Game of Thrones…Season 4…Episode 9

Long before last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones” aired it was obvious that the entire episode would take place at the wall. The preview at the end of last week’s episode only featured the wall, all of the promotional stuff over the last week only featured the wall and the recap scenes only featured the wall. However, even I hadn’t seen any of those things it would have been very easy to figure out when the credits began and Kit Harrington got first billing for the episode.

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This episode had a lot of live up to. In past seasons episode 9 has been a pivotal episode in the season. In season one it was when Ned got beheaded. In season two it was the Battle of Blackwater and last year it was the Red Wedding.

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Last night’s episode was by no means a bad episode. It was entertaining and action packed, it just didn’t live up to the past episode nines of this show.

The episode began with Jon and Sam standing on top of the wall keeping watch. The feeling is that the approaching wildling armies mean certain doom for everybody. Sam questioned Jon about what it was like to be with somebody (obviously referencing Jon’s sexual relationship with Ygritte). Jon has never been a very well-spoken character and he struggled on how to explain what it was like to Sam.

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As the wildings prepared for their assault on the wall one thing was obvious, Ygritte was still filled with anger and pain from Jon breaking her heart at the end of last season. She was always a fierce warrior but in every appearance this season it’s been clear she’s been on a mission to make the entire world pay for her heartbreak…As this scene was playing out I remembered back to Season 2 when Jon had the chance to kill her and didn’t. I wondered how different the events at the Wall, and north of it, would have been if that had happened.

Back at the wall Sam was in the library where he had an interesting conversation with Maester Aemon. It was once again brought up that the Maester was a Targaryen before he took his Night’s watch vows. Aemon had a great line that “Love is the death of duty”.

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That was very important line in terms of the Night’s watch because they are supposed to give up everything for the duty of protecting the wall.

Of course, Sam’s development into a more fully realized human being has been because of his love for Gilly. I think that for him love has given him a sense of duty he didn’t have before. It has given him something to fight for and when Gilly and her baby arrive at the wall, fresh from the slaughter at Mole’s town, it raises the stakes for Sam.

There literally was no break from Gilly’s arrival before the action began. As soon as Sam and Gilly were done exchanging their pleasantries the alarm sounded.

At that moment I predicted that Jon wouldn’t die. As much as I believe no character is safe in the world of Westeros I do think certain characters are safe for a time. If Jon dies then there is no main character left to drive the action in the North, just like if Dany were to die there would be no main character to drive the action in the East.

Sam and Gilly shared their first kiss in a sweet moment.

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Then after Sam was done describing how he killed a White Walker he said “I’m not nothing anymore” I predicted that Sam would die. It seemed so obvious that that was the moment where the loser character declares himself a true man only to march off to his death.

Sometimes my predictions are right and sometimes they are wrong.

Since this was an episode of almost pure action there aren’t as many specific events to write about. I will say in terms of production value the episode was very impressive. It was clear that this episode cost a lot of money. It felt like I was watching a movie.

It was impressive to see the amount of force the wildlings brought to the wall. In reality they should have taken the wall. After all, they had everything from Giants to Mammoths.

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I was further convinced that Sam was going to die when he found the little boy (Olly) whose parents had been slaughtered by wildings a few episodes back basically cowering in a corner. Sam found his leadership skills and motivated that boy to keep being brave. Once again I thought this is Sam finding his voice and his strength. This can only result in his death.

As the end of the episode neared Jon had Sam unleash Ghost. Anytime we see the remaining dire wolves if makes me sad. It makes me think back to the very first episode when the Starks were all together.

It seemed obvious that the dramatic conclusion of this episode would have to come with Jon and Ygritte coming face to face. I knew Jon wouldn’t die but I didn’t know what that would mean for Ygritte. Would Jon kill her? Would she survive and become a prisoner of the Night’s watch? It turns out the answer was neither. As the two characters saw each other it was clear that they still had a connection. Ygritte paused and that was her fatal mistake. Olly shot her with an arrow. As Jon Snow’s love fell to the ground the little boy gave Jon a triumphant nod.

I always liked Ygritte, but that’s a given with me. I don’t like passive women and passive is a world that would NEVER describe Ygritte. It was so fitting that her last line would be her catchphrase, “You know nothing Jon Snow”.

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I was sad to see Ygritte die but it didn’t come as a total shocker, the way so many deaths on this show have.

With the Night’s watching having won the battle the question of what happens next loomed for Jon, Sam (I was happy that my prediction that Sam would die was wrong), Gilly and the rest. Jon made the correct assessment that just because they held the wildings back for a night doesn’t mean they would do it indefinitely. Jon formed a plan to kill Mance Rayder, in hopes of disbanding all of the wilding factions. Sam said it was a bad plan, which Jon admitted and he asked Sam if he had a plan of his own. Without saying so Sam conceded that he didn’t. The episode ended with Jon heading north of the wall to find and kill Mance Rayder.

Once again, this episode was really well done but it wasn’t this show at its best. I’m really looking forward the season finale next week…but then we’ll all have to wait ten months for season 5 😦

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