‘Game of Thrones’ recap: Review of Season 4 Episode 9′s ‘The Watchers on the Wall’

Cass Anderson

In last week’s episode of Game of Thrones we left off with the gruesome demise of Prince Oberyn at the hands of the Mountain. So, what happened in Season 4 Episode 9′s ‘The Watchers on the Wall’? Let’s find out who the big winners and losers were in this week’s episode of Game of Thrones.

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Helen Sloan/HBO

WINNERS: Special Effects Junkies

Throughout the series’ 4 seasons the 9th episode of each season has stood above all as the most pants shitt*ngly high budget episode of the lot. The geniuses behind the show have a knack for building a perfect crescendo of love, lust, murder, betrayal, blood, dragons…all leading up to the 9th episode of the season. They then THROW ALL THE GOLDEN DRAGONS OF WESTEROS in to their special effects budget and create an absolute mastery of mind-f*ckery, dropping things we’ve never seen before on TV, and never would have expected.

Last night was no exception, as it was reported to be the most expensive episode in the series’ history, topping Season S02E09′s ‘Blackwater Bay’ which cost over $8 million to produce. The effects in last night’s non-stop action (in my humble opinion) were unrivaled by any other episode to date. So without further ado, let’s jump in to the main winners and losers of last night’s episode.

Winner: Samwell Tarly’s libido

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HBOGo Screenshot

Oh lawdy this first scene between Sam & Jon was so unintentionally hilarious I couldn’t help myself.

Sam: “How big were her feet?” … I nearly died. Jon Snow, the boy who knows nothing, giving the husky Samwell Tarly his 411 on what it was like to knock boots with Ygritte, the wildling famous for having a nappy dugout kissed by fire. Again, I couldn’t help but laugh. Which might be exactly what the producers were going for here, because as we move past this unintentionally hilarious banter between 2 naive brothers of the Night’s Watch things immediately GET REAL in a hurry.

WINNER: Bears

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HBOGo Screenshot

Enough with the unintentional hilarity dammit! Ygritte seems about as miffed as I am with constantly being forced to giggle when you know the isht about to go down. Nevertheless, we’re after the warg’s spirit animal lands up on the Wall to spy on Jon Snow we then head on down to the Wildling camp and are treated to a lovely story from Tormund Giantsbane about how he once shagged a bear. Ygritte’s having none of his tomfoolery and shuts down his campfire lies immediately. She’s ready to bathe in the black blood of Night’s Watch. No bears were harmed in the telling of that story. Nor were they harmed by Tormund Giantsbane’s legendary spear. Moving on.

Oh yah…Jon Snow thus far appears to be up sh*t’s creek without a paddle. The passion we see from Ygritte at wanting to kill Jon Snow has probably set back redheads a few centuries. As far as I’m concerned after watching this scene, all the rumors of redheads being insane are true.

LOSERS: Sweet Ladies of the Realm

Really? More sex advice for Sam? And this time he’s forced to come to the realization that creepy looking old blind man once tasted the forbidden fruit that Sam himself shall never sample. Those my friends are what we call ‘the break.’

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So what if Maester Aemon Targaryen was once a member of the ruling Royal family, just ponder Sam’s perspective for a moment: this old guy once got laid, and Sam never has nor will he ever. According to the old Maester he once had his pick of any ladies he wanted across the realm, but chose to take the Black and forego all that, depriving them all of his Royal manhood. Sorry for you loss ladies?

Next we have the joyous reunion of Gilly & Sam, and for the first time ever we see Samwell actually show some f*cking spine and drop some profanity. I’d be proud of him if only it wasn’t a situation where he was yelling at a friend of his and nothing was of consequence whatsoever. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see him growing up a bit, and he’s reunited with his sweetheart…though we all knew she was alive and headed his way.

What’s that we hear? The horn? Wildlings approaching, eh? OH IT’S ON YA’LL!!!!

WINNERS: The Wildlings

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HBOGo Composite

In case you didn’t make this connection before, this guy here is a ‘warg’ like Bran Stark and has the ability to take over animals and see everything from their perspective (and vantage point). Thus, the Wildlings know EXACTLY how many brothers of the Night’s Watch are up there and ready to fight against them. Which according to my vast knowledge of battle strategy is about as important of an advantage one side can hold over their enemy. +250pts to the Wildlings.

