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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Episode 8 Recap: “Hardhome”

game of thrones hardhome

HOLY SHIT. So that happened.

The White Walkers are not messing around, people! If you weren’t worried about the White Walkers before, you better be worried about them now.

Battle of Hardhome

Lord Commander Jon Snow leads a potential suicide mission beyond The Wall to Hardhome to help the Wildlings, as well as the giant known as Wun Wun. Winter is coming and the Wildlings can’t survive on their own, so Jon offers them a piece of land where they can live. Obviously, the Wildlings are suspicious of their sworn enemy, the Night’s Watch. But Tormund explains how Jon showed mercy to Mance Rayder, by putting an arrow through his heart when he was being burned alive by Stannis earlier this season.

Most of the Wildlings are too stubborn to leave, but Jon and Tormund manage to convince a few of them to come with them. We meet a Wildling woman named Karsi (played by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) who has two young daughters that she puts on a boat headed towards The Wall. She seems awesome so, of course, she’s going to die.

Then the zombie avalanche comes. The White Walkers bring their Army of the Dead (wights) to Hardhome and it’s an absolute massacre. While the Night’s King watches from a distance, one of his lieutenants comes down and engages in a fight with Jon Snow. Without dragonglass, it appears as though Jon is doomed but it turns out his sword, which is made of Valyrian steel, is pretty effective against the White Walkers.

jon snow white walker

The most chilling moment comes at the end of the episode. The Night’s King raises everyone they just killed from the dead, adding more wights to his army. Jon Snow watches from the boat. Why can’t they row faster?!

The Wall

Back at The Wall, Olly expresses his concerns to Sam about Jon bringing the Wildlings to The Wall. They slaughtered his family, so Olly doesn’t understand why Jon is helping them. Sam tries to explain how there are good and bad people everywhere. Besides, they have bigger fish to fry (re: The White Walkers).

Sam says that sometimes the Night’s Watch have to do things they don’t want to. Olly seems to take that to heart.

dany tyrion


Dany decides she hasn’t forgiven Jorah for betraying her trust but she will spare his life. Still, she banishes him from the city. A heartbroken and greyscale-inflicted Jorah sells himself into slavery so he can continue fighting in the pits. I’m not sure what Jorah’s endgame is here. Does he just want Dany to see him? That’s kind of… pathetic.

However, Dany does decide to give Tyrion a chance. After insulting each other’s parentage, Tyrion goes over the situation in Westeros with all of the royal families. She needs support, but who will she get it from? Even if the poor decide to rally behind her, she still needs help from the rich and she probably won’t get it from The Starks, The Lannisters, The Baratheons, or The Tyrells.

Why not stay in Meereen? Except Dany doesn’t think of Meereen as her home. Westeros is her home and she intends to be its rulers by “breaking the wheel,” whatever that means.

Dany tells Tyrion she wants him to be her adviser.

sansa theon


In Braavos, Arya has become “Lana,” a girl who sells oysters. Her mission is to assassinate a gambler, but she needs to do a little reconning first.

Back in Winterfell, Sansa is furious with Theon for selling her out to Ramsay. She just wants to know why. Theon claims he was trying to protect her. He tried running away before and it ended in being captured by Ramsay and being physically and psychologically tortured. He didn’t want Sansa to suffer the same fate. He also insists that his name is Reek — not Theon Greyjoy.

When Sansa questions him about Bran and Rickon, Theon finally admits that he didn’t kill them. Instead, he killed two farm boys and made it look like it was them. Sansa is shocked to learn that her younger brothers are still alive and wants to know where they went, but Theon doesn’t know. Panicked, he leaves.

Roose Bolton and Ramsay discuss battle plans. Ramsay says he can defeat Stannis with just twenty men. Are they the SEAL Team Six of Westeros? Either way, I hope Ramsay’s plan fails.

At King’s Landing, Cersei is still stuck in a cell after being captured by the Faith Militant and sold out by her cousin Lancel. She refuses to confess and instead starts making threats, which earns her a beating from the septa.

Qyburn pays Cersei a visit and tells her that King Tommen is inconsolable and refuses to speak to anyone or leave his room.

Final Thoughts

This was probably the best episode of the season, mainly because that battle was amazing. (And there was no rape, sexual harassment, or gratuitous female nudity!)

I’m not completely sold on the Dany and Tyrion interactions. It just happened so fast. She barely knows Tyrion and all of a sudden she wants him to advise her? I guess she’s really desperate for one after Ser Barristan Selmy was killed. I don’t buy Emilia Clarke as a ruthless queen who’s going to “break the wheel,” either. The acting was not great.

Book Spoilers

  • Olly is definitely initiating the stabby stabby of Jon Snow. I feel like his conversation with Sam pretty much set that up.
  • I think Jon will send Sam and Gilly to Oldtown in the next episode.
  • Sansa found out that her brothers are alive! It’s so rare for a Stark to hear good news. Since they were mentioned in this episode, I hope we get a Bran, Hodor, and Meera cameo in the season finale. Wishful thinking, but maybe even Coldhands will show up.
  • What if Ramsay kidnaps Shireen? I’m worried! That little girl is so doomed.
  • I really hope Cersei’s penance walk is tastefully done.

Here’s an inside look at this week’s episode with the showrunners.