Game Of Thrones season 4 episode 9 review: The Watchers On The Wall

Review Ron Hogan 9 Jun 2014 - 08:02

The best-looking Game Of Thrones installment yet? Ron digs into season four episode nine, The Watchers On The Wall...

This review contains spoilers.

4.9 The Watchers On The Wall

There are some episodes of Game Of Thrones that are showcases for the writing prowess of Dan Benioff and DB Weiss (and a whole bunch of other great television writers), there are episodes that are dedicated to the prowess of brilliant actors like Peter Dinklage, and then there are episodes of Game Of Thrones that are nothing but spectacle.

Given the importance of the ninth episode of each season, it's not surprising that The Watchers On The Wall is less a plot advancing episode and more of a pure spectacle courtesy of one of the masters of the modern action sequence.

That would be Neil Marshall, who turned a cult classic film (Dog Soldiers) into a brilliant turn in the director's chair for the best episode of Game Of Thrones' second season, Blackwater, which made Tyrion a hero, Bronn a knight, The Hound a coward, and broke the armies of Stannis Baratheon. It was a brilliant episode full of both great character moments and great feats of technical process for Marshall and the Thrones special effects crew. The Watchers On The Wall cannot rise up to the level of Blackwater, but it's not for lack of trying.

From a pure visual standpoint, The Watchers On The Wall may be the most accomplished visual episode Game Of Thrones has done in four seasons. There is a cast of hundreds of extras involved in the opening stages of the Battle of Castle Black, with a full charge of wildlings across a field north of the wall, and a dedicated strike force of Wildlings attacking the gates on the southern front of Castle Black. At certain points, the entire screen is filled with various actors and stunt people bashing at one another with swords, screaming, and dying. Dozens of flaming arrows arch through the sky. It's battle on a scale the Game Of Thrones has never attempted before, and it pays off in glorious fashion, with a body count to shame Saving Private Ryan and some very rewarding individual set pieces.

There's always something happening throughout the entire episode, even in the scenes in which the Night's Watch and the Wildlings are just preparing battle, talking about having sex with bears or Ygritte's feet. In the early stages of the battle, there is a stunning camera sweep that starts with the charging wildlings attacking the gate to the south, goes through Castle Black, over the Wall, and to the north to cover that charging group of wildlings, all the way to Mance Rayder's bonfire that was a great visual short-hand for the locations in the episode, to help keep things a bit clearer as to what wildlings are doing what when. This is further reinforced by the show's use of tracking shots to keep us aware of specific characters.

That visual clutter is clarified thanks to some tight focus on particular characters and particular experiences. For most of the Castle Black battle, we stick with Sam and follow him and Pyp (Josef Altin) as they move from the top of the wall to the courtyard and back, or we follow Sam and Jon Snow through an extensive walk-and-talk through the trenches built into the top of the Wall in what must have been an expensive new set given the sheer scale of the the ground they cover during this episode. There are rooms and chambers that haven't been explored all that much, observation decks and barrel launchers and all sorts of crazy features that went unseen during the early days of exploring the wall, and all of these tricks come into play. Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) goes rampaging through the battle, up and down stairs, through hallways, and so on, and the camera follows him. Ditto Jon Snow and the Magnar of Thenn (Yuri Kolokolnikov). Even Ser Alliser Throne (Owen Teale) gets some tough-guy moments.

The practical effects are one thing, but the digital effects are something to be admired as well. Filling up the space for the actors is one thing, but adding to that and really filling up the world around them is another, and this week's episode makes brilliant use of CGI to flesh out backgrounds and craft some amazing-looking new creatures for the universe. The first appearance of a giant was one thing, but two giants and a woolly mammoth for them to ride on, destroying the gate in the side of the wall and firing an arrow the size of a ballista dart is something else entirely (and the scene of the giant's arrow propelling a man into the air and out over the wall only to splatter on the ground was very amusing). It was incredible-looking stuff, and the creature CGI looked really good even by the high standards of Game Of Thrones, especially during close-ups and fight scenes. Ditto the giant ice-scythe taking out the climbers on the wall, which was a fist-pumping moment for an episode that needed one.

Of course, it lacks a lot of the punch of Blackwater simply because Tyrion and Stannis don't show up midway through to slay wildlings and crack jokes. Instead, we're getting a lot of more forgotten characters like Pyp, Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton), and Janos Slynt (Dominic Carter). That's all well and good, and getting to learn to love Pyp again while following him and Sam around makes that particular little moment ache in the right way—Sam's not allowed to have anything nice happen to him—but Jon's final scene with Ygritte doesn't manage to be nearly as effective as Marshall and writers Dan Benioff and DB Weiss hope.

