Instant reaction post: “Game of Thrones” S4, Ep9 ‘The Watchers on the Wall’

Jon takes charge in "The Watchers on the Wall"
Jon takes charge in ‘The Watchers on the Wall’

Like season 2’s Battle of Blackwater episode, we ignore the rest of the Seven Kingdoms to focus on a battle again. It looks like a scaled down version of The Return of the King’s Battle of the Pelennor Fields — which hey! I just remember I used to describe episode 3 this season, when Dany was attacking Meereen! Except this one also includes miniature Mumakil — but unfortunately, the thrill is equally down-sized as well. Not to say that it wasn’t gripping, but it *could* have been more exciting. Half the time I could barely make out the action, since it took place completely at night — but so did the Battle of Blackwater, and I feel that was done better.
This week held no surprises for me so I didn’t freak out like last week, but it was still full of heartbreaking moments, including the deaths of Pyp, Ygritte, and Bearded Friend whose name I couldn’t remember for the longest time (Grenn! It’s Grenn!). I was afraid my memory would serve me wrong again and Sam wouldn’t be able to keep his foolish promise to Gilly not to die, but thankfully that was one thing we were spared from. Ygritte’s I knew was coming, though I didn’t expect it to be Olly that killed her. (And the bloodshed comes full circle, since she killed his parents.) She and Jon should have stayed in the cave, like she said. :'( Poor star-crossed lovers.
Ygritte and Jon in 'The Watchers on the Wall'
Ygritte and Jon in ‘The Watchers on the Wall’

I was more upset over Bearded Friend whose name I couldn’t remember for the longest time’s Grenn’s death, because he was brave and good and he died in the most heroic manner possible facing certain death. :'( Even asshole bully Ser Alliser was given the chance to redeem himself with a pre-battle hurrah speech and a courageous last stand, while Janos Slynt proved that he was as much a coward as he was a traitor.
The ending is a bit iffy though, because while Jon’s heart is broken and he’s a dead man walking, he isn’t going to be given the chance to be a reckless martyr, so I don’t know why they ended on such a note. In Game of Thrones’ tradition of shocking penultimate episodes, this one didn’t deliver the one-two punch of the other seasons’, which means next week’s finale is going to be GOOD. (And it is, doubly and triply so, if I remember correctly this time too.) Can’t wait!