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.