This week’s blog covers:
S4 Ep 9: “The Watchers on the Wall”
S4 Ep 10: “The Children”
S5 Ep 1: “The Wars to Come”
S5 Ep 2: “The House of Black and White”
This Week’s Highlight(s):
The highlight of this week belongs to Jon Snow and “The Watchers on the Wall” director Neil Marshall. Season 4’s penultimate episode is nothing short of a visual masterpiece. With around 100 men to defend the wall against 100,000 Wildlings, Jon Snow is the only person capable of inspiring the men of the Night’s Watch to fight, and ultimately win, the battle. Just look at how badass Jon Snow is when he comes down from atop the wall and joins in the fight.
Despite only featuring one location and no other storylines, this episode packs so much into 51 minutes. The episode’s director, Neil Marshall, also directed season 2’s penultimate episode, “Blackwater.” Neil Marshall dissects his Emmy-nominated episode in this Buzzfeed.com article. Marshall reveals that Castle Black is actually a fully realized set in Belfast, Ireland, which made the 360 degree shot possible. Marshall visually links the geography of Castle Black. Marshall states, “Having a shot like this that binds all the characters and their actions together really helps the audience understand what’s happening, so they remain involved in the scene.” Apparently, this scene only took seven shots to nail all of the components, including the actors, stuntmen, extras, and crane operators, which is in itself, an incredible feat.
This episode also features the series’ first use of slow motion. After Olly shoots Ygritte, Jon holds her to say his final goodbye. The visuals of the fight commencing in the background is done in slow motion and the sound diminishes to focus on the moment between Ygritte and Jon. This interaction traps the viewer in the moment and emphasizes the emotion and loss of the scene.
Another epic cinematic moment from season 4 is the fight between Brienne and the Hound. This scene, from “The Children,” put me on the edge. It’s such a nitty gritty fight that includes Brienne biting off the Hound’s ear and him kicking her where the sun don’t shine. Check out a behind-the-scenes featurette about that scene from HBO below. This fight is followed by the mortally wounded Hound begging Arya to kill him. Despite the cruel nature of the Hound, this scene is actually heartbreaking. Arya chooses not to yield any mercy to the Hound. She has become cruel and calculated. Her list is narrowing, with just Cersei, Walder Frey, the Mountain, and Meryn Trant, but I am sure this list with grow as she enters her new journey in Braavos.
This Week’s Lowlife(s):
This week does not have any full-fledged lowlifes, because I feel like the lowlifes are either too quiet right now or have been handled. However, I would like to address Dany’s decision to execute Mossador, the newly freed slave of Meereen. Mossador killed Dany’s hostage, a member of the Sons of Harpy. Mossador wants to serve his Mhysa and protect his freedom, but Dany sees his execution as just punishment. This decision is similar to Robb Stark execution of Rickard Karstarck after he kills the Lannister boys. It is clear that Robb’s decision was unwise politically and drastically changed the climate of those who follow him. It will be interesting to see how this action affects Dany and her ruling of Meereen. I predict that the Sons of Harpy will use this contention between the slaves and the Unsullied against her.
Thought Provoking Theme(s):
This series has long established themes of family and legacy, but with the latest episodes, these have been tested immensely. Cersei has declared to her father, Tywin, that his legacy is a lie, but that’s not the only Lannister ready to crush what Tywin has built. In “The Children,” a newly released Tyrion confronts his father on the privy. This intense moment is right after Tyrion murders Shae, his former lover who betrayed him. He is adrenaline fueled and ready for justice. Despite Tywin ingraining in his children never to make idle threats, which has been alluded to in the series, he apparently didn’t realize that Tyrion would follow his father’s philosophy so closely. From what I have read, in the novel series this murder really goes back to the story Tyrion tells Bronn and Shae in “Baelor” about Tysha, whom Tyrion fell in love with. Despite this not being explored, this scene of patricide is shocking and will shake up Westeros immensely.
Other conflicts between child and parent can be seen in Dany’s storyline with her dragons. At the end of season 4, she chains two of her dragons in the catacombs of Meereen to prevent their destruction of her city and its people. Dany is doing what Cersei should have done with Joffrey. In the beginning of season 5, Daario tells Dany that she must be the Mother of Dragons, if she hopes to rule. If Dany can train her dragons, then there is no doubt that she will be capable of taking over the seven kingdoms.