Game Of Thrones Season 5 Episode 8 “Hardhome” Review

game-of-thrones-5x08 hardhome jon snow and tormund

A common sentiment is this season hasn’t had that wow factor. That moment or event were all fans are raving about around the water cooler. Sure, there was a highlight scene with Tyrion and Jorah versus the stonemen in Valyria. While the consequences of that scene is still reverberating on a personal level as Jorah comes to terms with grayscale disease, it’s implications won’t ripple into other storylines.

Then there was Sansa’s wedding night which garnered lots of heated discussion but was divisive of the fan base rather than something everyone could get behind. This all changed in a big way in Hardhome. As good as all the other scenes are, the epic battle against the undead army stole the episode and ramps up this season’s momentum several notches.

When the show deviates from the source material there are often mixed results. But when done well, it’s exciting not knowing what will happen next as is the case with the battle at Hardhome. We actually have seen and know more about the White Walkers on the show than in the books.  

The White Walkers and the undead army threat makes all the other drama in Westeros feel minuscule in comparison. For all the death and destruction that occurred in Hardhome, this is really the tip of the iceberg if the White Walkers go further south. If Jon was petty, I wouldn’t blame him if he were to say “so what do you think about my plan now?!” to all the wildlings and men of the Night’s Watch who were against him.

game-of-thrones-5x08 hardhome white walkers

The battle itself is well structured and executed starting from the build up which created a lot of tension to giving Jon Snow an earned hero moment. The variety of undead was cool to see. Some are mainly skeletons and some had plenty of rotting flesh on their corpse. These aren’t slow lumbering creatures either; a personal favorite are the axe-wielding zombies.

I have to say I cared more about the wildling woman in her brief scenes than I do about the Sand Snakes. We didn’t get to see giants fight like this at the Wall last season, this battle made up for that as this badass giant had plenty of highlight reel moments, so glad that he survived. 

Up on the cliff, the white walkers looked like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. It’ll be fascinating to learn more about the white walkers. Will we get to see them communicate with each other? What is their plan? When the Night’s Watch will inevitably face off against them again, at least they’ll be armed with the knowledge that valyrian steel will not only withstand the White Walkers weapons, but will kill them.

game-of-thrones-5x08 hardhome tyrion and dany

The big battle took up about 15 minutes of the episode.  Of the first 45 minutes the strongest scenes were in Meereen. On-screen chemistry can be hard to accomplish especially for actors who haven’t worked together before. However, both Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke played off of each other very well.  The feeling out process between Tyrion and Dany had many good back and forth exchanges. It ended on a strong note when Dany promised to “break the wheel”. One, I’m excited that Dany is turning her thoughts towards Westeros. Second, I like to think that the end game will be more than just who will sit on the Iron Throne. We’ve seen her abolish slavery in Meereen, I’m intrigued by how she might change up the political system in Westeros.

Quick Bullet Points:

• Back at the wall, Sam and Gilly’s scene may seem like it’s just to check in on them. But I have a strong hunch, this scene will have a significance in the finale.

• So Ramsey will take 20 men with him to fight Stannis’ army? It doesn’t sound like this will be an epic battle but it’s more exciting than the Bolton’s hunkering down in Winterfell until the cold weakens Stannis.

• Oh Cersei, getting beat with a wooden spoon. How humiliating and sad to see her slurp up the water on the floor like a dog. It was great! All she has to do is swallow her pride and confess to get out of prison. 

Maybe it’s because the weakest storyline which is Dorne wasn’t featured, this episode felt really strong even before the final scenes. After plenty of set up, Jon Snow’s storyline payed off in an exciting way. This season needed that extra punch and what we got was a home run. Tyrion and Dany’s scenes were on point, making me excited for what’s to come for the both of them. Arya’s scenes which I liked weren’t as satisfying as they normally are but I think it’s mainly because this is set up for her first assassination mission. Heading into the final stretch, I expected the last three episodes to be the strongest of the season. Hardhome delivered on that front, delivering a climatic episode 9 type event, yet there is still a lot of ground to cover as we anxiously await the final two episodes.

