Warning: Spoilers for the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” are ahead.
It was the greatest fire the North has ever seen, courtesy of the greatest battle “Game of Thrones” has ever seen.
“The Watchers on the Wall,” directed by Neil Marshall, the man who brought us “Blackwater,” brought more epic-scale fire and bloodshed than any previous hour of “Thrones” to date. Focused entirely on the conflict at the Wall, Jon Snow and his companions were forced to do battle with Mance Rayder’s invading army. We saw giants. We saw Thenns. And we saw people we love lose their lives in horrible and heroic ways.
Now, we have questions — seven of them, to be exact:
1. Did Ygritte Have To Die?
Probably, yeah. Jon Snow and Ygritte’s love was too bright and perfect for the twisted world of Westeros. The moment they met, they were doomed to end in tragedy. The real question is, if young Ollie hadn’t killed Ygritte when he did, would she have riddled Jon with arrows? Or were the former flames about to set their arms down and cast aside their differences? Alas, like Jon Snow, we will never know.
2. Did Pyp and Grenn Have To Die?
No, not really, considering that they don’t die here in the books. In the novels, it’s one-armed blacksmith Donal Noye who loses his life slaying the giant and defending the gate. Both Grenn and Pyp make it out of this initial assault on the Wall alive. But, for the purposes of the show, we needed to lose some heroes in order to add weight to the battle; killing Pyp and Grenn accomplished that mission and then some.
3. Is There Anything Cooler Than a Giant?
Yes, there is: Giants riding mammoths. And the only thing cooler than a giant riding a mammoth is a giant riding a mammoth with a giant bow and arrow at his disposal. “Game of Thrones,” give us more of that, please and thank you.
4. How Awesome Is Sam?
So awesome. He finds loopholes in the Night’s Watch oath, plants a wet one on Gilly, drops an F-bomb on Pyp, smashes an arrow through a Thenn’s skull — it was amazing. After more than three seasons as the show’s greatest craven (except for that one time he killed a White Walker; credit where it’s due), Sam proved himself to be quite the badass as the wildling assault raged on. Good for you, Sam!
5. How Lame Is Janos Slynt?
So lame. The former commander of King’s Landing’s City Watch turned out to be a pretty big wuss when push came to shove. He had no idea how to lead the men atop the Wall, and when he was relieved of duty and sent back down to tussle in the battle at Castle Black, he hid in a meat locker like a total coward. Easily the biggest loser of the night.
6. Where Was Mance Rayder?
Who knows? If there’s one complaint about “The Watchers on the Wall,” it’s that it left Mance Rayder completely out of the picture. Ciaran Hinds, the actor who plays Mance, hasn’t been seen on the show since early season three. Last night’s episode was a perfect opportunity to reintroduce him to the audience, before his appearance in next week’s finale. Why not show us Mance’s perspective on the battle against the Wall? It was a dubious and disappointing choice; Mance is one of the most colorful characters in the books, but on the show, he’s a no-show and a bit of a dud.
7. What’s Jon’s Next Move?
Really, who knows? After deducing that the Night’s Watch can survive maybe two or three more nights of battle, Jon decides to venture out north of the Wall, sans Longclaw, in order to… well, we don’t really know, do we? Is he going to treat with Mance? Is he going to assassinate Mance? Is he going to challenge him to trial by combat — and if so, why not bring Longclaw? However it shakes out, Ned Stark’s bastard son has his work cut out for him in next week’s finale.
What did you make of the battle between the Night’s Watch and the wildlings?