
    –”They’ve got giants riding mammoths down there!”

    CONS:
    –Bad mistake, Jon Snow. The only animals allowed near Castle Black hereafter are: ravens, Ghost, horses, and livestock marked for stew. You see anything else, you kill it dead! You all missed that owl!
    –I buy the entire Snow/Styr fight except for head-smash-into-anvil bit. Uh, that woulda knocked his ass out dead.
    –Sorry, but sending guys up the wall is just damned stupid. Your chances of falling are like 90 percent, and after 700 feet of climbing, you’re not in any shape to fight off anyone, and you’re only really there as target practice, unless the ultimate goal is for your comrades down below to collect arrows for ammo (that you can’t use given they’d be pulverized on the fall). It’s not even a good distraction.
    –Similarly, firing arrows at little dots about 550 feet down on the wall is just a waste of ammunition.
    –Lord Janos, you jerkface.

  19. Ginevra
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Richard:
    The scythe is also a pretty effective weapon against any foe gathered at the foot of the wall. There will be a large mass of ice falling down after that. Just change the chain length and repeat and you can dump a bunch of ice on wave after wave of those silly enough to gather at the foot of the wall.

    Release the chain. Slaughter en masse. Repeat. What an excellent idea, Richard!

  20. WinterRy71
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s funny how some people think it’s stupid that the wildlings attacked with so few from the north while also wasting their assets from the south.

    It was just phase one of the attack… If the giants would have opened the gate then 100k wildlings would have charged.

    Should all 100k have attacked at once and simply stood at the base of the wall and simply get slaughtered with arrows and burning oil as the giants fail to open the gate? Yeah, that’s smart.

  21. caoimay
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Best episode of the season!

  22. AK
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I still don’t get all the people saying that this is not as good as Blackwater. This is MUCH better than Blackwater. I know that viewers weren’t as invested into the Castle Black storyline, but Blackwater was in no way as enjoyable or impressive as this episode.

    In all honesty, the fact that this made viewers care so much about characters we previously weren’t as invested in is a huge achievement

  23. Ginevra
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    The Watcher:
    Having read a bunch of these, I found that people’s reaction to the episode was related to how much they cared about the Wall characters in the first place. If they were not thrilled with Jon and friends, they didn’t love the episode. If they did, they were more pleased with the episode. Most seemed to admire the spectacle and effects.

    Yeah, I do think the lack of character attachment was a really big part of the Unsullied not feeling this episode, and perhaps there are even book readers not loving Jon Snow. But I also think how much viewers love pure action played a big role in whether viewers loved the episode as a whole.

  24. AK
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Val,

    This episode WAS better than Blackwater. Most of my friends agree. Don’t know what the reviewers were talking about

  25. Ginevra
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    WinterRy71:
    I think it’s funny how some people think it’s stupid that the wildlings attacked with so few from the north while also wasting their assets from the south.

    It was just phase one of the attack… If the giants would have opened the gate then 100k wildlings would have charged.

    Should all 100k have attacked at once and simply stood at the base of the wall and simply get slaughtered with arrows and burning oil as the giants fail to open the gate?Yeah, that’s smart.

    I would agree with you if they’d sealed the tunnels as Jon suggested. If so, they could have completely ignored the wildlings to the south. However, if just one wildling got through to the gates and opened the gates, then all would be lost, and thousands could come running through. They had steel-enforced gates to the north and nothing but Night’s Watch blocking from the south.

  26. izelaya
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m in the group that thinks “Blackwater,” was better, mainly because I was more invested in those characters. However, I enjoyed this episode as well and thought the shot of the Wildling army stepping out of the forest was spectacular. Full TVgasmic recap is posted here! http://tvgasmic.com/2014/06/09/game-of-thrones-season-4-episode-9-recap-blackwater-2-0/

  27. Jon Lame
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Looking back at “Blackwater,” think of how readily that episode wedded spectacle to character payoffs for so many of the show’s best developed characters. Tyrion got one, of course, but there were also big moments for Sansa and Cersei and the Hound and Joffrey and Davos and Stannis and… You can hopefully see my point with that list. Even if not everybody got a major moment in their character arc, that episode intentionally gave everyone a touchstone moment or scene. “Watchers” struggles with the fact that the only two characters on the Night’s Watch anybody gives a damn about are Jon and Sam, and the former is probably the show’s least interesting major character, a stereotypical fantasy hero who’s somehow wound up in this series and stayed alive this long.

    This is a big moment in Jon’s arc. He loses Ygritte, and he essentially becomes the only person who can take command of the Night’s Watch in a moment when all hope seems lost. But not only does the show give this moment far too little weight; it also finds itself stretching the story out past this episode, so that this hour depicts only the first night of the Battle of Castle Black. Without spoiling how the other nights go or how the battle resolves itself, I can say that this is so ridiculously unimportant to not just the overall arc of this particular storyline but also the arc of the full battle itself that blowing it up to “Blackwater” proportions is just kind of pointless. The episode ends on a cliffhanger that only makes things seem more like we saw an episode entirely designed to show off how impressive the series’ budget is.

    http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/game-thrones-experts-watchers-wall-experts-205541

    In Todd VanDerWerff we trust

  28. Lex
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Hmm… posted my review, but it didn’t show up.

    Anyway, I basically said it’s a 5/5 for me… but probably slightly below Blackwater. I think it might due to less characters I really care about. But I love the storyline at the Wall.

