"We are the watchers on the wall". Beware of spoilers because this review will talk about all the twists, turns, and deaths that have happened throughout the entire television series of [Game of Thrones](movie:817617) including the latest episode of season 4 titled "The Watchers on the Wall". Please do not comment with spoilers from the books because I review this purely as a television series.
Let the comparisons to the "Blackwater" episode of season 2 begin!
Tonight was only the second time in the show's history that they decided to focus entirely on one location in Westeros. Tonight's was exactly what you guessed, Castle Black at the Wall. Now Click below for my review of the goods and the bads from the episode on my review show the "So I Saw Show"
Who would've thought we could have a whole episode without politics going on with the Lannisters or any Starks (not counting Jon Snow of course)? This episode was a chance to really spotlight some characters we've kinda been light on all season and that's Jon Snow and Sam. Other minor characters such as Ygritte, Ser Allisor Thorne, Grenn, Pyp, and Tormund Giantsbane (forgive possible spelling errors these are weird names).
We were given a slower beginning sort of a calm before the storm. Surprisingly, there was more Sam story in this one episode then it feels like we've had in the past 4 seasons put together. When Sam discovers Gilly is in fact alive and her baby he transforms from the bumbling coward he was before into a real proud man of the Night's Watch. He throws everything to the wind and kisses Gilly because he isn't sure he'll ever see her again after this battle.
Jon has a nice scene with Thorne who has been a jerk to Jon ever since episode 2 of season 1. Thorne admits he was wrong and should've listened to Jon Snow. Instead of being a whiny little psycho like Joffrey was in the Battle at Blackwater Bay, Thorne lead the charge into battle with wildlings. In these scenes we almost forgive Thorne for all of his a**hole ways over the series.
The man who is the TRUE coward isn't Sam or Grenn or Pyp but Janos Slynt. Some people may not recognize him but Janos Slynt is the former Commander of the City Watch in King's Landing who was bought by Cersei to betray Ned Stark in season 1 and then killed a bastard baby in the season 2 opener. Tyrion kicked him to the curb for his dirty politics and sent him to the wall. Where can Slynt be found? He hides in a back room like a true wuss.
The chaos of this battle and the spectacle really showed why Game of Thrones is in my opinion the best drama still running on television. This may not have had the same urgency or great dialogue scenes prior that "Blackwater" did but the overall visual was stunning. The show was able to make giants and mammoths look as believable as can be which is difficult for a TV budget. Another highlight was the score and how it was able to give that cold yet epic tone throughout the entire episode. Pyp and Grenn were two minor characters who were friends with Sam and Jon since season 1 went out in the blaze of glory. The only issue is with the show sometimes spending so long away from the wall and these characters the emotional impact might have been lost on those who did not recognize them.
The death that was probably the most emotional was of course Jon's love/wildling enemy Ygritte. It's strange to think how Ygritte has been around since the middle of season 2. Yeah, let that sink in. She's been around for so long and we've seen her brutally murder people, be witty and sassy and of course fall in love with the bastard of the north. It was almost poetic that when Jon finds her on the battlefield they exchange very few words before she dies in his arms giving her catchphrase "you know nuthin' Jon Snow". This could be the event that haunts Jon Snow for seasons to come and forever changes the man he will become. We saw the complete opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of a love story where Sam and Gilly seem in the best light they've ever been while Jon suffers the tragic loss of the only woman he ever loved.
The main issues with this episode was the lack of knowing why Mance Rayder wasn't present at this battle? Why did we find out in the end from Jon that he didn't send all of his men? Why does Jon actually think he can find Mance to talk to? Which leads to my biggest concern is where is the show going to leave this story for next week's episode? Is it just going to get a one scene check-in that most stories get in the season finales? Was it frustrating for fans to not have any new information on the fate of Tyrion after his loss last week? Where does this fall in the comparison to "Blackwater"?
Overall grading I'd have to give this episode an A- it had a ton of character development for Sam, great action and some real HOLY SH*T moments.
Next week we are reaching the season finale what do you think will happen!? I'm just concerned about all the stories that feel too up in the air while others I'm not sure where they are going at all.