It's not the fault of Kit Harington or Rose Leslie that I'm not invested that much in Ygritte's death - they do a fine job with their moment and it's written in a very bittersweet way with Ygritte saying her catchphrase one last time. It doesn't work like Blackwater because we don't really remember or care all that much for the characters on the wall. After spending so much time in King's Landing, or with the Targaryen resurgence in Essos, ending up back at the wall again feels like a let-down. Even in a spectacular episode, and this was a spectacular episode, the Wall leaves me a bit cold.

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, The Mountain And The Viper, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is ready to start wearing furs and riding on a mammoth in the name of conquering the south for the forces of the true northmen... Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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Well that was a lot of spectacle over nothing. Ygritte's died but that had absolutely zero impact. The fact that Game of Thrones kills of so many major characters makes viewers expect it. Everyone knew someone had to die in this battle and it was extremely obvious and predictable who it would be. If they killed off Jon or Sam that would have been shocking. Ygritte was always expendable.

This Season has Drug on to much Real Shame felt this would be the most epic of all 4. sorry to say tonight's ep was nice and it was beautiful but it FAILED!!!!! This season has Failed. Maybe its expectations of the show but this from the books should have been the most epic thing on TV Ever and it Was Ok That's All. Still i love the show and will be watching next week and next season just feel they have tried to drag out stuff way to long to keep stuff for season 5-6 and now it will get boring soon

You know nothing, Jack Harkness.

Yeah, come back next week and say that.

Waaaay too much of the overweight, self-pitying coward in this episode.

Effing great episode, again. It ended earlier than I expected it to though.

Are you saying it was a bad episode because a major character didn't die? Pretty tough rating system you got there.

I am not sure of that but i grant you your opinion

I will if its a turd in the bowl. i have hope it will be epic so i hope not to be back to say it sucks

It was spectacular to watch, but honestly it just felt as though everything simply stopped to get this out of the way. Ygritte was clearly a walking fatality waiting to happen, and as much as I liked her character it was so predictable I just wanted the showrunners to get it out of the way.

That said, the smile on Jon's face when he first saw Ygritte was beautifully done, and the actors did very well, but the impact simply wasn't there as the story hadn't really given the relationship enough importance.

The Wall has always felt like a bit of stuff to one side, and I really wish we'd had something else mixed into it.

Excellent Episode, much better than any film I've seen recently in terms of sheer spectacle.
Always wondered how this would play out on screen and it did not disappoint at all, some excellent scenes in there.
Only downside is I thought we would see the climax of the battle, not sure when we will see that now...

You know nothing Jack Harkness,
I don't think you were really watching the same TV show I just did... so what exactly were you expecting to see? Nuclear Explosions?
It's fair enough to say something has failed but you have no actual substance to back it up, therefore your comment is just an opinion.
This season has surpassed all others I have no idea how you came to your opinion...although I guess it takes all sorts...I quote Harry Callaghan "Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one"

Blackwater didn't need character death to deliver. It marked an important shift in the story. Here nothing major really happens apart from losing two tertiary characters and the most predictable death yet in Ygritte. You gotta admit that's a bit underwhelming for the second biggest battle in the history of the show.

They didn't just kill Ygriite. Practically every recurring character in the North also died along the way. Leaves an awful lot of holes in the defense that need to be plugged. And fast.

I suspect some last minute editing. There were other names on the cast list when I looked at it a few days ago.

Hey I like Sam. He's my favourite! Sam and Hot Pie prove my theory that Fat Lads are the only truly nice people in Westeros.

But it's clearly leading into something major.

I thought it was a awesome battle. An the best episode of the season. Wish we spent some more time at the wall, may be then the story wouldn't have felt so disconnected from the rest of the story.

Still an awesome battle and some spectacular scene, I bet this is by far their most expensive episode to date.

Ohhhhhh you are so wrong.
also - *dragged (drug!?!)

This season hasn't failed, it's been the best so far in my opinion, far superior to series 3 and as good as series 2.

Everyone's complaint is that this episode didn't live up to what should have because we've been disconnected from the characters. Their deaths, therefore weren't meaningful and the episode failed. I would tend to strongly disagree.

