Episode Nine, “The Watchers on the Wall,” starts with an awkward discussion between Jon Snow and Sam Tarley. Sam presses Jon for details on what sex with Ygritte felt like and wonders whether the vows they took called for strict celibacy or just forbidding marriage and children. Jon, as per usual, mumbles and cannot express himself eloquently (nor properly dry his hair).
Right after Jon sends Sam down the elevator, an owl appears, screeching menacingly. Turns out the Thenns are not just any old shaved, scarred tribe of cannibals: some of them are WARGS!
At the Wildling camp, it’s now Tormund Giantsbane’s turn to dish on his sexual history, telling his old “that one time I screwed a bear” story. Ygritte is having none of it.
She’s ready for battle, although Styr still questions her loyalty, asserting that the first thing she’ll do when she sees Jon Snow is offer him “that ginger minge.”
That doesn’t faze her at all. “Jon Snow is mine,” she hisses. “Anyone else tries to kill him, I’ll have an arrow for them!”
The mood at Castle Black is grim. The Wildling army, 100,000 strong, will invade in the morning. And with only about 100 Brothers at the wall, they know the odds are not ever in their favor. And as if to seal their fate, the writers of the show allow the following things to happen:
- Meister Aemon reflects beautifully on young love (and again, sex), aging, duty, and other topics that make Sam uncomfortable. A charming monologue is never a good sign for a Game of Thrones character.
- Gilly and her son miraculously appear at the gate! She survived the Wildling army once, only to seek shelter at… the next target of the Wildling army, *facepalm* The poor girl can’t catch a break, and for some reason she reminds me of Doge.
- Mance Rayder told Giantsbane that he would light a fire to signal when it was time to strike. He ends up lighting the entire forest on fire. The Night’s Watch light their own fires to prepare for battle, and the light they shine is so pathetically small compared to the Wildlings’.
- Ser Alliser actually concedes to Jon he was right all along. Redemption is also not a good sign.
- Samwell cusses, asserts himself, shows leadership, ACTUALLY KISSES A GIRL, then promises her he won’t die. He has doomed them all.
Now commences 30 minutes of the best battle scenes I’ve ever seen on television, and easily bests most movies. The sound editing, the camera work, the pacing, all are top-notch. There are frigging GIANTS riding WOOLY MAMMOTHS into battle. Ygritte arches major ass. Ser Alliser redeems all the assholic things he’s done in the past with an inspirational call to battle. The Night’s Watch unveil some innovative war tactics and technology. Even Ghost got to join in on the action. My words cannot do it justice; just watch it.
By the way, the giants have mad skills. That poor guy died about three times before he actually died.
Sam’s primary battle partner is Pyp, an earnest yet inexperienced fighter. Pyp dies from one of Ygritte’s arrows, in Sam’s arms, which apparently is a point of divergence from the books. Poor Pyp.
Grenn is assigned to the Gate. A giant opens the outer gate with his bare hands, then crashes through the inner gate like the Kool-Aid Man (oh yeeeeeah!). Grenn and his crew of five men recite the Oath, and I cry my way through a travel-size packet of tissues.
And somehow, they do manage to hold the gate, although they all perish in doing so, and it’s off-camera because it’s time for Jon and Ygritte to reunite. Poor Grenn.
Turns out Styr was right: she couldn’t kill him. She hesitates, Jon attempts to smile, and suddenly, she is struck by an arrow, shot by little Ollie the BabyCrow.
Miraculously, the Brothers seem to be gaining the upper hand. Jon Snow brains Styr with a hammer. Wolfsbane is taken as prisoner. But they know the Wildling army will come back tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
Jon leaves Castle Black so he can kill Mance Rayder himself. He leaves his sword with Sam. Fade to white.
Awesomeness from the Twitter- and Tumblrverses:
We have one more episode to go before the end of the season, peoples! It has been an honor live-tweeting and recapping with you. Until next season, Lords and Ladies of the Realm!