Guys this one took me forever because I can’t talk about spoilers and I had to go back and reread Jon’s chapters and I just don’t care enough? I like Jon in the books, I really do, I just feel like they tried to pull a “Blackwater” with this episode because “ooooh episode 9 is the craaaaazy one every time” and nope. Blackwater made sense because it was a short siege with enough POV characters all in that one place, but I just didn’t feel like it worked for the siege of the Wall, especially since it takes place over like, a full week, and way more stuff happens, and it’s not like Ygritte gets POV chapters so it’s like “kay cool Jon we’re gonna just…use you.” PLUS THEY KILLED PYP WHY.
For the record, I have had Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” stuck in my head since last year’s episode of the same name, and it comes back in every time I see anything remotely related to the Wall. Because bar prep is screwing with my emotions so badly, I started singing it in my head after episode 8 and started laughing so hard I teared up, because the chorus goes “there’s always gonna be another mountain” and I was like “LOL RIGHT BECAUSE THEY RECAST GREGOR SO MANY TIMES, ANOTHER ‘MOUNTAIN’ GEDDIT”
…the episode 10 recap will be better, I promise. I PROMISE.
Obviously I can’t break this thing down into areas so I’m just gonna do my thoughts? I guess? Plus I can’t say much because of spoilers in Jon’s storyline? I don’t really know? Let’s be real y’all I’m just sitting around waiting for the finale which they’d better not mess up or we will have WORDS, BENIOFF AND WEISS
So, Kit Harington, as much as I sass him about pouting and being vaguely damp all the time and having pretty hair, is a lovely young man who has, as far as I know, actually read all the books, and has mentioned in interviews that he’s really trying to let the viewers see into Jon’s thoughts, especially in that he reeeeeally misses Ygritte. The dialogue this season has given him like NOTHING to work with so he’s trying really hard, and I actually think he’s been basically as close to spot on as he can be with that in place. They’ve dragged his plotline as much as possible this season, and I really think he’s Doing His Best. Maybe I’m totally off on this, but I really just enjoy his portrayal and any frustration I have with Jon’s character is really not on Kit (minus his squinting all the time like can we turn off the wind machine or whatever it is? his hair will be JUST as pretty staying still).
So they changed a LOT here. For one, Sam’s not there, like, at all. Tormund’s not there. Alliser’s not there. Janos Slynt in all of his jowly goodness is not there. It’s Jon, whose leg is arrow-shot and is not like even a little bit ready to do much more than get propped up and shoot some more arrows, who controls the 20 or so dudes who are all vaguely incompetent, who holds the Thenn attack, and then a bunch of days later, the mammoth and giant attack. The mammoths and giants looked great, for the record, but those are two separate attacks. And for you bookreaders: I don’t think they cast Donal Noye in the TV adaptation, and I did appreciate the kind of epic last stand some of the men had at the gate with the giant, and I guess they can’t really shove Donal in for this episode only, but I did kind of miss that. His death made me sad in the books, just because he’s such a supporter of Jon, I guess? Anyway, #feelingz
No, Sam is not there in the books, he’s still off wandering with Gilly, but dear God I loved John Bradley in this episode. His excellent “oh, is it over? Then keep shooting” line was the greatest in the episode, and although his entire presence is not canon, it worked for me, somehow: he talks about how Gilly makes him braver, if not brave, and her arrival at Castle Black right before the battle makes it work. I’m sad they had to kill Pyp for Sam’s character development, but that’s about it. Like once I got past the “oh, okay, Sam’s definitely here, then?” I was totally on board with everything they did. Also I kinda got tingles when he swore. #TeamSamwell
Just one little shoutout for what a friend called “Tormund’s murder face” because it’s great. The original “it’s just a flesh wound, come at me, bro.”
The Award for Grossness in a Death Scene goes to Styr, the Magnar of Thenn, for “hammer in his skull courtesy of Lord Snow.” Again, Jon’s not able to fight in the books, but this fight scene was very well choreographed (in an episode that I thought did very well with fight choreography), and I’m fine with it. I still don’t know why they made the Thenns cannibals but it did add to the bleh factor and the group I was watching with all went “OOOHHHH” when Hammer-In-Skull happened, so I’ll allow it.
Not so on board with Ygritte’s death. I know TV shows and movies are really big on the “slow down the battle around people so they can have Their Moment” but I really did not like it here, especially since dude, she def would have shot him, I’m sorry. In the books, Jon finds her dying after the fight’s over, so having a moment where they won’t just like get hacked at (what, is there a special bubble of “don’t hit these guys for a minute, they’re in lurrrrrrv”?) is totally legit. This is not to criticize either Kit or Rose Leslie, because they worked with what they got, and I was still sad, there were just too many “these people are special so don’t touch them” aspects to her death scene and that’s the exact opposite of what GRRM tries to do.
Lastly, I’m not super happy with Jon’s decision to go find Mance Rayder (and apparently, we are paying Ciaran Hinds by the goddamn minute because it’s gonna be the last episode and the leader of the freaking army has yet to make an appearance but MORE MAMMOTHS I don’t even know, guys). In the books, the Night’s Watch dudes who don’t like Jon (cue Alliser and Janos, which I just wrote as “Jason” lolol oh God nothing is funny why am I laughing) send him to treat with the wildlings, which really means “we don’t want to hang you for being a turncloak so we’ll just send you to die,” and Jon’s kinda like “well, shit. I guess I’ll go.” He’s not like “I am the NOBLEST and MOST IMPORTANT of the sworn brothers and MUST GO ON MY OWN, DON’T TRY TO STOP ME SAM” and it’s a very “no, I will carry the Ring to Mordor on my own because I’m special” and I just didn’t like it. Jon’s definitely got a hero complex, it’s inherent in his character, but he’s not that dumb. I also thought they could have ended the episode differently (later in the plot, considering Ygritte’s death is page 620 something and the book is 920 something pages) but I can’t talk because spoilers. They can’t wrap up Jon’s plotline next episode without screwing over a bunch of other plots, so I have a feeling we’ll have some of his ASoS plot left.
Sorry for the lackluster post, I Tried. I am going to thoroughly enjoy people losing their minds over episode 10, but I have had expectations of how it needs to be since like 10 months ago so please, please, PLEASE get this right, HBO.