‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5, Episode 8 Recap: ‘Hardhome’

June 4th, 2015 4:27 pm in Movies & TV by - No Comment Yet
Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones’ season 5, episode 8. Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.

Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones’ season 5, episode 8. Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.

“Why should the people trust a queen who can’t keep her promises?” — Daenerys Targaryen

At the show’s start, Queen Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) reminds Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) of her promise to kill him should he ever show his face in Meereen again. But Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) together with his smarts for politics, convince the betrayed queen to banish her former white knight from the city instead. Ser Jorah’s devastation is clear, but it is Dany’s pooling tears and steely reserve that make this scene truly heart-wrenching.

And as if we were surprised, taking “no” for an answer is not in Ser Jorah’s vocabulary. He wittingly sells himself back into slavery in order to stay close to his one and only dragon queen, determined to fight for her, if not by her side, then in the newly opened fighting pits.

Later, Tyrion and Dany bond over wine, of course, and their open and witty banter back and forth is effortlessly captivating for mere conversation — most likely due to the excitement that these two impressive and idolized characters are finally meeting each other. After much talk of a brighter future and building a better world, despite his Lannister name, Tyrion wins the title of Dany’s new adviser — though with the added jest of his drinking too much. With two cunning minds, a powerful army and three fearsome dragons, it seems that this new dynamic duo may be an unstoppable force in taking back the Iron Throne. But if something seems too good to be true in this series, odds are it probably is.

Meanwhile, it’s a game-changer for Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) in Winterfell when she realizes — thanks to good ‘ol Reek (Alfie Allen) — that she is not alone in the world after all, but that her little brothers Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Rickon (Art Parkinson) are still alive. This realization comes at a key moment, one in which she’s quickly losing hope being married to a psychopath and all, and essentially revitalizes her determination to survive.

Arya Stark’s (Maisie Williams) journey in Braavos continues to drag, with viewers only gaining brief insight into her storyline as she masters her craft and serves the Many-Faced God. Initially, it seems she is content playing little orphan girl “Lana,” but when she’s given a special task by Jaqen H’ghar (Thomas “Tom” Wlaschiha), a satisfied smirk spreads across her face, showing us that Arry is by no means far away — and we’re not the only ones who noticed.

Oh, and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) is still angry and locked in a black cell at King’s Landing awaiting her trial. Vengeance is a dish best served cold.

Kit Harington and Kristofer Hivju in Game of Thrones’ season 5, episode 8. Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.

Kit Harington and Kristofer Hivju in Game of Thrones’ season 5, episode 8. Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.

But that is a moot point given the majority of this week’s episode was filled with something much more interesting — an unforeseen and action-packed battle scene north of The Wall.

The events at Hardhome offer us something that is new to all viewers, book readers and non-book readers alike. What was supposed to be a simple meeting between Jon Snow (Kit Harington), the men of the Night’s Watch and the wildlings, soon turns into an epic battle between the living and the dead. An eerie, white fog emerges from a mountaintop and slowly engulfs the town, bringing indestructible and unstoppable White Walkers with it.

The masterful CGI technology and makeup detail is freakishly real, and the action sequences are so perfectly choreographed that despite the constant fear and heart-pumping adrenaline they inspire, the scenes are beautiful to watch. One part that comes to mind is when hundreds of whites fling themselves off a cliff like mindless lemmings, implacable in their hunger for human meat to feed their army.

Luckily, our favorite pretty-boy, Jon, manages to escape — just after killing a White Walker lieutenant with his sword “Longclaw” (made of Valyrian steel), much to the surprise of the Night’s King. It seems the Lord Commander’s courage has drawn some unwanted attention to himself.

Game of Thrones’ season 5, episode 8. Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.

Game of Thrones’ season 5, episode 8. Photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.

With melancholy music in the background, Jon sails away and watches from safety as the remaining Free Folk are slaughtered. The Night’s King, smug about this runaway victory, walks to the edge of the dock and surveys over all the damage with a hint of a smile on his bony face. And just to rub it in, he lifts his hands in triumph as his once large army becomes even larger with the rise of the dead wildlings, which open their now icy-blue eyes.

Except, the half-hour battle scene, in all its epicness, is slightly diminished when the camera pans out and shows that Jon Snow and the other survivors are moving at a snail’s pace during their getaway, only three feet from shore. I mean, the undead could literally have jumped onto their boat and still killed them if they wanted to. Even the slow-moving giant managed to walk farther than them, practically reaching the boats in the distance already. It was so ridiculous and unexpected that the urge to laugh out loud was not out of place.

Nonetheless, if we thought this battle was larger than life, we can only imagine the “Great War” that’s in store. The sacred words “winter is coming” hold more weight now than ever, and with the White Walkers having made their third appearance so far in the entirety of this series, our giddiness for the war of all wars is revitalized as we wait impatiently for its arrival on the big screen.

Throne Room Notes:

  • Why couldn’t every episode this season have been as exciting as “Hardhome?” The ending battle made the show, but tiny snippets of other plotlines still demonstrate that this season is dragging along.
  • I have never seen Sansa so angry — good acting, Sophie Turner.
  • Poor Cersei — haha not. It’s good to see her getting what she deserves. Not so intimidating dressed in tattered rags, are we?
  • I’ll keep saying it: I love Tyrion and Daenerys together at last.

Video courtesy of Game of Thrones.

Video courtesy of Game of Thrones.

Tune in to HBO, HBO Go or HBO Now this Sunday at 9 p.m. for a new episode of “Game of Thrones!”

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