In fact, it's rather quite brilliant. People complain that the show has spent little time at the wall and that it just feels to the side of everything else. Well IT IS. The men of the Night's Watch are constantly on guard for the good of the entire continent, yet no one pays them any mind, unless of course they need a punishment to mete out that is less severe than death. While the Night's Watch fight for their lives in a desperate struggle against impossible odds, the rest of the world continues on, not even thinking twice about them. They would rather focus on the politics of King's Landing and throwing grand weddings.

I really think this was executed brilliantly and gives the perfect feel. The actors in this last episode did a phenomenal job all the way around. If you couldn't become attached to some of the characters, just from the content in this episode, then you may need to reevaluate. This episode was a spectacular chronicle of battle, sacrifice, and heroism. And all of it is painted against a canvas of a continent that doesn't notice because it's too busy playing the game of thrones.

This. All of this.

This episode can be considered an enormous success simply for making Ser Alliser an unprecedented badass. Gone from hating him to loving him (although he's still an arse)

It was spectacular. But my general rule of thumb for GOT these days is if there is snow on the ground, I don't really care what happens to the people in the scene.

The wall, the white walkers and the events north of the wall pale in comparison with the events of kings landing, Bravos and slavers bay.

you know nothing Jack Harkness

Remember those *precise* words.

Your attitude is the reason the White Walkers will take the Seven Kingdoms.
Winter Is Coming.

Valar Morghulis. All men must die.

We just had Oberyn's death, and now people are complaining that the show's too predictable. Well, if you want major characters to die, just wait for the next episode. Also, Blackwater had no character deaths except for Davos' son, who absolutely no one cared for.

EDIT: And that Kingsguard guy whose name I don't remember.

Please, don't Write like This, it's Painful.

I personally found the plot of the wall to be slightly boring before this episode. However It was simply amazing, full of emotion, intensity, action, visually it was spectacular. The way the camera position at different angles or zoomed in and out of the battle was cleverly done.
Last episode we had the event at kings landing, and sure i was waiting anxiously to find out how things would play out there, so when initially the episode was not moving from the wall i was slightly irritated, that feeling quickly passed and by the end of the episode i was hoping next week we would have an entire episode of Jon snow going out to meet the wildlings. That is what i love about game of thrones, we just do not know what the next episode will be, and the fact that it follows a different order from the book has everyone guessing. But above all the fact that it leaves you frustrated at times, but then surprised and in the end just satisfied and in complete admiration of the hard work and dedication. well done GOT.

Slaver's Bay? Daenery's story is really boring. The Wall and the White Walkers will be at least as important as what's going to happen with her.

I actually ended up liking Alliser, a character I've hated since season 1, in this episode.

Yeah, they seriously had too much Janos Slynt in this episode ;)

I'm not certain you should call it a let down. It was different. I think the "mystery" surrounding Jon Snow is not done well. We should see more of him instead of less, and in that point, the story is not served. The battle's pace was a little slow, but that can be forgiven. The acting was wonderful and each death meant something. This battle cannot be compared with that at King's Landing. Giants are cool but the fire on the water was spectacular. Tyrion's moment of truth can hardly be compared with the death of Yvette. So.... let's just say, it was one episode, one advancement of plot, with some sadly cool events. BYW... the deaths did count.

I missed the pre-battle talk about Ygritte's feet... there was talk of her red-haired bush, but no talk of feet

Yeah, either I missed that too, or Ron Hogan doesn't know what "minge" means.

Yeah, I agree with the review, the episode was quite good, but nowhere near matched the spectacle or gravitas of Blackwater. I'd have actually preferred if they'd cut 10 or so minutes out scenes and had a little development from another plotline. There's quite a few scenes that could have been cut or shortened IMO. I couldn't care less about Sam and I think a lot of his scenes could have been shortened, and they could have got rid of a lot of the pre-battle stuff in general. Maybe 10 minutes stretches it a little, but I don't think this deserved a whole episode when there's so much other important stuff happening too. The only character I really care about at the wall is Jon, and even then not as much as a lot of other characters. It was still a good episode, though.

Ten minutes in when I realised that I would have to wait a week to find out if Tyrion has any hope of reprieve (none book reader you see) I was disappointed. Like a lot of people, it seems, I have found the goings on at the wall dull in comparison to the happenings at Kings Landing and the Hound and Aryas yomp across Westeros. 30 minutes in I was punching the air and shouting my encouragement at the Nights watch. There were tears in my eyes when Sam promised Gilly he wouldn't die and when Ygritte did die. This was a fantastic episode that excited me on a very primal level. Given that there are more than a few loose ends to tie up just at the wall, never mind throughout the rest of Westeros, I sense a more exciting final epsiode than usual next week and I can't wait!