Not to mention, the Night’s Watch is to be attacked from both sides. Ygritte, Tormund Giantsbane, and the Thenn’s all attacking from the South side while Mance Rayder has finally lit the massive fire north of the Wall to signal that it’s on, and they’re about to get served.

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HBOGo Screenshot

I repeat: Mance Rayder has lit the fire. It’s on. The Night’s Watch is about to get served.

WINNER: Brotherhood

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Battle (and death) is imminent, but we’re treated to a brief moment of mutual respect rooted in the bonds of brotherhood between Ser Alliser Thorne & Jon Snow. The two men at the Wall who probably hate each other the most. This is one of those humanizing moments I didn’t expect to see tonight, Ser Alliser coming off as not completely detestable for the first time in the series’ history. Maybe I’m just growing soft, who knows.

Speaking of growing soft… how about Samwell having us all growing hard?

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Helen Sloan/HBO

I don’t know about you all, but after Sam’s speech to Gilly about being a man and what men do, then grabbing her & planting a big ‘ol wet one on her lips…I went from 6 to Midnight. +150 XP’s to same for finally growing the fux up. I couldn’t be more proud of the big guy.

LOSERS: The Squeamish

If you’re squeamish & don’t do well watching carnage, the rest of this episode was probably your worst nightmare. For the rest of us who don’t shy away from the harsh realities of fantasy television, it was an masterful cornucopia of special effects and mayhem. Our friends over at Uproxx put together a phenomenal collection of GIFs and I’ve provided some choice screenshots as well…which I think accurately sum up the battle. So let’s take a look through those and I’ll meet you down below after the jump.

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HBO

760005 got 409 cut L pub 09 01 640x359 Game of Thrones recap: Review of Season 4 Episode 9s The Watchers on the Wall

HBO

 Game of Thrones recap: Review of Season 4 Episode 9s The Watchers on the Wall

Uproxx

 Game of Thrones recap: Review of Season 4 Episode 9s The Watchers on the Wall

Uproxx

 Game of Thrones recap: Review of Season 4 Episode 9s The Watchers on the Wall

Uproxx

 Game of Thrones recap: Review of Season 4 Episode 9s The Watchers on the Wall

Uproxx

Let’s take a moment to truly appreciate the level of production and special effects happening here. How many angles did we see the Wall from? How many vantage points were people slain from? It’s insane the sheer number of ways in which we just saw people killed. HBO deserves special recognition for making the way in which people die a true art form.

Things of note in the battle:

GIANTS ARE BAD A$$ES. True bad asses. I’d love to see a ‘Game of Thrones’ world where giants coexisted with people south of the Wall, because that’d be incredible. They ride what appear to be frickin’ wooly mammoths who possess immeasurable power. They nearly shredded the wall to pieces in no time at all….Currently added to my GoT bucket list: Battle Royale between the Dothraki and a few giants…unstoppable strength vs. an unstoppable army.

This kid has balls of steel:

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Helen Sloan/HBO

Battle is where boys become men, and that was certainly the case for this lil man.

RIP Pip, aka Pipar. He was one of Jon & Samwell’s most loyal brothers (and friends). Of course he got killed by the Ygritte, which I’m sure if I were a smarter man I could find greater meaning in, but as it stands I just saw a crazy beotch bent on revenging her punani shooting a boy through the throat. You’ll be missed Pip.

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Helen Sloan/HBO

And oh yah, but Grenn is a GODDAMN HERO.

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With two points of entry to Castle Black, each gate is of equal importance. If both are breached, dead for all the Brothers in Black is certain. The southern gate as we know was almost immediately breached, so Jon Snow tasks Grenn with making sure the giants don’t make it through the northern gate, at all costs. Grenn does his duties. A. TRUE. DAMN. HERO.

You saw a f*cking GIANT charging down a tunnel at you, recited your vows, and manned up. You are indeed the shield that guards the realm of men.

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Ser Alliser Thorne is tougher than I previously thought, but isn’t made of legendary grit. Tormund Giantsbane gives him more than he can handle, slicing through his leg in the process and Ser Alliser is forced to retreat within the walls of the castle.

