Oh my lord.
This is it: after five seasons, we finally get an all-out battle with the notorious White Walkers and it’s a sight to behold. Stunningly realized, the sequence utilizes impeccable CGI (to bring the wights and White Walkers to life) and top-notch fight choreography. It amazes me that GOT manages to look so cinematic with a budget that can’t even rival most Hollywood blockbusters; it’s a towering achievement. Amidst all the thrills, the war still manages to pack in a whole lot of story as Jon struggles to save as many Wildlings as he can, while discovering that his Valyrian blade – Longclaw – can also shatter a White Walker to pieces (much like Dragonglass). It’s edge-of-your-seat stuff, and it does not disappoint.
Thankfully, the rest of the hour is equally astounding. Dany and Tyrion’s scenes together are a series highlight, with both Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke giving it their all. Both character’s witty banter and goodheartedness shines through, and you end up with one heck of a delightful pairing where every piece of dialogue is perfect.
In King’s Landing, Cersei is treated like an absolute animal by the vicious Septa, forced to lick water off the ground (the most traumatic thing I’ve seen all week) while getting mercilessly slapped around. It’s shocking to see the once-great Cersei become so weak and abused, but it’s also been a long time coming.
Special mention must be made to the episode’s ending which is just perfect. Jon looks back at the terror on the island and we see a slow panning shot of the Night’s King approaching. He stares at Jon with his icy-blue eyes then raises his arms as the dead transform (including Karsi) and become wights. Pure silence as we close-up on Jon’s face and then that spectacular overhead shot of the entire landscape. There are no words, it’s pure art.
Bits & Beheadings
– Loved how Dany asks Tyrion what he would do with Ser Jorah. He wisely says she shouldn’t kill him, but that he also can’t stay in the city. It’s as heartbreaking as expected.
– At least Arya got some forward momentum: this episode sees her become an undercover oyster merchant as Jaqen orders her to target someone called “The Thin Man.” It’s not particularly exciting yet, but we’re getting there.
– Intriguing scene with Qyburn visiting Cersei in the dungeon. He tells her that she’s being charged with several things (including Robert’s murder), sneaky uncle Kevan is back as Hand of the King, and “the work continues.” By work he obviously means the Frankenstein experiments on The Mountain.
– Reek finally tells Sansa that he didn’t kill her brothers. So all this time she thought they were dead?
– Words can’t express how much I love Dany’s “I’m going to break the wheel” speech found below.
– Lord of Bones… what a name. Thankfully Tormund smashes him to bits quite quickly.
– Jon’s speech to the Wildling elders is quite inspiring, not the least of which because he hands them some Dragonglass to fight the Walkers.
– Love Karsi. It’s a pity she’s turned into a wight by the end of the hour.
– The storm approaching gave me the creeps! What an ominous sight!
– Striking visual with Jon staring at the White Walkers (including the Night’s King) at the top of the cliff on their horses.
– There’s an amazing single tracking shot of Jon kicking ass that just doesn’t let up.
– Satisfying moment: the Giant throwing wights around like ragdolls.
– The moment where the mini wights started attacking (and eating?) Karsi was absolutely horrifying.
– Notice the image of hundreds of wights falling from above like roaches. Yuck,
– How was that one boat still waiting for Jon and his crew in all that panic?
Kings & Quips
Tyrion: (to Dany) You want revenge against the Lannisters? I killed my mother Joanna Lannister on the day I was born. I killed my father Tywin Lannister with a bolt to the heart. I am the greatest Lannister killer of our time.
Tyrion: When I was a young man, I heard a story about a baby born during the worst storm in living memory.She had no wealth, no lands, no army, only a name and a handful of supporters, most of whom probably thought they could use that name to benefit themselves. They kept her alive, moving her from place to place, often hours ahead of the men who’d been sent to kill her. She was eventually sold off to some warlord on the edge of the world and that appeared to be that. And then a few years later, the most well-informed person I knew told me that this girl without wealth, lands, or armies had somehow acquired all three in a very short span of time, along with three dragons. He thought she was our best, last chance to build a better world. I thought you were worth meeting at the very least.
Daenerys: And why are you worth meeting? Why should I spend my time listening to you?
Tyrion: Because you cannot build a better world on your own. You have no one at your side who understands the land you want to rule. The strengths and weaknesses of the houses that will either join or oppose you.
Daenerys: I will have a very large army and very large dragons.
Tyrion: Killing and politics aren’t always the same thing.
Qyburn: There is a way, Your Grace. A way out.
Cersei: Confess? To the High Sparrow? I won’t. I made him. I rose him up from nothing. I will not kneel before some barefooted commoner and beg his forgiveness.
Tyrion: Someday, if you decide not to execute me, I’ll tell you all about why I killed my father. And on that day, should it ever come, we’ll need more wine than this.
Daenerys: I know what my father was. What he did. I know the Mad King earned his name.
Tyrion: So, here we sit. Two terrible children of two terrible fathers.
Daenerys: I’m terrible?
Tyrion: I’ve heard stories.
Daenerys: Why did you travel to the far side of the world to meet someone terrible?
Tyrion: To see if you were the right kind of terrible.
Daenerys: Which kind is that?
Tyrion: The kind that prevents your people from being even more so.
Daenerys: Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, Tyrell. They’re all just spokes on a wheel. This one’s on top, then that one’s on top. And on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground.
Tyrion: It’s a beautiful dream, stopping the wheel. You’re not the first person who’s ever dreamt it.
Daenerys: I’m not going to stop the wheel. I’m going to break the wheel.
Cersei: I can make you a wealthy woman. A lady of the court.
Cersei: Or I can make sure you die in the most hideous way imaginable. And all I do is sit here imagining hideous ways for you to die.
Karsi: (about Jon Snow) You vouch for this man, Tormund?
Tormund: He’s prettier than both my daughters, but he knows how to fight.
Loboda: My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a crow.
Karsi: So would mine, but fuck ’em, they’re dead.
With its staggering visuals and breathtaking action, Hardhome is a Game of Thrones masterpiece.