Just when you think Game of Thrones can’t deviate from the books any more than it already has…well, it does. But unlike some previous episodes that had me upset due to changes, “Hardhome” got everything right.
Beware, there be spoilers ahead!
Across the Narrow Sea
Daenerys Targaryen holds an audience with Tyrion Lannister and Ser Jorah Mormont. Well, “holds an audience” is a nice way of saying she’s sitting way up high looking down on them while she decides whether or not to have them killed. She isn’t certain that Tyrion is who he claims to be, but he assures her that he is. “You want revenge against the Lannisters?” he asks. “I am the greatest Lannister killer of all time.”
After Tyrion reminds her that killing and politics aren’t always the same thing and that he might be of great use, Dany agrees to consider letting Tyrion serve as her advisor. However, she’s still pissed off at Ser Jorah, and asks Tyrion what he thinks she should do. Tyrion is honest and blunt, saying “He is in love with you, I think, but he did not trust you with the truth.” Dany has the guards send Jorah away but does not have him killed.
Later, the sass abounds in their verbal sparring as they have a chat over wine. Dany confirms that she will keep Tyrion as her advisor, and they begin discussing her chances of taking over Westeros. Tyrion is frank with her, explaining why the great houses will most likely not support her. Dany doesn’t seem intimidated, likening the great houses to spokes in a wheel. “I’m not going to stop the wheel—I’m going to break the wheel.”
Somewhere outside the city, Jorah finds the man who bought him and Tyrion, and begs to be let back into the fighting pits. Sounds pretty crazy for someone who just earned his freedom, but as we know, Jorah is desperately lovesick (and also just plain sick, now).
At the House of Black and White, Arya continues practicing her lying. To prove that she is ready to become a servant of the Many-Faced God, she creates a character called Lana who sells oysters and clams. As Lana, she comes across a gambler who wagers whether or not ships will make it into harbor, but refuses to pay up whenever sailors die. Jaqen tells her to continue to watch this man until she knows as much about him as she does herself. He then hands over a small vial of poison. (Basically, Arya is about to become a badass assassin.)
Prison does not agree with Queen Cersei. Forced to wear filthy robes, she is confined to the black cells, where the septa who acts as her warden refuses to give her water unless she confesses to the crimes of fornication, incest, treason, and regicide.
Qyburn visits her to let her know what’s been happening while she’s been practically dying of thirst—Tommen is distraught and refuses to leave his rooms, while Kevan Lannister has returned and is acting as Hand of the King. As we know, Kevan doesn’t think highly of his niece, and probably won’t do a thing to help her. Meanwhile, Jaime is still on his mission to Dorne, so Cersei is essentially friendless.
When Cersei refuses to confess once more, the septa pours the water on the ground to spite her. The moment the septa leaves, Cersei is parched enough to try to lick the water off the ground. I bet she misses her wine.
Still confined to her room, Sansa corners Reek when he comes to bring her food. She demands to know why he betrayed her to Ramsay. Reek is so incredibly brainwashed that he is 100% convinced he was actually helping Sansa by betraying her. According to him, there is no possible escape from Ramsay. “Theon Greyjoy tried to escape,” he says mournfully. “The master knew. He knows everything.”
His excuses don’t go far with Sansa, who forces him to admit that he did terrible things when he was disloyal to Robb and when he took Winterfell. As she asks him how on earth he could have murdered Bran and Rickon when they were as good as his own brothers, he confesses the secret he’s been carrying since season 2—the boys he killed and burned weren’t the Stark children at all. This new information shocks Sansa…and one can only hope that it will further her attempts to escape her prison and find what remains of her family.
Beyond the Wall—Hardhome
Far from Winterfell, Jon Snow and Tormund arrive at Hardhome, a wildling stronghold by the sea. Although they’re skeptical, Tormund insists that the Free Folk gather to hear what Jon has to say. Jon shows the dragon glass daggers to the assembled people, and tells them about the deal to let them pass through the Wall unharmed, in return for their promise that they will join the fight against the White Walkers. Many of the wildlings understand the need to join forces, but are still wary of the crows. A great deal of them are swayed by Tormund, whom they trust. “He’s young,” Tormund admits, “but he knows how to lead.”
“We’re not friends. We’ve never been friends. We won’t become friends today. This isn’t about friendship, this is about survival.” —Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch
Those who agree to join them are being loaded in the boats that Jon borrowed from Stannis Baratheon when something sinister hapens. What looks like a cross between an avalanche and a mist is coming toward Hardhome from the mountains, and that can only mean one thing: WHITE WALKERS.
Oh yeah, and not necessarily the wights we’ve seen before. We’re talking super creepy zombie skeletons; these wights have been undead for ages, and they’re out to kill. What ensues is a major bloodbath, in which countless wildlings die. Jon gets up close a personal with a White Walker when he discovers that his blade of Valyrian steel is just as effective against them as dragon glass. (Now if we could just make sure everybody has one of those…) But despite his success, they’re simply outnumbered by the weird ice zombies, and those who are still alive make a hasty retreat to join those already aboard the ships.
As Jon and Tormund look back at the desolation, the head honcho, the king of the undead himself walks to the edge of the water. Just moments ago, he had been watching the battle from high up on the mountain, like a horseman of the apocalypse. As soon as he knows Jon is watching, he slowly raises his arms to work his voodoo. The thousands of dead wildlings instantly become part of his army, and the adrenaline of retreat turns unsettling. In the eerie quiet, Jon’s boat drifts away from the legion of the undead.
What comes next?
I’ll let the epic trailer speak for itself.
Winter is coming.
Winter is here, bitches.
The Collected Mutineer
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