Episode 9 has arrived. For the past two seasons, that’s meant at least one shocking Stark death. This year, the pattern has been suspended. This episode is less about the surprise than the arrival of the inevitable. The wildlings, like winter, have been coming foreverrrrr, and they finally arrived to wreak havoc on the Wall.
The episode begins relatively peacefully, with Jon and Sam standing watch on the Wall.
Sam still thinks that Gilly is dead, and that he’s about to die too, so he’s pretty much missed the love/sex boat. Sam’s grilling Jon about Ygritte.
“What was she like?”
“She had red hair.”
“Really, how big were her feet?”
i don’t know, but i did find brienne’s feet
I guess because of Jon’s flowing romantic hair, we forget that he kind of sucks at feelings; his responses are pretty gruff and manful. Jon’s surprised that Sam and Gilly never got it on, but then, “She just had a baby!… And she never offered.” Jon’s also surprised that Sam would have broken his Night’s Watch vows; Sam goes on a bit of legal acrobatics that warms my cold lawyerly heart. The vows are “open to interpretation”; they explicitly say you can’t marry or have kids, but there isn’t much detail on “other activities.”
This whole exchange just reinforces the cultural weirdnesses of the Wall. There are adult Crows, from back alley rapists to victims of political warfare, that have already lived relatively normal adult lives and are forced to give that up at the Wall. Then there are kids, like Jon and Sam, who joined before they could even imagine what they were giving up. Looking back at the Winterfell boys, it looks like Theon’s really the only one who took full advantage of his fun bits before they were lost by severance, celibacy or death.
Anyway, Jon results a dumbed down version of 2 Become 1 before exclaiming that he’s “not a bleeding poet.” He lets Sam off the hook on watch duty (good idea when you know an attack’s coming?) and he goes down below. Jon goes back up to the Wall, and there’s a meaningful shot of Jon then a meaningful shot of an owl-y looking bird, which means it’s a warg.
Yep, it’s a warg, and the next shot is of it’s terrifying cannibal master.
I guess being a warg isn’t as special as everyone told Bran it was; they seem to be running rampant up north. Tormund, Ygritte, and some gross cannibals are sitting around the fire telling stories of their sexual conquests. Ygritte interrupts Tormund just as he launches into a gross narrative about fucking a bear. She wants everyone to stop having a good time and start thinking about killing some Crows; she’s viciously whittling arrows with Jon’s name on them. She also gives a very tiny bit of exposition about the history between the wildlings and the men of Westeros; basically, the men came, took wildling land, put up a Wall, and now come past the Wall and kill them sometimes. Sooooo… basically the story of Israel and Palestine? This series really needs a Silmarillion. I’d read it. Anything to avoid studying for the bar.
Ygritte then gets called out for pining for her Crow lover. This pisses her off, and she stomps right up to the gross cannibal a foot taller than her and gives him a piece of her mind. Her “ginger minge” is not for anyone, but her arrows are for Jon.
Meanwhile, Gilly and her baby are sneaking away from the camp; the baby chose a fortunate time not to cry, for once.
Rather than go to bed, Sam has gone to the library to read about wildlings (and my mind goes to Buffy and Giles in the library!) He’s reading about all the horrifying ways wildlings kill people, and imagining them all happening to Gilly.
He’s interrupted by the Maester. What with all the storylines flying around, we haven’t seen much of this guy, but he’s a welcome interlude.
despite what this picture suggests, this was actually an interesting talk.
In case you’d forgotten, he was once a Targaeryn and heir to throne, but he gave it up. As a future king, girls were dropping their panties for him left and right, but it only made an impact once. I could’ve done with about twenty minutes about this ancient Targaeryn love tragedy, but all we get a is a lesson: “Love is the death of duty.”
Sam finally heads off to sleep, but before he can get there, he hears a familiar voice at the Gate. It’s GILLY! (And Baby Sam.) Sam makes Pip open the gate for them, and I have my first cry of the evening as they reunite. Before much more can happen, the horn up on the Wall blows, cause the wildlings have arrived. Sam locks Gilly in the larder to keep her safe, but he goes back up to fight cause “that’s what men do.” If I am learning from Game of Thrones, I’m pretty sure the primary role of men is to rape people, but whatever. He promises not to die, which always work out well.
