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GAME OF THRONES Recap: Death Always Wins

The night is dark and full of spoilers, fair friends of the Realm. Which is to say if you have yet to watch Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones, “Hardhome,” we highly suggest you turn away from this very informative lil recap tout de suite. Don’t say we didn’t warn ya, ya gooses.

Gotta be honest with you, up until the last 20 minutes of that Game of Thrones episode aired, I was convinced all I’d be talking about was my favorite duo come-to-be, Dany and Tyrion, joining forces at last. BUT THEN THE WHITE WALKERS and the Army of the Dead and the motherfriggen Night’s King showed up to take down the Wildlings and Night Watchers over in Hardhome and WELP JEEZ and holy crap. That was … wow.


First, let’s talk about the rest of the episode, though (because I’m a jerk that likes to torture you and make you wait for what you want) — as it wasn’t just a battle being faced by King Crow (love that new nickname, by the way). Down in King’s Landing, Cersei remained locked up and insistent that denying the obvious truths that were the charges brought against her — murder, adultery, treason, incest — hoping the whole thing would just go away, even though her son the king won’t come visit her and her uncle Kevan Lannister’s all “yeah…thanks but no” now that he’s Hand to the King. And yet despite all that, Cersei kept her denial game strong, constantly threatening her captors with her alleged power… before sucking water off the floor like the prisoner she is. No one’s comin’ for you, Cersei girl. You’ve lost. It’s over. Confess.

Elsewhere in Westeros, “good news” (hey, by Game of Thrones standards) was sent Sansa’s way, as she finally learned that Bran and Rickon are very likely still alive and that the boys Theon/Reek burned to death were not actually her brothers. It still didn’t make up for the fact that he went all traitor on her, but hey: it’s something at least. Oh yeah, and Ramsay’s cooking up a Baratheon takedown scheme that only involves 20 men. Fingers crossed it goes terribly.

Upon The Wall, though, we got a sense that trouble’s a-brewing for Jon Snow. Sure, Samwell’s on his side, but Olly seemed even less keen on the Lord Commander than ever before. (Hey, whatever happened to compassionate understanding that people are people, Wildlings or otherwise, Olly?) It sounds as though the uncertainty in Jon Snow’s risky mission has permeated much of the remaining brothers, despite the fact that — as Samwell stated — “I’ve seen the army of the dead. I’ve seen the White Walkers and they’re coming for us … When it’s time we’ll need every last one of them to stay alive.” Without risk, there’s no reward or a chance at staying alive: why are people so hardheaded and stubborn and proud in that regard? File it under: Things I Will Never Understand About Humanity (Real or Fake).

Across the Narrow Sea in Braavos, Arya’s learned how to lie — but not lie? Somehow? — in a way that has finally pleased the persnickety Many-Faced God. With Jaqen having sent her out on her first recon mission (getting information about a shady gambler), Arya Lana’s been reinvigorated by a sense of duty, selling oysters by the bay, and being gifted a tiny bottle of what one would assume is poison in order to eventually kill the gambler. Too bad her fellow helper doesn’t feel the girl is ready, but what is it that the kids these days say? Hater’s gonna hate? Sure, let’s go with that.

Which brings us over to Meereen and the greatest union in political history (as far as imaginary political histories are concerned): Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen. Not only do these two have keen political minds, they’re really quite funny together. Which means even if she never makes it to the Iron Throne, we’re glad they’re both together. (Tyrion’s liver might actually stand a chance if Dany has a say in the matter.) Pushing far ahead of the books — as this episode did in spades, we should add — Dany has decided to take Tyrion on as an aide and adviser. His first order of business? Tell her to get rid of Ser Jorah — poor, sadsack Ser Jorah. Hopelessly in love is not a good look: not even in the fighting pits — and suggest that, perhaps, attempting to rule Westeros is not in her best interest. Naturally, Dany’s less than hip on that, what with her “I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel” schpiel. Which, to be fair, was admittedly pretty damn powerful and also badass. Who doesn’t love a dragon-wielding revolutionary, though, right? Well, probably a fair number of folks, but let’s cross that bridge of nincompoops when we get to it.

Because now we’ve got to talk about Hardhome. Oh Jon Snow! Oh Jon Snow. The noble Lord Snow/King Crow managed the impossible when he got the Wildlings — well, except the Thenns but UGH who doesn’t hate a fucking Thenn amirite? — to agree to head south of The Wall and help fight “when the real war begins.” Which is apparently right about….now. After loading a heaping helping of Wildlings onto boats to head back south, the White Walkers descended with their Army of the Dead en masse.

Killing Wildlings and Brothers alike with gleeful abandon, no one stood a chance against the Army of the Dead. Not even Cool Girl Wildling Karsi (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, whom some of you may remember from Pitch Perfect 2) could even tackle the flurry of dead folks that overtook the camp. Which: can we talk about the terrifying dead children, folks? Welcome to my nightmares forever you fucking monsterchildren. YEESH.

After realizing just how serious the attack was — and ominous! SO FREAKIN’ OMINOUS, y’all! — Jon Snow raced for the dragonglass, only to nearly die at the hand of a very serious-lookin’ White Walker who looked more than willing and able to stick Jon Snow with the pointy end:

Thankfully, Jon Snow’s Valyrian blade (or maybe he’s some superhuman born of both ice and fire? Because — SPOILERS — R+L=J?) took that fella out, but not before attracting the attention of the Night’s King, whom we met last season when he turned that Craster baby into a Walker.

Mr. Night’s King was quite intrigued by our favorite know-nothinger. But more than that he was keen to remind him who wins in this game: death. The answer will always be death — death comes for us all and it always wins. There’s yet to be a human on this earth who’s defeated it. Which was made all the more clear, and hauntingly so, as Jon Snow and Tormund watched the Night’s King raise all of the recently killed Wildlings and Brothers from the dead right before his eyes. Even when you think you’ve won a battle against death, it only strengthens his numbers. Woops: looks like you just made the Army of the Dead that much bigger, Jon.

Overall it was a real humdinger of an episode — and a bit of action we’ve not seen at all this season. We’re all fools together now that we’ve entered such uncharted territory when it comes to so many of the storylines. But admit it: it’s pretty freakin’ exciting, isn’t it? The suspense may be terrible but I, for one, hope it lasts.

What did you think of the episode? Let us hear it in the comments.

Alicia Lutes is the Associate Editor of The Nerdist. Find her on the Tweet Machine @alicialutes.

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