Game of Thrones “Hardhome” Review

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Posted June 1, 2015 by Chris White in Nerdy Bits

*Spoilers below*

 

I can’t quite believe what I saw in “Hardhome.” As the minutes ticked by, everything was moving along nicely—Arya was finally leaving the nest to employ The Faceless Men’s ‘Robin Hood’ mentality, Cersei was slowly rotting away in the dungeons of King’s Landing and Tyrion was once again trying his very best not to get killed. It was shaping up nicely and we were getting more of an idea of where the show was heading as it reached the end, and its legendary and consistently horrific, episode nine. Then, in the final twenty minutes, we witnessed the single most incredible segment of television in the history of Game of Thrones (and potentially television itself) where Jon Snow headed to Hardhome, the base of operations for the wildlings. All hell broke loose—literally. Winter is well and truly here! The White Walkers have been mentioned a few times and we’ve seen them here and there, but tonight, they were out in full force, leaving Jon Snow and his fallen allies a whimpering, dishevelled and destroyed mess. The game has changed and the real threat to Westeros, Essos and the entire world of Game of Thrones has made itself known in the greatest way possible. This episode was flawless; every storyline was engaging and the actors blew previous performances out of the water, especially Kit Harrington; however, each thread of the tapestry was sewn beautifully and all in all, “Hardhome” was the best episode of the series, giving all those future compilation shows a new number one, favourite moment. Before we get to the epic last third of the show, let’s recap the rest of the episode:

It was always going to be interesting to see two huge characters interact and after years of separation from the main cast of characters, Daenerys got better acquainted with Tyrion Lannister. As Tyrion and Jorah stood before the Queen of Dragons, I couldn’t help but hope for the two of them to escape the fighting pits and an impending death. It’s obvious that death is always lurking its head around every corner, but it was pretty obvious that Daenerys was going to accept Tyrion’s offer of being her advisor. The Lannister’s and Targaryen’s have a lot of history between them but the two of them are a lot smarter and less likely to harbour the hate of their elders. It was a bold move by Daenerys to accept Tyrion’s help. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye once more to Jorah. In an attempt to save his life, Tyrion asked for Jorah to be banished and not killed (Tyrion does owe him after all). Reluctantly, Dany accepts and lets him go, only for him to return to the slavers. Jorah has greyscale, so what else does he really have? Both Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke did a great job with each other; the chemistry between the two was electric and both had sharp tongues and bold statements to make about one and other. Tyrion tried to inform Dany that ruling Westeros isn’t the greatest idea and that maybe Meereen and Essos would be the ideal place to lead from. Despite Tyrion’s advice, Daenerys made it quite clear that she intends to destroy every house in all of the seven kingdoms. The analogy about the leaders and families being spokes on a wheel was excellent, and her intention to simply “break the wheel” was chilling. She has learnt a lot since being the naïve and young woman given away to Kal Drogo in the beginning. Maybe with Tyrion by her side, she’ll finally rule the world, by freeing slaves and taking names—the new Targaryen motto (not official).

Cersei is still refusing to confess. We now know on what charges she is being held for: Fornication, treason, incest and killing Robert. WOW! She’s starting to resemble the homeless and poor that live underneath the castle she used to live in and it isn’t looking like there is a way out for her. Maybe she is going to have to face the High Sparrow and repent, but knowing Cersei, her pride is far too great for this to happen. With her future looking bleak and her son, King Tommen refusing to see her, could this be the end of Cersei Lannister? I’ll be honest, I could care less for her. I’ve certainly not hidden that fact in recent reviews and my mind hasn’t really changed since she was incarcerated. Her scenes were rather dull and it is only going to be her trial/confession that brings me any further enjoyment. The current plot in King’s Landing is a dull one—one that can only be giving more weight once Jaime returns.

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Theon, the poor manservant of resident psychopath, Ramsay Bolton lets slip that he never killed Sansa’s younger brothers, Bran and Rickon and she is more than relieved. She continues to push a clearly stressed Theon for an answer as of where they are but he runs off, terrified that he has told Sansa something he shouldn’t. Theon really wants to be Theon again but the psychological torment that Ramsay has inflicted upon him is evident in every sentence the helpless guy utters. It will be interesting to see what Sansa Stark-Bolton does with this information. At least she knows that the Starks aren’t completely obliterated; last week she found out Jon Snow was alive and this week her two young brothers—hope is slowly returning for the most unlucky girl in Westeros.

We also get a chance to see Arya take on her first assassination for Jaqen and the Faceless Men. She showed that she was up to the challenge set upon her by Jaqen, but it seems even he may not be 100% sure she is ready. Regardless, he believes in her and so do I. She has come such a long way and it would be pretty pointless for her to fail. Where her story leads is a mystery but I’ll still be hoping she exacts revenge on at least some of the evil men and women that have caused her family so much pain, even if this isn’t the way of the Faceless Men.

