This is it – the second to last episode – that I didn’t think I was going to get to watch but thankfully my sweet friend Lilah let me come to her house so I could get an hour of freedom from my house of horrors (seriously, boxes everywhere) and watch this episode. The entire episode took place at The Wall and North of The Wall and it seemed to fly by; I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it as much as I did…but it was an excellent episode!
The episode opens on Sam and Jon doing a watch on the top of the wall; they realize that since Mole’s Town was recently attacked it is only a matter of time before the attack comes to the Wall and they are not in any way prepared to defend the Wall against the 10,000 Wildlings that are coming for them. The only thing Sam can think about is that he might be about to die and he’s never been with a woman – but since Jon has, he asks him about it. Jon isn’t really sure what to tell him, other than that for just a little while you are more than just yourself.
|Ygritte practices her aim…|
Sam also spends some time talking with Maester Aemon; Aemon tells him that he knows Sam is in love with Gilly and while Sam tries to deny it, Aemon says there is no use. He also tells him that he has taken vows that don’t permit him to have a wife; the reason behind that being that “love is the death of duty”. In the midst of this, who might return to the Wall but Gilly herself, with baby Sam in tow and when one of Sam’s “brothers” won’t open the gate, he yells at them until they let Gilly in….and she lets them know what they’ve been suspecting for weeks, the Wildlings are coming and they aren’t only coming from one side of the Wall but from both.
|The biggest fire the North has ever seen…that’s about right…|
We stop in with the Wildlings to long enough to see Ygritte sharpening arrows; she tells the Styr that Jon is hers to kill and no one should get in her way but she interrupted by smoke billowing over the hills around them…as Mance promised Jon last season, when the time came for him to attack the Wall, he would light the biggest fire the North had ever seen. And from his vantage point on the Wall, Jon sees the same fire and knows exactly what they’re in for…101 sworn brothers of the Night’s Watch against 10,000 Wildlings…and oh yeah, the Wildlings have giants and mammoths. Yikes!
|Jon gives commands from his post atop the Wall.|
|Sam finally mans up & plants one on Gilly – go Sam!|
Sam stashes Gilly and her little son in a pantry deep below the Wall and when Gilly begs him not to leave her, he tells her he must help his sworn brothers defend the Wall – as that is what men do. We later find Janos Slynt slink down to this same pantry and hide, too craven to be involved in defending the Wall with all the other men.
|Well this doesn’t look good at all….|
|Holding the gate…|
Jon leaves the top of the Wall in the hands of Edd and goes down, where he is immediately drawn into battle with Styr, who sees him and knowing that Ygritte wanted to kill him takes his opportunity to steal that from her. The two battle around the courtyard and it seems that Styr has gotten the upper hand for a moment, but when Jon sees his moment he seizes it, smashing Styr in the head with a large mallet. Gross. But also, good job Jon – right? Ha!
As Ygritte crumbles to the ground, Jon rushes to catch her in his arms and she softly mutters to him that they should have never left the cave they found back in season three. Jon holds her close to him and tells her that they’ll go back to the cave and with her dying words, she tells him “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” A fun fact for you – this is the first and only time that Game of Thrones had ever used a slow motion shot; fantasy usually leans on slow motion heavily but the producers waited for this moment to make it all the more poignant. As the camera slowly pulls away, the battle rages on around Jon as he clutches Ygritte to his chest; the only woman he has ever loved lost to him.
As the sun begins to rise, the brothers of the Night’s Watch take the upper hand – having fought off the men climbing the Wall, securing the gates and forcing the Wildlings back into the cover of the woods. They capture one of the Wilding leaders; Tormund, and Jon has him shackled below the Wall while he assesses the other damage. He takes Sam with him into the tunnel where they find the bodies of Grenn and the five men he took into the tunnel…as well as the body of the giant; they held the gate as instructed at the cost of their lives. Jon announces to Sam that he is going to seek out Mance and try to make a peace – just because they beat the Wildlings back for one night doesn’t mean they won’t regroup and come again. The episode ends with Jon disappearing out of the tunnel and into the wild on the other side of the Wall…