Game of Thrones does its best work when focusing on the politics of living in the Seven Kingdoms. These characters live in a world where the mere thought of wanting to sit on a throne of swords is enough to wipe out their entire family line. There’s always a feeling that anybody could bite the dust at any minute, especially if you care about the character, as last week’s shocker proved.
However, an episode fully set at The Wall was a huge risk. The northern most part of this society is so disconnected from the majority of the storylines that it’s tough to rally the interest for a fully hour. Here are the best and worst moments from “The Watchers on the Wall.”
Best: Sam and Gilly
Although Samwell has never been on the top of the list of most intriguing characters on the show, he is one of the few characters on the wall that’s worth remembering. His life has been rife with sob stories, so it’s almost a relief for him to have a happy storyline with Gilly. Usually, their scenes together feel like a waste of screen time but in an episode filled with fight scenes, character deaths, and darkness that it was nice to have some light.
“From now on, wherever you go, I go too,” Sam says to Gilly when he finds she survived the wildling raid from the last episode. Not long after, she begs him not to fight with the rest of his peers and not to leave her side as promised. “I didn’t mean in the same room,” he responds. When Gilly asks him to promise he won’t die, it’s reminiscent of Oberyn’s lover begging for the same promise in the last episode. But since Sam lives through the episode, it almost feels like a more hopeful version of Game of Thrones.
Worst: Exclusively at The Wall
The scenes at The Wall have never been the most interesting content of the show. Jon Snow is really the only character in any of those scenes that could be considered essential. The rest of the black-wearing cast is practically nameless, with faces and personalities so similar that it’s barely worth trying to differentiate them.
In the midst of the fighting, six men stand at a gate, watching as a giant gets closer to barring through their barriers and stomping them to death. They recite their vows loudly as the monster plods towards, becoming more fevered as they continue. A few scenes later, Jon walks through the barrier of their corpses, declaring that they sacrificed their lives to stop the giant from getting in. This all would have been a great moment if any of these characters had been memorable.
Dozens of characters get gruesome on-screen deaths, but barely any of them were characters that got a chance to connect with the viewers. It’s a real shame that Joffrey’s wedding had only 20 minutes devoted to it, despite being filled with the show’s most important characters, but this battle had a full episode.