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‘The Watchers on the Wall’ – Throne’s biggest battle yet: the Night’s Watch vs Wildling army

Did Neil Marshall deliver? Could this episode have a good shocker like the previous one’s gruesome death? This highly anticipated episode marked the awaited confrontation between Jon Snow, the Night’s Watch and the marauding Wildlings. Finally appointed Lord Commander, Jon manages to convince his men to follow him into battle against the advancing army.

Sam and Gilly get a romantic reunion, as she appears at the wall having survived the Moles Town massacre. Sam questions Jon about his feelings for Ygritte, and about his love for her. Meanwhile, the Night’s Watch doubters soon realise their mistake as 100, 000 free folk assemble beyond the wall. Too late to fortify their defenses now, the Watch are attacked by the giants, Thenns and wildling army from all sides.
game-of-thrones-season-4-episode-9-01Sam hides Gilly before joining his brothers in the fight, but not before kissing her (finally!). The fight scenes are visually exhilarating: charging mammoths, flying arrows and stunning fires.

While Sam and Pyp face off against their enemies with crossbows (Sam succeeds at a pretty good head shot at one point!), Ygritte finds them, aims and fires a mortal shot, killing Pyp. Sam goes on to stop the Thenn threat before meeting up with Jon again.

The men recite the oath of the Night’s Watch and make their stand against the invaders. Jon’s direwolf Ghost is also released from his cage by Sam in a rather cool sequence with the camera zipping along as Ghost runs to attack a wildling, from the wolf’s POV.

Sadly Ygritte dies after a stand off with Jon, although it isn’t him that delivers the blow. Rather, it is Oliver, the young boy in the Night’s Watch’s care, who shoots the deathly arrow to save Jon. Even though viewers see that Ygritte’s resolve to kill Jon was wavering, her death had become inevitable. Jon comforts her as she dies, remembering their better moments together. With her gone, it seems her death will spur Jon to further action.
game-of-thrones-season-4-episode-9-02The final Wildlings on the wall are obliterated by the weapon ‘scythe’, a huge blade that scrapes the invaders off the cliff in a bloody, violent crush – a very cool and hugely terrifying way to repel those pesky free folk. Even though the battle looks won, Jon heads off to find Mance Rayder and hopefully win the war.

This was a good hour of Game of Thrones, but considering how hyped it was, there was something lacking from the penultimate episode. The outcome of this fight just never felt as urgent as the missions faced by other characters. Perhaps the problem lies with the series not giving enough time to the Night’s Watch until now. Even though there were some epic moments, and some tragic ones too, there were no truly gripping sequences. How much of a threat is the wildling army really to those in the South, or to the Seven Kingdoms as a whole?

Going into the finale, questions remain. How will the season be resolved? Which, if any, characters will be redeemed or reviled? What will the final cliffhanger (come on, there’s bound to be one) show? And is anyone worried that Sam is going to die a horrible death now that he’s become such a badass?

★★★★

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