As I noted before, that little douche owl was a warg, and it’s master says it’s time to attack. For some reason, Mance and the rest of the army – who are further away – have set a ginormous fire and are burninating the countryside.
If that’s the signal to attack, it seems unnecessarily ginormous.
Maybe it’s just meant to intimidate?
So, the Crows are running all over the Wall trying to get shit ready for the battle. It seems like maybe they should have been a little more prepared for this, but that’s coming from the perspective of viewers who know for a fact that Jon wasn’t full of shit. Now, even Alliser Thorne has to swallow his pride and admit that Jon was right and they should have sealed the tunnel.
Sam joins Pip in trying to defend with crossbows; Pip has no freakin idea how to do anything other than be adorable, but they do their best. Pip’s pretty much peeing himself with fear, and Sam gives him a little lesson in bravery. Actually, it didn’t really make sense, because Sam says before he wasn’t afraid because in the face of danger he lost himself and just responded with instinct, but now he’s “not nothing any more” (due to Gilly, I guess) so he can actually be brave and himself at the same time. Or something. I’m not exactly what Pip’s supposed to draw from this. Is he to aspire to be something or nothing?
Anyway, a giant parade of giants, mammoths, cannibals, generally cave-mannish people, and other wildlings are marching at the wall. Some go straight for the castle; others are breaking down the gate under the Wall; others are dealing the Wall. I’d like to note that even though we have heard several times about how wildling women fight alongside men (like Osha), Ygritte is the only woman I spotted in this entire battle. Let me know if you saw others.
I really can’t recap this whole battle, cause it’s too complicated and labyrinthine and it’s probably boring to read about anyway. Suffice to say there are lots of swords and fiery arrows. Ygritte shoots down Crows like a machine. Tormund can take out like three men with one sweep of iron. Sam and Pip run all over the place trying to be effective and generally failing, until Ygritte shoots Pip in the throat. Oh, precious Pip. You were my adorable Hot Pie of the north that I actually wanted to make out with so not really like Hot Pie at all. McWeanis cry #2.
RIP, Pip. It’s actually Pyp but I’m too lazy to go back and fix it everywhere now. That’s how much he means to me.
Alliser Thorne gives a semi-inspiring speech and leaps into battle; he has a Villain vs. Villain fight with Tormund which I vaguely care about the outcome of; it is anticlimactic, as Alliser is eventually wounded by Tormund and dragged away. Janos Slynt is left in control of the Wall, but he does such a chicken shit job that Grenn tricks him into leaving and Jon takes over; Janos then goes and hides in the cellar with Gilly.
Meanwhile, there are giants shooting giant arrows, and strapping mammoths to pull down the door under the Wall. This is NOT Hagrid-like behavior, and I don’t appreciate it.
The men up on the Wall manage to take down the mammoth and one of the giants using fiery barrels (not wildfire, sadly) and arrows, but this just pisses off the other giant; he takes down the entire outer gate by himself. Jon sends Grenn and a few other boys to defend the inner gate. They cheesily recite the Night’s Watch oath as the giant cheesily runs toward them in slow motion.
Sam, now Pip-less, picks up the crossbow and goes to find Jon; he rather accidentally shoots a Thenn in the face. That boy’s luck! He also gives the little boy operating the Wall’s elevator thingy a pep talk. Ollie is the little boy whose potato-loving father was shot down by Ygritte a few weeks ago; he was sent to the Wall as a messenger. He’s cowering, but Sam tells him to fight.
Jon leaves the top of the Wall in his Edd’s greasy-haired command, and goes down to castle to fight hand to hand. He has a cool fighting sequence where we’re supposed to be impressed with his prowess and stuff. Sam releases Ghost, and we get 3.5 seconds of cool direwolf action and that’s it. Ghost apparently is more hungry than mad, as he just kills one cannibal then eats him instead of focusing on the five hundred million other cannibals that also needs to be killed.
Finally, in the Climactic Battle Scene, the Main Cannibal Guy goes after Jon. Since Ygritte specifically called dibs on Jon, I’m not sure if he’s doing this to seduce Ygritte or to piss her off. They have a very gruesome fight, including Jon taking an anvil to his pretty kisser. Ygritte watches from just a few feet away; she’s poised to shoot, but she doesn’t. It’s not even clear whether she’s aiming at Jon, to take him out, or at Main Cannibal Guy, to save Jon. In the end, Jon takes care of business himself with a hammer.
