REVIEW: S05E08 – Hardhome

By: Larissa Harah

NOTE: Spoilers below.

After a rollercoaster season filled with mediocre plotlines, a visual smorgasbord of vistas and a couple of devastating kicks in the teeth, Game of Thrones has finally delivered an episode that most people can agree was the absolute tits.

Hardhome kicks off with the long awaited encounter of Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister - The Mother of Dragons and The God of Tits and Wine. My Dog, the possibilities that roll off this union! Two of the most recognisable characters in GRRM’s world and fan-favourites among many.

We don’t wait long before Tyrion takes control of the situation, showing his usual Political and lingual prowess by tilting the hand of power in his own direction. And while all this is going on, you get some more potent puppy-dog eyes from Jorah as he silently watches on, his heart obviously internally shattering into a million different pieces. AGAIN.

In King’s Landing we see Cersei as we have never seen her before – tattered and bedraggled. She’s huddled up pathetically in the corner of her cell – looking mega vulnerable without all of her fineries and some twenty million Lannister guards shadowing her every move. Thronies around the world were united in glee and satisfaction as we witnessed her desperate effort to slurp water from the floor of her cell. 

Over in Braavos, Arya has received her first mission in serving the Many-Faced God. She has donned her Meatball-head hair in the style of Sailor Moon and sells Oysters on the Canal while gathering intel on a suspicious gambler (insurance salesman). While the pace in Arya’s storyline hasn’t quite sped up, this development finally sets up future possibilities for some assassin-style slaying. 

Back in Winterfell, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Sansa berates Theon relentlessly and it seems she wants to cut off parts of his body too, just like her darling Lord Husband. That is, until he spills the beans and confesses that Bran and Rickon are not dead. Yes, he’s just a farm-boy killer, not a Stark-boy killer! All is forgiven! There’s a twinkle of hope in Sansa’s face now, but if Theon pulls another Reek and runs off to tell Master Ramsay – what does that mean for our struggling Stark girl? 

The Boltons prepare for the impending arrival of Stone Cold Stannis – but Father and Son, Roose and Ramsay have differing opinions on how to combat their imminent adversaries. Roose advocates a defensive stance, while Ramsay wants to take 20 good men and head into the snow. Let him I go, I say. 

Olly continues to frown disapprovingly at everyone about Jon Snow’s decision to take in the Wildlings. Sam offers sage advice in return, but Olly’s hormones are raging in his adolescent body and this kid looks like he’s out for Wildling blood.

That brings us to Jon Snow arriving at Hardhome with Tormund Giantsbane. Hardhome. Even the name is impressive. Everything about this place and this battle is next level. The scene is set in amazing ragged and wild environs – bordered by cliffs and the Shivering Sea. Everything looks raw and untouched.  

At first there is no need for alarm, it’s just a calm gathering of Wildling Elders and The Night’s Watch and a giant named Wun-Wun who captures our hearts with his furrowed brow. But then we hear the screams of terror and we’re instantly drawn into a massive onslaught of the undead, crowned by the presence of a number of White Walkers including The Night’s King himself.

Props must go the editing of this scene in particular, everything from the chopping in and out between different characters, to the sweeping pan across the cliff faces where we see the White Walkers mounted on their undead horses. It draws you in and makes you feel like you’re part of the chaos. 

I am telling you, dear friends. My heart is still pounding. A  Wildling woman facing skeletal Wight children; Swarms of never-ending undead attacking in waves; An ice-zombie avalanche falling from a cliff top then reanimating and fighting on; The outnumbered live folk diving into the ice-cold water in their panic and desperation to get on the ships. All of these things make it the best episode of this season yet.

The episode ends with a tense stare down between The Night’s King and Jon Snow, where the Night’s King effortlessly resurrects the fallen Wildlings and adds them to his army of undead. I am officially alarmed.

Episode 9 airs next Sunday, will we see the usual show-stopper scene like Season 4’s Oberyn VS The Mountain fight, or have they got something a little more subtle in store? Until then, Thronies!

Your pal,