‘Game Of Thrones’ Recap: Winter Arrives In ‘Hardhome’
Game of Thrones “Hardhome” explored the making of unusual allies united in great duress and great ambition, homing in on the coming of winter and the Seven Kingdom’s best hope for the future.
Game of Thrones Recap
Mereen: Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), once again, is tasked with talking his way out of certain death. This time, his fate will be determined by Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), who points out that her safest course of action would be to kill him. With an air of aloofness, Tyrion notes that he is the greatest Lannister killer in the Seven Kingdoms. Then, he earnestly recounts the story he heard of Dany’s uncertain and harrowing journey that has somehow led her to her current impressive position – which made her worth meeting. Why is he worth her time? He knows that killing and politics aren’t always the same thing, and he knows the Seven Kingdoms and its politics better than most.
Dany decides to test Tyrion’s mettle right away, asking him to advise her what to do with Ser Jorah (Iain Glen). She points out that she had told him that should he ever return, she would kill him. Tyrion vouches for Jorah’s changed intentions, and even explains away his failure to come forward about his days as a spy, telling Dany, “He did not trust that you’d be wise enough to forgive him.” Tyrion advises against killing those that are truly devoted to her, like Jorah, but he also points out it would be a mistake to return him to her side. Dany listens to Tyrion and has Jorah banished. Instead of taking advantage of his freedom, lovelorn Jorah, infected with grayscale, returns to the slaver to fight for Dany.
Later on, Dany welcomes Tyrion to chat over wine. Once again, the Mother of Dragons admits that she believes that her smartest and safest decision would be to kill him. He doesn’t disagree, nor would their late fathers. Tyrion goes on to speak highly of Varys, the man who wanted them to meet and the only man he trusts, and the goal of being the “right kind of terrible,” which he thinks she might be. In the end, Dany decides not to kill Tyrion, and to keep him on as an advisor. Tyrion’s first action as advisor is to suggest that maybe she stay out of Westeros, remain out of the wheel of Lannisters, Starks, Baratheons and Tyrells. “I’m not going to stop the wheel,” Dany counters in the episode’s second most powerful scene. “I’m going to break the wheel.”
A shadow of herself, Cersei (Lena Headey) remains imprisoned by the Sparrows, charged with fornication, treason, incest and the murder of King Robert. When Qyburn (Anton Lesser) comes to visit her, he tells her that “belief is so often the death of reason,” and that the only sure way that she might be able to get out would be to confess, but she refuses. After Qyburn tells her that her uncle Kevan now presides over the Small Council, the nearly broken Cersei asks to see Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman). Tommen, however, with both his wife and mother locked behind bars, refuses to see anyone.
After Qyburn leaves her, Cersei is visited by one of the female Sparrows, who demands that she confess her crimes against the Seven. Again, Cersei refuses. Practically spitting at the woman, Cersei begins a rant that starts as a bribe and ends as a declaration of her homicidal urges towards the woman. The woman upends a ladle full of water onto the floor that, once she leaves, Cersei greedily sucks up like a feral foil of the regal and formidable queen she once was.
At the House of Black and White, Arya (Maisie Williams) has proven herself capable in the Game of Faces. Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha) decides that she is ready for her first task. He wants her to adopt the persona of Lana the Oyster Girl. After creating a believable backstory, Arya heads down to the docks. There, she means a gambler (The Thin Man) selling a scam to sea captains. It is he who Jaqen will want her to kill. Though the young woman who had been helping Arya with the Game of Faces does not think the youngest Stark daughter is ready, Jaqen insists it’s time.
Locked in a tower, Sansa (Sophie Turner) is brought her food by Theon (Alfie Allen). She insists that he tell her why he told Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) about the elderly woman who was her ally and her escape plan. Theon, who was long ago beaten into submission, explains that he knows what happens when someone tries to run away from Ramsay. When Sansa shows little sympathy for the torture he endured, he concedes that he deserves to be Reek because of the terrible things that he did – but those terrible things don’t include killing her brothers Bran and Rickon. For the first time in a long time, Sansa is given hope.
Elsewhere at Winterfell Sansa’s sadistic husband talks strategy with his father Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton). With other advisors, they are discussing what to do about Stannis’ approaching army. Roose wants to stay safely behind Winterfell and let the elements take care of their opponents. Ramsay sees a better way, a way to be the aggressors without risking the loss of their safe haven or of many men. He asks his father for 20 men and he’ll end Stannis’ attack.
While Sam (John Bradley) tries to explain Jon Snow’s (Kit Harrington) decision to join forces with the wildlings to Olly, who saw his innocent family slaughtered by them, the Lord Commander arrives North of the Wall at Hardhome with Tormund (Kristofer Hivju). At the onset, the wildling leaders at Hardhome are resistant to the idea of working with the Night’s Watch and its leader Jon Snow. But Jon and Tormund persist, arguing that the only chance the wildlings have of surviving is to come with them South of the Wall. If they do, they’ll get the white walker-defeating dragonglass. Tormund even explains to the wildlings that Jon Snow showed the Magnar of Thenn mercy when Stannis had him burned at the stake, ending his life with an arrow.
A wildling chieftain named Karsi agrees to have her people go with Jon and Tormund, and some of the other chieftains follow suit. But, before they can safely board the boats and make their way out of there, the wights are upon them. Jon and Tormund try to help the wildings who’d yet to evacuate control the hoards of undead that include some of their own men who’d been transformed by the white walkers. Jon heads to the meeting room where he’d left the bag of dragon glass and ends up in a duel with one of the white walker leaders. He fails to find the bag of dragonglass, but, to his surprise, he manages to destroy the white walker with his Valyrian Steel sword. As for Karsi (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), she ends up a wight after finding herself unable to kill wildling children-turned-wight children.
In the episode’s closing moments, Jon Snow and Tormund manage to get on a row boat. Looking back at Hardhome, Jon makes eye contact with the blue-eyed white walkers’ Night King as he raises his arms and awakens the fallen men, who’ve now joined his growing wight army.
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