There were definitely a comment about her "big feet" ..from one of the cannibals I think..but it wasn't part of the minge scene.

It was on the Wall when Sam and Jon were talking, Sam asked about her feet.

I'm not trying to spoil anything, but the game-changing event on The Night's Watch story will happen in Episode 10, something extremely major, like Eddy said.

Overall I REALLY liked this episode, although not without flaws, It's been quite a long time since I watched some glorious epic one-by-one sword fights. Action-wise, it's better than Blackwater, obviously. But the rest is, well, not better than Blackwater but still pretty good for GoT standards.

i literaly cried when ygritte died like seriously my boyfriend couldn't understand why i was crying but i cried for about 20 minutes and kept crying like 15 times sad times

It was Sam who said it. He asked Jon what she was like and Jon said she had red hair so Sam said "how big were her feet?" as a sarcastic jab that he wasn't asking how she looked.

I don't get why people hate him or call him a coward. He was far from a coward this episode, and the way he handled encouraging Pyp and then easing Pyp into death was very well done. I love Sam, he's really developed from the cowardly character he was before.

Also, stop fat-shaming please.

This season has had more viewers and higher episode to episode ratings (all rated over 90) than any of the other season. So much for it being the worst. But you sound like one the book elitists so I'll forgive you for being completely wrong. :)

I thought that this was a brilliant episode,the one since when I've read about it in the books that I've been most looking forward to seeing on screen...and it lived up to my expectations given this is a Tv show and not a multi million pound action film...I loved Neill Marshall's direction...great sweeping shots and tracking actors as they moved through the action set pieces,individual hero moments for loads of characters ..even Ser Alliser and for those that say the Ygritte Jon Snow moment didn't have a great impact then I'm sorry I was crying my eyes out ...and for those who want to know what happens to Tyrion then one episode away from him will only add to the suspense for the final episode...it's a shame that next week will be the final episode of season 4 but it should at least finish with some fan loving moments .

Ohhhhh. Okay, the way he phrased it made me think he was just talking about the Wildlings' conversation, but re-reading it, I see what he means. Thanks.

I was betting on Ed's answer, but I remember it now that Gearstick and Roz pointed it out :)

THIS.

It made stuff like LOTR look like a cartoon.

Ser Mandon Moore

Not having seen the episode yet, I'm not sure including Alliser in the battle was the right move; his and Slynts absence in the book was vital to the arc of John Snow.

Took me a minute but *applause*

"The first appearance of a giant was one thing" - the way this is worded makes it seem like this is the first time we've seen a giant, which is not true, we saw one when Jon was in the wildling camp with Ygritte at the start of S3.

Totally agree, this battle tops them all in my opinion, would be hard pushed to find a better one on Film or TV

ho-hum. Boring and disappointing. Everything was too dark so you couldn't see what was happening. Oh someone died. Were they anyone important? The episode had no meaning whatsoever.

you Know How to randomly Capitalise Words, i'll give You That.

Quite the contrary. All s/he is saying is that character deaths are ten-a-penny and they just don't have as much impact anymore. You don't get attached to characters. They die. Usually nastily. In this world, death is always expected (unlike the Spanish Inquisition). It's a reflection on the entire world of GoT, not a criticism of a particular episode.

Hey, not everyone on here is "privvy" to that information....

Since the show writers know exactly what is going to happen in future books, maybe the Jon Snow theories out there are exagerrated and that is why he is not getting the love some book readers think he should?

The music really reminded me of the swords and sandles films made in the 80s such as Conan, which I loved. I thought all the actors were fantastic. In series one I was not a fan of Kit Harington but he's really grown on me - the actor and the character. It was sad to lose Rose Leslie but hopefully she gets some good parts soon. She wouldn't look out of place in something like Guardians of the Galaxy if or when they make a sequel or Star Wars for that matter. I could see her as a Jedi Knight.

It might not be a popular viewpoint, but I'm going to say it: this was
probably the least interesting episode of the season so far for me.

Now, even
the worst episode of GoT is still better than most TV so I'm not saying I
didn't enjoy it, just that it was a bit meh.

Tyrion is really the only character I care about (and Sansa Stark, although for different reasons) so to have his fate held over for another week is like torture!

Really well put - I think that sums it up perfectly. I think this episode was stronger than Blackwater, because these forgotten and despised men did their best under appalling circumstances. I also rather like Jon and Sam as characters.

I still hate him, but I was impressed with how useful and badass he is when it really matters.

