Last Night's Amazing GAME OF THRONES Episode Came At A Critical Time

(Warning: spoilers ahead.)

Wow. Last night's episode of Game of Thrones, entitled "Hardhome," was utterly spectacular. This was exactly what the show needed after a somewhat uneven season so far. There have been some strong moments this season, but no true "holy crap" episodes...until now. With the discussion of sexual assault and the disappointing Dorne storyline taking up a lot of the conversation online, it was great to see showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss prove it can still be one of the best shows on television.

While the biggest plot point was unquestionably the battle of Jon Snow and The Wildlings vs. The White Walkers and The Wights, the episode began with a different kind of battle: a verbal one. Dany and Tyrion finally had an extended scene together, and it was everything I was hoping it'd be. Tyrion's quick wit is still on display, but he's a broken man at this point, and meeting Dany is truly the only thing keeping him moving forward. Dany, meanwhile, has been in desperate need of an advisor who knows what the hell he's talking about, and I loved how the two felt each other out, testing their limits before ultimately confirming that they need each other. I haven't read all of the books yet, but I'm already envisioning how awesome it would be if Dany rolls back into Westeros with Tyrion by her side and her dragons overhead, burning that metaphorical wheel they spoke about in their final scene of the episode.

Arya's storyline has loads of potential, and after a bit of a drag over the last few episodes, it seems to finally be picking up. She has a mission now, and I'm looking forward to seeing her progress under the watchful eye of Jaqen H'ghar.

But the real meat of the episode came with the battle of Hardhome, where Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane went to plead with the wildlings to make their way north and join the Night's Watch when the inevitable battle with the White Walkers began. Unfortunately for them all, the battle started much sooner than they thought, and in one of the show's most glorious scenes, the White Walkers appeared on horseback and released hundreds of wights on the wildling camp. The action was unbelievably good, and the introduction of Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (who you may recognize as one of the "villains" of Pitch Perfect 2) provided a human element to the otherwise faceless hordes of wildlings that the audience admittedly probably doesn't care that much about. But seeing a badass warrior (who is also a caring mother) go down fighting thanks to a gang of creepy wight children was heartbreaking.

And I thought Jon might be done for, but his personal fight with a White Walker gave us some super important information for the war to come: dragonglass (aka obsidian) is no longer the only thing that can kill White Walkers. Valyrian steel is also capable of destroying them. The only Valyrian steel I can think of that the show has revealed to us thus far is Jon's sword Longclaw, Ned Stark's sword Ice — which was melted down and converted into two swords, one for Joffrey (maybe Tommen has it now?) and one for Jaime Lannister, who gave it to Brienne — and possibly Stannis Baratheon's sword Lightbringer. (The book talks a lot about how his sword shimmers with power from the Lord of Light, but I don't recall if it's also Valyrian steel.) Update: I've been informed that Lightbringer is not Valyrian steel. Carry on.

I was honestly shocked that this episode wasn't directed by Neil Marshall. The director of films like The Descent and Doomsday has directed some of the biggest battle scenes in the show's history, from the battle of Blackwater to last season's "The Watchers on The Wall," which took place entirely around Castle Black and featured the death of Ygritte. When Game of Thrones needs a big battle episode, they've usually called on Marshall to deliver. But this time, they went with Miguel Sapochnik, the guy responsible for Repo Men, and he did a fantastic job. He's directing an episode of the second season of True Detective soon, and I'm excited to see what else he does in the future.

What did you all think about "Hardhome"?

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