The fourth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones (#GoT) is coming the end of its season with episode 9 taking us to the North Sunday night in an episode titled “The Watchers on the Wall.”
Warning: spoilers ahead.
After only a little attention this season (primarily only with time in episode 7-8), episode 9 took us exclusively to the wall in the North, and the wildlings attempt to finally conquer the Nights Watch and breach the wall once and for all.
Naturally our favorite Northerners returned: lots of Jon Snow, Sam Tarwell, and the ever pleasant Ygritte (formerly Jon Snow’s love interest)…pleasant as much as an attractive red head with murderous intent can be.
The episode begins as both the Nights Watch and the Wildlings prepare for battle. “Love is the death of duty,” Maester Aemon says to Sam before the battle, setting the scene for one of the better GoT battle focused episodes of all four series to-date.
After some pre-battle chats (including Ygritte asking that she be allowed to kill Jon Snow herself) horns are blown, and then we get into the serious battle.
On one side we see the 100,000 strong army of Mance Rayder, complete with Mammoths and Giants attacking from the North, with Ygritte’s grouping attacking from the South.
The first breach is from the South, with the (hundred strong??) grouping of Wildlings breaching the walls of Castle Black for some serious hand to hand conflict. Meanwhile from the North Mance’s many approach the wall, attempting to climb it, and with a few giants in hand attempt to breach the tunnel.
In Castle Black the men of the Knights Watch put up a good fight, and while initially losing, receive reinforcements from the top of the wall. Eventually this leads to a plot point where (after the second in charge is tricked into going down the lift to Castle Black) Jon Snow finally gets to be put in charge.
The fight continues, with Ygritte naturally being her coy self by shooting all and sundry while looking for her former lover.
Samwell, who at this point we forgot to mention has been reunited with the Gilly and son (who wasn’t killed last week,) decides to play lift lotto and heads up the wall to get Jon Snow to help down bellow.
Jon arrives and has a serious battle with a wildling, who he defeats…until he’s confronted by Ygritte.
Ygritte hesitates (clearly still in love with Jon) until she is shot by an arrow. Jon runs to her side (as you do in the middle of a massive battle) and assures her that everything will be ok (along with references to the cave in series 2.) In a fitting end she says “You know nothing Jon Snow.”
After fending off a giant in the tunnel, and a giant anchor taking out the climbers on the wall, the battle ends for the day, with Jon now in control and warning that it was just a test with more to come.
Jon then decides in his infinite wisdom that he should leave the wall to have a chat with Mance Rayder…as you do.
I’ve read the books, so I do know what happens next so I won’t spoil it. Suffice to say there are some interesting and “dramatic flairs” added in the TV series vs the books.
That said the execution of this episode makes it one of my favorite this series.
It may be relative to who your favorite characters are in the show: I’ve always enjoyed the wall storyline and its characters, hence I was fond of it. If political intrigue in Kings Landing is more your scene…you may well have been disappointed. At least the episode didn’t include Sansa Stark. Although less vapid than in recent series her storyline is still….well, you know. Arya and Sandor…well that’s a likeable substory.