Game of Thrones recap: Love, death, and duty at Castle Black

The Wall, 700 feet tall and 300 miles long. Photo:
The Wall, 700 feet tall and 300 miles long. Photo:

SAN DIEGO, June 8, 2014 – For the first time in four seasons, Sunday’s Episode 9 for Season 4 of “Game of Thrones” followed a single storyline: the Battle at Castle Black, the last stand against the wildling hordes led by Mance Rayder.

One of our few remaining heroes, Jon Snow, repeatedly warned the leaders of the Night’s Watch to prepare for this onslaught. The commander, Ser Alliser Thorne, ruefully admits he was wrong, but as a leader he is always being questioned. Nevertheless, he must rally his men to defend Castle Black no matter the odds. Castle Black has never fallen to an enemy.

But the men aren’t too confident about their odds, on either side. Both Samwell Tarly, once a sniveling little coward forced to grow up into a man, and Tormund Giantsbane, a leader of the Free Folk and a fearsome warrior, both recounting fond memories and pleasures before throwing themselves into the battle.

Gilly flees from the Mole’s Town raid by the wildlings and shows up at Castle Black’s gate. Rather bad timing, but Samwell brings her in and hides her. They have what is their first – and may be their last – kiss. Samwell talks with Maester Aemon about the battle to come, and he reminds him that “Love is the death of duty,” in a well-acted scene about the failure of young people to recognize that their elders were once young, too.

And so it begins. The wildlings and Thenn warriors aided by giants riding war mammoths storm the base of the wall. The brave archers of Castle Black hold the hordes off, but they are outnumbered 1,000 to one. Only cleverness will let the Night’s Watch prevail.

Jon Snow uses the oil storage barrels as weapons to set fires and hold back the oncoming raid. Mag the Mighty and his giants head for the wall. Mag tries to go through, and opens the gate to the tunnel leading under the wall. Ser Allister gives his life defending the tunnel, the tunnel he failed to seal on Jon Snow’s advice earlier. His men kill Mag and the attackers though they die in the effort.

Meanwhile, Jon Snow joins the battle with those who have stormed Castle Black. He gets his bit of revenge killing Styr, leader of the Thenns, in a classic Thrones execution (hammer to the top of the head). But while Snow is busy taking care of Styr, his wildling girl scorned Ygritte spots him. She has vowed to kill him, and there she is, aiming an arrow straight at him. But like Prince Oberyn with The Mountain, she hesitates – just long enough to be shot by the young villager boy whose father she killed during the village raid.

Jon Snow and Ygritte in better days. Photo: HBO
Jon Snow and Ygritte in better days. Photo: HBO

Ygritte tells Jon Snow they should have stayed in that cave together as she dies in his arms. Trivia: this is the very first season in all four seasons to use slow-motion.

Although The Wall is 700 feet high and 300 miles long, men start to climb up toward Castle Black.

Morning dawns with the first attack turned back, but we know it will not be the last. Jon Snow knows it too. He tells Samwell he is going to go find Mance Rayder, on the pretense of negotiating a truce, and assassinate him. Not the best plan, admittedly. But there is no other plan. So Jon Snow rides off to find Mance… leaving his Valyrian steel sword Longclaw with Sam.

The episode is the most expensive made to date in the series, beating the $2 million spent on Episode 2’s Battle of Blackwater Bay. Although the specific figure hasn’t been released, the amount of animation used to depict the battle surely drove the price tag. We are used to seeing these type of scenes in feature films, but rarely in series TV.

So what is left to resolve this season? The next episode is titled “The Children.” Call it “Game of Thrones: The Next Generation.” Sansa, Arya, and Bran Stark; Danaerys Targaryen, and Tyrion Lannister take center stage, their current circumstances due to the fates of their fathers, literally. Take note that last season’s final episode title was “Mhysa,” meaning “Mother.”

Game of Thrones returns with the final episode of Season 4, “The Children,” on Sunday, June 15, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on HBO East and HBO Latino East (with Spanish subtitles); followed by airings on HBO West and Latino West at 9 p.m. Pacific Time. All four channels repeat the episode through the evening.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story. 


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  • mjb

    it’s not donal noye it’s alliser thoene

  • CC3

    And it was Grenn that died in the tunnel.

  • Joann Roxbury

    Is not the power to force you to buy health insurance the same power to force you to buy something else?