'Game of Thrones' Recap: 'The Watchers on the Wall' Is Intense, Violent & Delightfully Messy

game of thrones watchers on the wall

It really is amazing to think, after episode 9 of season 4 of Game of Thrones, "The Watchers on the Wall," there is only one episode left! One episode left of what has been an incredible season. It's not fair. To have to wait an entire year for the next season ... it's pretty much unthinkable at this point.

Well, might as well get to the big battle of season 4. Jon Snow and the Night's Watch take on Mance Rayder and 100,000 wildlings. We've also seen how deadly and violent the Thenn are, a clan of the Free Folk who eat people. We may also see what will happen if Jon and Ygritte ever reunite. Yep, this battle should certainly be as good and bloody and adrenaline-pumping as anything you're going to see on the big screen, Lord of the Rings-style.

There are SPOILERS AHEAD for "The Watchers on the Wall." Check out the second to last episode of season 4, then immediately report back!


Of course Samwell Tarly is only worried about how big Ygritte's feet are when asking Jon about the birds and the bees. They both speak of their impending doom while Sam mourns for Gilly. Don't fret, dude, she's still alive. Aemon and Sam also bond in their favorite place: the library. "Love is the death of duty," Aemon wisely says. Neither of them, Jon nor Sam, listened to the advice, obviously.

Aemon admits that he is Aemon Targaryen, and he could have been a future king -- therefore, he had plenty of women trying to sleep with him. (He is the great-uncle of Daenerys.) As he said, nothing makes thinking about the past sweeter than imminent death ...

Sam and Gilly finally reunite after Sam curses for the first time in his life, seemingly just in time for them to be slaughtered by the wildling army. He seems to be finding his courage; he even gets his first kiss!

On the flip side, Tormund Giantsbane, a member of the Thenn, and Ygritte inevitably talk about sex and the past as well (is that just what you're supposed to talk about on the eve of a big battle?), though Ygritte immediately claims Jon for herself if he is still alive. If you recall, this small group of wildlings scaled the Wall to take Castle Black by surprise. The outcome of the battle is pretty much dependent upon them.

It's finally time, as Jon looks out at the vast wildling army with their torches. Ser Alliser Thorne finally admits what we all knew: They should have sealed the tunnel when they had the chance. Duh. Sigh.

The group that scaled the Wall attack the southern gates with fiery arrows. The rest of the Night's Watch shoot arrows down at the wildling army attacking the Wall. Inevitably, it's big speech time! Thorne tries to pump up his troops. "When the sun rises, I promise you, Castle Black will stand! The Night's Watch will stand!" Seriously, though, no one wants to be a meal for a Thenn tonight. Though it wasn't nearly as good as Tyrion's "There are brave men knocking on our door -- let's go kill them!"

Giants, mammoths, we're really getting it all at the Battle of Castle Black. Joras Slynt, who seems to have lost his mind after taking over for Throne, goes below to join Throne. He is as cowardly as ever and holes up in the same room where Sam has stored Gilly. Perfect time for Jon to take charge!

Ygritte takes out Pyp with an arrow to the neck while a sad Sam looks on -- too bad because those two were pretty funny together.

Giants riding mammoths are pretty scary mo fos, and they try to break down the gate at the foot of the Wall. Jon asks a small group of men, led by Grenn, to hold the gate.

Giantsbane takes on Thorne, and Thorne is badly injured. Sam takes Pyp's crossbow and manages to shoot a member of the Thenn right in the head. Sam also discovers that Jon is in command.

After raining down some barrels of explosives, only one giant remains, and with insane strength, he lifts the gate at the Wall. The six men Jon sends down to the gate take on the giant running at them, though we don't see the outcome. Perhaps the insane amount of CGI necessary was just too costly to feature an elaborate giant-battle, though it would have been fun to watch.

Jon takes Longclaw, goes down below at Sam's request, and cuts through a bunch of wildlings. It's pretty difficult to tell who's winning at this point. But the sheer scope of the battle scene is amazing, with one long shot taking in all the craziness and one-on-one battles that are going on. Sam even releases Ghost!

Ygritte finally sees Jon fighting a member of the Thenn. It's not looking good when Jon is disarmed -- but it's nothing a hammer to the head can't fix. Ygritte locks and loads and aims for Jon, but he can't do anything but smile at her. Jon smiling! Suddenly she is pierced with an arrow by the kid whose family was slaughtered by the wildlings and who got an earlier pep talk from Sam, much to Jon's horror.

They really should have stayed in that cave, huh? When he says they'll go back, of course her response is: "You know nothing, Jon Snow." She dies in his arms and it's actually pretty f'in sad!

It seems the Night's Watch has won the day; the Wall is impenetrable, especially with a giant ass anchor defending it, and the raiding party failed. Though with the wildling's army still overwhelming them in numbers, most likely it won't be the last attack.

Tormund has a few arrows in his back but Jon spares his life. Jon and Sam acknowledge that they can hold the wildlings off for a day or two but won't be able to beat them. Jon decides to talk to Mance. Without their leader, he believes the wildlings will scatter. We also see that the six men below were able to take out the giant, but at the cost of all their lives. Jon closes Grenn's eyes, then goes out into the snow to find Mance and hopefully end the war.

It seems, luckily, from the preview, that the battle isn't over. The battle should last over the next several days and we'll get to see more of what happens during the season finale.

Yes, the season finale, leaving so many questions unanswered. The quick preview looked fantastic, but the one question on everyone's minds has to be: What's going to happen to Tyrion?!

Were you satisfied with the Battle of Castle Black?


Image via HBO

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