    Highlights:
    -Maester Aemon’s speech about love
    -Sam being a man
    -Ser Alliser being badass (damn you GoT, you made me like him!)
    -Ygritte’s death (I got a little choked up. Really sad).
    -GIANTS AND MAMMOTHS, holy crap!

    Low lights:
    -I wish Pyp and Grenn didn’t die. I saw a spoiler about them, so I wasn’t surprised… but I think I’d have felt the same either way. Mildly disappointed. I will miss their friendship with Jon, going forward.

  29. gewa76
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get the obsession with ranking every episode. I don’t really care if it was better or worse than Blackwater. It was an entertaining episode, unrivaled in terms of scope and grandeur by anything else on TV.

  30. Lex
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Overall I’d say 5/5, but slightly below Blackwater (due to lack of main characters). I wasn’t disappointed, it delivered what I expected!

    I would like to give more detailed thoughts, but it keeps saying my comment is marked as spam, and it disappears.

  31. Ludo
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    A Man Grown,

    As you say. They are both great.

  32. Tar Kidho
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Maelina:
    Val,

    Absolutely agree with you. It’s seriously frustrating to read some of these reviews.

    It’s always more frustrating reading opinions that you don’t agree with, but that doesn’t mean that those opinions are of lesser worth than your own…

    Personally, I enjoy the dialogue and intruigues much more than the action scenes, so yes, for me S1 and S3′s ninth episode were better than S2 and S4′s ninth. Out of the two ‘battle episodes’, I enjoyed Blackwater more than WotW for several reasons:
    - it had more depth in it’s dramatic interludes (Lena Heady’s acting alone that episode blew away anything done by Kit and co)
    - I care much more for Tyrion than for Jon (I didn’t in the books btw)
    - in the final scenes it’s suddenly light again and they have started cleaning up the Castle, before anybody at all remembers to have a look at the situation in the tunnel (even not the main reason for going there for Jon and Sam)… well, that was incredibly bad writing. It totally ruined the feeling the episode left me with when the credits came on.
    Despite these points, I still found it an incredible piece of television, but despite the blockbuster action, I don’t even rank it as the best episode of this season. Why? Because of my personal preference for dialogue over action, and because of the unbelievable level of dialogue and acting we’ve had in other episodes. I can easily see though that if you prefer action over drama, this episode was the best yet (even more so than Blackwater in terms of fighting scenes). However, you should try to look past your frustration about differing opinions, because in real life dialogue is much more appropriate than action/violence ;-)

  33. Lyn
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic episode. I think critics that say they are underwhelmed say so because they think that this is the big episode of the season, like all the other nines. But they are going to be surprised with the next one. It will blow their minds.

  34. caliope
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    The Watchers Of The Wall was AWESOME!
    Jon and Sam, amazing!!
    Jon and Ygritte, AMAZING!!!
    Jon and Styr fight no words!
    Grenn, Pyp, Edd, Alliser Thorne, MY GOD!
    Goosebumps all the time…
    Oh, Jon and Tormund GREAT!
    Congrats to all, the amazing cast, director, crew..

  35. Maxwell James
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Jon Lame,

    Vanderwerff’s fine, but that review is exactly emblematic of what I was talking about – he says so himself in the spoilers section. He needs to reread the books: Stannis does not show up during the battle.

    The idea that everything needed to get resolved by the end of the episode is poor criticism. The show has always been a long-form act. He’ll get exactly what he wants in the next episode!

  36. Turncloak
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Maxwell James,

    I thought the episode would have been stronger if there was resolution in episode 9 instead of 10. The triumphant impact might get lost in all that is to come in episode 10. That’s a minor gripe though. I believe D&D are trying to end the wall story arc at a certain point and then have Stannis’s offer to Jon as Lord of Winterfell and then election as Lord Commander next season

  37. Maxwell James
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Tar Kidho: – in the final scenes it’s suddenly light again and they have started cleaning up the Castle, before anybody at all remembers to have a look at the situation in the tunnel (even not the main reason for going there for Jon and Sam)… well, that was incredibly bad writing. It totally ruined the feeling the episode left me with when the credits came on.

    I didn’t read it that way. Sam and Jon’s expressions made it clear that they already knew what had happened in the tunnel.

    And the viewers knew too. Had Grenn & co. not succeeded in their task, everyone in the Night’s Watch would be dead. Similarly, it was clear Grenn & co. had died, because otherwise they would have come back.

