Epic battle sets up thrilling GoT climax
KATE DAVIDSON AND JONATHAN PHILLIPS
TV & Radio
As Game of Thrones' fourth season builds to a crescendo, Jon Snow's band of Night's Watch brothers faced seemingly insurmountable odds as a huge army of Wildings laid siege to The Wall.
To my dear Jonathan,
After this week's episode I thought my golly, how are we going to write this whole thing without the usual jumping around of scenes and characters? Yet, thinking through the hour at the Wall I realised there is rather a lot to unpack.
Game of Thrones did extremely well this week detailing a battle in which the Night's Watch seemed doomed to perish. But, I did find it hard to watch after having read the books - yes my memory has lapsed in some spaces and places, but I can still recall the overall ending and I found myself wishing I couldn't last night.
Firstly, so the suspense of the unknown still existed as it does when I hear you pondering on what is to come. And secondly because of missing parts not included in the TV series - like the looming threat of Mance's secret weapon the Horn of Winter.
We delved into some of the characters a bit deeper with the single focus on the Wall. The Wildlings aka Free Folk may be violent, but I don't get the impression they are all evil.
They are fighting for survival while opposing centralised hierarchical power structures in the quest for freedom and so they should with the seat of power in King's Landing hardly aiding the Night's Watch against the advancing army while the threatening white walkers linger on beyond the wall.
I was saddened when Grenn died. He's the guy you want next to you in a battle - a more loyal and honest version of Bronn. I felt for the poor chap who expressed his frustration with the "good guys" dying last week in a interestingly spelt Facebook status. I hope he skipped this week's episode.
When Jon sends Grenn below their parting exchange said much with few words while Samwell gushing over love and all the rest was a bit over the top for my liking. While Alliser Thorne's apology to Jon was impressive in a show where the bullies ruling the scene rarely admit fault.
War, it's a real bastard. Game of Thrones (which just came up as Game of Bathrobes thanks to autocorrect) portrayed those moments of young men off to battle with words unsaid and deeds undone nicely. There was a sorting of the wusses from those who fight on even in the face of an imminent death with some finding an
unknown strength in the face of such adversity.
I was glad to see Ghost the direwolf back in action. I always feel like the Starks are not quite whole without their beasts - as such I was then disturbed to see Jon going out to meet Mance without Ghost. Very disturbed.
It was a wise move to separate the action at the Wall out this week. It sets the anticipation for what I expect will be a typically delightful Game of Thrones season finale reverting back to cover a series of places and people.
Only one more to go and so much to fit in.
In its quest to outdo every other show on television during its golden age, Game of Thrones attempted with episode nine of this week's show to pull out all the stops. The clincher for me was the scythe that was untethered towards the end of the battle for the Wall.
I had just assumed that we were in for some more burning oil action to dislodge the climbing Wildlings, but then the scythe. The touching detail of a Wildling hand dangling still holding onto its rope was both classy and a season highlight. That scythe certainly bought a heap of joy to an episode that knew what to do with a battle scene.
I guess, without all the dramas that usually fill up the programme, we were left with the different prospect of enjoying some quality time with the bros at the wall.
Don't get me wrong Kate, I love that tubby Samwell guy and Jon Snow when he jumped off that elevator and started getting real on the battlefield was impressive; but ultimately this was an episode of details.
Details like a woolly mammoth being ridden by a giant. I mean we knew that the army was coming for a while, and we had seen some of the giants during Jon's party with the wildlings ages ago, but it was pretty exciting watching those giants. Exciting in a "why was Return of the King's Oliphaunts charge not as great as this?" sort of excitement.
In fact, I didn't really want to bring it up, but aside from the lack of hobbit action (although Jon basically looks like a burlier Frodo, and Samwell essentially fulfills the Samwise Gamgee role) we were in essence watching the Helm's Deep assault in the Two Towers, but with more gore.
Furthermore, on a tighter budget the director seemed to get way more out of the smaller sets and lessened CGI. That tracking shot of the battle was fantastic - it seemed like a really economical way to get
through the bulk of the action while still getting to see some serious action.
Also noted from this week;
- Kid that last week said he was the best shot in the village, made good on his promise and saved Jon from having to "settle down" with Ygritte. Talk about investing in characters, I am sure I am not the only one hoping we see a whole heap more of that wee guy.
- That scene where the giant shot his giant arrow into someone in the wall who then fell down to Castle Black didn't really seem to fulfill the parabolic arc that an arrow fired would actually resolve in. Just seemed like a remarkably convenient way to cut back to Castle Black.
- Managed to kill off basically every character in the Wall that was superfluous, which seemed sort of convenient, but also troubling for the future episodes and painful goodbyes of Jon Snow, Samwell and that Maester who was revealed to be a Targaryen, also that best shot in the village kid. Needless to say, not looking forward to his death.
p.s. watch this gem
- The Nelson Mail