There are two ways you can look at, “Watchers on the Wall.” It was a great standalone episode that gave every Jon Snow fan a heaping plate of action and leadership, and showed off the army of Mance Rayder. It was also an episode that touched on nothing else in Westeros. I loved the episode, but I do think for the more casual viewer, it was a tiny miss-step to not show us any fallout on Oberyn Martell.
The penultimate episode of each season has been the, “can’t miss episode,” where most shows tend to leave everything for the finale. Last year at The Red Wedding, we got glimpses into the rest of the world, same as in season one when Ned was decapitated by a now dead king. This episode was much more like season two’s episode “Blackwater,” which had the same director, Neil Marshall.
Putting aside the fact we got no follow up with The Red Viper, or fan favorite Tyrion, and no Khaleesi, I thought it was a fantastic episode. Jon Snow fans haven’t gotten a great amount of time with him this year. His story is tied to the Wall, the Wildlings, and White Walkers, which we have rarely seen. We’ve been told for a few seasons now, a battle like this was coming, and it was finally time to pay off.
I don’t usually mention this, but the music was really well done last night. I love most of the music on Game of Thrones, but I’ve never been this compelled to bring it up. It worked so well, and I don’t want to compare, but it felt like I was watching a sweeping fantasy epic like Lord of the Rings. You could argue it was very similar to The Battle of Helm’s Deep, from The Two Towers.
There was one particular moment that really stood out, and because I was lost in the action, I’m not sure who was even involved. But there was one moment when the camera just panned around Castle Black, and people were slaughtering everyone in sight. Really great work from everyone involved.
Jon taking leadership on The Wall felt right, as did his triumphant return to the ground floor to help his brother’s. There was a nice Walking Dead moment when Jon slammed a hammer into someone’s skull. Ghost was let out to help, we only got to see one cool moment, but I’m sure he piled up the bodies.
It seems people either forgot, or didn’t care about Ygritte enough, but her story with Jon Snow came full circle. Unless you thought this was the end of the Wall, there was no other way it could have happened. I expected to see Ghost take her out, but that would have left her a bloody mess. It was interesting in a way, that Sam indirectly killed her. He told that kid to pick up a bow and fight, and he did, and he killed the red headed Wildling. Jon got his final moments with her, and we got one last, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” I’m not sure the writers were expecting this, but, “ugh, finally,” may not have been their intended reactions from most people.
Seeing that this episode was located in one place, there isn’t a lot more to talk about except some of the cool moments.
-Giants! Thrones has been slow to show us too much fantasy over these four years. I thought I remember reading between season one and two, the lack of magic and fantasy is what pulled so many people into the show. Giants certainly fit into the fantasy category, so hopefully they didn’t scare too many people off. They did have some cool scenes, and the two we saw, both ended up dead via The Night’s Watch.
– We lost a few good Brother’s we’ve met since season one. Pyp and Grenn both gave their lives for the Wall. Pyp died in Sam’s arms, from an arrow shot by Ygritte, and Grenn was later found holding the gate, and felling a Giant. They were a tough loss, not just because they were low on men, but they both had Jon’s back.
-Sam may not have shown quite the leadership Jon did, but he has certainly proved himself valuable. He was all over the place, helping out, and giving inspirational words of wisdom. Every leader of the Wall needs a steward to help out.
-We didn’t see Mance Rayder again, which was surprising to me. He is a pretty important character to have only seen him once or twice. It looks like we’ll meet again next week.
-How cool was that massive, swinging blade that took out the wall climbers? Very cool moment.
-Janos Slynt is coward, and Allister Thorne looks to have taken a fatal shot to the gut. These two men were thorns (no pun intended) in Jon’s side, maybe enough happened to keep them out of the way going forward.
Again, I loved this episode. It was basically four season’s worth of buildup, and then almost forty five minutes of pure action. Hopefully everyone will stick around, as next week looks interesting. We’ll finally go back to King’s landing, but Jon Snow is far from finished. He is on his way to Mance Rayder, with no wolf, and no weapons. How will he survive? Will he survive? If you haven’t read the books, next week will answer your questions.
Seriously, next week you should expect quite a bit to happen. I don’t picture this being a slow and toned down finale. I expect it to leave everyone wondering, “Now what?”
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