What do you think about the Battle at Hardhome? What did you like or dislike in this episode? 

About Sidekick Reviews

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Posted on June 1, 2015, in Game of Thrones, Television and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Grog the Ginger

    Loved this episode. I wonder if the episode 9 will manage to still be the standout episode of the season after this one.

    • So much awesomeness in this episode, it’ll be a tough act to follow. I’m also wondering what episode 9 might have in store. Stannis vs the Boltons will likely have less action but there could be standout character moments.

  2. I haven’t been a big fan of the show for the last few weeks, but this one redeemed the season. Putting Tyrion and Dany together was great, and what a thrilling final sequence that was. This season has featured the show’s fights at their high and low point now (the low point being the Sand Snakes fight).

    This has now reinvigorated the show, and I’m looking forward to what’s coming up next.

    • I’m really digging Tyrion and Dany together, great interactions so far. We can tell they put a lot of effort and money into that final sequence, loved it! Yeah, too bad about the Sand Snakes fight, they dropped the ball on that one. I love that there are two more episodes to go, I’m pretty sure there’ll be other epic moments in store. Thanks a lot of commenting!

  3. Finally! A great episode this season. Loved that battle!!! 🙂

  4. Wow this whole episode was so awesome, but as you say the battle really stole the show. It really helps show what a big threat the White Walkers are and man was it just amazing to watch. I loved what they pulled off with the Wildling lady too. I figured there’d be some White Walkers attacking after Sam gave Jon the dragonglass last week, but this battle really exceeded my expectations. Excellent stuff.

    I liked pretty much every scene this week. Dany and Tyrion were awesome together. You mentioned last week to me that the Stannis/Bolton confrontation might be somewhat smaller scale. After the budget that went into Hardhome and Ramsay’s plan this week, I suspect you are right on the money. I am still curious how things will play out. Especially with other factors in the mix (like Sansa and Brienne in the area), I’m curious how it will turn out.

    Great review for a great episode!

    • Great to get an episode everyone is excited about in a positive way. I’m really impressed with the visual effects. This wasn’t a night battle so everything had to look spot on. And the white walkers looked cool too and a little freaky. The battle kept on going and going, the producers didn’t spare any expense.

      Tyrion is exactly the kind of advisor Dany needs, they are well on their way to becoming a person favorite pairing. Yeah, it would be quite the task to top the Hardhome battle in terms of scale. Maybe on a character level we can have Ramsey facing off against Stannis, that could be exciting. Melissandre is a wild card and with Brienne nearby, it could get really interesting in a hurry. Thanks a bunch!

  5. abbiosbiston

    OMG I was on the edge of my SEAT! That final scene where Jon is on the boat just watching that White Walker standing on the shore gave me shivers.

    • Pretty intense eh? I was thinking the White Walker was gonna put his foot on the water’s surface and turn it to ice, then walk towards the boat as they hurriedly paddled away. Of course the raising of the dead was creepy enough haha.

  6. Oy, I had no idea this show has weird characters like The White Walkers, but I guess it has the mythical aspect like The Lord of the Rings.

    • Haha, the White Walkers are kind of freaky to me. They can raise the dead and control them. Yeah, the show is influenced by Lord of the Rings, though the mythical stuff hasn’t been at the forefront … well now it is.

  7. HEY MAN! Great review yo. You pretty much captured everything that made this episode awesome. I would have commented days ago but I’ve been running around like a mad man trying to sort my schedule out for the month of superhero film reviews series I’m doing at the moment.

    Anyways, this episode was frigging awesome. This was the good stuff I was waiting for. I knew that something good would come of season 5 but I didn’t know it was going to be this. So yeah a lot to talk about but I’ll try to be brief.