  38. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Tar Kidho: It’s always more frustrating reading opinions that you don’t agree with, but that doesn’t mean that those opinions are of lesser worth than your own…

    Personally, I enjoy the dialogue and intruigues much more than the action scenes, so yes, for me S1 and S3′s ninth episode were better than S2 and S4′s ninth. Out of the two ‘battle episodes’, I enjoyed Blackwater more than WotW for several reasons:
    - it had more depth in it’s dramatic interludes (Lena Heady’s acting alone that episode blew away anything done by Kit and co)
    - I care much more for Tyrion than for Jon (I didn’t in the books btw)
    - in the final scenes it’s suddenly light again and they have started cleaning up the Castle, before anybody at all remembers to have a look at the situation in the tunnel (even not the main reason for going there for Jon and Sam)… well, that was incredibly bad writing. It totally ruined the feeling the episode left me with when the credits came on.
    Despite these points, I still found it an incredible piece of television, but despite the blockbuster action, I don’t even rank it as the best episode of this season. Why? Because of my personal preference for dialogue over action, and because of the unbelievable level of dialogue and acting we’ve had in other episodes. I can easily see though that if you prefer action over drama, this episode was the best yet (even more so than Blackwater in terms of fighting scenes). However, you should try to look past your frustration about differing opinions, because in real life dialogue is much more appropriate than action/violence ;-)

    I’m sorry, but Heady’s acting in Blackwater was her worst ever, IMO. Very OTT. At the end of nearly every sentence she uttered, she recycled that stank-face, followed by that awful extension of the last syllable of every word. For example: “Drinkkkkkkkk……”

    A very exaggerated “I’m being a cynical b!!!ch right now” piece of acting, which I don’t believe was very true to the fact that they were all about to die. She was a little better on the throne with Tommen, and ALOT better this season. But I would say that Harrington’s acting in this episode was better than Heady’s in that. Cersei’s scenes were interminable and cartoonish in Blackwater. There was nothing like that in this episode. Melodrama does not always beat subtlety in acting. Harrington is not always great, but he can be subtle. IMO, of course!

    Though I do ultimately like Blackwater a bit better, the mere presence of woolly mammoths almost puts this one over the top! :-)

  39. Maxwell James
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Turncloak,

    Sure, it might get lost – but it might not! We haven’t seen E10 yet!

    That’s what I mean about book reviewers jumping the gun. From what I can tell, B&W are trying to remain as faithful to the books as possible, and that includes a gap between the battle, the assassination attempt, and Stannis’ arrival.

    I’ll add that making viewers feel the futility of the NW’s situation is part of the point as well, and having Stannis arrive too early would negate that (as well as further robbing Ygritte’s death of its power).

  40. Skipjack
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I always enjoy the reviewers in the recap roundup, does anyone have any others they enjoy? I like Sarah Hughes in the Guardian (book reader), and I like the comment section there, a different perspective. I’m always curious what Game of Thrones looks like to other countries. The roundup usually includes Natalie Bochenski for the Sydney Morning Herald, I like her unsullied take on things too.

  41. Khal-A-Bunga
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    The problem with weekly reviews is that it is quite clear this show is being made with its legacy in mind. That is to say, when someone can sit down with the entire series, and watch all seven or eight seasons at their own pace, it isn’t going to matter much that Jon & Ygritte haven’t seen each other since the end of season three – because that will very likely have just been a few days/weeks for those viewers.

    It’s the same for all serialized television, in my mind, but especially prevalent with plot-heavy shows like Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, and even The Wire (among many others, of course). I can’t even imagine how much complaining there would be about the latter show if it were airing today… ‘Nothing happened!’ ‘I don’t see the point in all of this filler!’ Etc.

  42. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Jon Lame:
    Looking back at “Blackwater,” think of how readily that episode wedded spectacle to character payoffs for so many of the show’s best developed characters. Tyrion got one, of course, but there were also big moments for Sansa and Cersei and the Hound and Joffrey and Davos and Stannis and… You can hopefully see my point with that list. Even if not everybody got a major moment in their character arc, that episode intentionally gave everyone a touchstone moment or scene. “Watchers” struggles with the fact that the only two characters on the Night’s Watch anybody gives a damn about are Jon and Sam, and the former is probably the show’s least interesting major character, a stereotypical fantasy hero who’s somehow wound up in this series and stayed alive this long.

    This is a big moment in Jon’s arc. He loses Ygritte, and he essentially becomes the only person who can take command of the Night’s Watch in a moment when all hope seems lost. But not only does the show give this moment far too little weight; it also finds itself stretching the story out past this episode, so that this hour depicts only the first night of the Battle of Castle Black. Without spoiling how the other nights go or how the battle resolves itself, I can say that this is so ridiculously unimportant to not just the overall arc of this particular storyline but also the arc of the full battle itself that blowing it up to “Blackwater” proportions is just kind of pointless. The episode ends on a cliffhanger that only makes things seem more like we saw an episode entirely designed to show off how impressive the series’ budget is.

    http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/game-thrones-experts-watchers-wall-experts-205541

    In Todd VanDerWerff we trust

    There’s a reason “the hero myth” has persisted in mythologies and cultures across thousands of years, and that’s because they represent an admirable type that many of us would like to aspire to. IMO, that’s a breath of fresh air in an otherwise cynical Westeros. I like Jon Snow, though I would have chosen a more dynamic actor. After all, Sean Bean could have been described as a “stereotypically noble hero” type, but Sean Bean’s brilliance as an actor made us really, really like him.

