Season 5 has been a pretty slow grind so far and we have all been held captive by the writers of the show (Benioff, Weiss, Hill and Cogman).  Most of the episodes leading to “HardHome” have been largely drawn out sequences with many diversions from the story as told in the George R. R. Martin books.  Also, several characters, regions and houses have been left off the storyboard so far this season.  But this week things felt more like a return to the original story arc.  “Winter is coming” and there is much at stake in the game for the throne of Westeros.  In this post, we’re going to review “HardHome” and throw in our two cents.  Feel free to add yours as well: [Warning: Spoilers!]

Scene 1: Tyrion and Daenerys

This is such a great opening since in the books we have not gotten to this interaction between Tyrion and Daenerys.  Both characters live up to their reputation in their initial interaction.  Tyrion makes his gambit, offering to be an advisor to the Queen Mother and ‘Breaker of Chains’.  He quickly shows his wit and earns his value by negotiating a truce between Daenerys and Jorah Mormont.  In one fell swoop he saves Jorah’s life and helps Daenerys save face with the people of Meereen, thereby connecting two of the most popular and powerful characters in the Games ‘World’.

Scene 2 & 4: Cersei & the Sparrows

This story arc is a bit drawn out – at least that is our opinion.  The Lannisters are really fighting a losing battle because Cersei’s hubris and mad thirst to hold on to power continues to erode much of the foundation that Tywin had built for his family.  In many ways, her torture by the Sparrows parallels her own self-inflictions but she is too blind to see her own pestilence.

Scene 3: Ayra

Ayra continues her training to become an assassin.  This whole development with her seems very uninteresting but it is building up to her playing a key role in future episodes.  Her training seems to be exposing her to the complexities of morality and the ramifications of ones actions when they are meant to deal out justice according to a moral code.  It isn’t quite useless.  Her lessons might put her on a fast track to be the future whisperer of Westeros.  Her path and those of Varys seem to share some similarities.  There is a good chance her story arc will merge with those of Tyrion and Daenerys.

Scene 5: Sansa & Reek | The Boltons of Winterfell

Sansa finds out that her brothers, Rickon and Bran, are the alive.  Reek continues to live up to his name.  It’s unfortunate that the Greyjoys have not been featured at all this season because their story really would help to develop the character of Reek and explain why he is so lost.  Reek is a character that is surely destined to die a very public and swift death.  The hope is that before he meets his end he will be able to restore glory to the Greyjoy clan.  As for the Boltons, they continue to be evil incarnate.

Scene 6: The Breaker of Wheels

Daenerys proves she is a good match for, and with, Tyrion Lannister.  Tyrion hits the ground running by continuing to prove his worth as a solid Hand.  He cautions and lectures Daenerys on the wayward wheel of corruption that currently engulfs Westeros.  Not to be outdone, the mother of dragons promises to break the wheel of corruption that has polluted her kingdom.  There is no reason to doubt her resolve.

Scene 7 & 8: More Cersei….more Jorah

At this point both characters have been reduced to secondary actors in the quest for power in Westeros.  Yawn.

Scene 9: Life at the Wall

The story-line for Sam is being very badly handled because in the books Sam is well on his way to receiving training as Maester.  An arc that surely foreshadows a future dealing with either Jon Snow or one of the Starks.  It seems the writers took away his training to hide the Easter Egg; however, his character development suffers a great deal as a result.  Instead he is reduced to a semblance of an invalid doling out weak assurances to a troubled Ollie (who is struggling with Jon’s decision to unite the Wildling with the Crows).  There is a lot of foreshadowing of a forthcoming confrontation between Ollie and Jon Snow.  Perhaps too much.  Sam inadvertently advises Ollie to (and this merely conjecture) make a choice that seems bad to others but which may ultimately be for the greater good.  An advise that the young and impressionable Ollie is surely going to misconstrue as a reason to eliminate Jon Snow in order to protect the Crows from the Wildlings.  Obviously a bad move for everyone; especially for us because Jon has developed into a great leader.  Hopefully the Starks don’t continue to get crushed.

Scene 10: HardHome

Jon Snow makes the Wildlings an offer they couldn’t (shouldn’t) refuse, band together now at the dawning of winter to fight the White Walkers.  He is wise enough to realize that the real war is in the North against the approaching White Walkers and their Army of the dead.

“The long night is coming and the dead come with it.  No clan can stop them.”

He is absolutely right and couldn’t have arrive at HardHome any earlier because we get our first taste of the inevitable war against an impossible army of the undead.  The final scene is truly something to behold so there’s no need spoil it with much detail.

If you’re able to catch a rerun or recording of the show, go and see it ASAP.  It is a bad-ass scene.  Watch it and share your opinions of the episode below.

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