It was a good show, but I think you need to watch 2 Towers and Return of the King again... loll.

When Sam promised Gilly he wouldn't die I was like "OMG THEY'RE GOING TO KILL SAM!" loll

SPOILERS!! --------------------------

Are they going to wrap up The Wall next week, with everything that needs to happen in King's Landing with Tyrion's escape, Arya leaving Sandor, Lady Stoneheart (warned you!), etc?

Let's see here... Jon voted in, the turtle and Stannis' arrival. Or are they skinpping this and putting it off to next year? Would be horrible!

Maybe I should watch the trailer...

I'm going to miss ginger minge

Funny you mention that as I was thinking "yeah yeah yeah, so whats happening ANYwhere else right now?"

I think the reason is the character development has been weak at the wall and even when Ginger died, I was kind of "meh"

The other thing that affects me is knowing one more episode left. I hate these short seasons and I find myself panicking about wrapping up so many storylines that I am actually interested in the outcome for characters that I'm bound too (case in point, The Hound). The Mountain and the Viper episode was brilliant as they really packed it with story details AND a good fight

Not sure Why you feel you have to attack someones Opinion Sir. You are 100% percent Correct it is a OPINION sorry it does not fit or conform to yours i Respect your Opinion like everyone else's here. I Still Love the Show truly one of the best on TV Ever. That Said as someone who read the books I had Higher Expectations For This season. Nothing more nothing less in my eyes the producers are dragging feet to prolong some of the best parts of the books. I also Understand and am happy they are doing that because the books do get boring in parts coming up. So Thank you for pointing out that i am some asshole for having a opinion different from yours Have A nice DAY!!!!!

Kim i agree with you i would like to drink what Richard is having :D

no I still cried when Ygritte died just like I did in the book....but that probably has a lot to do with the fact I read the book and you get invested in every little part. They leave out a lot in the tv show but it was still excellent.

I don't get, why you are comparing it with the other 9er episodes.
This time they decided to split it up / extend the finale to 3 episodes (8, 9 and 10), so it is actually not really comparable. Just because they did it in a certain way in seasons one thru three doesn't mean they will do it the same way in season 4. This is GoT after all :)

I would have thought that life on the wall would have encouraged some weight loss; but no, he's still a fat, self-pitying oxygen thief who constantly endangers the lives of his brothers.

I'm pretty sure Davos cared about his son... 8(

*Ygritte. You know nothing. 8P

To me he's the bravest character in the entire Song. The most scared, maybe, but bravery is facing your fears and he keeps doing that... with flying colours.

I may be alone in this, but I think this was a boring episode.

Personally, just HAD to say, that, was the worst episode of game of thrones ever, it just sucks that it was the second last one of the season, I can't bare for this season to end! It was rubbish because we didn't get to see any other goings-on that are happening in the series right now, it was all about the stupid wall and that battle, which for me is the most boring part of GoT.

Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you - I never actually called you an asshole, I merely quoted a line Dirty Harry said in The Deadpool, which basically means everyone has an opinion...must have been lost in translation...

Nice turn from Aamon Targ this week, GREAT to see Jon FINALLY get 'proper lethal'; got a little chill when he drew Longclaw for the 1st time later on in the ep, must admit, to my shame, Harrington is starting to win me over... sad to say farewell to the Night's Watch boys for the final time, here all they way ffrom season one, the actors always held it together admirably with little screen time.... Ygritte... well... don't think any of us will really miss her, and let us all hail the MIGHT of Wun-Wun!!! We've lost a lot of great characters this season - Jack Gleeson, the dude who plays Magnar of Thenn, the wonderful Pedro Pascal, all of whom I'm very sad to see go...... and it's NOT OVER YET. ;) GoT IS Monday morning!

Oh and DROP THE SCYTHE BOYS!!! Ffs, that was RIDICULOUS; obviously loved it!!!

..and 102 men of the Night's Watch? The Watch body count alone was about 80 in the first 2 minutes - seriously there were MASSES of them going down!

Ser I agree with everything you have written here.

My ONLY complaint is that Ghost is released, Ghost kills one and then is never seen again. I feel I've waited for a wolf moment, and it was wasted.

The 'over the shoulder' shots of Ygritte killing Crows were just astonishingly superb.

jon (snow) targaryen in action, son of ryaeger targaryen and llyann stark. yup nephew of daenarys. i suppose he might command dragons in season 7?

hear hear!

I always liked him.

Brilliant post.

I did too, but didn't really want to. I liked having a character without redeeming qualities in the books he was the wall's version of that.