It was clear from the trailers that Jon Snow was going to get himself into a rather sticky situation in episode eight. Hardhome is the sanctuary of the wildlings so at the very least, a fight could break out between the free folk and the Knight’s Watch. As Jon sets foot on the shores of Hardhome, he was greeted by a less than hospitable, menacing and scary-looking ‘Lord of Bones’ who appeared to be some kind of leader. After Mance died, we haven’t really seen how this has affected the wildlings and after tonight, it was pretty clear that it hasn’t really done them much good. After the frosty reception (no pun intended), Tormund beats the crap out of him and tells the other wildlings to gather the elders so that Jon can discuss his plans with them. Tormund is awesome and an equally great ally for Jon. It seemed that this ‘Lord of Bones’ chap was going to be more of a threat. It was nice for him to get beaten down by Tormund. Even though he’s been gone for so long, it won’t stop him being the fearless killer he’s always been. Once Jon meets with the elders and asks them to join forces with the Knight’s Watch, opinion is divided and only half decide to go with him back to the wall. Jon shows great leadership qualities in his speech. He never asks them to forget what happens or those who they’ve lost (“Don’t forget the dead. I won’t forget mine”), he just asks them to fight together for the greater good—the war against the White Walkers that has been hinted ever since Ned informed us that “winter is coming.” We were introduced to Karsi, a beautiful woman that could have quite of easily been Jon’s new love interest (‘could’ being the operative word) as the two shared some chemistry together. Karsi believed in Jon’s vision of unity and helped to get the wildlings that chose the wall on the boats and back to Castle Black. Just when everything seemed to be going smoothly and disaster between the two parties had been averted, something bad happened—something really bad.

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The way in which the White Walkers and their dead army descended on Hardhome was done in the best possible way. The dogs began to bark and in the distance, you could see the snow falling from the tops of mountains, creating a white haze on the horizon. Suddenly, the dogs stopped barking and a deathly silence fell—it became pretty clear that something truly horrible and terrifying was about to unfold. Loboda, member and assumed head of the Thenn (the cannibalistic clan of skinheads) shuts the gates with countless wildings still outside, waiting in silence, probably regretting his choice to turn down Jon’s offer. At this point, I was hoping (as much as I feared) we were going to see the White Walkers to some extent. The atmosphere was eerie and uncomfortable as the wildings, Tormund, Karsi, Jon and the Knight’s Watch waited for The White Walkers and their army to attack. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect the undead to strike with such force but they did. The undead horde climbed over the fence, through the fence and off the mountains, taking out many wildings in a furious, rabid assault. It got real VERY fast and an all-out war ensued with all involved fighting for their lives. Jon and Tormund were asked to leave but thankfully, the two went to aid the wildings in their fight against the White Walkers. This was where Jon really shone. As he and Thenn went to retrieve the dragon glass, one of the White Walkers (an actual White Walker and not one of the undead that fight for them) appeared in front of them. Thenn got impaled, giving Jon some time to try and find the dragon glass. Unfortunately, it had shattered. As the White Walker loomed over Jon, it seemed like it was time to say goodbye to the Lord Commander. I had everything crossed as the White Walker attacked him. With his sword shattered, it was down to the discovery of the Longclaw to save him. The pure Valyrian-steel blade eventually destroyed the White Walker and allowed Jon to fight another day. We now know that it isn’t just dragon glass that can defeat them—although at this point, that isn’t much comfort in the grand scheme of things. If you remember, it was Jeor Mormont who gave Jon the sword. It would appear that Jeor may very well have known about the Longclaw’s power all those seasons ago. One of the most horrific scenes that we saw in the final battle was witnessing the newly-introduced character of Karsi get attacked and savaged by a group of undead children—probably the former babies of the incestuous father, Craster (Gilly’s former husband/father/all-round a-hole). It was a horrific and sad scene that was all the more tragic as they were children—formally innocent and helpless children that are now fulfilling the will of the White Walkers. Poor Karsi—I was starting to like her; I guess that whenever a character becomes likeable the general consensus is to kill them off (I’ll never learn—see Oberyn Martell for reference). As Jon managed to get on a boat (with Tormund, surprisingly), he looks back at Hardhome in despair and utter shock. The Night’s King (The leader of the White Walker) slowly raises his arms at his side and the dead wildlings begin to stand up—blue eyed and very much alive (sort of). Everyone that had just been slaughtered (including Karsi) is now stood on their feet in silence, ready to fight for the Night’s King. This has changed the future of the show in a huge way. Nothing matters anymore and all the other stories seem inconsequential. The greatest threat to the king has been overlooked. Westeros, Essos, Sothoryos—everywhere is now at the mercy of The White Walkers. Winter is here and it is coming for you.

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‘Hardhome’ was incredible; however, as I reflect I feel deeply saddened. There is no future for Jon Snow or the Starks. There is no future for Stannis, Jaime, Tyrion and Daenerys—no future for anybody. I’m left feeling empty and hopeless; how in the hell can anybody win against the White Walkers after what we’ve just witnessed. My only guess at  this point is that Drogon and his brothers will be used to fight them. As unhinged and as dangerous as they are, maybe Bran (remember him?) and his worging ability will help to tame the dragons so that humankind may have a chance against them. I have no idea how things will play out, but despite the sheer shock of the episode, I am left in awe of everything Game of Thrones is and everything Game of Thrones has become. It is an incredible show with a huge amount of talent running through its veins. I literally cannot wait for next week. I just hope Jon’s OK.


About the Author

Chris White

Rock n' Roll Nerd, Gamer, Writer, Lover and procrastinator.