Series Issues: Game of Thrones 5×8 – Hardhome

(Photo: Helen Sloane/HBO)

(Photo: Helen Sloane/HBO)

Spoilers will rise.

This week’s Game of Thrones 5×8: Hardhome was truly an amazing episode and actually uncovered a few truths. The game is afoot. In the House of Black and White in the Free City of Braavos, young Arya becomes Lana of the Canals, selling oysters and establishing a routine. This is quite an engrossing secret agent training program that the Faceless Men have going here. Soon she gets her first mission, with a tiny glass bottle. As easy as this is to guess, I’m sure there’s a few twists and bends along the way.

Winterfell is a strange place, but I’m glad to report Sansa is not quite broken. Theon/Reek finds her up, dressed up and ready to face him. He doesn’t get any sympathy for the supposed last of the Starks, but while throttled he does reveal one long lost detail: Sansa’s brothers, Bran and Rickon, are not dead. This little sliver of light is what Sansa needs to keep surviving. She is not the last. You will also remember from last week’s episode that she learned that Jon is Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Is Sansa forming a plan? Hope she is. Hope she has a plan B and plan C as well.

In King’s Landing, most precisely in Cersei’s cell, her jailer asks the strong willed and former Queen Mother to drink water for the price of her confession. She rejects it, mouthing insults and threats, only to get knocked down. Master of Whisperers and mad scientist Qyburn visits her, to let her know Grand Master Pycelle is in charge of the Small Council and has chosen to call upon Kevan Lannister (Tywin’s brother) to come back and become the Hand of the King. Of course, Pycelle is not a friend of Cersei’s and will not visit her. Tommen has opted to lock himself up in his room even refusing to eat. With nothing but bad news, Qyburn departs letting Cersei know that “the work continues”. Whether he means his work on Gregor Clegane is yet to be revealed.

Although the episode really opens here, I wanted to leave the first chat between Tyrion and Daenerys for almost last. The Queen of Meereen is not sure whether to execute Tyrion, and openly says so. Tyrion instead is not sure whether he’s here to serve the right Queen. This has to be Tyrion back on his feet as the sly and conniving diplomat and tactician we know him to be. However, it’s very obvious his life is in the balance. So he has to play his cards really carefully and gamble his life away. Is Daenerys just intrigued or is she recognizing Tyrion as an asset? I really hope it’s the latter. Again, this is the one move that is worth breaking the canon of the books for: allowing the alliance of the most powerful character with the smartest one. Dany’s first request is a rather cruel one. She wants to know what to do with Ser Jorah. Tyrion spares Jorah’s life invoking his devotion but he knows better than to forgive a betrayal. Can Tyrion help the Mother of Dragons to gain the Iron Throne? He does one even better. Should Daenerys really return to Westeros, or should she accept her life on this side of the Narrow Sea?

Finally, because we really need to tackle this one, Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane arrive at Hardhome using the ships from Stannis. They’re not welcome there, initially so it takes both Jon’s growing diplomatic skills and Tormund’s favor to finally sway, if not all, some wildlings to their cause. Not the Thenns though. As the Night’s Watch start ferrying people to the ships, something looms in the distance. And now for something completely different…

We Are The Walking Dead.

It’s an all out attack by the White Walkers and their army of undead wights. The Wildlings are dying left and right as the gate threatens to go at any moment. Jon and Tormund lead a few brave souls to hold the gate from the horde. Amongst them, the White Walkers are a different breed. The weapons of the undead are just any old sword or spear, but the White Walkers have ice blades that shatter steel. Not to mention they’re even more supernaturally strong. Jon gets the wind knocked out of him, losing his sword as he tries to reach for a piece of dragonglass to kill one of the fellows in charge. The White Walker is definitely unstoppable and as he raises his weapon to finish the young Lord Commander, a stunned Jon Snow manages to find Longclaw and rise it to meet the weapon of his supernatural foe. The ice blade comes down hard but is stopped by Longclaw, shocking even the White Walker himself.

Meet Valyrian steel, motherfucker.

Yes, apparently that steel is also anathema to White Walkers as Jon is able to finish off his enemy. The victory is short lived. From the cliff above, it’s raining undead men. Jon and Tormund manage to board one last boat as they look at the shore filled with bodies of both dead and undead. Then the Night’s King breaks out from the crowd, raising his hands. The dead wildlings’ eyes suddenly open up, bright blue and rise up. The undead army has grown to new numbers.

Highs/Lows:

  • Arya. Her progress is slow but steady. She’s learning the ways of the Force and there will soon come a time she’ll become the baddest Jedi/Ninja this side of the Narrow Sea.
  • Sansa, but carefully. Are we seeing her overcoming one more (still overdone IMHO) psychotic adversity? Still, Reek confessed to Bran and Rickon being alive. Small but huge. Small steps, Sansa.
  • King’s Landing is going to hell in a hand basket and I’m not quite sure if I feel good or bad about it. It is the ruling seat of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the Iron Throne. It’s also the source of corruption and betrayal.
  • Tyrion and Daenerys. I love that Tyrion finally brings up the biggest hurdle against the last Targaryen. Daenerys has grown powerful in Essos, but can that power really survive back in Westeros?
  • Jon Snow actually carrying a weapon that can hurt White Walkers. Longclaw, after all, was the sword of House Mormont and it’s made of Valyrian steel. Now you know something, Jon Snow. Unfortunately, the Night’s King can raise the dead.

That will do for now.

(Source: HBO)

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