    Firstly let’s talk about that battle at Hardhome. Damn. A lot of crazy stuff going on up there. Even before the White Walkers showed up, Tormund was a badass and totally fucked up that Lord of Bones guy, and then there was Jon’s the meeting with the Wildlings which got a little heated. Jon’s speech was awesome, he really is a badass leader, he’s logical but he doesn’t hide facts (like the fact that he killed Mace). I like how thanks to Tormund and Karsi, Jon got this uneasy alliance between him and the Wildlings sorted. And then shit hit the fan when the White Walkers unleashed their undead army on Hardhome. Man that was so kick ass stuff yo. I like the different types of Whites as some looked human and other decomposed and some were straight up skeletons. Got some nice alking Dead vibes from these guys. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of the WW as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. When Jon took out that one WW, it was totally badass, though I didn’t know that at the time that his sword was Valyrian steel or that it was one of the weaknesses of WW. I’ll be curious to know how Jon usesthis knowledge later on in the series. Oh and a final not on this part, I did like Karsi, the Wilding woman. She was cool, and had some great sceens on and off the battlefield, but two things told me that she was a gonna, 1) When she was saying bye to her kids. And 2) When there was such a focus on her before those undead kids came along, I hoped she’d live, but secretly I knew she’d die. 😦

    Okay now to move onto the stuff in Meereen. The stuff with Tyrion and Daenerys was brilliant and was all I could ever wanted. It was just them talking, but you know how you envision something in your mind and hope that it’ll come to pass in an episode? Well Dinklage and Clarke played their parts so well and had the exact kind of on-screen exchanges that I’ve been hoping for. It was an exchange of wit and knowledge. I also like how these two had to size each other up and understand the motives before finally being in agreement about working together. Oh and gutted for Jorah that he had to leave, but I guess Tyrion did him a solid by allowing him to be kicked out of the city rather than being killed. Guess he’ll being fighting til he dies because of the Greyscale.

    Oh and finally back at Kings Landing sweet karma is being bestowed upon dear Cersei. The level of satisfaction I was getting from seeing Cersei, in a dungeon, getting smacked in the face and looking like she, it was incredible. When she got with that spoon I was like “Damn son, your life is gone a total 180 and I love it!” Oh but when she had to suck the water off of the floor, that was low. That was just something I thought I’d never see, she’s pretty much at the lowest point of her life, no better than a peasant. She can’t even see her son and her only way out is to confess to her crimes? Dunno if she’ll abide by those rules. Regardless of what happens I was just delighted to see her in a terrible situation haha.

    Can’t wait to see what happens in the final two episodes, hopefully Dorne’s stuff will be concluded soon or just swept under the carpet because its really dull atm.

    • Hello there & thanks a lot! I see you’ve been busy with your superhero film review series. I can only imagine how much work and planning it takes. Keep up the great work!

      This is a terrific episode with a brilliant final sequence. I loved how Tormund beat up Lord Of Bones like he was nothing; it’s like the show is saying we have this way bigger and way more interesting threat coming so were going get you out of the way as fast as possible lol. I worried a little bit when Jon just bluntly said he killed Mance without any explanation. I realize it was for the drama just lucky no wildlings went after him. I liked how Tormund stuck up for Jon, their working relationship could be another cool pairing. And Tormund survived the massacre … this guy just won’t die (I hope I didn’t just jinx him haha)

      I’m surprised more people didn’t see the four horsemen of the Apocalypse vibe (I know there are more than 4 white walkers but still ….). Yeah, Mormont gave that sword to Jon in season 1 since Jorah wasn’t around to inherit it. I didn’t know valyrian or dragon steel would kill a WW, but it makes sense. Yeah, the writing was on the wall when Karsi said goodbye to her kids. A great job in handling her character.

      I really liked how Tyrion handled himself with Dany and putting in a good word for Jorah. Haha, yeah Cersei hit rock bottom. We usually see her with a glass of wine in her hand, so seeing her suck water off the floor was shocking … loved it! I’m not feeling the Dorne stuff either, let’s see how they wrap up that story line. Luckily, most of the other story lines I’m interested in what’ll happen next.

  8. Such a spectacular episode!
    Hardhome wasn’t in the book. It was actually in the book but only as a mention of past events. Survivors describe the horrific slaughter.

    I am extremely glad we actually get to see 😀

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