    In general, I am a little worried about the fact that so many of the main characters that are left after S4 are so YOUNG. I have a lot more difficulty liking younger actors, though Sophie and Maise are great.

  43. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Khal-A-Bunga,

    And, of course, each episode is preceded by a “previously on” which I’ve found very quickly and effectively refreshes the memory of most viewers.

  44. Troublesome Birdsong
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    So a lot of people have expressed that “The Watchers on the Wall” felt a bit underwhelming in terms of it being really amazingly shot, but still a Pyrrhic battle with somewhat anti-climactic or empty ending. Not to mention, it’s harder for some to care about the Wall storyline compared to King’s Landing, and comparisons between this battle and ‘Blackwater’ are inevitable (even though they are quite different), if only because they both have one location and took up the coveted episode 9 position.

    Obviously it has already happened now, but just to speculate, how might this episode have resonated better with viewers if it had been reordered as episode 7.

    Let me elaborate:
    Since Jon’s win at Craster’s Keep at the end of episode 5 “First of His Name”, there have been three scenes relating to the Wall.

    1. The brothers arrive back at the Wall. Jon suggests they block the tunnel.
    2. The Wildlings attack Mole’s Town
    3. Jon, Sam and co. fret over Mole’s Town, Gilly and the Wall’s vulnerability.

    What if these three scenes appeared in episode 6 “The Laws of Gods and Men”? (perhaps by shifting the Dreadfort raid to a later episode).
    Then, given it’s isolation from the other storylines “The Watchers on the Wall” could have been episode 7.

    The benefits of this:
    A lot of people have pointed out that Ygritte’s death was not as poignant as it should have been, and I suggest this is because over this season we’ve only seen her briefly three times (before the battle) and she barely said anything, just killed a bunch of innocent people. Jon and Ygritte’s relationship and all the development from season 3, is basically gone and forgotten from lack of exposure. She’s just another angry wildling now, so when she dies, it’s not heartbreaking, it’s just sad, but inevitable. Some people have said they’re glad she died, which is a testament to how much the act of stretching the ‘wildlings in the south’ storyline out just so the battle could be in episode 9, has hurt the characters. Moving the battle forward would have lessened this.

    The feeling that the battle was left ‘unfinished’ would not have mattered as much if it was in episode 7. And the events that come next north of the Wall, which a lot of people expected to see at the end of this episode, would then have ample time to be explored properly (perhaps over episodes 9 and 10) and not need to be squished into the already fit-to-bursting finale.

    The one week hiatus was after episode 7, so if that was “The Watchers on the Wall”, then the first episode back would be “Mockingbird” (as episode 8) where Oberyn steps forward as Tyrion’s champion. Then people wouldn’t have had to wait two weeks for the Oberyn/Mountain fight.

    “The Mountain and the Viper” would of course, then, have also been episode 9, which would have been relatively fitting for an episode 9 shock twist. Not being the episode 9 event would also mean the battle no longer had to shoulder the unspoken burden of being the season ‘climax’ that “Blackwater” was; a role it can’t and shouldn’t fulfill.

    Some viewers were extra annoyed to have episode 9 solely at the Wall, because it meant they had to wait two weeks again, to find out what happens with Tyrion’s execution. This reordering would also avoid that and keep King’s Landing at the centre for the final three episodes.

    Now obviously moving the super-expensive, isolated battle out of the episode 9 position may have broken the ascetic a bit. But really, so did killing Joffrey in episode 2, so I don’t think it would have mattered much. It may have even seemed ground-breaking, keeping viewers on their toes and reinvigorated the show mid-season in preparation for the final three episodes.

    Again, this isn’t something that can be fixed now, so it’s strange to pitch this, but I still like to speculate. I’m not saying they even needed to change anything about the episode “The Watchers on the Wall”; just situate it two episodes earlier in the season and shift a few minor Wall scenes accordingly.

    Thoughts?

  45. strokememarge
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    fezgod,

    That was a good point, the build up was neglected through most of the season, and thereby casual viewers were not invested. The fault of this can be placed directly at Dan and Dave, they had 4-6 minutes each week to add a scene or two of build-up which concentrated on Jon’s story, you would think intelligent show runners, which they are, would have realized this last year and thereby added this tension into the season four scripts. Hopefully HBO execs will read some of the constructive negative remarks by both critics and viewers and place more pressure on D&D not to make this mistake in future seasons.

  46. Greatjon of Slumber
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Maxwell James: I didn’t read it that way. Sam and Jon’s expressions made it clear that they already knew what had happened in the tunnel.

    And the viewers knew too. Had Grenn & co. not succeeded in their task, everyone in the Night’s Watch would be dead. Similarly, it was clear Grenn & co. had died, because otherwise they would have come back.

    This.

    ArgonathofBraavos: I’m sorry, but Heady’s acting in Blackwater was her worst ever, IMO. Very OTT. At the end of nearly every sentence she uttered, she recycled that stank-face, followed by that awful extension of the last syllable of every word. For example: “Drinkkkkkkkk……”

    Wow. I so don’t agree. To me Headey nails that episode, and she’s enunciating her words because she’s slowly getting wasted. Drunk Cersei is always a highlight for me, and that episode cements it.

  47. Mimsy
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Yammering all night long wouldn’t have worked at the Castle Black battle. It worked for Blackwater, because the battle was pretty much a naval assault. These critics are trying to compare apples to oranges.

    Castle Black.. man.. that was something else. I didn’t feel cheated on action at all or small talk. Nobody I was watching with was disappointed. They were completely engrossed in the battle.. they cared about the characters and they ooohh’d and awwww’d the same way they did when they saw the Blackwater explosion.

  48. Hodor's Bastard
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Greatjon of Slumber,

    Love your animal anecdote. Talk about a crazy Big Brother/NSA spying scenario to the extreme!

    Jon has such a thick head, even a metal anvil can’t stop him!

    But doesn’t Janos play a great jerkface?

    :)

  49. Tar Kidho
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Maxwell James: I didn’t read it that way. Sam and Jon’s expressions made it clear that they already knew what had happened in the tunnel.

    And the viewers knew too. Had Grenn & co. not succeeded in their task, everyone in the Night’s Watch would be dead. Similarly, it was clear Grenn & co. had died, because otherwise they would have come back.

    “They held the Gate. Get some Brothers down here to help you. We need to burn the bodies.” To me that sounded like Jon and Sam were the first to arrive at the scene, which at the time made no sense to me since the first thing the surviving Crows would have done was checking the outcome there (the Gate is rather important…). But ok, I could accept that someone went looking before and informed them that the defenders and the Giant were all dead and the Gate intact. In that case I call it ‘unclear’ rather than “incredibly bad” writing.

    ArgonathofBraavos,

    You know nothing, ArgonathofBraavos, and it’s so frustrating when people don’t agree with me!! Seriously now, our very different opinions show that there is no single truth, and this is something we should all keep in mind when visiting boards like these, or reading recaps. That said, obviously you’re wrong :-)

  50. Tatters
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos,

    Jon isnt very stereotypical, he really faces moral dilemmas and make choices. He is more like a grim antihero. Though he grows more colder over time he still is to hotheaded to be a real hero. Hopefully he dont turn into a tragic hero, like Stannis.

  51. Tatters
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    strokememarge,

    Its not like this whole season hasnt been building to this, and the two before. Its just the weekly wait I guess.

  52. Josla
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Hodor’s Bastard,

    Like I said in the recap thread, Best. Episode. Ever. Only dragged out part imo was Sam and Jon’s conversation at the start, everything else was superb. From Sam being a hero (by the way isn’t it something that I find his storyline much more interesting than Jon’s?), Jon becoming a leader, Ser Alyser being a badass, Tormund showing them who’s the man, Grenn sacfificing himself not before showing his smarts and a sense of leadership that also Edd seems to possess. Even the sad deads of Jon’s very first friends and the woman he loved didn’t stop this hour of television to be truly fantastic. On the same level as any great achieved feautured film if you ask me. Heck, eveb the Nytimes gave it a positive reciew for a change!

  53. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Troublesome Birdsong,

    Well, we can test it right now. Simply watch “Watchers on the Wall” after episode 6, then proceed in order, and see how it works!

  54. Hodor's Bastard
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Josla,

    An hour of television? I wish!!! :)

    Sex Ed 101…Castle Black style!

    Sam: So…what’s it like?
    Jon: What?
    Sam: Being with a woman…nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
    Jon: It’s different…sort of like two different things about a person. Haven’t you been with Gilly?
    Sam: What? No…she just had a baby…and she hasn’t asked. Plus we have vows.
    Jon: Fuck your vows and get on with it.
    Sam: Shall I stick her with the pointy end? My fat pink mast?
    Jon: Ay! But first, kiss her fire!
    Sam: Her what? Her red hair?
    Jon: No, her myrish swamp
    Sam: What? You mean my mouth down there? But there be dragons!
    Jon: Ay! And she will be yours. Then, at some point you’ll know when to release the kraken!
    Sam: Oh? I’ll know?
    Jon: Yes, my anxious friend, you will. Come back later and we’ll speak of the sacred act known as “The Fist of the First Men”

    …since you liked that scene so much! :)

  55. Troublesome Birdsong
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos,

    Yeah, except for those three scenes I mentioned.

