Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8 “Hardhome” Review
**Full spoilers for all books and TV episodes.**
Hardhome…more like cold home, AMIRITE?!?
I’ll be here all week.
Each season of “Game of Thrones,” we are usually treated with one big battle scene: the Black Water, last year’s battle at the wall, but this season, it looks to have come an episode early.
But, as always, let’s start at the beginning.
Dany (Emilia Clarke), Jorah (Iain Glen) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) all walked into a bar…it sounds like the set up for a perfect Westeros joke. Only two of the three survive, as Tyrion’s first duty as advisor to Dany was to get her to kick out Jorah…again.
In a battle of fierce tongue and quotable quotes, Dany and Tyrion traded banter, bonded over both having horrible fathers who are now dead, and tried to determine just if the one was going to be able to play nice with the other.
Tyrion, now eager to stay alive, isn’t above giving Dany the advice she actually needs, which is a good thing, because if there is one thing she desperately needs, its good advice. So far she seems able to put up with his more sharp sentiments, but hopefully she can at least be smart enough to realize what her weaknesses are and that Tyrion compliments those quite well. Hopefully. And maybe one day Tyrion will sit down and write her the novel, “I Didn’t Kill My Father But If I Did Here’s How I Would Have Done It,” by Tyrion.
It’s also worth noting that well yes, Jorah sold out Dany, he was doing it to Varys (Conleth Hill), who Dany now knows was actually working for her all along. I was half expecting him to jump out of some corner somewhere, maybe pull a zipper down and reveal that Dany is just a suit he wears and reveal himself as the man behind the curtain somewhere, but alas. Either way, technically, Jorah didn’t really sell her out, even if he thought he was doing it.
The problem here, is as well as Dany and Tyrion worked together, their characters actually agreeing to work together this easily is a bit of a far jump to make all at once. We have to become plot friends because plot says we have to be friends now because plot plotty plot plot.
Of course, Tyrion and Dany haven’t met yet in the books…so there’s got to be some reason the show moved up their encounter. Or maybe they just did it to get Tyrion out of whiney no-man’s-land.
Also, a brief sentence of silence that he made it to Mereen without any mention of Penny. Hazah!
Meanwhile, Jorah essentially sells himself into slavery, giving up on everything. He’s just the worst kind of ex-boyfriend, isn’t he?
Cersei (Lena Headey) sat in a jail cell and got beat up by a nun. Next.
Arya (Maisie Williams) has now taken on the spirit of Molly Malone, and is strolling around Braavos selling clams and mussels and things of the sort. Her new mission is to kill a corrupt life insurance gambler. Kinda exciting, but also kinda…yawn?
Also, the non-book readers I watch the show with had a very hard time figuring this scene out, the consensus was that Arya was actually just imagining being the other person while lying, not that the events we really happening. That’s a big misstep on the part of the show if a majority of the viewers also felt that way.
Ok fine, now we’re back to Cersei. Qyburn (Anton Lesser), who now seems to be her only friend, stopped in for a little visit. The most important thing of note here is that Kevan (Ian Gelder) is coming back, which means more of awesome Kevan kicking ass, but also means that Varys could still show up and shoot him full of arrows before the season ends, but that just seems like an untimely end to a character who has barely has a presence this season.
The hope on Cersei’s face when Qyburn mentioned hope though! And her drinking the water from the ground. The show is trying to break her quickly, but I actually wouldn’t mind seeing her really rot and develop down there for a bit.
Also, no shocker, but Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) has stopped eating and is continuing to be totally useless. Shocker.
Back up at Winterfell, Sansa (Sophie Turner) had a little conversation with Theon/Reek (Alfie Allen), which served not much purpose beside making Sansa look like she’s on the way to the dark side ala Ramsay (Iwan Rheon), and also for her to learn that her brothers are really alive after all.
Of course, if I’m a betting man, and I am, this all could be another trick of Ramsay’s. Her brothers ARE alive, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some way for him to twist this into his advantage, and against hers. Maybe Reek slipped up on purpose, and it’s another trap.
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Super Best Friends, Roose (Michael McElhatton) is prepping for Stannis (Stephen Dillane) to show up, but Ramsay seems certain he can handle the army by himself with 20 men. Fuck 300. Just 20.
Sam (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah Murray) had a scene, but more importantly I’ve come up with a new nickname for the pair of them. Silly. Sam+Gilly. Mostly because their plot is silly, but it works on so many other levels.
Sure, I guess Olly and Sam’s (Brenock O’Connor) scene might have had a little more importance there, but it mostly felt like an odd scene where the show was trying to explain again how much we should agree with Jon (Kit Harington) because Jon is making the right decision and all that jazz.
But, it also seems pretty blatant foreshadowing now that Olly is going to be the one to stab Jon. Or maybe he wants to play death match-maker for Jon and Ygritte (Rose leslie)? Either way, looks like that’s how that whole thing is going to play out, at any rate.
The rest of the episode focused on Jon up at Hardhome. There was some great stuff here, but it also was a really long time to spend up north, and we had to wade through a lot of the same back-and-forth we just had at the Wall, just now with the Wildings, to get to it.
Also, I’m not the only one who thought Jon was introducing himself to an AA meeting, was I?
Of course, in another instance of “Hey it’s a TV show lets have things not happen organically,” the White Walkers just HAPPENED to attack as Jon and his new Wilding friends just as they were above to leave. HAPPENSTANCE.
What resulted was one of the show’s better battle scenes, even if it was up North, just like last year’s, and it was hard to tell exactly where it was in relation to the fighting everybody and the walls and all that important stuff. The set up for a scene like this is especially important, even more so in snow, and it was hard to get a good sense of where everybody was in relation to the boats and the Walkers and the town (I thought the gate shut out and killed everybody on the boats, at first). It was easy to get lost, and a few couple set-up shots could have solved that easily.
Showing Longclaw in the opening may have been a little TOO on the nose for Valyrian steel to have the power to defeat White Walkers, which is of course new ground that the books haven’t confirmed yet. But Jon beating one was pretty BA. Take that Sam the Slayer! Jon just one-upped you again!
(Imagery alert: The White Walker walking into the cabin, surrounded with flames, but being covered in ice. It’s almost like it was a song of ice and fire).
We also got a glimpse at the re-animaton process, and it was good to see the show put some focus back on the larger issue here. This army is coming, and it’s pretty much unstoppable and is only getting stronger.
My favorite comment of the night from the non-bookers was how maybe Jon will die, but only because they were sure he won’t die in the books but maybe the TV show will kill him to change it up. THEY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT JON SNOW. And it’s great.
All in all, “Hardhome” was a pretty good episode, though it was still an overly weighty episode and suffered structurally: Cesei’s scenes were oddly cut up, the Wall section at the ended could have used a good trimming, and several of the plot points seem content to just twiddle their thumbs until the finale. But, Dany and Tyrion’s quip show was quite enjoyable, and Hardhome was a pretty awesome fight scene. And any day the show can give book readers a little sliver of new info, well, that makes for exciting ground as well.
Note & Quotes:
-The White Walker screech sounded way too much like the Nazgul. The comparison is already there without forcing it another notch.
-“Greatest Lannister killer of all time.”
-“Too soon to know if you deserve my service.”
-“Killing and politics aren’t always the same thing.”
-“A ruler who kills those…”
-“It’s what your father would have done.”
-“I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel.”
-“Fuck em, their dead.”
-“Never trust a man in black.”
-We finally got episode ten’s title! “The Mother’s Mercy.” Could a certain mother return that episode? PLEASE LET IT BE SO.
-No Dorne, as an awesome land continues to be quite disserviced by the show.