Yes in a way. He is a d!"k but a human one with reasons behind his actions. He also went head first to protect castle black and that gave him a little more kudos.

Enjoyed this one, not as good as the Red Wedding or Blackwater though

The wall hasn't fallen to wildlings yet, which it has been under threat of doing for several series. That's fairly important.

When Alliser and Giantsbane were fighting my girlfriend said "I don't know who I want to win this". I didn't either. Anyone have similar?

Not sure man I thought it was clear enough. As in that ep was good enough but this ep gave us two and a Mammoth.

John loses friends and allies in that ep. With the smaller game of thrones occurring at castle black that seems important. Also they were good characters well played. I thought the Pip death was especially sad.

I liked how John Snow spat blood in the Magnar's face learning from his fight with Karl Tanner. A good way of showing the characters progression. Kit Harrington is yet to win me over though.

So sad to see Pyp and Grenn bite the dust. I thought Grenn's death was really sad. That scene where the giant comes charging and he rallies his brother with the Night's Watch vows sent shivers down my spine.

Yeah, I was really afraid they would stray from the books and kill one of them.

For the love of God - please stop capitalizing random words! It doesn't really convince us you'll ever have an intelligent opinion. It's like you didn't show up to English at school, or you fail to recognize grammatical patterns.
I'll make it simple:
Unless you're dealing with a proper noun (a name, for example), you only put a capital letter at the start of your sentence. You know a sentence has ended when you put a full stop.

Yeah that was a good scene too. But if I was critical a touch cliched. As events unfolded and we still hadn't seen how events in that tunnel had worked out I kept asking whats happened? What about the giant. I should have guessed when neither Grenn nor a giant were about.

This episode beats Blackwater for the fact that oath of the watch was upheld...least in the interim ...Joffreys prancing a round like a tit did Blackwater no justice, and personally apart from the fire..I found Tyrrions fight the best bit..with Podrick saving him a nice touch.....

Here we see what "the brothers of the nights watch" where hoped to have always done by us all...get nasty, dirty and fight...for nothing..for the wall...for everything!!!

Well done GOT!

I thought that was absolutely stunning. I've never seen TV on that scale, ever. Amazing job by all involved. Bloody well done.

I agree with Richard. Preferred that to any battle in the LOTR trilogy.

Totally agree. My mind is blown. Never seen TV like that in my life, and rarely film.

I think the fact that you're compaining about that episode just shows how high the standards are it has set for itself.

That was the best scene, for my money.

Agreed. Kit Harrington was excellent. And great call for Ygritte: Jedi Knight.

He's great. Not sure of the actor's name, but he's darn good.

This review is just nonsense. The episode was nothing short of film quality. The death scenes effective. It was expertly directed to make a cluttered battle scene cohesive. I feel sad for the reviewer that they'd rather spend more tine in aking's landing listening to a bald chap talk in riddles and another council meeting. Does he prefer the Star Wars prequels to the original trilogy too? :)

....why can't they seal the tunnel with explosives? :o.

Surely nothing beats the skirmish at the end of Fellowship? The big battles in Two Towers and ROTK, sure, they're reasonably forgettable.

some people like yourself (personally i loved it) care less about the wall because the writers don't SPEND ANY F**KING TIME THERE!!!! seriously - aside from jon's 3 minute trial scene in episode 1 and some quick filler invented material with craster's keep, the wall has been literally the same scene over and over and over again.
jon warns about the wildling threat.
alliser thorne doesn't listen and mocks him a bit.
jon's left looking undermined and can't do anything about it.
repeat 10 times....don't even bother even attempting to show any preparations (like SCARE-CROWS!!!) sam needs to take gilly to molestown because......wait, why was that exactly?...

like...what kind of writing is that???? and the worst bit is that the books have an absolute WEALTH of stellar material for the wall/jon's arc which has been f**king cut altogether!!! it's ridiculous.

as someone who enjoys the wall storyline and jon as a character, i thought this episode was great (absolutely no one can deny it was visually stunning. i nearly thought those giants/mammoth were real...). i think everyone at the wall is a very solid actor - that's not where the problem lies in the slightest. it's that D&D have neglected it's storyline for the past 3 years, ever since the end of season 1. if they would put a bit of goddamn effort into it then people would love this storyline.
there's no need for half as much of the invented filler scenes they like to bandy about (2 episodes this season at least were almost completely invented and very largely filler) and each episode this season was about 10 minutes shorter. that's LOADS of time that they could have devoted to actually developing the wall's story and characters - drum up a bit of interest and emotional investment in them before the big throw down.