  56. Tar Kidho
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Troublesome Birdsong,

    Now there’s a project for the low between seasons: trying to improve the show by cutting/pasting the scenes in one’s preferred order. This should keep us all busy, especially if WiC.net made a competition out of it.

  57. iridium
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Jon Lame,

    Ugh. Look, you don’t speak for me; I certainly don’t “trust” in this Todd guy. His review is entirely coloured by the fact that he simply doesn’t like the Wall characters, and Jon specifically – a view you presumably share, based on your user name. So, forgive me if I say his opinion means f all in the scheme of things. If you’re going to cherry pick reviews and cling to them like they’re the word of law, then I can do the same. I choose Laura Stone, Andy Greenwalt, Sean T Collins, Brian Jeurgens, Charlie James Andrews, Myles McNutt, James Hibbert…you get it, right? Oh, and while we’re at it, two other reviews/recaps not listed above:

    The Independent UK
    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/game-of-thrones-season-4-episode-9-review-jon-snow-shows-his-mettle-in-an-epic-battle-worthy-of-a-blockbuster-9514010.html

    The Sydney Morning Herald
    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/game-of-thrones-s4-e9-recap-jon-snow-stands-tall-in-an-epic-battle-on-the-wall-20140610-zs2bc.html

    (Natalie’s smh recaps are adorably filled with awe and humour. And lol at her being corrected multiple times in the comments for her mistake re knot/nock!)

  58. Space Cadet
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    NERDS!!!

  59. jentario
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Hodor’s Bastard,

    You are awesome

  60. Space Cadet
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Hodor’s Bastard,

    didn’t get the punchline or it wasn’t funny at all. maybe you should take more classes on how to write a proper joke.

  61. Sister Wrister
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Greatjon of Slumber,

    Hodor’s Bastard,

    Very good lists here fellas. I just want to add… I loved the shot from ygrittes perspective as she’s scanning and firing arrows from a crouch… Her breath!
    Also, her final line was indeed very moving, where it could have been cheesy.
    Grenn’s leadership was really fantastic. Had me fired up. I love how this show has played the long game and had characters like him (and Sam/Gilly/Sansa, etc etc……) really evolve over the seasons. It shows a dedication that is really gonna pay off into the later seasons…
    Cons: I’m pretty easy. I fall Into this world quickly and without hesitation, most of the time. But the lack of any planning in favor of talking smack by the wildling company south, and their unbelievable camp location/lack of scouting until JUST before the attack…. Kinda pulls me outta the moment. Sigh. That’s cool. It was a good episode, and about what I expected….

    And now for an EP 10 to look forward to!!!

  62. Sister Wrister
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Hodor’s Bastard,

    Hahahaha hahahah!

  63. Chris
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Any other book readers think there is too much ground to cover for Lady Stoneheart to show up, as many have assumed to be the very final scene in the finale? Particularly, I recall that there is still some ground for Brienne and Pod to cover before that happens.

  64. strokememarge
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    The one worry I have about the LS reveal is the show hasn’t built momentum towards it, though they have been at times talking about how the gods punish those for violating certain principles. If LS is this week, the show could have a scene early where the small council receives a plea from Lord Frey that another couple of his family members have gone missing including a son and daughter-in-law and he has lost scores of troops to attacks and hangings by unknown assailants. Someone on the counsel could say that BwB have reportedly been operating in the area, and Tywin could order troops to the area to assist Frey’s.

  65. Sunfyre
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Hodor’s Bastard,

    Hahaha, kudos on this post.

  66. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    strokememarge,

    Maybe there hasn’t been any buildup because she won’t be included? I’m at the point where I am not expecting her. If she’s in, great, but I’m not going to let the episode be ruined if she’s not.

  67. Sunfyre
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    strokememarge,

    That’s a great idea for a scene. It would have fit perfectly in one of the small council meetings. But much earlier in the season. Like episode 5 or 6 at the latest. Unfortunately now it might be a little late. You never know though…

    I was expecting Brienne and Pod to run into someone talking about the Brotherhood and the hangings of Freys at some point. But it never happened. I’m going into the episode assuming LS won’t appear. Then if she does I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  68. Chriss
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos: I’m sorry, but Heady’s acting in Blackwater was her worst ever, IMO. Very OTT. At the end of nearly every sentence she uttered, she recycled that stank-face, followed by that awful extension of the last syllable of every word. For example: “Drinkkkkkkkk……”

    A very exaggerated “I’m being a cynical b!!!ch right now” piece of acting, which I don’t believe was very true to the fact that they were all about to die. She was a little better on the throne with Tommen, and ALOT better this season. But I would say that Harrington’s acting in this episode was better than Heady’s in that. Cersei’s scenes were interminable and cartoonish in Blackwater. There was nothing like that in this episode. Melodrama does not always beat subtlety in acting. Harrington is not always great, but he can be subtle. IMO, of course!

