Last season, David Nutter gave us the shocking yet, gruesome, “Red Wedding “. Tonight’s episode marks the return of Neil Marshall, who directed “Blackwater “. He delivered an action packed, over the top battle between the Night’s Watch and the Wilding Army. The cinematography and CGI effects added to the excitement of Episode 9. Many small but memorable character moments enhanced the mood.
The Wall and Beyond
As Sam and Jon patrol the top of the Wall, Sam questions Jon about what it’s like to be with a woman. He says their vows forbid them from getting married or fathering children but nothing about having intimate relations. Jon gives him a small rundown but realizes he can’t get out the words right. He sends Sam to bed. An owl appears on top of the Wall.
Outside below, Tormund, Thenn and Ygritte prepare for their impending attack. Tormund recalls another battle. Ygritte prepares more arrows. Thenn provokes Ygritte about how she didn’t kill her crow lover. Ygritte stands up to him and demands, “Jon Snow is mine”.
Maester Aemon finds Sam in the library reading about the Wildings. He counsels Sam about being in love with Gilly as well as warns him that, “love is the death of duty”. Aemon recalls his youth citing that he was once in love. As Sam, comes into the yard, he hears Gilly knocking at the gate. He is relieved she’s alive and takes her to a kitchen room for protection. Sam promises Gilly, “he’ll come back” and they share a kiss.
As the horn begins to blow, a Thenn, waarged into an owl, announces, “It’s time”. Jon looks from upon the top of the Wall to see a huge fire in the distance. As the Night’s Watch prepares for the imminent battle, Thorne confesses that he should have listened to Jon’s recommendation of sealing the tunnels. He also educates Jon about leadership.
Men begin to baracade the South Wall and prepare for attack. Ygritte scouts the southern gate and reports that It’s undermanned. Sam finds Pyp shaking and unready for battle. He asks Sam how he killed a White Walker. Sam answers th at the time he had to do something even, if he had no reason to be afraid because he was nothing at all. Outside, the Wildings charge the Southern gate with no mercy.
Meanwhile, Thorne rallies the archers as the Wildings appear north of the Wall with giants and mammoths. A horn blasts indicating the southern wall is attacked. Allister leaves Janos Slynt in charge. Slynt becomes unglued at this prospect as Green sneakily sends him down to fight with Thorne. Jon assumes command as fire arrows light the sky.
Down in the yard, Thorne rallies his troops for attack to defend the Wall. Tormund, Ygritte and Thenns come bursting into the yard as fighting begins. On the north side, Wildings begins to climb the wall. Giants pull out arrows and start their assault. Massive fighting begins on both fronts.
Thorne and Tormund begin to fight leaving Thorne wounded. Janos Slynt comes into the courtyard and locks himself into kitchen room where Gilly and her son are hiding in. She is surprised to see him.
As Sam and Pip ready themselves for action, Ygritte shoots Pyp in throat. He dies in Sam’s arms.
The Wildings bring a mammoth forth with giants to bring down the outside gate. Jon orders the barrels to drop on them wounding the mammoth and giant. Jon then orders Grenn to hold the inside gate.
Sam lets go of Pyp’s body and rushes towards the elevator. He shoots a Thenn in the head, killing him. He tells Olly to push the traction lifter and arm himself. Sam and Grenn meet for a split second as Grenn informs him that they are going to defend the inside gate. Sam informs his brothers that more men are needed down in the yard.
A mad giant tries to lift the gate, Sam finds Jon and tells him Thorne is wounded and they need more men in the yard. Snow leaves Edd in charge. He (Edd) orders continual firing at the Wildings. As Grenn and company defend the inside gate, a giant storms in. Grenn recites the Night Watch Oath to his scared brothers as it charges at them.
Jon and Sam come down to the yard. Jon instructs Sam to let Ghost out as he needs him more than Sam. Tartly does what he is told as Ghost is let out. Ghost comes in for a kill. Thenn finds Jon as they fight each other with Thenn having the upper hand. Ygritte sees Jon in the distance. Jon kills the Thenn with an axe to his head.
Jon sees Ygritte with her arrow pointed at him. He smiles at her for the moment as she is shot in the back. She tells them they shouldn’t have left the cave and he replies that he’ll take her back there. Her last words “you know nothing Jon Snow”. As she dies in his arms, it’s Olly that has shot her in the back. Jon holds her as the fighting rages on.
On top the Wall, Ed commands that the scythe is let go driving the climbers off the wall. Down in the courtyard, Tormund is caught in the yard with several arrows inside him. Jon finds him and tells him it’s over while shooting an arrow in his leg. He is taken to prisoners cells.
Sam reunites with Gilly in the kitchen He tells her he kept his promise. To his surprise, he also finds Janos Slynt.
During the morning, the remaining brothers are cleaning up the dead bodies. Jon informs Sam he is going to find Mince and kill him. Sam tries to dissuade him by saying there is no commander now. He asks Sam if he has a better plan. As they make way through the tunnel, both discover Grenn and the giant’s body. Jon says Grenn did his duty by defending the inside gate. He instructs Sam to burn the bodies.
Jon gives his sword to Sam and instructs him to open the gate. Sam’s last words to Jon are to “come back”. It fades to white as the episode ends.
The action was faced paced and exciting as this entire episode featured the battle at the Wall. There were so many great highlights such as the 360 of the yard, the giant shooting an arrow landing in the courtyard to the fire blazing in front of the Wall. There were many strong character moments throughout the 51 minutes of action. From Thorne’s speech to the deaths of Pyp and Grenn; even Olly found revenge by killing Ygritte with an arrow for her killing his father earlier. Even the soundtrack was inspiring. I didn’t think that Marshall could top Backwater but he did tonight!
Ygritte’s death was bittersweet, in the fact; she was held by Jon while fighting was around them. The hesitation of her arrow at Jon made their love real again, if only for a second. Her famous last words remind of us of how we met her in Season 2. Rose Leslie will definitely be missed.
Jon really shone through this episode as he assumed command; finally proving his worth . In front of our eyes, he grew up in an instant, thus, becoming a man as well as a leader. Darn, he is good with a sword. Ghost got some action too. It was sad to see him lose Ygritte however: that was the turning point for this character. And next week, we’ll see even more. Kit Harrington’s finest hour of the season.
Sam really came into his own in tonight’s chapter as well. He became fearless and summoned the courage to fight. He realized how much was at stake and what it would be to lose it all. His budding romance with Gilly was a sweet character moment for the two; one that fans have been probably waiting for.
Alliser Thorne’s speech was impeccable to rally his troops and a fine moment for him. Even if he was a despised character, he certainly gave his all in this battle. The losses of Pyp and Green were devastating even though they were secondary players to Jon’s story.
The episode did end early with no real conclusion however, it did leave me wanting more.
Here is the preview of the season finale, “The Children”: