*BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD*
As vast as George R.R Martin’s universe is (a feat he shares with Tolkien’s fascinating imagination), there is always the distinct possibility that often, people and facts slip through the consciousness of the viewer. It is therefore, a humanly impossible ask to remember each and every, big and small detail on the show, as well as in its 4000 page literature. And yet, for what may or may not have been intentional, the producers of Game of Thrones have pulled perhaps the greatest bluff in the show’s history, a fact best made clear in tonight’s episode, ‘Hardhome.’ And, what an exciting, exhilarating hour of television it was, as the fifth season finally found something it was sorely lacking despite its well-crafted drama: Momentum.
Yes! Finally, after weeks of physical and mental torture at the hands of the Bolton Butcher, Sansa Stark finally has a measure of happiness, or rather a ray of hope to bask in as Theon finally breaks to confess his innocence in the ‘murder’ of Bran and Rickon. I won’t lie. I was waiting for this moment to come and was frankly tired of the show teasing this moment for weeks. I knew it last week when Reek ratted Sansa to Ramsey because honestly, I could never see Reek shrugging off months of torture to help Sansa in a moment of weakness. But perhaps, the fact that this week came this late is reflective of how deep his pain runs (Kudos Alfie Allen). To those like me who would love nothing more than to see Theon and Sansa share a meal over the Bastard’s corpse I say, tough luck. Theon’s redemption and perhaps, Sansa’s revenge will wait, for now, until the end of Season 5 at least.
Speaking of the Bastard, it would seem that he’s up to something. With 20 men up his sleeve, who knows what surprise he’ll spring on Stannis’ rushing army. A confirmation of Ramsey’s letter to the Lord Commander, perhaps?
Oh, how hard and low the mighty have fallen! Cersei may still be the Dowager Queen but, her ragged existence in imprisonment is doing enough to chip away at her pride and arrogance. It’s a shame really, and pitiful to see the Queen of Madness being thrashed with ladles and forced to drink water off the floor. So much for gloating over Margery’s misery, eh Cersei? No High Sparrow this week although, Qyburn did pay a visit this week. ‘The work continues,’ he says ominously. And before long I’m sure, Frankenstein’s monster will be complete.
Random thought: Kevan Lannister is back as Hand of the King (I told you so. *Self high-five*). Now, who else are we missing? *Scented Talc and Perfumes*
I had feared that the Arya storyline was going to be stuck in a mundane, if consistently satisfactory loop of bad lighting within the walls of the House of Black and White. Which is why it is a pleasant surprise to see Maisie Williams finally getting some work to do outside the dreary walls of the Many-Faced God, as ‘Lana’ of the Canals. And although her work this week is limited to surveillance, I’d say she’s taking giant strides in her assassin training. Remember; stick ‘em with the pointy end. Watch out, Ser Meryn.
Dany and Tyrion meet – Check. Dany and Tyrion exchange notes on terrible dads – Check. Dany and Tyrion agree to work together – Hell Yeah!
I’m sure I am not the only fan-boy whooping at the prospect of these fan favorites joining hands. And if every meeting of theirs turns out to be as arresting and whoop-worthy as their conversations this week, I’d be willing to watch a box-DVD set full of them. Whether it was Tyrion gauging the realities of Westeros politics or Dany snatching the wine glass away from him, every line of dialogue was as priceless as it was biting. Surprisingly, I didn’t even miss Lady Olenna (who I think still has the best lines on the show. After Hodor, of course).
Poor Lord Friendzone though. Greyscale afflicted and now, banished again. And he’ll fight in the pits next week. Love makes men do strange and often, incoherent things. Which is why I think Ser Jorah doesn’t give a shit about spreading Greyscale through everything and everyone he touches.
Random thought: Daznak’s Pit features next week (Finally!). Get the barbeques ready, people. Although, and I may be wrong about this, the Pit may be the safest and surest place for Mormont to be at tight now. What with his affliction and all. *wink*
I had always presumed that a scene, let alone two with Dany and Tyrion, together, would always be the highlight of a Game of Thrones episode. That for me alone, would have been an episode worth remembering. Alas, I was proven wrong. In an episode which had the East-West storyline finally merge, Hardhome and the story beyond the Wall stole the thunder right from under Tyrion’s little feet.
And perhaps, that was the intention of its creators who rightfully gave a solid 20-25 minutes to the story beyond the wall. It was known that Jon had a real struggle on his hands the day he decided that negotiations with the wildings was the key to survival. And for a few tense moments as Jon discussed his proposal, I really expected something to give, something to unravel. It didn’t and other than the Thenns opting out, Wildlings were surprisingly submissive to tag along with Snow.
Little did I know or expect however as to what was to come. Maybe, just maybe in the back of my mind I did expect the Thenns perhaps, to take matters into their own hands. But, they didn’t. Instead, we got a horde of thousands of wights (Re-animated corpses, much like the Inferi in Harry Potter) laying siege to Hardhome at the behest of the Night Walkers (The ice dudes with bad haircuts).
And therein lies the greatest bluff of the series. The show, by naming itself ‘ Game of Thrones’ often involuntarily forces us to see Westeros through the prism of power, politics and money. By doing so however, intentional or not, the show has made us forget the name of the series it is adopted from namely, A Song of Ice and Fire. Ice and Fire. Whereas the books were often explicit in the series being essentially a showdown of sorts between fantastical elements like White Walkers and Dragons, the show has made us forget all about these ghosts in the cold, the same ghosts who were part of the first ever scene of the series. The fact that we the viewers were complacent in their existence (what with their inconsistent showing on-screen), is therefore, a precedent to our reactions this week as the exceptionally well-crafted episode gave way to some relentless action on-screen which would have certainly made George Miller proud. It seems Ned Stark wasn’t kidding when he said ‘Winter is Coming.’
I liked the fact of how crucial Jon’s Valyrian Steel sword has become in the larger scheme of things. Dragonsteel, as it is also known as (R+L = J?). And that OMG reaction from that White Walker – priceless. Brownie points to Kit Harington too, who skillfully went from being Al Gore to bad-ass Chuck Norris in the blink of an eye. It seems Jon Snow does know something after all.
That was all the action this week. No Stannis the Mannis Baratheon, his red witch or their finger-less Hand. No Jamie and Dorne too, which was good because a) I didn’t miss them, and b) Sadly enough, I am still not up to caring for them (Even though Jamie remains, until this day one of my favorite characters in ASOIAF).
‘Hardhome’ trumped ‘The Gift’ as the best episode this season, and was quite possibly one of the best in the entire series (Personally, my favorite remains ‘The Lion and the Rose’). It certainly had the best fight sequence, bettering the battle from ‘Blackwater’ way back in Season 2. Hell, it even had the Night’s King do an ‘Undertaker’ and raise the dead from nothing. And that stare down towards the end, chilling.
Look out for the episode next week. Things are about to get out of hand.
Until next week, Hodor!
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.