    Though I do ultimately like Blackwater a bit better, the mere presence of woolly mammoths almost puts this one over the top! :-)

    Er, pretty much everything you said there is exactly how a drunk Cersei would be.

    My problem with Cersei in that episode was actually the writing – and it’s a tiny problem, I loved her and the episode. I would have had her trying to get Sansa drunk, to have her have an outburst, that would have really built tension for their little storyline. A missed opportunity, I always thought. But that’s nothing. Her acting was great, and entirely suited to her drunk.

  69. Maelina
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Tar Kidho,

    Um, did I say other people’s opinions are not as valuable as mine? That’s right, I didn’t. I just don’t agree with some of them.

  70. Clob
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Chris,

    I don’t see any reason why they should cut LS. She appeared in the epilogue of ASoS and then not again until nearly the end of AFfC, and that’s it. It would be basically a cameo appearance for the actress, or just use someone else. Either way, even as a minor role it’s huge for the story, the show, the fantasy element and for the unsullied that wouldn’t expect it. It just seems like too much of a shocker for D&D to eliminate.

    I imagine a lot of people think the best time is in the finale, but it is something that could be worked in easily early next season.

  71. Ginevra
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Maxwell James:
    Jon Lame,

    Vanderwerff’s fine, but that review is exactly emblematic of what I was talking about – he says so himself in the spoilers section. He needs to reread the books: Stannis does not show up during the battle.

    The idea that everything needed to get resolved by the end of the episode is poor criticism. The show has always been a long-form act. He’ll get exactly what he wants in the next episode!

    From right after the attack on Mole’s Town until we get to “Stannis! Stannis! STANNIS!” covers exactly four chapters of eighty from a Storm of Swords, which converts to one in twenty. We have twenty episodes that cover Storm of Swords plus dipping into Feast of Crows and perhaps even Dance with Dragons, and one entire episode of these twenty was dedicated completely to the Wall after the Mole’s Town attack. So it was really not asking too much to expect the story to move just as quickly as it does in every other episode to reach “Stannis! Stannis! STANNIS!”, the perfect climax and stopping place for an episode.

  72. Valaquen
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Chris:
    Any other book readers think there is too much ground to cover for Lady Stoneheart to show up, as many have assumed to be the very final scene in the finale? Particularly, I recall that there is still some ground for Brienne and Pod to cover before that happens.

    The epilogue in ASOS doesn’t have Brienne and Pod. There’s no reason for the show to throw Brienne in there or even to cut the epilogue out in favour of the AFFC scene which everyone seems to be expecting.

  73. Ginevra
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Space Cadet:
    Hodor’s Bastard,

    didn’t get the punchline or it wasn’t funny at all. maybe you should take more classes on how to write a proper joke.

    Ooo! Do they offer a punchline course at the same place you took the space cadet class? If so, sign me up!

  74. Stella
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Hodor’s Bastard,

    That was hilarious. I would only note that the last line leaves a bit to be desired (!) and suggest that Jon explain The Venus Butterfly instead.

    Go look it up. Ha ha. Television is great. And being as old as I am, I SAW that episode of “LA Law” way back when…

    ;-)

  75. Daniellica
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I was reading the comments on the EW recap (cuz they are always so entertaining), and someone wrote, “Stannis doesn’t show up til day 3 if I remember correctly,” and then someone is like, hey dude, edit that spoiler! and then the first dude is like, it’s not a spoiler; EVERYONE KNOWS STANNIS IS GOING TO SAVE THE DAY. Ahhhh, seven save them. Cracks me up.

  76. strokememarge
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Clob,

    I imagine a lot of people think the best time is in the finale, but it is something that could be worked in easily early next season.

    Because it losses its impact, that is why, it is the type of reveal that will have the internet buzzing for months. Why sacrifice the perfect cliffhanger for a season, like the dragon birth and WW army in one and two, would make no sense from a marketing stand point. The season three ending was a prime example on what not to do, it was forgetful, while one and two cliffhangers kept the show’s media exposure in the stratosphere throughout the summer.

  77. TOIVA
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Ok, did I miss something?

    Why are so many reviewers talking about mammothS? There was only ONE, right? Which kinda annoyed me. I’d love to see more mammoths and more giants (not to mention having another few present would win the battle for the Wildlings).

    I’m glad I’m not the only one (Alan Sepinwaal, Andy Greenwald, Laura Stone) seeing or at least understanding the episode may have had much less impact on many viewers. It was great technically, but lacked the emotional thrill of many other episodes for me.

  78. John M W
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Looking at the Rotten Tomatoes score for this episode just makes me shake my head. It’s probably ending up as the lowest rated episode of the season (90), while Episode 5 (which was probably the slowest and most uneventful episode this year) gets a perfect 100.

    Other lower rated episodes include Oathkeeper and The Laws of Gods and Men (seriously?), which were definitely my other two favorites of the season.

    Sometimes I just really don’t get critics.

  79. Doug
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    To much time is spent worrying about what critics say to be honest. Who cares? Look at the ratings. It’s the most popular show in HBO history. Just because some dopey reviewer tries to be a pseudo intellectual and nit picks things doesn’t mean that has any effect at all on viewers and/or their opinions.

  80. Zack
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Laura Stone – Hey, Don’t Judge Me
    GO READ THE WHOLE THING!

    Bex, <3

    I love that this is the review where a snippet wasn't posted. Just a 'You must read'

    :D

  81. TOIVA
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    John M W,

    ‘Lowest rated’ among GoT episodes still ends up being one hell of an episode.

    I think many don’t realise that little detail. And some people just enjoy different parts of GoT than others.

  82. John M W
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    TOIVA,

    Very true. I’m not quite sure what got into me with that post. A 90% is still a great score – and besides, I normally don’t get so hung up on what the critics say about films/tv shows.

  83. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Chriss,

    I just found Heady’s acting before this season a touch melodramatic – and especially so in “Blackwater.” She’s been pretty great this season, though, especially after Joffrey’s death. She mourns well!

  84. Zeus
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    A lot of people complain about really entertaining episodes of tv. A lot of cubits

  85. Zeus
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Zeus,

    Sorry the ad got in my way and iOS autocorrect destroyed my message. That episode was great. Game of thrones is so good because it offers so many different perspectives. The whiners who hates this episode are in the words of Sandor Clegane cunts

  86. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    A short scene of Maester Aemon, alone in his quarters, with the thundering sounds of battle outside, would have improved this episode significantly, IMO.

  87. chriss
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Surely I can’t be the only person who finds these Stannis fans to be getting a bit unbearable.

  88. Hodor's Bastard
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Stella,

    All apologies for the obnoxious adhoc Jon v Sam debate. It was meant to escalate from innocence to uggh as so many things about GoT tend to do. The dialogue actually is derived from a snippet of online conversation I had many months back with some ex-friends at fleabottom.

    I remember that LaLaw episode well. :)

  89. ash
    Posted June 10, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    A Man Grown:
    Nice move on saying GO READ THE WHOLE THING! for Laura Stone. She and Greenwald are the two best recappers I think.

    I had never read her before, and now I will make sure to read all of her reviews. And that cartoon at the beginning had me in stitches! Thanks for introducing her work to me!

  90. Morna the Witch
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Some of these reviewers seriously need to go and read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. Jon Snow’s masculine subtleties (intended by Kit) are clearly lost on many of them.

  91. Wodja
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    Maxwell James,

    It’s fun isn’t it? (*evil laugh*)

  92. Wodja
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    ash,

    She is awesome fun to read! And she always replies to all the posters which shows how much she cares. Plus! She plays Skyrim!

  93. Wodja
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    chriss,

    Say it!
    We need less Stannis fans!!!
    Err…
    Fewer… we need fewer Stannis fans…

  94. Frank Herbert
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Most of this “TOP” reviewers are Cogman’s twitter buddys!

    Are good and serious journalist not neutral???

    Collins and Hibberd are the worst.

    Pravda journalism

  95. Whispering Walda
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    John M W, those critics are going to be slapping their foreheads soon enough.

    This is genius writing – the thing is, the things that alert the viewer that this battle is not just an attempt to replicate the spectacle of Blackwater for the fans, without the are buried in episodes from previous seasons. Later, when they binge-watch the series from beginning to end, they will understand what Stannis was gabbing on about in the last ep of season three, and it might dawn on them that maybe when the show runners chose to make us wait for that gate to open in the Opening Shot of the First Scene of the First Episode, they might have been foreshadowing something.

    They still think Kings Landing is where its at. And then there is next week. They think this was the massive wtf episode (partly because of Blackwater). They are going into the next ep mildly disappointed, thinking ‘Ho-hum, so, lets see what happens at Tyrion’s execution.’. When we read the books, we were not being hit by Mance, then Arya, then Stannis, then Bran, then Drogon, then Tyrion, then Brianne, no more than ten minutes apart. At the start of the season, I thought they would give each of these an episode of their own. What kind of wascally writers king-hit you like that, again and again and again!

    When they see it in context, they wont know how they didn’t see how epic this episode is!

    (Prediction: If Ep.10 is the highest rated ep ever, we won’t see the first part of Winds of Winter until after season 5.)

  96. Shock Me
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    This Wall episode would have been better as episode 2 or 3 of this season. Jon’s warnings and villager death in episode 1 and then two weeks later, boom the wall itself. Also seasons 2 and 3 were especially thin on Wall character development and content (especially the Half-hand) plus we hardly knew anyone at the wall and the ones in the episode weren’t even there at the wall because they put in Craster’s Keep instead of the Bridge of Skulls.

    Oh well, that’s the way it goes. I just sat back enjoyed the show.

  97. Andy Street
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    WinterRy71,

    I just have an image of them all standing there hacking at the Wall with their swords like Monty Python and the Holy Grail…


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