Tuesday 2 June 2015

Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 8 (Hardhome Review)

We're starting to draw to a close with only 2 episodes left, and so naturally, Episode 8 is set up to be a strong one. "Hardhome," named after the wildling settlement that Jon and Tormund travel to which takes up about half the episode, was directed by Miguel Sapochnik and was written by our (usually) lovely showrunners, David Benioff and Dan Weiss. In an action-heavy episode like this, it's the directing that stands out for me, particularly during Arya's scenes by the harbour and following Jon. It added a constantly-interesting tone to what could have been a really long, boring war scene (see The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies).


  • Tyrion advises Daenerys to continue Jorah's exile and he signs up for the fighting pits. Tyrion, on the other hand, convinces Daenerys to keep him. 
  • Cersei refuses to confess her sins but is literally drinking water off of the cell floors so, we don't really know what her pride is doing to her anymore.
  • Arya assumes her first Faceless Man identity: Lana the Oyster Seller. Bookreaders will identify this as the Cat of the Canals arc. 
  • Theon admits to Sansa that Bran and Rickon (who's Rickon?) are still alive. 
  • Sam tells Olly that Jon is "doing what is right even though other people may not see it" but Olly seems to be harbouring some resentment for the Free Folk
  • Jon and Tormund convince some of the Free Folk to sail back to the wall but are ambushed by the White Walkers and their army of Wights. 
CGI heavy but beautiful!

What We Liked: 
  • Love them or hate them (just kidding, no one hates Tyrion) there's something deeply satisfying about Tyrion and Daenerys matching wits, and nobody was better to write their dialogue than D&D. Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage also do stellar acting jobs. I was so excited for the next lines during their scenes. Everyone involved in it was a powerhouse, including the moment Jorah's (Iain Glen) face falls in despair at Tyrion's words (+10)
  • Following Arya/Lana down the harbour was exciting; we're trying to figure out what she should be seeing, but we have to admit that Arya at this point is probably more keen than we are. It's all a little unclear at first: What is the chronology of these events? Is he explain what happened for many days (because Lana already has a regular morning customer) or what is going to happen? Wait, is that really vinegar or is that poison? Oh, just vinegar. Overrall, it has set us up for some good stuff. (+10)
  • I am feeling the relief that Sansa feels knowing her brothers are alive! (+5) 
  • The Sam and Olly scene is a little bit slow and drudging, but we're definitely seeing some cogs turn in Olly's head that will either get you thinking, or confirm your suspicions. Highlight the space below with your cursor for spoilers (suggested only for book readers). (+5)
    [Olly is going to be the one to stab Jon at the end of the season. ] 
  • Tormund + Jon + Dolorous Edd running to safety scene! Let's be honest, as good as the Hardhome sequence is, all I really care about are if these 3 characters are going to be ok. I mean, we know Jon is ok. So I only really care about his 2 companions. Thank you for neatly tying it up with landing them all in the same boat, while they run for their lives in a Powerpuff-girls-esque fashion. (+5)
  • Jon Snow's sword, Ice, has successfully destroyed a White Walker? WHOA ok read that again, because THIS IS A BIG DEAL. Is it possible that, not only obsidian, but Valyrian Steel can destroy the White Walkers??? It's a very rare metal now that Valyria (the Targaeryn homeland and the only people who knew how to forge it) has been destroyed, but that could completely change the White Walker game. It does hint, however that the secret to Valyrian steel is forging it with dragon glass, which is plentiful in Valyria. Jon Snow just rolls with it because he's in the middle of battle, and so do we, but this has certainly been noted. Fun fact: Brienne/Jaime's Oathkeeper is also Valyrian steel (+15)
  • Nice way to introduction of the Wights and the White Walkers. The sudden quiet at the gates, the 4 stoic horseman on the ridge, and the army of the dead (the Wildling mother included) staring the Night's Watch down. It creates an unsettling quiet amongst a very, very loud scene. (+5)
  • Kit Harington (Jon Snow) says that they filmed only a minute a day, but it was still the most difficult thing he'd ever done. He does so well though. (+5)
  • And a little extra for not only the appearance of the giant Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun, but the hilarious moment when you think he can't come with them on the baots, and instead just walks into the ocean. (+5)

If you need an idea of where Hardhome is, it's at the easternmost tip.

What We Didn't Like: 
  • I actually like following Cersei, and watching her drink water off the ground was almost difficult. But the length of this scene, which didn't really take us anywhere new except to maybe watch her get taken down a few notches, had me asking, "But why?" (-5)
  • Am I the only one who finds it super unconvincing that Lana the Oyster Selling urchin child is so clean? It was so distracting in the worst way.
  • It was pretty obvious when the wildling woman sent her children on a boat without her and someone pipes up "but what about you?" that she's going to die. It was more of a waiting game than a shock, and when the wight children stare her down I audibly said "Oh. There she goes." I'm a little disappointed by how cliched this was set up. (-10)
The battle at Hardhome was more dizzying that I would like. Was it the camerawork, or a deliberate choice that made it impossible to tell if the Free Folk were being stabbed or the wights? While usually, this is a complete write off for me, the plot was continually addressed, and it did come off more as chaos than pointless violence. Especially with the ear-ringing sound when Jon falls that cuts straight through the middle of the scene. 

There are also some awkward plot holes. Seriously, WHY IS LANA THE OYSTER GIRL SO CLEAN? and Sansa is undoubtedly stronger than the deteriorating Reek at this point, why did she just let him go without asking anything more? Oh. Because they had to fit everything into an hour of screen time.

Still, for the most part, this was an exciting episode, and I liked that for once, we got to follow one arc for 20+ minutes, rather than digesting everything at a prescribed rate of a couple minutes at a time.

Final Score: 50

No comments:

Post a Comment