That episode sure was exciting. Looking back, though, it’s a hard one to categorize. There’s no strong through-line, as there has been the last few weeks. We saw the machinations of many different characters, but then we saw the power of the White Walkers. Not to mix my geekdoms, but the game of thrones is like a quiddicth match. The beaters and chasers play a rough and dangerous sport, but that game is pointless because someone might find the snitch and end the game. In the same way, Tyrion can maneuver, Littlefinger can plot, the Dornish can fume, but they’re fighting over a meaningless prize if the White Walkers come over that wall.
Meereen is moving forward again, but I’m still unclear what Jorah’s plan is. Does he just want to be as close to Daenerys as possible? Does he think that victory will win him back to her heart? Does he have a death wish? He’s either pathetic, stupid, or tragic, and the writers really need to pick a side. And then there’s his greyscale. The show writers infected him in order to cut out an ancillary character. But, they actually cut the whole subplot, so I still don’t understand why he even needs to have it. How does Jorah’s slow death do anything productive for the story? I only wish I knew.
But Tyrion got to be Tyrion again, which was refreshing. Peter Dinklage continues to overcome a comically bad English accent to deliver the best dialogue in the entire series, as usual. While the fighting scenes are great, Tyrion’s conversation with Daenerys is why I love this show. She wants to break the wheel that crushes the common people. OK, but as Tyrion suggests, others have thought along those lines before and failed. Also, what would that look like? If she smashes the wheel, her own rule will likely end as well. Is that what she wants? So, the thrones would essentially eat themselves, leaving the commoners no choice but to rule themselves. That would be an interesting direction to go in, for sure. I am no longer bored with Meereen, but none of it matters if the White Walkers win.
As Tyrion got to be himself, so too was Arya the intelligent, motivated, and worryingly brutal girl we all fell in love with in season one. As a servant to the Many-Faced God, she has become, essentially, a hitman for the gods. She is the slow, invisible, inscrutable hand of justice in its most primal form. Cleaning dead bodies and helping sick youngsters find a peaceful death never really suited her. Sure, it helped her get even more comfortable with the end of life, and maybe cooled her vengeful desires, but she is a girl of action. Poisoning a cheating insurer is way more her speed. I really hope the series allows her to kill a traitorous crow as she did in the novel, because I’m honestly curious how they would handle the blindness she’s punished with. But, then again, the White Walkers could come over the Wall and destroy everything anyway.
Side note: there are several things I’m disappointed the show has cut from the novels. Obviously, Zombie-Catelyn, Lady Stoneheart, is the most glaring example. Then there’s the entire Mance Rayder’s baby angle, which gave Jon the excuse to ship off Gilly and Sam to the Citadel. The entire siege of Meereen also seems like an odd cut. However, one that doesn’t get discussed much is the fact that the Stark children are all wargs, not just Bran. Arya sees through cats and her direwolf, Jon sees through Ghost, I’m assuming Sansa and Rickon could if they tried. It doesn’t really affect the plot, but it’s a cool little thing and Martin writes it so beautifully.
But Ghost did not travel to Hardhome with Jon. I could summarize the fight, but you’re better off watching it. A few times. And then again when you keep waking up dreaming about zombies with glowing blue eyes knocking down your house. When the leader brought back the recently deceased, the pointlessness of the rest of the show was really driven home to me. Nothing else really matters. It’s all essentially for show. If the men at the Wall fail, everyone falls. And no one outside the Men of the Watch is paying attention.