Samwell Tarly is no longer a fully-fledged coward. His strength is palpable throughout the battle, as he puts himself in the harm’s way for the first time ever at the sake of his brothers. He’s always been lovable, but now he’s commendable as well.

Jon Snow’s talent with a sword gives me a full on broner. He’s deadly smooth with his blade, taking on multiple men at once….But that of course wasn’t my favorite part of Jon Snow’s role in the battle. If you’ve read my previous recaps then you know just how obsessed I am with the direwolves. And how I’m 100% convinced that bad things happen when they wolves are around, and good always comes of keeping them close. Well, they let Jon Snow’s direwolf ‘Ghost’ loose and what do we think happened? HE COMPLETELY OWNED ISHT. I swear the Stark’s could have won a war on their own back in Season 1 when they had the pack of direwolves in tact.

LOSER: Jon Snow

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After getting his pretty face smashed in on an anvil by the leaders of the Thenns, Jon manages to survive by planting a hatched into the head of the Thenn above when Jon’s dead seemed all but certain. Meanwhile, Ygritte was standing in the wayside watching the battle unfold, unwilling to plant a bolt in Jon Snow as the battle took place. Where’s that red-head fire we came to expect?

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Imgur/Reddit

Jon Snow’s brief moment of happiness. So touching. But then she’s unceremoniously offed. Just like that she’s gone. I was all but certain she was going to eventually let that arrow loose into Jon Snow’s leg as a ‘f*ck you’ to release her anger but not kill Jon….alas, she didn’t get the chance.

The little man of the Night’s Watch is the one who loosed the arrow, doing his sworn duty. To him he saved Jon Snow’s life, how was he to know she had the a hatchet wound of blissful fire of which Jon Snow became a man?

This was clearly the biggest shocker of the episode for everyone. I think we all hoped that somehow they’d find a way to foster their love and work past the wildling/Night’s Watch dilemma. But that’s obviously not the case, and Jon Snow will never love again, that I am 1000% certain of.

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HBOGo Screenshot

And ummmm, can we talk about this massive hook they dropped from the top of the Wall for a moment?

 Game of Thrones recap: Review of Season 4 Episode 9s The Watchers on the Wall

Uproxx

Holy hell did that require some expert strategizing, waiting until the Wildlings climbing the Wall were at just the right height before unleashing the massive bladed hook. +75pts to the Night’s Watch for that unexpected battle maneuver.

Well, it ends with Ygritte dying, the Night’s Watch holding off the Wildlings for the initial onslaught, and them taking Tormund Giantsbane in to captivity. Also a HUGE shocker for me, because Tormund Giantsbane is not a man to be shackled. And sadly, I cannot imagine a worse fate for a man like him than to be held and chains, and not killed on the spot.

So where do we stand now? The wildlings still have tens of thousands of men sitting outside of the gates waiting to charge in a second wave.

In the meantime, Jon Snow has taken charge of parlaying with Mance Rayder. With nobody left in charge, Jon’s decided to take action. With nobody left in charge, the remaining Night’s Watch will soon need to vote on a new leader of Castle Black…A vote we can expect either in next week’s season finale or early next season’s early episodes.

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Grenn and his brothers held the gate against the giant, against all odds. Quite the bittersweet moment here as Jon’s lost one of his closest brothers in black…in addition to others…and we the viewer didn’t get to see what we can only assume was an INCREDIBLE battle between the Night’s Watch and a massive giant who was fueled by the death of his fellow giant.

We’re left with the sobering image of Jon Snow heading off in to the North on his own, to meet with Mance Rayder. His only bargaining chip being he has Tormund Giantsbane in captivity available for a prisoner trade if things go south for Jon…but if he’s not just killed immediately by the pissed off giants, I’ll be shocked. Either way, we’ll all have to tune in to next week’s season finale ‘The Children’ in order to see what happens.

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Unlike week’s past, there truly wasn’t too much for me to recap today aside from who got killed and how….which, let’s be honest, is sort of awesome. But leads me to believe that next week will be extremely plot heavy, so tune in next week to find out. You can also find my previous week’s recaps HERE, you can call me a moron down in the comments because I do in fact read those, or you can go follow me on Twitter HERE to tell me how stupid I am.

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