'Game Of Thrones' Season 4 Episode 9 Recap: 'The Watchers On The Wall'

The Biggest 'GoT' Battle Ever Had An Unexpected Hero

Welcome to "Game of Moans," the weekly recap of "Game of Thrones" Season 4 that highlights all the moan-worthy, gasp-filled, OMG moments that litter the Seven Kingdoms. In other words, you can get a traditional recap anywhere, so here's all the sex, bloodshed, and WTF moments (the good stuff) that went down this week:

(Spoiler alert for "GoT" Season 4, Episode 9 "The Watchers On the Wall." Warning: Some images below show very graphic violence.)

June 8's "The Watchers On The Wall" served up 35 minutes of non-stop bloody, nerve-wracking action as the Wildlings arrived at Castle Black to fight the Night's Watch. While Jon Snow can definitely kick some ass with his sword fighting skills, an unlikely hero emerged in this episode. Sam Tarly, previously the most naive and timorous character on the show, finally manned up by not only killing a Wilding, but by protecting his woman, getting his first kiss, and showing way more courage and wisdom than we ever could've expected. This was your night, Sam.

The Watch-Out-For-The-Giant Moan
The Wildlings didn't just bring way more men than the Night's Watch, they brought giants, and even giants sitting atop mammoths! Giant Number One got really pissed off that his buddy Giant Number Two got killed. So he casually shot an arrow up towards the wall, hitting a guy and literally making him fly backwards off of the wall, landing on the ground below. Ouch.

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The Heck-Yeah-Sam! Moan
As I said above, it was a surprise to see Sam finally all grown up and matured. He gave his friend an honest pep talk, held him in his arms as he died and didn't flee from battle, as he would've unquestionably done before. His best moment came when, instead of cowering under the Thenn charging at him, he loaded up his crossbow and -- BAM! Samwell Tarly killed a live human, and it was a massive terrifying dude. (I literally clapped and cheered in this victorious moment.)

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The Ghost-Is-Gonna-Get-Ya Moan
I almost forgot that Jon found Ghost at Craster's and took him back to Castle Black. The poor pup has probably been pretty lonely and in need of some exercise now that he's not being warged into by Bran. He definitely let out all that pent-up energy on a Wildling's throat though.

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The Hammer Head Moan
Jon showed some really impressive swordplay while fighting Styr, and I don't know how he lasted as long as he did against the burly Thenn. Jon got his fair share of bruises (that face-smashing was pretty awful), but let's not forget that Jon has Stark in his blood, and the Stark's don't go down easy. Finally, Jon grabbed a hammer and took out Stry (à la Ryan Gosling in "Drive"). And it was nasty.

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The Swinging Anchor Moan
You gotta give it to the Night's Watch, they came up with some pretty clever ways to take out the Wildlings. Suspending the two guys off the wall was a great trick, as well as the barrel launching. But the real secret weapon was tucked away in the ice. To stop the Wildlings from reaching the top of the Wall, they just casually thought, "Hey, why don't we use that giant anchor we have hidden beneath the ice?"

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The Shot-Through-The-Heart Moan
Love may bring an end to your duty, but it could also bring an end of your life. Poor Ygritte has thought about killing Jon for so long that when the moment finally came, her emotions overwhelmed her. You can't blame her though, for wanting to kill him and not being able to. At least they had a few moments together as Jon held her in his arms as she died. I was really hoping he'd at least mention the "L" word or something sweet, but I guess the point got across. RIP, girl, I will miss your ferocious badassery.

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Some thoughts:

  • If Jon Snow ever has a son, that sex talk is going to be super awkward.
  • Where did all this newfound wisdom on life and death and courage come from Mr. Samwell Tarly? Sorry Jon, but you truly know nothing compared to your BFF.
  • That tracking shot of the battle on the ground was fantastic. (Trying to join the Epic TV Tracking Shots Club, guys?
  • Ygritte couldn't have had better last words.
  • The writers and George R.R. Martin both said this episode was bigger and better than "Blackwater," but I have to disagree. This was no doubt a fun, action-packed battle filled with both cringe and cheer-worthy moments, and as far as scale, it was definitely bigger. Yet it wasn't as clever and thrilling, or as emotionally straining, as "Blackwater." However, that may be because I'm not nearly as invested in Castle Black's affairs or Jon Snow as I am in the King's Landing crowd.
  • Wait, can we all stop and mourn the depressing fact that only one episode is left in Season 4? I really wish the writers had switched this episode with last week's. It's a cruel tease to take us away from all the King's Landing drama for a whole week, and there is still so many stories we need to revisit. Can we please get a bonus episode?
  • By the way, I'm still not over Oberyn. Being away from King's Landing for a week did not distract me. Nice try, Dan Weiss and David Benioff.

"Game of Thrones" airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. EDT on HBO.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the giants were riding elephants, when they were in fact riding mammoths. It has since been corrected.

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