First, the honor must be given to the men of the Night’s Watch.
Mark Stanley and Josef Altin–we salute you! It’s weirdly appropriate they bowed in the same episode, as they’ve been attached since the beginning of the series. Even in the books, Grenn and Pyp were sort of a quick/strong Yin/Yang to challenge Jon Snow.
It’s well known that, in the books, both Grenn and Pyp are still alive and well. It is the opinion of many that they were killed unnecessarily; I contend that if neither are due to suffer worse deaths in future books, then this was the way to go. Pyp ended up being a very important part of Sam’s growth as a character, and Grenn ended his days in the boots of the books’ Donal Noye, valiantly giving his life in a way that Game of Thrones fans will likely never forget.
Up until then I had viewed Mark Stanley’s best scene as the rather comedic one where Grenn told Sam about the farm girl he used to “wrestle.” Grenn’s death scene was a notch above, however; the recitation of the Night’s Watch oath, sweeping the other ill-fated lads (and their actors, who also rose up seemingly infused with Stanley’s energy) into an immovable force brought tears to the eyes. Pyp’s passing was shocking and tragic; Grenn’s death was powerfully heroic.
When we first got to know Mark and Josef, they couldn’t have been more different. Mark got the role of Grenn practically straight out of drama school; Josef, though young, was already a seasoned pro, having played memorable parts in television shows like Misfits and films like Eastern Promises. (Spoiler: he dies horribly in both. Joe is the new generation’s Sean Bean.)
They will both go down in Game of Thrones lore–a vital, heartbreaking part of one of the best episodes in the show’s history.
As to Yuriy… well now this is a cat of a different coat!
I love to hate villains, and often find them more valuable than many of the heroes. If not for Styr’s ruthless quest for crow blood, if not for his menacing physicality and his sheer power, we would not have the hero Jon Snow rise to the heights he did.
Yuriy was fantastic, and I can’t wait to see him in future roles–and other endeavors behind the camera. (Yuriy is a producer as well!) In future auditions, I highly suggest he carry a boom-box with him, and have it play Ramin Djawadi’s “Thenns” theme. I don’t think I will ever be able to see his trademark glower and not hear that frighteningly excellent piece; he could well frighten people into giving him whatever role he wishes.
As for Mark, he has just completed a short in which he stars, Baby, and will have a very meaty part in Our Kind of Traitor, with Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, and Stellan Skarsgård.
Joe is, as usual, in a ton of things, including the critically well received comedy The Hooligan Factory (currently just released in the UK I believe), as well as having just finished shooting Child 44 with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Noomi Rapace. I will be in line the first night out to see that one.
Gentlemen… take your bows. You are now immortal and beloved!