Features TV

REVIEW: Game of Thrones 5×08 “Hardhome”

Written by Grace Davis

Wow. Now that’s how you end a Game of Thrones episode! But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s not forget that it wasn’t just about those last few scenes. I’d go so far as to say that this has been the best all-round episode of Season 5 so far.

Starting in Daenerys’ massive, echoing, throne room, we got to see the fate of Tyrion and Ser Jorah. I still find it rather surreal to see characters that I’ve known for years now, finally meeting and interacting with each other! I just want Daenerys and Tyrion to be friends, to fast forward through all this convincing her, and get on with taking over the world! Luckily Daenerys made a good step in that direction by actually taking Tyrion seriously and not just executing him because ‘I’m the queen and I do what I want!!’ I’m really hoping that Tyrion will be able to provide that little bit of measured wisdom that Daenerys needs in order to round out her skills and perhaps actually become a great ruler – you break that wheel Dany!

I didn’t miss Daario’s destructive presence this week, it was nice to be able to relax while watching scenes with Daenerys in. Poor old Jorah, however, banished from the city and deciding that re-joining the fighting pits is the only way to go. I half wondered if he would just disappear from the series until he did that, there really didn’t seem to be much left for him to do!

For the first time this season, I actually felt quite absorbed in Arya’s storyline. I was always saddened that I didn’t like it more after having so looked forward to it, but it never really seemed to advance: finally it has. I liked the way they showed her trips out as ‘Lana’, as first it seemed like she was just making it up for Jaqen but then we realised it was real, she was being allowed out and given something to do! Yes! Fingers crossed that it continues to get more interesting!

got82

Now it’s the section of the review where I talk about people I hate. This week will feature (surprise, surprise) Theon, Ramsay and Queen Bitch Cersei. Ok, perhaps hate is no longer the right word for Theon. He’s such a pathetic being now, I don’t know if I can muster up any proper hate (though now I’m remembering him snitching on Sansa last week… ok, there’s some hate). Thankfully, he crumbled under Sansa’s steely glare and admitted to not killing her brothers. Her world is so dark that even the tiniest glimmer of light for her really thrills me. I also loved how determined and fierce she was in that scene, more of that please!

I’m seriously hoping that the show of combined Bolton arrogance in that battle-planning scene means that everything is going to fall apart for them but… well. You know. You’ve been watching the show. It’ll be interesting to see what Ramsay intends to do with these ‘twenty good men’ of his, however!

Finally in ‘People I Hate’: I would feel sorry for almost anyone else in a cell who looked as glum as Cersei does. But not her. Finally she is slowly, slowly getting her comeuppance! I nearly screamed when Qyburn told her there was ‘another way’ to get out: I don’t think I could bear seeing her escape. Luckily, he was just suggesting that she confess – a plan that didn’t seem to thrill her. I wonder whether that will start to look more appealing as the days drag by?

And finally, I have restrained myself long enough: WHITE WALKERS! LITERAL AVALANCHE OF WHITE WALKERS! The build up to the attack was great, I really enjoyed seeing the Wildling settlement and the tension during Jon’s plea for their cooperation was really well handled. I even began thaw a little towards Tormund who was, amazingly, the voice of rational behaviour, doing a great job of explaining Jon’s foolish statement about putting an arrow in Mance Rayder! The unceremonious killing of the Lord of Bones was interesting too: I feel like most shows, after introducing him like that, would have kept him in the show as a recurring thorn in the side of Jon et al but not Thrones, oh no: he annoyed Tormund, he died.

As usual, an annoying Thenn provided resistance to all sensible ideas – I mean, I can’t really imagine what it would be like to contemplate allying with your enemies of hundreds of years but when the alternative is death/un-death, what else would you do? My quote of the week award goes to the nice Wildling lady who responded to the Thenn’s opinion that his ancestors would spit on him for working with the Crows, with ‘So would mine, but fuck ‘em, they’re dead!’

Sadly, she tempted fate by promising her daughters that she was ‘right behind them’ – even Game of Thrones is not immune to TV clichés every now and then!

The battle itself was excellently done, the tension was kept high and the enemies just kept coming – that’s by far the worst thing about these guys: they do not stop. The frozen zombie children were as disturbing as they should have been and all the actors involved in these scenes did a great job communicating the horror anyone would feel at facing such a foe. I nearly cried on Jon’s behalf when hundreds more flung themselves from the cliff and then stood up to face the surviving Wildlings and Crows.

And the final shot was devastating – the White Walker lifting his hands, glaring defiantly out at Jon and the others as they watched their dead rise up against them. And now we know: time is running out in Westeros.

Final grade: A all the way!

Extra thoughts:

  • I keep forgetting that Jorah has got the greyscale now – I’d be rubbish if I were there, I’d catch it within minutes.
  • I rather enjoyed Jaqen’s little lesson on how the concept of ‘insurance’ works – or rather, doesn’t work when corruption abounds. Maybe we can have a little series of ‘Jaqen explains relatively mundane real-world concepts in a nice simple way!’
  • It took Jon way too long to remember that the dragon glass they’d left lying around in a satchel might be handy. Come on Jon.
  • Daenerys’ clothes have become a lot more boring now she’s settled in one place. It’s all just flowing white robes. Sort it out Daenerys, you know you can do better.

About the author

Grace Davis