Game of Thrones S4 E39: The Watchers on the Wall, or Everything Sucks/Ends

Can we all agree that George R. R. Martin is bipolar, with a strong emphasis on the depressive side? Most extremely creative people are bipolar. Whether their medium is science, stories, visual arts, or being a really accomplished warlord like Mance, I believe this applies. I don’t meant that in some DSM sense of being a disorder, but merely as a descriptive of a certain sort of personality structure. In order to have that spark which allows greatness, most people must eventually pay the piper. It’s like having a coffee in the morning and waiting for the caffeine crash later or the headache the following morning; for a moment of extra clarity, you pay with some time spent feeling fuzzy. Can we all agree that George R. R. Martin is a genius? Okay, now that we are all on the same page, because nobody on the internet ever gets all psycho just because someone mentioned one of their trigger words (like bipolar, depressive, or Game of Thrones.)

If you’ve ever felt bipolar or known a bipolar person well (and, if you are reading Blue Blood, I’m guessing you have), then you know that sometimes you just want to tell them to cheer the fuck up. You want to remind them about that time they were so charming, the life of the party, doing all that awesome stuff. Encouragement can make a difference, but sometimes you/they are just going to go down that dark hallway. The only variable is how long it will take for the swing back to happen.

I want to take this opportunity to say: Dear GRRM, please cheer the fuck up.

So, The Watchers on the Wall is a whole episode of the Free Folk storming Castle Black. Everything is either gray or on fire. Very limited color palette. I love that the Game of Thrones production designers have very specific color palettes for each different part of the Game of Thrones world; this really contributes to an authentic feeling sense of place, like these are all real cities you could visit IRL.

A thing I don’t really like about epics is that, to get to the storyline you love, you have to slog through the one you wish would just end. (I’d like to take this guest recapper opportunity to high five everyone involved in the TV version of Game of Thrones for so greatly abbreviating that endless low level horror of Harrenhal.) Anyway, I’m interested in what is going on in Kings Landing (even if I miss Peter Dinklage getting to really chew the scenery when he was in charge of the Red Keep.) I want to watch Arya and The Hound have adventures (even though that subplot seems like it is visiting from another TV show.) I want to see what Councilman Carcetti and Sansa are plotting (and I want to have a full time designer like Michele Clapton and embroiderer like Michele Carragher because that black dress Sansa was rocking last ep was mighty fine. Incidentally, Michele Carragher has descriptions of how to make Daenerys dragonscale embroidery on her site.) I would kind of like to check in with the Tyrell’s and that Gothic Red Priestess and the Iron Bank and a bunch of other parts of the world which are falling into the background.

For fuck’s sake, though, if I never see another minute of the Boltons or Theon Greyjoy, it will still be too much of them. I feel like the mere existence of Roose Bolton and his pervo son make me feel dumb for rooting for the Starks in the first season/book. The fact that one of Ned Stark’s most powerful bannermen had a FLAYED MAN as his sigil . . . okay, okay, I get it: GRRM would like to point out that the world is a dark place and everybody has falls from grace and there are no good guys, only shades of gray and varying levels of evil, self-interest, and betrayal. Even Ned Stark fooled around on his bride and Petyr does claim he deflowered both Tully girls and Rob Stark did not look much like Ned in either the TV show or the book. But I digress.

So, recapping an hour long battle is challenging because most of what happens is that a lot of extras swing swords at one another, shoot arrows with one another, get hit with swords, get hit with arrows, or engage in fisticuffs. There is a lot of talk about cannibalism. The Thenns talk about cannibalism in the TV show, but are they cannibals in the book or is this war propaganda? There is some mention in this episode about what sorts of things the enemy probably says about the defenders of Castle Black and their ilk.

Sam Tarly asks John Snow a bunch of questions about what it was like to bang Ygritte. And, in the only moment I’ve really enjoyed the Sam character, Sam Tarly J.D. points out that the oath does not specifically preclude sexual activity, just actually marrying the girl or fathering kids. Sam feels like that leaves a lot of options open. Which is a very good point. Skipping ahead, as Ygritte gets killed while distracted by looking at John Snow lovingly, that means that, even if John Snow did get her pregnant, he still fathered no children and is home free, thanks to the quality lawyering of Tarly Esquire.

Ser Alliser Thorne is kind of a dick, but he points out to John Snow that the hardest thing about leadership is that there are always a bunch of whining cunts second-guessing the leader and it is important for leaders not to second-guess themselves. Ser Alliser Thorne further points out that John Snow was probably right that they should have battened down the hatches (sealed the tunnel) before an army of 100,000 wildlings showed up. Ser Alliser Thorne is a big enough man to acknowledge that this puts the whining cunts on the scoreboard. Then he fights courageously and gets cacked. Because, if you start liking anyone on Game of Thrones, that usually means their death scene is coming up. (Why, yes, I am still peeved about how Oberyn Martell went out last week. I’d say I want to party with Oberyn Martell, but, realistically, I must happily admit that I know quite a few Oberyn Martells.)

Some people mention they are scared. Gilly and her incest baby show up at Castle Black and Sam hides her away. Janus Slynt is a little bitch and tries to hide in the place Gilly is stashed. Not totally clear on how this shook out, but it looks like Gilly might have clubbed Slynt. So that was a plus.

Maester Aemon points out to Sam that he was in love once. Sam is dubious. Maester Aemon says that love is the death of duty, but that he was young once and, as a Targaryen prince, he had lots of babes hitting on him aggressively and there was one who really captured his heart. Maester Aemon seems pretty bummed that he ended up a man of the Night’s Watch, instead of a King with the girl he loved. He says that imminent death makes the past look sweeter. He also says that he had a library full of books but no eyes to read them with and old age is full of ironies.

After all the ranking people are out of commission, John Snow kind of takes command. Hashtag NITB. He sends some guys you like down to guard the tunnel that Ser Alliser Thorne should have sealed. They repeat their vows. They successfully defend the gate. They all die horribly.


(1) Love sucks.
(2) Duty and honor suck too.
(3) Cowardice sucks.
(4) War is both stupid and inevitable.
(5) Nothing is fair.
(6) Everything is ephemeral.


Posted by on June 8, 2014. Filed under Headline, Popcorn. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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