also - someone please remind D&D that it's actually jon who's the main character at the wall and not sam.....why was most of the development in this episode and in others devoted to him? he's cute and nice and likeable....but he's not the main character! the only things they seem to enjoy writing for jon are fight scenes. it's high time they invested more effort in delving into HIM, as a person, and showing his highly astute intelligence. he's more than a warrior - round him out please!
(as a side note - kit harington's been doing an absolutely fantastic job as jon this season with the material he's been given. he's knocked every scene out of the park - not to the same calibre of thespian's like charles dance or any of the lannisters really who each have more than his lifetime's length of experience, but he's been pretty damn great. all we need is for the f**king writers to up their game and jon snow will be perfect)

I definitely didn't have any trouble seeing what was going on. Maybe you had a low res file? ;-)

that wasn't wun wun that was mag the mighty....and ftr ygritte was pretty well liked by most people.

some global web anaylsis thing found her to be the uk's favourite characters last year (i think jon was in second place, and then reverse those 2 for australia) and that jon/ygritte were the overall favourite couple of the series so far.

ygritte was super annoying in the books, but rose leslie was great - she'll be deeply missed. i hope she does well elsewhere she's very talented.

i would have smashed a hammer through a man's skull to get just ONE shot of jon and ghost fighting side by side.

THX We are cool and i see what your saying now. I should have seen it this morning. Its nice to be passionate about a show and be able to talk online with fans. Cant wait to see what happens in the season Finale!!! You Sir have a Great Week......." Now to tell you the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement".

I did feel the Wall would be the focus of much more of the season because i felt book 3 was really about the wall and war at the wall. now on TV they could not do that so they have changed a few things here and there but still brilliant

Nothing you know Jon Snow

Stronger episode than Blackwater in every aspect regardless of who your preferred characters are or location set. Excellent directing, watching the giant release his arrow (missile!) took us from the base of the wall, to the top before leading us down into Castle Black where the fighting resumed...fantastic!

I read it this way too at first, as the context suggests it's referring to this episode.
Now I'm thinking it meant "The first appearance of a giant [back in that S3 episode] was one thing...".

My guess would be that they'll save that build-up for the season in which we get the pay-off. Book readers remember details for years, TV viewers need it to be within recent memory.
Even though we're often the same people...

This post makes Linguo's motherboard hurt.

I agree with you, although some of the other commenters made good points. I like the wall story line and Jon Snow just fine and I'll miss Ygritte, but would have liked to at least see what was happening in King's landing after the last episode. Now they just have one episode left to cram in a bunch of stuff and I fear it is going to leave me unsatisfied. Although I obviously haven't seen next week's episode yet, I wish they would have swapped episode 9 and 10 out. I would have been happy watching the fight for the wall in episode 10 and then end the season with Jon walking out beyond the wall...

I love GoT but even this (brilliant) battle was nowhere near the quality of any battle in the sadly lacking LOTR franchise.

I for one really enjoyed this episode, looking at other peoples responses to it im starting to think that as a book reader I was more invested and had a greater connection to those on the wall and the wildlings because the book spends a lot longer with them than the show does, its a shame because the wall is surely the most important part of the whole seven kingdoms seeing as if that falls everyone beyond (below?) anyway south of the wall is in big big trouble!!
well even though this episode is a bit of a marmite one this current season is still the best yet in my opinion and I cannot wait for the finale! bring it on GOTS, best show on tv ever!

I didn't care for it. As a battle, yeah it was pretty good, but that's all there was to this episode.

I really agree. People forget the wall. Both in the GoT universe and in ours. But they're people too, they die, they love, they hurt, and we saw that last night.

*Off topic* The Spanish Inquisition were always expected. They were required by law to make an appointment. Just a little FYI :)

Tro-lo-lo-lololl

Watch the episode :) All will be revealed.

I was annoyed that the battle suddenly ended the moment Ygritte was killed. apparently the crows can respawn...

i didnt want to read the whole review. And reading some of the comments i must say: u guys really have no clue. Maybe u could say that the idea was good but this episode was so bad cause of all the mistakes. While i watched i noticed so many mistakes and after i quickly looked again and noticed even more. (but before i write the mistakes i want to say that i am not english and i dont try to write perfect)

- lagg of tactics and stupid decisions: Night's watch knew that the wildlings behind the wall would attack, why not more men down there? wildlings behind the wall purpose was to distract or what? well it was kinda useless since the wildlings climbing the wall were not even close. Wildlings fighting without any tactics (not taking over the *lift*). the night's watch could easily stopped many wildlings (but they needed to listen to a speach etc). dropping the scythe was tactically stupid. Only a few where climbing the wall, using ur great tool at that moment didnt make sense. Just wait till they all reach the top for an easy kill. They just show it because it "looks cool". No archers on the giants. giant didnt leave the gate open. No "fire at will"? firing arrows with with fire. Its night, ppl can see the arrows when they are on fire. Only reason to do it, is to make sure the ppl watching the show can better see the arrows.

