Game of Thronesâ€™ eighth episode, â€œHardhome,â€ finally gave us the blood and guts for which weâ€™ve been waiting. Winter is finally here, (it only took five seasons), allegiances are being made, and truths are being spilled. We even got to see a very broken Cersei Lannister awaiting trial from her cell in Kingâ€™s Landing. â€œHardhomeâ€ set up the remaining two episodes of the fifth season quite nicely. Letâ€™s hope they keep the bar raised to finish it out.
In Winterfell, Sansa is slowly learning more and more about what has been going on in her home while the Starks have been away. Once again she confronts Theon who keeps insisting that he is Reek. She only asks why. She wants to know why he told Ramsay that she wanted to leave Winterfell. Reek tells her that there is no escape. Theon Greyjoy tried to escape, but Ramsay cut him away piece by piece until there was nothing left but Reek.
Sansa is happy to hear that Theon suffered at the hands of Ramsay. He knows that he deserves to be Reek, which is probably part of the reason why he is so resistant to Theon Greyjoy. Reek is starting to crack the more he is around Sansa. At one point he reveals that the boys that he killed and burned were not her brothers, Bran and Rickon. Sansa slowly regains hope that she will see her family again. Meanwhile, Ramsay and Roose Bolton are discussing strategies for Stannisâ€™s army. Roose wants to just wait for Stannis. He knows that itâ€™s only a matter of time before Stannisâ€™s army freezes, starves, and mutinies. But, Ramsay is cruel and wants to take the fight to Stannis. We can only hope that he does and Stannis prevails.
The only other Stark present in this season, Arya, is slowly going through her transition to becoming part of The Faceless Men. She is weaving a story of someone else while Jaqen makes note of her every word. Her story leads her down one road, but Jaqen leads her down another. What she might find, he does not know; if he knew, thereâ€™d be no reason for her to go down that road. When she does actually go down the road, she goes as an oyster merchant selling the best oysters in Braavos. She meets a gambling man thatâ€™s gambling with Captains whether their ships will sink or make it back home. Jaqen explains that if they donâ€™t make it back, then those whoâ€™ve survived the deceased captain will earn money from the man. But, what is to keep that man honest and not just keep all the riches? Arya is set to take on her first mission. Jaqen hands her a small vial of liquid, presumably poison, that she will drop onto the oysters he will buy. But, is Arya ready?
This subplot, while slow moving, is monumental for Arya. She doesnâ€™t seem like the cold-blooded killer type, but she has to know what sheâ€™s gotten herself into. Will she be able to poison the man based on Jaqenâ€™s assumption? Will she shed what is left of her Altruistic Stark side?
Some of the best scenes of this episode were in Meereen. Surprisingly, there was no bloodshed during these scenes, but they were tantalizing nonetheless. Daenerys listens to what Tyrion has to say and asks why he has come to see her. She wonders if he really is a Lannister why shouldnâ€™t she just kill him. He briefly explains that the Lannisters would only rejoice if he were dead, so it wouldnâ€™t really hurt her enemy. He explains that he wants to advise her and that he knows everything. He knows about all of the major houses and all about Westeros as well as leading an army during his time as Hand of the King.
Daenerys throws a curveball when she puts Tyrion on the spot. She tells him to advise her on what to do with Jorah. Tyrion starts by defending Jorah, saying that Jorah lives to serve her. He asks Dany if Jorah had any opportunity to confess his betrayal. She says that he had every opportunity but only revealed his betrayal when confronted with it. Tyrion says that she should show Jorah mercy, but he canâ€™t be by her side should she cross the Narrow Seas to take back the Iron Throne. He tells her, â€œA ruler who kills those devoted to her is not a ruler who inspires devotion.â€ Dany sends Jorah out of the city, where he returns straight to the slave master to fight once again for Dany. It seems that Jorah knows that it is only a matter of time before the grey scale consumes him.
Finally, Tyrion and Daenerys finally sit down to have a chat. Dany wonders if Tyrion believes she is worthy of his advisement. He tells her that her father, the Mad King, would have had him killed. Dany asks what his father would have done. He tells her that his father, Tywin Lannister, had him publicly sentenced to death before he escaped Kingâ€™s Landing. Tyrion reveals that it was Lord Varys who led him to Daenerys in the first place. She has no reason to trust Varys, yet Tyrion believes he may be the only person besides Jaime whom Tyrion trusts. Before Dany decides that she is not going to kill him, Tyrion remarks in his wonderful fashion, â€œIf you chop off my head, well my final days were interesting.â€ Thankfully, Dany is going to let Tyrion advise her. I can only imagine the unstoppable force that these two could be.
At the Wall, the young boy Ollie goes to speak with Sam. Sam is still recovering from his run in with the other crows. Ollie still doesnâ€™t understand why Jon Snow is making peace with the wildlings. All he knows is that the wildlings killed his parents and his whole village. He says that they were not fighting, that it was just a slaughter and Tormund lead the slayings. Sam explains that the White Walkers are coming for all of the living and when itâ€™s time, they will need every last man to fight.
And last but not least, we got arguably the best battle since the battle of Blackwater. Jon Snow and Tormund travel with lots of ships and some men from the Nightâ€™s Watch to convince the wildlings at Hardhome to fight with the crows against the White Walkers. When they first arrive at Hardhome, the Lord of Bones approaches Jon and Tormund asking what they are doing. Tormund tries to explain that they are allies, but the Lord of Bones just keeps spitting in his face and calling him a traitor. Tormund doesnâ€™t take this back talk lightly and beats the man with his own staff, presumably killing him. Then he asks to gather the elders for a discussion.
Tormund and Jon lay out the agreement to fight the White Walkers together. Only together will they have a chance to beat the White Walkers and survive. Jon promises safe passage south of the wall. He reminds them that they donâ€™t have to be friends and they donâ€™t have to forget their dead, but they do need to fight together. Jon offers them to set up in villages south of the wall where they can farm the land as they please. He only asks that when the time comes they fight together against the White Walkers and their army of the dead. Little did they know, the battle would find them faster than they expected.
Only moments after some of the wildlings agreed to the deal and head toward the boats, the army of the dead, wights, are storming into Hardhome. The gates are closed locking out the wights and sadly man of the wildlings from Hardhome. It only took moments for the wights to kill the wildling thus creating more wights to battle the rest of the town. Most of the White Walkers sit atop the mountains watching the death and destruction, but one Walker decides to join the battle.
Jon Snow goes after the dragon glass that was left behind in the hut where he runs into the White Walker. The Walker does a good job trying to kill Jon, but luckily, Jon Snow has been trained since he was a boy to fight. Jon goes for his sword, Longclaw, in hopes of defending himself against the White Walker even though theyâ€™ve only ever known of dragon glass to be the only useful weapon against the walkers. Any sword that was raised against the Walkers was immediately shattered as if made of glass or ice. When Jon raises Longclaw against the Walker it does not shatter. Surprising both Jon and the Walker the sword holds up. Jon takes advantage and swings the sword through the Walker. In an amazing scene of CGI, the sword slices right through the Walker shattering him into thousands of pieces. What a spectacular scene for Jon Snow.