Game of Thrones has never lacked complaints of characters teasing the imminent White Walker invasion without ever following through, but good grief if Sunday’s installment didn’t go full zombie apocalypse on Jon Snow and the Wildlings at “Hardhome.” Our full review of the epic battle, plus Tyrion and Daenerys’ budding friendship!

You’re warned of all the spoilers from tonight’s “Hardhome” from here on out, but suffice to say, the White Walker War has officially begun. Though only occupying the second half of the episode, Jon Snow’s place at “Hardhome” saw he and Tormund Giantsbane convincing a good majority of the Free Folk to ally with them against the army of the dead, but the expedition only got as far as loading up the return boats before the army itself arrived at the Wildling refuge.

First trumpeted by unnerved animals, the dead first made their presence known as a misty snow descended from the mountains behind, soon enveloping those outside Hardhome’s gates, and launching an army of Wights to barrel through and attack any survivors. Heroic as they are, Jon Snow and Tormund led the charge against fending off the dead long enough to allow civilians to escape, but it wasn’t long before Jon found himself staring down a White Walker, and unable to reach the Dragonglass he knew could harm them.

Jon ended up tossed like a ragdoll through a burning hut in attempting to fend off the steely-blue soldier, retrieving Longclaw in a last-ditch effort to defend against the Walker’s steel-shattering blade. To Jon and the creature’s surprise, Jon’s sword actually held its own in the attack, cluing in Jon that his Valyrian steel blade could kills Walkers as well.

Up above all the carnage, a crowned walker appeared to take particular interest in Jon (hard to say if this was the same baby-converting one we’d met earlier), before Jon, Edd and Tormund managed to fight their way onto the last fleeing boat. Jon had only to watch the horror, as the crowned White Walker stepped onto the docks to taunt their escape, snidely raising his arms, and along with them, any and all corpses felled in the battle as Wights. Score 5000 or so for the army of the dead.

So, with all of that happening up North (we didn’t even mention the giant or female Wildling chieftain), we’d almost forgot about the excitement of last week, as Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister finally came face to face. Things went pretty much as expected however, with Tyrion maintaining his usual snark to charm Daenerys, but also pivoting her to spare Jorah’s life, exiling him from the city rather than kill any who oppose her. Of course, with that Greyscale a ticking clock on Jorah’s life anyway, he found a means to wind up back in her service, rejoining the ranks of pit fighters to do battle for the queen.

As to the actual interaction between Tyrion and Daenerys, the two seemed to get on famously, prodding one another about their troubled family histories, while Tyrion pointed out that Daenerys would likely have no support to take Kings’ Landing, in spite of her many accomplishments. At best, she might perhaps convince the Tyrells to her cause, though as we’ve seen, that name holds waning power itself. Still, for all their talk of family names as spokes on a wheel, Daenerys had her own poetic solution.

In any case, it’s settled! Tyrion and Daenerys will drink wine together (in moderation, natch), advise one another, and stay best buddies forever. Everyone wins!

Well, except for Cersei that is, still languishing away in a cell, unwilling to confess to her purported crimes, sipping water of the floor, and unable to reach an apparently-inconsolable Tommen. Sansa didn’t fare too well this week either, failing to move Reek to recover his former Theon-ness, but at least coaxing out of him that neither of the burned boys were her brothers Bran and Rickon. Ramsay meanwhile, pressed his father to allow him a small garrison to attack Stannis Baratheon in stealth, rather than ride out any siege on Winterfell.

Arya kept pretty busy this week as well, crafting a new public identity as oyster merchant Lana, and trailing a mysterious gambler on Jaquen’s orders, but a girl is still not ready to become someone else entirely. What Jaquen’s mysterious mission entails remains to be seen, though we can’t imagine the imminent arrival of Mace Tyrell and Ser Meryn Trant will go unnoticed by the littlest lady Stark. Otherwise, Arya’s portion of the hour seemed a bit like filler, but what wouldn’t after Ice Zombie Armageddon?

Something of an oddly-organized hour, in between the excitement of picking up with Tyrion and Daenerys, moving into much smaller subplots of the main cast, before devoting the latter half of the hour to Jon Snow’s titular “Hardhome” visit. Still, with equal parts mystery, chilling visuals and supreme action (in the one-on-one fights, moreso than the quick-cut long shots), tonight’s hour deftly pushed the standards of Game of Thrones’ capacity to deliver in scale. The two remaining hours might end up a bit more slowly-paced for it, but the buildup and downfall of “Hardhome” set Season 5 in stone (or ice) as the most confident yet.


  • Sam’s still around, and Gilly too. Also, Olyver’s still conflicted about Jon’s mission. It’ll pay off somehow, but certainly not tonight.
  • Oh good, emaciated Wight children. Didn’t need to sleep tonight anyway.
  • Still waiting for an update on Varys after losing Tyrion in the brothel. Would he hear of Tyrion reaching his destination, or simply return to Kings’ Landing?

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