This week's episode of Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 8, "Hardhome" shows us a sulky Cersei in the dungeons beneath the castle and follows a bit of Arya in her adventures as Lana, an oyster merchant. However, the focal point of this episode was Jon Snow's trip with Tormund to the far north, where Tormund's fellow Wildlings live, and the devastating destruction that comes at the icy hands of the White Walkers.
Jon and Tormund have to convince Tormund's people to relocate south of the wall in exchange for their support in the Wall's battle against the White Walkers. Tormund's people would have lands to farm on, while the Night Watchers would have military aid when the war begins.
Sansa Discovers the Truth
Sansa forces Reek to reveal that he hadn't killed the two youngest Stark brothers. This gives her hope. The look of grim hope on Sansa's face reminds me of Lindsay Lohan. Not sure if it's the makeup.
Cersei looks awful - her greasy hair has long lost its texture, and the layer of grease that has congealed on her face magnifies her pores. Looks like she's been down there for a while.
The nun will give water only in exchange for confessions. But Cersei refuses to confess. She alternates between from trying to bribe the sisters and threatening the sister with a terrible death. Then, after the nun spills the water on the ground and leaves, Cersei quickly slurps the water from the ground. Cersei seems to be going nutty, which isn't much of a surprise considering how she mentioned that prisoners go insane in these dungeons to Margaery.
Qyburn visits Cersei and tells her that Pycell has arranged for Uncle Kevan to become the King's Hand, and also that her son, Tommen, is keeping himself holed up in a room and won't eat or visit her or Margaery. Ultimately, what befell Margaery also befell Cersei, and neither woman has access to the young King anymore.
Qyburn also added a mysterious line, "The work continues."
If you remember Qyburn from last season, you'll see him working on a giant lump. I believe the FrankenMountain is currently Qyburn's lab project, and Qyburn is updating Cersei on the progress. Although I don't think she'd care very much in her current state.
Arya as Lana, Oyster Merchant
Jaqen instructs Arya to assume the identity of Lana, oyster merchant with a fabulous blazer, and spy on a man who takes bets on whether ships sink or sail. Jaqen tells her to poison him.
I wasn't sure if Arya has adopted someone's face at some point but it looks like she's not ready for that yet. The Waif, Arya's colleague/nemesis, is jealous of Arya's progress.
Things Escalate Quickly in the North
Jon and Tormund arrive in Hardhome to persuade the people to relocate south of the wall for the Winter. The locals mention that the hunting has been poor lately, but there is some division between the folk on whether to leave or stay. But that disagreement comes to an end quickly as an avalanche of death destroys a large number of the Wild folk trapped outside the gates. The folklings destroyed quickly become part of the White Walkers' army of dead, and they overflow the gates and quickly destroy the rest of the Wildlings who failed to get on the boats to escape.
The speed of the wights' movements was terrifying. A key moment that made me yelp pathetically was the part where the army of wights plunge to their "deaths" beneath a cliff and then reanimate to charge at the remaining Wild folk.
In Jon's failed search of the dragonglass weapons that were lost in the chaos, a White Walker attempts to kill Jon Snow. Jon Snow pulls out his family sword made of Valyrian steel--and destroys the White Walker. Until now, the only known weakness of the White Walkers was to dragonglass. Now we know they're also vulnerable to Valyrian steel.
The show introduced Karsi (played by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), a hilariously blunt and pragmatic character with two daughters, only to kill her soon after in a Walking Dead-esque group hug (with teeth) by zombie children. It's really scary when predators stand and stare at characters for a few moments before attacking them. Why do they do that?
Hardhome descends into a deadly silence as the last of the Wildlings left on the shore die to the wights. The Lich King/necromancer/leader White Walker reanimates the fresh corpses (including Karsi) into wights, which stand and stare out at Jon and Tormund's boat with glowing blue eyes.
I was glad the giant didn't die. He wasn't going to fit on any of those flimsy wooden boats, so I was worried they were just going to leave him behind. To my curiosity, no one looked that worried for the giant. But then he waded past the boats into the water and swam off. I also thought he might turn into a giant zombie.
Thoughts: This was a good episode because we see more of the White Walkers and their army of wights, which we've only caught glimpses of in previous seasons. Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 8, "Hardhome" also contains a scene in which the White Walkers and their wights interact with the humans on a larger scale for the first time.
+5 The Giant survived (off-camera). Also, Jon, Tormund and Eddison survived.
+3 Introduction of a cool character, Karsi, with her down-to-earth statements about ancestors being dead.
-2 Karsi did not survive. :(
+100 The horrifying invasion of the wights and White Walkers. That stuff is disturbing.
+3 Tormund's beard and stylish staff, which he uses to smash the words of political opponents.
+3 Arya's stylish blazer and hairdo as Lana, oyster seller.
+5 Closeups of the wights and the White Walkers. Looks like Jon killed someone's ice brother or something.
+10 Quburn's reference to what I believe is his work on the Mountain.
+20 The set design of Hardhome. Beautiful, rough, and icy.