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Seriously – where has this show been for the past six episodes??? The season premiere was good and well, but then it fell off the edge of a cliff and has been hanging on by the fingernails for the following six episodes. It finally vaulted back over the edge of the cliff and found new life this week – and so there is much rejoicing to be done – even if the show waited until the final three episodes to actually get thrilling. I’ll take what I can get.

Meereen: Double Trouble – Daenerys is out of her depth in Meereen; she’ll be even more out of her depth once she arrives in Westeros, the country may be her home but she has only spent one day of her life there: the day she was born. Dany needs help if she is going to “break the wheel” of corrupt power in Westeros and Tyrion is exactly the help she needs. Ser Barristan and Jorah were both fine advisors but neither was really ready to tell Dany the hard truths. Tyrion has no problem with this; being honest from the start with the young queen. He also refers to them as “two terrible children born of terrible fathers” but assures Daenerys that he wants her to prove she’s the good kind of terrible; the kind of terrible that can keep her people from suffering.

I feel like together these two could be unstoppable. I guess we will have to wait and see if my feelings are correct.

Hard truths with Tyrion – Lesson One
Hard truths with Daenerys – Part One

Braavos: Oysters, Clams & Cockleshells -I’m pleased to see that if becoming an assassin in the service of the Many-Faced God doesn’t work out, Arya could certainly find a side job selling oysters, clams and cockleshells. Her training with the Faceless Men of Braavos require she take on a new persona; that of Lanna, an oyster salesgirl on the docks of Braavos (not sure why they couldn’t have called her Cat of the Canals just like in the book….but WHATEVER show writers!). She is daily growing better at spinning her web of lies and “a Man” gives her what will be her first assignment: to watch, gather information and give “the gift” to a local gambler who has sailors bid their ships before sailing in exchange for the man paying the sailors family in the event he doesn’t return. The waif is certain Arya is not ready but Arya is nothing if not dangerous when single-minded in the pursuit of a goal and so I’ll wager the gambler has a limited number of bets left to take.

She finally got new clothes & cute hair…ha!

Winterfell: The Misery Continues – Reek, reek…it rhymes with weak. As in weak-willed because Reek/Theon can’t keep a secret to save his life. Last week he ruined Sansa’s escape plan and this week, after Sansa badgers him repeatedly, he admits that the boys he killed weren’t Bran and Rickon but two farm boys. I’m not sure what Sansa will do with this information but at least now she knows she isn’t the only Stark left – perhaps this will give her the final push to escape from Ramsay’s clutches.

Ramsay manages to slyly sneak in the title of the fourth book by telling his father that they should meet Stannis and his army on the field, taking them by surprise and leaving nothing more than “A Feast for Crows”. Roose counters that a smart person does not leave defensive high ground in a battle – and with the outer walls of Winterfell repaired and the snow falling thicker by the second, staying put seems like the smartest option to me too. They can wait out Stannis’ army because they have provisions for six months and as Northerners are prepared for a long, hard Winter – Stannis and his Southern army will starve and die while waiting. However Ramsay tells his father he only needs twenty good men to take down Stannis and his army…so I guess we’ll see…   

I have to tell you…you are TERRIBLE at keeping secrets…

King’s Landing: Pride Goeth before a Fall – Oh how the might have fallen – and fallen hard. Cersei has been reduced to rags, cowering in the corner of her cell and being whacked with a ladle when she won’t confess. She’s also being deprived of water in an effort to spurn her to unburden herself of her many sins. Her only visitor is Qyburn, who tells her the only way to get out of the cell is to confess and Cersei is having nothing to do with that…yet. Qyburn tells her that her Uncle Kevan has returned and now rules the Small Council, there has been no word from Jaime about his mission to save Myrcella and Tommen refuses to see anyone or eat. Cersei certainly is hanging on for now…but you have to wonder how long her resolve will last, especially since she ended the episode trying to lap water from the grimy floor – everyone has a breaking point – what will Cersei’s be?

Talk about “flavored” water…*shudder*

North of the Wall: Nightmares for Days – And then we get to Hardhome; the scene(s) this episode took it’s title from, so it’s no surprise this portion of the episode took up the final 25 minutes or so – and what an amazing 25 minutes they were! This episode did so much with visually depicting Hardhome: when Jon first arrives the Wildlings seem like a menacing enemy with such large numbers; a visual that is flipped on itself by the end of the episode when the size of the enemy has not only grown but is now staring at Jon through dead ice-blue eyes. But…I get ahead of myself….so let’s talk about that whole sequence that made up the portion of the episode North of the Wall.

