With so many book-to-show changes, and the fact that many plots are caught up with George R.R. Martin’s text, we’re only doing one Game of Thrones recap this season… this one. Please try to talk about last night’s episode, not plot points half a season away (context from the books will be provided as needed, though nothing will be spoiled). Also, each week’s recap will be broken down into (Faith of the) seven questions that need answering, beginning with…
1. Was this the episode Game of Thrones needed?
Oh yeah. I don’t usually do general “this is what I liked, this is what I didn’t like” opinions in these recaps, but I’m making an exception for “Hardhome” because it was such an important episode. Not only for what it meant to the show’s universe (we’ll get to that later), but for Game of Thrones, in general. Think about the last two episodes: There was the Sansa scene, then the show doubled down on the sexual assault. People were talking about Game of Thrones for all the wrong reasons. But Twitter lit up over this episode, because it was so damn good.
It looked massive, the pacing was great (character catch up in the front; battle in the back), and, best of all, Jon Snow (#JonSnowpiercer) became the leader Game of Thrones wants us to believe he is. King Crow even said the word “f*ck!” He’s come a long way since Cry Face.
2. Is anyone happier than Emilia Clarke right now?
With semi-due respect to the actors who played Jorah, Khal Drogo, Missandei, Barristan, and the guy from Qarth, the greatest city that ever was or will be, whose head is literally an egg, Emilia Clarke has been waiting her entire Game of Thrones life for this episode. She finally got to interact with someone worthy of her Emmy-nominated talents. It was worth the hold-up (well, not really). Her scene with Peter Dinklage was fantastic, two heavyweights measuring their opponent’s weaknesses and strengths before realizing they’re fighting for the same thing… power. He’s a Lannister, she’s a Targaryen, but they both want to break the wheel, which sounds like the best tagline to the worst sitcom, coming this fall to NBC. Varys gets a “created by” credit.
3. Where is the Arya plot going?
This is total speculation, but now that Arya, excuse me, Lanna (in the books, she’s named Cat; on the show, a cat runs by her cart — clever girl) is out in the wild, selling her oysters to the hungry residents of Braavos, she’s apt to kill anyone, not just that tattle-tale she lives with. In this episode, she met her first assassination target, an insurance merchant, and poured enough vinegar on his food to kill him. Should that not work, Lanna could always use Needle, and after disposing of the scammer, try to cross a name off her list: Meryn Trant, who we know is on the way to Braavos. Lanna might be away from the action, but luckily, it’s coming to her.
4. What is Jorah hoping to achieve?
While Sansa got some good news this episode (her brothers, who she thought were dead, are very much still alive, Hodor’ing their way around the world), Jorah heard none. Daenerys threw him out of her city, again, this time under Tyrion’s advisement and agreement, and the greyscale is slowly turning him into the Gorignak from Galaxy Quest. Jorah has two options… retreat to the desert and die, or fight his way back to Khaleesi and probably still die, but at least he’ll get to see his beloved again? He’s in a no-win situation, though he’ll do his best not to lose in the pits.
His odds are probably better than Ramsay’s Hubris and his 20 men against Stannis’ army. Don’t discount the desperate possibility that Jorah could infect the entire city, too.
5. Is Olly going to mess everything up?
Olly, whose parents were killed in a senseless raid by the Free Folk, is confused, and angry, and wants to be Batman. Basically, he’s every teenage boy, albeit a teenage boy with access to pointy weapons. Most of his conflicted hatred is directed at Jon, who’s actively trying to make peace with the same people who murdered his mom and dad. It’s clear something is going to happen; far too much time has been spent on Olly — who’s assured by Samwell that Jon “always comes back,” although to him, it sounds like a threat — for it not to. Jon better watch the Wall (and his back).
6. Who is this guy?
The “come at me, Snow” of zombie-snowmen is the Night’s King. Last time we saw him, he was turning a wee baby into a chilly-eyed warrior. He’s a bigger threat than every Sand Snake and poisoned cup of wine, combined, and scariest of all, at least for Jon Snow, he used to be just like him. The Night’s King was the 13th commandeer of the Night’s Watch (Jon’s the 998th), then he married a lady White Walker “with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars” and eventually became a bad guy because women, am I right?
He can bring the dead back to life (as “wights”), but everything isn’t coming up Night’s King, though: A surprised Jon discovered that not only does dragonglass kill White Walkers, so, too, does Valyrian steel, which is what his sword Longclaw is made out of.
Who else is carrying around Valyrian steel, alternately known as Dragonsteel? Brienne definitely, Tommen possibly (I can’t recall if Widow’s Wail was placed on Joffrey’s corpse). The Night’s Watch and the Free Folk suffered major losses at Hardhome — as seen through the eyes of badass mom Karsi, who added a personal element to an otherwise mammoth battle — but they gained an important piece of knowledge, and they’ve banded together to fight the ultimate evil. If only the rest of the in-show world cared as much as the out-of-show one does.
Then again, it might already be too late.
7. Is the giant going to swim home, or…?
Thinking and worrying about you, Wun Wun.
Have questions about White Walkers? We’ve got a your cheat sheet here: