Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 9 ("The Watchers on the Wall") is in the books. “The Watchers on the Wall” took place entirely at the Wall and focused on the Night’s Watch’s enormous battle with the Wildlings, but given the show’s history of shocking ninth episodes, did this one measure up?
The episode was a massive achievement in that it showed just how well battle and action sequences can be done on television. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen anything on this scale before, and that includes GoT Season 2, Episode 9, “Blackwater.” The fight scenes were incredible, the various Wall defenses were great (how about the scythe), and who doesn’t love giants? The poor guys who got sniped by the giant archer just may have the distinction of the most epic death the show has ever done.
While the action was tremendous (that tracking shot through Castle Black was ridiculous), there was also some great character development for some of the minor members of the Night’s Watch. We saw a new side of Alliser Thorne, for one. He may be a jerk, but he does care about the Wall, and is willing to defend it at all costs (and admit when he’s wrong). Janos Slynt, on the other hand, proved that he cares for no one but himself, really showing his true colors when the going got tough. The episode also wasn’t lacking in notable deaths, with a number of characters meeting their end. Ygritte’s death was of course a powerful moment, the death of Styr at the hands of Jon Snow was great, and the loss of Pyp and Grenn was shocking to everyone, including those who’ve read A Song of Ice and Fire, since those characters are still alive in the books.
However, we are left with the feeling that nothing was really resolved. The action was amazing, lots of people died, but what really happened? The Night’s Watch defeated the group of Wildlings south of the Wall, but they were never really the true threat. They still have almost all of Mance Rayder’s army left to fight off, and their defenses have weakened considerably. So they really didn’t accomplish anything, other than having a lot of people die. We’re left believing that whatever the conclusion to this story is, it’s going to be pushed to next week’s season finale, where it’s going to share the spotlight with about a half a dozen other storylines that are also being tied up. For a battle as big as the one in this episode, we feel that it deserved a proper end, rather than one that will be rushed (and possibly overshadowed) in an episode that bounces around to a bunch of different plotlines, each with their own shocking climax.
What do you think? Was the episode everything you wished for, or were you left wanting more? Let us know in the comments below!