TV Review: This Week on Game of Thrones (S4 Episode 9/ June 8, 2014)

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

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EPISODE 9: The Watchers on the Wall

THE PLOT : The long summer is at an end, winter truly is coming and with it the cold winds of war as five self proclaimed Kings claim dominance over Westeros, but there can be only one winner when you play the game of thrones.

THE LOWDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don’t recommend reading this if you haven’t watched this episode). Now that was a battle! One of the minor complaints throughout the seasons of this show has been the battles, or rather, their lack of substance. In the beginning it was mostly a matter of budget, which I understand, and then we all got so excited for the battle of Blackwater Bay, which had its moments but still felt…lacking. Not tonight. Not this battle. Finally, GAME OF THRONES gets an insane bout of warfare we call all agree was truly epic.

Before the orchestra of violence begins its wail, we’re shown that tonight’s other theme is love. It starts with Jon and Sam atop the wall discussing sex and loopholes in their vows (I love Sam’s interpretation). Jon still loves Ygritte and isn’t looking forward to meeting her on the battlefield. Sam loves Gilly and doesn’t want to lose her again—he even sneaks in a kiss, the sly dog. These two situations you see coming whether you read the books or not, but it was Maester Aemon’s story that I enjoyed the most—I love that guy. We even get a love/hate moment between Jon and Alliser Thorne. It’s cool to hear him admit that Jon was right, and although he’d never do it, you have to wonder if (for even a split second) Jon thought about pushing him off the wall.

When it comes to “epic battles” captured on screen, especially in this genre, we tend to look back at LOTR: THE TWO TOWERS. It was the sheer scale and vast amount of detail that won us over. The same thing can be said here. From “the greatest fire the north has ever seen”, to the advancing of Mance’s men (accompanied by giants and mammoths) across the snow. Everything about this battle looked phenomenal from a visual standpoint. The score went hand in hand with the rising tension as the assault hit the boys simultaneously from the two vantage points. It was captured perfectly with standout moments like the first arrow the giant fires over the wall, impaling some poor bastard and landing on the other side—definitely a “jaw agape” moment. This was easily the greatest battle TV has even seen, but I dare say it rivals even the best movies out there. Bold words, I know, but I was beyond impressed.

GAME OF THRONES SEASON FOUR’s ninth episode was all about The Wall, much like the Blackwater Bay episode, only ten times better. It was a heartfelt night for some of our beloved characters though. Ygritte was on fire, she was out for major blood, and she killed Pip—I totally didn’t remember who lived and died tonight other than Ygritte, who would probably have killed Jon had it not been for that kid. Now correct me if I’m wrong (not that I have to worry, you guys live to do it), but I don’t recall Jon witnessing Ygritte’s death in the books. I just remember him finding her with an arrow through her chest. It was obviously more emotional this way, so I can see why they’d change it. We also lose Grenn, a damn shame, considering he, Jon and Pip were the original trio. I’d love to be in the room when they try to question Tormund, can’t see that going well, and it’s a shame we didn’t actually see Mance—I also don’t remember Jon’s sojourn beyond The Wall to find him, but I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out. I’d have taken Ghost with me though. One…episode…left.

SEX/NUDITY: None of that tonight, though there’s lots of talk about it.

VIOLENCE: It’s all-out war baby! Arrows are flying, axes and swords are swinging, there’s fire, explosions, a hammer caving in a skull, faces getting eaten. We definitely get our violence fix for the week.

SHARPEST QUIP: : I enjoyed Maester Aemon’s story about love, and his quote at the end made it all the better; “Nothing makes the past a sweeter place to visit than the prospect of imminent death.”

MOST EPIC SCENE: I loved the battle from atop the wall, from the swinging of that hook cutting away sheets of ice, to the lowering of men into a horizontal position to fire arrows. It was all quite epic. But for me, it was the scene with Grenn and his crew as the giant came through the gate and rushed to face them. They knew they were no doubt going to die, but they held their ground and managed to kill the brute. Sure, we didn’t actually see it, but it was still pretty damn cool.



And, here’s a preview of next week’s episode “The Children”


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