Jon turns around, and is surprised to see Ygritte sitting before him.
Even though she’s sitting there with her bow cocked at him, he can’t help but smile.
this is the best shot i could get. i swear it’s cuter than this suggests.
He is happy to see her.
Ygritte doesn’t shoot. But Ollie does.
they sure grow up fast!
And I went, NOOOOOOOOO!
and i made this same face!
Even though I’ve known for several years this was going to happen. This was the moment that McWeanis has been waiting for all season. From other corners of the interweb (they actually CHEERED!), I can tell that not everyone is as obsessed with Ygritte as I am. I LOVED her. I loved her crude seduction of Jon. I loved her toughness. I loved that she could get through to someone with a stick as far up his ass as Jon. I loved that she’s from the north, like me. I loved her in the books and I loved how Rose Leslie played her, and I have concluded that Jon was a dumbass for riding away from her. I’d shoot at him, too. This is my favorite star cross’d love story in the books. It’s so simple and Romeo and Juliet – except unlike Romeo, Jon chooses duty and loyalty over love. (ALWAYS the wrong choice, in my opinion. They all end badly, no matter what you choose, so why not get laid whole you can? Jon’s brother Robb tried to have it both ways; he chose love, but he tried to reconcile that with loyalty and duty by reconciling with the Freys. Robb and Taleesa both ended up dead. Tyrion chose love with his first wife, but loyalty and duty, aka Tywin, rode in and destroyed it; Rhaegar chose Lyanna, and that started a giant tragic war. You can’t win, but you can get lucky.)
Anyway, I watched Ygritte’s dying scene about seven times because I felt she was robbed. This was one death that really affected me, and I didn’t think it got enough time.
The last exchange was lovely though.
They are referring, of course, what I affectionately call Cherry Poppin’ Cave. Then Ygritte dies, and Jon holds her in her arms and rocks back and forth, and for some reason nobody takes advantage of this moment to come over and kill him super easily. Don’t let my blitheness fool you into thinking I’m not crying right now, cause I am.
The battle noise fades out and we get some slow motion.
don’t ask me why the light’s so different. i’m just the recapper.
I’m going to throw in some *****BOOK SPOILERS**** here, because the scene’s over and what happened in the book is no longer relevant. If I remember correctly, Jon found Ygritte in the morning, once the battle was over, and it was ambiguous whether he had actually killed her with one of his arrows. (I think he concluded it was not one of his, in the end?) In the show, obviously, Ollie killed Ygritte; Ygritte killed Ollie’s dad and his whole village, so it’s kinda hard to get mad at him. I liked the question of whether Jon killed Ygritte because it made the whole thing a less neat. Then again, I also loved that involuntary smile of surprise when Jon first saw her.
Not long after this, the battle is over. Tormund is cornered and captured. Sam returns to Gilly (who almost clocks him with a hambone) and goes in for the KISS, freakin finally.
gilly finally has a good reason to go slack-jawed.
The romantic moment is a bit disturbed when Sam finds Janos Slynt hiding.
Unfortunately, this is far from the end; this was just the first taste of Mance’s army, which I don’t understand strategically at all, but whatever.
Jon has a new plan; he’s going to try and go kill Mance personally. The army is nothing without him holding it together, or his knowledge of the Wall as a former Crow. Sam tries to stop Jon, but he doesn’t have a great plan either besides sit and wait to be killed. Jon goes down to the gate, where Grenn, the other boys, and the giant lie in a big dead pile.
Though I had to google thy name just now, I shall miss thee.
That means two of Jon’s Crow bests are gone – those from the Don’t Fight With Robb’s Army Molestown Intervention, and the Take Out Craster’s Keep Mission.
Their deaths had a strong emotional effect, but I will miss their friendly faces around the Wall; other than Alliser, Janos, the Maester, and Sam, the Night’s Watch tends to blend into a mush of black cloaks and unkempt beards. They were also the only ones I wanted to make out with besides Jon.
now we only have edd
So, Jon tells Sam to burn the bodies, and sets off into the light beyond the Gate.
The Wall isn’t my favorite storyline, as you all well know, but I still thought this episode was very well-executed. It didn’t carry the shock value of the past episode 9s – who thought Ygritte would survive? I do miss my other storylines, though, and I’m especially psyched to see what happens next week in King’s Landing when Tyrion finally faces the music.