Game of Thrones S05E08 recap and review: 'Hardhome' (Spoiler alert)

Mean nuns and Crows that're outgunned.
It's the recap and review of Game of Thrones S05E08, 'Hardhome'.

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The Thenn leader orders the gates shut, stranding most of the Wildlings outside with the approaching undead horde. The screams of those outside the gates go way too silent, way too quickly.

Having never seen a horror movie before, the Thenn approaches the now-silent gate... he puts his eye up to a crack...

All Hell is breaking loose as the zombies tear away at the gates.  The Wildlings on the shore are swimming out into the frigid water to cling to the departing rowboats. Jon Snow is calling for an orderly queue.The Wildlings are not forming an orderly queue.

The zombies climb over and dig under the walls of the town. They're on the roof of City Hall. It looks bad for the Wildlings and the Crows. It looks very bad.

Jon Snow rallies the Crows to defend Hardhome as the Wildlings flee toward the ships. The Crows realize that besides Crypt Keeper-lookin' zombies, and Ray Harryhausen walking skeletons, they're also now locked in combat with 28 Days Later zombies that are really fast. These are the zombies that were Wildlings a few minutes ago. If you like axes, jump-cuts, and guys going "Aaauuugghh!", then this is totally your scene.


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If you don't... I dunno, watch Modern Family instead. Whatever. The rest of us, let's crack some zombie skulls.

Atop the mountain, four White Walkers sit astride zombo-horses, watching the battle.

Jon races back to City Hall for the Kryptonite as the giant stomps the crap out of a bunch of skeletons. Into the flames of the building walks a White Walker. The Thenn leader lasts about two seconds against this thing before winding up a shattered corpsicle. Jon is still looking for that f%cking Dragonglass. The White Walker for some reason doesn't just stab Jon in the back, but instead engages in a battle with the frantic Crow. Jon picks up a discarded sword, but...

Jon is getting his ass kicked. Retrieving his own sword, Longclaw, Jon is as surprised as the White Walker when the frozen fiend's spear doesn't shatter it. One swipe with Longclaw and the White Walker shatters like safety glass in a Hollywood car chase. So I guess Valyrian steel also kills White Walkers.

Meanwhile, one of the Wildlings finds herself unable to attack a bunch of zombified children... but the zombified children are perfectly okay with eating her alive. Eddison is like, "Fuck the Dragonglass, let's get out of here!" Just then the Night's King (leader of the White Walkers) sends a new wave of zombies over the cliff, where they crash like lemmings to the frozen ground. Which lemmings don't actually do. But these zombies do. Then they rise up and start attacking the Hardhome survivors, which lemmings also don't do.

Now the sheer weight of zombies old and new sends Hardhome's walls crashing down. Jon Snow, Eddison Tollet, Tormund Giantsbane, and the giant are the only survivors of the battle... at least, the only survivors with a pulse.

The Night's King walks out onto the dock and waits until Jon is looking at him. He raises his arms with a slight grin, resurrecting the dead Wildlings and Crows... as zombies.

Game of Thrones S05E08 review

I'm always torn when watching a huge Game of Thrones battle. So fun to watch at first, but so quick to become repeated scenes of guys with beards screaming at each other. Breaking up the monotony were the tunneling dead; the zombie-stomping giant, and Jon Snow's Viggo Mortensen swordplay.

Still, no battle scene has yet, at least for me, beaten the Wildfire-fueled Battle of the Blackwater. The last moment, though, drove the stakes of this conflict home: like in a game of Red Rover, those you lose become your enemies. That one Wildling woman will now be trying to kill her own kids when she reaches The Wall.

That Valyrian steel can kill the White Walkers is a game changer, but it's also somehow not very surprising.

I'm glad that Arya Stark is getting into ninja mode so quickly, and I hope we see her take out her first proper victim soon. I'm also glad Cersei is suffering, but at the same time I want her back in the game properly.

The Tyrion-Daenerys duologue was just what I hoped it would be: a long-awaited meeting that wasn't too heavy-handed or portentous. Just two very interesting people having a light conversation with heavy overtones.

Line of the night: come on, it's gotta be the giant, with "The fuck you looking at?" So, so contemporary.

I'm giving Game of Thrones S05E08 three zombified Wildlings out of a possible five. Check back in next week for Game of Thrones S05E09, "The Dance of Dragons". So far, each season's ninth episode has had something especially ambitious, either in plot or scope.

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