It’s unfortunate that the wights (because those are what the creepy skeleton/undead ice zombies are called) attacked at this moment – Jon’s plan to bring the Wildlings to the other side of the Wall and join forces for the coming battle was actually going well – so well that the boats were being loaded to make the journey to the Wall when…well, when everything went berserk.

Methinks that’s not your standard avalanche….

The air grows strangely still and the dogs begin to bark with what can only be described as panic. Everyone turns toward the cliffs surrounding Hardhome and what at first appears to be an avalanche of epic proportions is quickly revealed to something much more sinister. One of the Thenns immediately calls for the gate to be closed, stranding hundreds of Wildlings on the wrong side of the gate. The screaming from the wrong side of the gate reaches a fever pitch before quitting with a suddenness so abrupt it can only be described with one word – chilling. One brave soul peers into the snowy swirl of quiet beyond the gate and as he stares into the void, a wight rushes the gate, leading hundreds of his fellows behind him – and with that, mass pandemonium breaks out.

Freezing water or being attacked by wights? I’ll take a swim…

The battle rages for a good 15 minutes of the episode and looks amazing; CGI has obviously taken a step up since last season! The most important aspect of the fight (and the scene as a whole) belongs to Jon Snow – the Lord Commander who brought dragon-glass as a gift for the Wildlings who make peace; a weapon that can be used against White Walkers to dazzling effect – which he leaves behind in the hut after meeting with the Elders. Jon fights his way through the clamor and into the hut, finding the stash of dragon-glass only to be set upon by a White Walker. A White Walker so powerful that he brings cold with him and is able to glide through the fire blazing in the hut with no problems and immediately begins beating Jon to a pulp. White Walkers use weapons made of what appears to be ice; whatever their weapons are made of, the minute it makes contact with the random sword Jon finds lying on the floor, it shatters into a million pieces. Jon’s in trouble.

Jon stumbles from the hut, coughing up blood and manages to grasp his sword, Longclaw. He wheels toward the oncoming White Walker, raising his sword to block the blow…more out of instinct than anything else; he already knows the blade will shatter. But – it doesn’t! The two swords collide with a crash and the stunned looks on both faces tell us everything we need to know; Jon seizes on the White Walker’s shock, swings his blade around and shatters the “man” where he stands. Such a refreshing moment of victory in an episode filled with defeat.

Did you know this would happen? 

You look better as ice chips – adios! 

Jon finally decides retreat is the only answer and he and the men he has left race for the boats. They row away from the shores, disbelief at the massacre they’ve witnessed written all over their face. The despair only grows when the Night’s King walks to the end of the dock, smiles eerily at Jon and raises his arms in triumph…and with it, raises a whole new army of wights…for every person killed by the army is now a part of the army, staring out to sea with menacing bright blue eyes. It seems obvious but I have to point out – things are really, really bad for Jon Snow. He may be the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, he may have rallied the Wildlings to his cause and hey…he even managed to kill a White Walker, but what can he really do at the end of the day in the face of the impending wight apocalypse? Dragon-glass works fine against White Walkers, but wights are the real issue and the only way to kill them? Fire. It would sure be nice if Jon had some dragons on his side right about now…   

I believe this is what you’d call a Westerosi mic drop….
And this is knowing you’re on the struggle bus…in the front seat…hanging on for dear life…

Other Notes from Westeros (and Essos)
No sign of anyone in Dorne this week; not really sad about that, the Dorne story line has disappointed at almost every turn.

There was a scene between Sam and Olly at the Wall; Sam assured Olly that sometimes a person has to do the thing that no one likes because it’s the best choice in the long run. Sam is talking about Jon’s mission to ally with the Wildlings; I think Olly will see that little chat as permission to do something else…

Daenerys; on the recommendation of Tyrion, banished Jorah from the city of Meereen for a second time. Tyrion told Daenerys killing those that are devoted to you doesn’t encourage much devotion but because Jorah spied on her, she cannot take Westeros with him by her side. Jorah has grayscale, so his days are numbered anyway – he sells himself back to the slaver and asks to fight in the Great Games at Daznak’s Pit – in front of Daenerys. I’m not sure exactly what his end game is but I feel like one way or the other, he won’t survive the season.

Jon’s sword is made of Valyrian steel; an important part of why it was able to stop that White Walker. There are only about 200 known Valyrian steel swords left in Westeros and there is no one who knows how to work Valyrian steel into weapons anymore. Valyrian steel is forged with magic; which explains why it would stop a White Walker – it’s also known by another name: Dragon steel. Very interesting when you connect the dots…Dragon-glass (obsidian) can also stop White Walkers. Does anyone else get the idea that dragon fire would probably be the ultimate weapon?

Only two episodes left this season…

Until next week – there’s nothing like a zombie avalanche to spoil your travel plans…am I right?

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