Game of Thrones season 4, episode 9 review: Jon Snow shows his mettle in epic battle

A thrilling cinematic experience that was nothing short of brilliant

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The Independent Culture

If some viewers have felt that Jon Snow and the wildlings have been neglected up until now, then fear not, this week remedied all of that.

"The Watchers on The Wall" focused firmly on the wildlings' double attack on Castle Black - and what a battle it was! The sheer scale of the fighting was impressive, as the action flitted between the Brothers defending the south gate and stopping more enemies from breaching The Wall.

This episode is a worthy rival to season two’s "Blackwater". Admittedly, the Battle of Blackwater probably has the edge but this episode was nothing short of brilliant; it is certainly the most filmic instalment of Game of Thrones this year.

It wasn’t all just one prolonged swordplay sequence characterised by death and chaos, though. There was plenty of engaging drama to balance the violence – this is Game of Thrones, after all.


Barely a moment was spared to shed a tear for cheeky chap Pyp, who ended up with an arrow through his throat. Instead all the tragedy was reserved for Ygritte. Both Kit Harington and Rose Leslie gave beautiful performances as the fated star-crossed lovers in their final minutes together. In the midst of so much bloodshed, they shared one last tender moment.

Ygritte’s death was the most heart-wrenching scene of this episode. Yes, she did grate with her constant repetition of “you know nothing, Jon Snow” but she was also very likeable. Who else can nettle Jon Snow quite like Ygritte? She symbolised all the ferocity and feistiness of the wildling women and her death is a loss to the show.

Meanwhile Sam graduated from craven to something verging on heroism. In this one episode alone we see Sam develop more than he has throughout the season. It’s a relief to see him grow because his spinelessness was irritating and becoming tedious. Thankfully, Gilley’s involvement in the episode was kept to a minimum.

Jon too has grown: he was elevated to the Lord Commander. Harington just seems to get better and better and it is pity that it is only now that we have got to see more of Jon Snow. But from the conclusion of this instalment, it is likely we will in next week.

Jon has now embarked on a suicide mission to kill Mance Raydar on the other side of the Wall. Again, it is a deviation from the books but could serve to series well dramatically.

"The Watchers on The Wall" was dedicated to the North and gave a chance for Jon Snow and the Brothers of the Night’s Watch to show their mettle. It was surprisingly touching and funny at times while being crammed with action.

Next week marks the finale of season four. What more could the writers possibly throw at us?