So, anybody out there still smarting over the death of Prince Oberyn? Having read the book, I knew the Red Viper would meet his untimely demise, but I still didn’t want it to happen. Much like Ned Stark’s beheading and the Red Wedding before it, Prince Oberyn’s gruesome death drew some impassioned internet comments from ‘Game of Thrones’’ massive audience. The Prince of Dorne had become a fan favorite amongst fans of the show and last week’s episode proved what avid ‘Thrones’ readers have known for years: do not get emotionally attached to the characters. It will be your undoing.
Having said that, I hope no one who watches the show has come to love Ygritte. The fiery wildling, hell bent on getting revenge on Jon Snow for breaking her heart, had her moment for glory in this episode…only to do absolutely nothing. Before we get to this point however, we must cover what happened in the rest of the episode. Though the entirety of “The Watchers on the Wall” focused on the big battle between the wildlings and the Night’s Watch, I will cover the emotional stories in my recap, not the action. So here we go ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy the official recap for ‘Game of Thrones’ episode nine “The Watchers on the Wall.”
In order to keep viewers grounded during the intense battle, the show shifted primarily between Jon and Sam’s point of view. While Jon’s arc focused mainly on his burgeoning leadership skills, Sam’s story is all about falling in love.
The episode opens with the two men standing watch on top of the Wall. Sam asks Jon about Ygritte and what it was like to be close with her. Jon tries his best to vocalize his feelings but, as he reminds Sam, he’s not a poet. To hide his feelings for Ygritte, Jon asks Sam if he and Gilly had ever done the deed. Sam insists they haven’t because she hasn’t offered. Jon seems taken aback that Sam would consider breaking his vows for Gilly, but as the rotund Mr. Tarly so wisely points out, the Night Watch’s rule say that men are forbidden to get married and have children. It never says you can’t sleep with a woman.
Later, Sam is caught reading by Aemon Targaryan. The two men discuss falling in love. Aemon advises against it, saying its death to duty. Sam however, tries his best to deny his feelings for Gilly but Aemon, being the wise man he is, can see right through Sam’s lies.
Much to Sam’s relief, Gilly is waiting for him just outside the Wall with her baby. She is refused entry at first by one of Gilly’s fellow men in black, but he pulls out the big guns, using the F-word to demand entry for Gilly. Their reunion is short but sweet. Gilly does not want to leave Castle Black again. Sam promises he will protect her. Before the battle begins, he locks her in a storage room and the two kiss.
Throughout the battle Sam demonstrates his abilities like never before. I’m not sure if the writers were trying to say that he was motivated by love, but it was great seeing Sam coming into his own, killing wildlings without a second thought.
Is it just me, or has Ygritte been a pretty one dimensional character this season? Other than scenes of her talking about killing Jon Snow, we haven’t spent much time with the red-head. I understand that with the growing cast of characters, it is difficult to give everyone an equal amount of screen time, but I would have liked a scene or two where Ygritte did more than complain about Jon Snow and kill innocent people. In hind sight however, perhaps it was a good thing we didn’t get too close to Ygritte. It made her death less heartbreaking.
Yes, Ygritte dies. At the beginning of the episode, she is sitting with her fellow wildlings, doing her best to convince them that she has what it takes to kill Jon. She springs into action when she sees the fiery signal Mance Ryder created for his brethren. Throughout the episode, we see Ygritte kills a couple of Crows, but when she finally comes face to face with Jon however, everything changes. Despite all of her talk throughout the season, Ygritte hesitates. She cannot bring herself to put an arrow through Jon’s heart even though he stood before her unarmed. We’ll never truly know if Ygritte had it in her heart to kill Jon because Ollie, the son of the a villager Ygritte killed at the beginning of the season, shot her with an arrow.
While dying in Jon’s arms, Ygritte says that they should never have left the cave. Jon tells her that they will be there together again. Ygritte may be dying, but that doesn’t mean she is done teaching Jon Snow. Looking into his eyes, Ygritte delivers what has become her catch phrase—“You know nothing Jon Snow.”
Though the battle at the wall focused on many different characters, this was always going to be Jon’s episode. The bastard Stark is the closest thing this show has to a traditional hero and the writers did their best to turn Jon into a leader. He spends most of the episode giving orders. He stands atop the Wall with Alliser Thorne, watching the wildlings (with their giant and mammoth friends) try to breech their defenses. It turns out that Alliser made a mistake last episode when he ignored Jon’s plea to close down the tunnel. When Jon starts fighting in the battle, he unleashes his direwolf Ghost to do some damage.
Is it just me, or did we not see Jon fight a lot in the battle? I think the writers wanted to focus on his emotional storyline rather than the physical one. We have seen Jon Snow fight many times before. But it was interesting to see him stand helpless before the woman he loves as she aims an arrow at his heart.
When everything is said and done and Jon assesses the damage, he decides to go out and try to kill wildling leader Mance Ryder. It’s an honorable task. Foolish, but honorable. So the episode ends with Sam watching as Jon ventures into the unknown beyond the Wall.
While, I was really impressed with the battle itself, I don’t think the episode really needed to focus on it. I am more interested in what’s happening at King’s Landing, but it’s understandable that the show runners would hold that off for the final episode. I’ve never been a big fan of Jon Snow in the show. I’m not sure if it’s the writers or actor Kit Harington, but Jon has had the same emotionless attitude since season one. I would have liked to see him change a little in this episode.
So that’s it for this week guys! Next week’s season finale is sure to be a powerful one.