- mistakes: Ygritte shoots duing the rush for the gate with arrows with fire. I dont think she took the time to light it up or anything (shooting 2 burning arrows in 2 sec). Giant opening the gate because he was mad?! Every time changing the "leaders" on the wall. It doesnt make sense, and they repeat the "nock, drawl, loose". Just bad, just bad...

Overall, this episode doesnt come close to any other famous battle. Tactics: none, speaches: none, cool stuff: 2, fighting: doable. I can only say: this episode sucked since they probably wont show the rest of the battle in the next episode

Don't be misleading. The sum of major characters dying in episode 10 is zero.

No.

You're going to be very happy at the end of E10. And very, very unhappy about the wait until S5.

Maybe you should just stop talking and wait for Sunday rather than crowing (no pun intended) about everything you've read. Guess what? We've all read it too. Whoopee.

dasdasd

Good points. Like anybody else, I've seen hundreds of battle scenes on TV and film. The only time I've felt more immersed in the horrors of war than last night was the opening of Saving Private Ryan. Stunning job.

What, not even the one where Legolas slides down the elephant's trunk?

I agree that that was the best LOTR battle because it was toned down rather than the ridiculously over the top ROTK battles.

As battles go, I like scenes that capture the horrors of war. Sequences that make you think, "that would be hell," rather than, "ooh, that looks fun," like I think LOTR did. That GOT battle last night was second only to Saving Private Ryan (IMO) in capturing the brutality of battle.

Enjoyed the episode but found some of the dialogue quite heavy on the cheddar! The scene with Gilly and Sam in particular was ridiculous... 'Promise me you won't die'... 'I promise... I won't die'. Reminded me so much of Team America!!

The action was superb but this episode just didn't beat my expectations. There was nothing critical that would change the course of the entie series as we have seen in previous episode 9s, and overall I feel the stories set around the wall have been the series weakest.

I see what you've done there. Brilliant.

Not my complaint - I thought it was extraordinarily great. Anyone complaining about a TV show as incredible as that hour was simply cannot ever be pleased. This is why we can't have nice things.

yes you are, and nobody cares

Amazing, so damn good!! Finished way too soon, i wish each episode was 90 mins! I do wish we had seen more of Ghost unleashing his loyal jaws on the Wildlings, and some side by side action with Jon. Incredible special effects. Just so bloody good, i don't want the season to be over again, it's just getting juicy! Hurry up GoT..

couple of points ... the watch needed to have their arrows on fire so that they could see where they were going its a long way from the wall to the ground and it was nighttime and they would have to see if the arrows were falling short or not ....

the chain did look cool but I figure they planned it as a deterrent once the people on the ground had seen it in use there was no way they were going to climb any more that night ....

Your right Ygrit didn't light any arrows she just picked up the ones that had been shot at her

I agree with you on the rest though this was not a patch on other episode 9's

Nope, sorry. I’ll write whatever I want,
whenever I want as long as I follow the rules of DoG.

Of course you’re free to express yourself,
but if my posts offend you, you are also free to ignore them.

Going to be real disappointed come series 5 or 6 then.

Actually, there should be at least 3.

I count only 1 major. And I said sum. ;)

As boring as the horney blond in the middle east?

Sweet post, I love the wall it is truly a sh!t hole.

Do the Yanks know what a ginger minge is?

For those of you that are saying this episode was boring - I can kind of see your point of view, however, how many of you read the books? I enjoyed the commitment the writers and director gave the battle. When Grenn (I stand to be corrected) and the others recited the vows in the tunnel and they all pulled their swords out I literally marked out.

Additionally, GoT changed the feel of this season as Episode 9 was usually the "shocking" episode, so if 9 wasn't "shocking", could it be that 10 is?

I mourned the loss of Ygritte, nothing like the book, but I feel was handled better in the series.

I for one cannot wait for the next episode - a lot will happen and I can for-see a lot of mouths hanging open by then end.

Enjoy

Couldn't have put it better myself.

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