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Game of Thrones Book Spoiler Open Thread: “The Watchers On the Wall”

It is known

Yo, book readers. Let’s talk about last night’s big battle episode and get our speculation on about the season finale. Want our recap? Here ’tis.

  • Where the frick frack was Stannis?!
  • No, seriously, where was Stannis?
  • I know some people disagree, but I don’t think the Battle at Castle Black needed to take up 100% of an entire episode. The battle happens, Ygritte dies, and just when you think your emotions will get the best of you… Stannis ex machina at the end of the episode. That’s what I was expecting, and it’s not just my massive Stannis fanitude talking. (OK, mostly it is). For all that I understand the need to futz with the show timeline, there’s going to be so much that needs to get covered in the season finale. Stannis is going to have, like… five minutes. Story of his life.
  • If the finale ends with Stannis marching in all “Yeeeah, I’m here now, next season’s going to be awesome for moi,” I am going to scream, because that is the exact way season three ended for him. Ugh. My poor lobster baby gets so screwed over by the book-to-show translation.
  • ON OTHER TOPICS. Poor Pyp and Grenn! The fact that they died in the show but not in the books was… well, “nice” isn’t the right word, but I did relish being surprised by a death for once. The shock if it makes a welcome change from the normal dread (or anticipation, in the case of the Purple Wedding) I feel for the entire episode before, say, Oberyn or Robb Stark kicks it. Plus, watching the episode, I was thinking “There’s no way, in this battle where the Night’s Watch is severely outnumbered, all Jon Snow’s Black Brother buddies would make it out alive. That’s just not the show this is.” RIP to Pyp and Grenn, and props to both their actors, who did amazing jobs.
  • I also like how they handled Ygritte’s death in the show vs the book—where, if I recall correctly, it happened off-screen? Jon was panicking about whether she was dead and then just… came across her body on the battlefield, right? Her show death was an eensy bit melodramatic for my tastes, but the book version would’ve come across so anticlimactic.
  • Sam’s “Wherever you go, I go” to Gilly. *evil cackling* Sam in this entire episode. Wunderbar.
  • I like how they handled the death of Janos Synt, too. (In the books, Jon executes him for insubordination.) I was worried for Gilly for a moment before I realized… wait, this is f*cking Gilly. She’ll kick his ass.
  • This is the first episode where I genuinely, really liked Jon Snow. Before I always found him a little dull, to be honest—the way season four’s stretched out his storyline (Joanna Robinson has a great essay on that) hasn’t exactly helped. Every few episodes it’s been a short, pointless-feeling Jon or Ygritte scene, as if the showrunners are saying “Hey, everyone, remember how important these people are and how tragic their love is for episode nine, ‘kay?” But Jon stepping up to the plate and going into leader mode really works for me, which in turn makes me excited for his season five plotline.
  • Seriously, how much stuff is the finale going to have to cover? Mance. Stannis. Tyrion killing Tywin (on Father’s Day). Daenerys, Bran, and Sandor stuff, judging by the preview. Lady Stoneheart, hopefully/presumably (though I’m guessing we’ll just get a quick “HOLY SH**!” shot of her to end the ep.” I get that “The Children” is going to be ten extra minutes long, but damn.

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