Monday, 1 June 2015

Winter is Here - Game of Thrones: HardHome Review

After last week’s big plot developments, you would be forgiven for assuming that HardHome, the eighth episode in this season of Game of Thrones would slow things down a bit, allowing characters to come to terms with their new conditions. And for the first 40 or so minutes, you’d be right, but then, once again, things kick into high gear, in one of the best episodes of the season.

Full spoilers for the episode below, although I don’t follow the books, so any theories about the future are purely observational.

Well! Let’s not dance around it. That battle with the White Walkers was dramatic huh? It’s about time we see them represented as an actual threat. From the very first episode we have seen them looming ominously over everyone, whilst never actually doing anything other than stealing a few babies. Now, finally, the army of Ice Zombies is here, and they’re pretty freaking scary.

The attack came as something of a surprise as well, for both the Wildlings and us. Jon Snow had gone to make some level of peace with the Wildlings, and allow them access through the wall to escape the undead. Of course some of them were sceptical, but these doubts were quickly trampled, along with half of the free folk, in a conveniently timed attack by said undead.

The battle scene itself was something to behold. It couldn’t quite rival the battle on the wall from Season 4, but it came pretty close. The combination of the overwhelming numbers, and the fact that they refused to die gave a real sense of hopelessness, and for a while during his one on one fight with a high ranking Walker, I actually feared for Jon’s life.

This is where Game of Thrones really shines for me. No character is safe, which keeps fans on the edge of their seats when any character is in any danger, and for Jon, things were looking particularly dire.

So what else is going on? Arya seems to have her first assassination contract. That will be interesting to see play out. Arya’s arc is one of my favourites, from little girl, born into a noble family, to a cold blooded killer. I just wish more time would be devoted to her and her storyline. Of course, that would take away from everything else, which I would also probably complain about it if happened. WHY IS EVERYTHING SO DAMN ENGROSSING?

We saw a little more about Cersei and her situation – which is also looking pretty grim. I really felt for her, despite her evil ways. Lena Headey did a great job at showing both her pathetic, beaten side, and her brave face that she puts on when people come to speak to her. When she was sipping water from the floor, it really showed a side of the character that we haven’t seen before, and my heart really went out to her.

The other big reveal last week was of course, Tyrion and Dany have finally crossed paths, and it seems that these two could be a team to be reckoned with. As Tyrion said, he would advise someone worthy of his services, and as possibly one of the strongest leaders on the show at the moment, in terms of resources and power, Dany could be that someone. With Dany’s dragons and following, combined with Tyrions cunning and political experience, the rest of Westeros could be looking at their new power couple, and personally, I love it.

I love them. I loved seeing them together, bonding in their mutual hatred for the rest of Lannister clan (who I shall now dub the Clannisters). Whilst they were bonding, poor Jorrah has been exiled again. I really feel for him. Spying on Dany for the Lannisters was a dumb thing to do for sure, but his current loyalty to her should earn him some brownie points right? He returned, despite knowing he would probably be killed for doing so, in order to bring Tyrion to her. I’m fairly certain I’ve seen him in the trailer though, doing something he hasn’t done yet, plus he’s infected with that skin thing, so I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him.

Finally, we briefly caught up with Sansa and Theon/Reek. The cat’s out of the bag, she knows her brothers are alive, but what can she do? She’s still cooped up with Ramsay, who will hopefully be getting something sharp to the jugular sometime soon (does Sansa still have that corkscrew she picked up?). I’m waiting for Theon’s redemptive arc. I’m thinking something along the lines of him stepping in to protect Sansa from one of Ramsay’s beatings and taking it for himself, but we’ll have to see. I have a gut feeling that the future isn’t looking very bright for him though.

HardHome comes in as the strongest episode yet. After last week’s dramatic developments, I was expecting this to be the calm before the storm. Next week is the penultimate episode, and that’s when the biggest twists usually appear – Red Wedding, Battle on the Wall etc. It’s gonna be interesting to see where things go next week, as it seems that the White Walker threat is finally coming out, Cersei is making death promises to her captor, and Arya has a mission to carry out. With only two episodes left, I have a feeling that the s!&t’s about to hit the fan.

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