Game of Thrones Recap: Dany and Tyrion chat and Jon Snow learns a hard lesson in ‘Hardhome’

“I’m not going to stop the wheel … I’m going to break the wheel.”

That’s Daenerys Targaryen speaking about destroying the wretched hold the many powerful families who have played this game of thrones have had over the kingdom of Westeros. Those who saw the Season 5 trailer will remember Daenerys’ moving monologue ringing ominously in the background. In Hardhome, we hear those stirring words delivered to Tyrion Lannister in a watershed moment, as Westeros’ greatest advisor, and perhaps its greatest leader, step outside George R.R. Martin’s novels, and meet for the first time.

Hardhome is first and foremost about the underlying plot that thunders louder than all else in Westeros: The coming war against the White Walkers.

However, as satisfying as it is to see these two orphans meet in Meereen, and discover via some classic Tyrion banter just how much they have in common — “two terrible children with two terrible fathers,” as Tyrion puts it — Hardhome is first and foremost about the underlying plot that thunders louder than all else in Westeros, even the politics: The coming war against the White Walkers. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

After all, there’s some suffering going on in this one, and for the first time in a long time, that suffering is being experienced by someone who truly deserves an comeuppance: Cersei Lannister. Last week we learned that Cersei’s choice to play with the pious fire of faith drew unintended consequences as she was imprisoned. The charges against the former Queen? Fornication, incest, treason, and the killing of King Robert. Not a bad list, and, perhaps, a bit more damning than the Tyrells’ “crimes” against the church for “deviant behavior.”

While the High Sparrow seems nearly invulnerable thanks to Cersei’s own doing, the former queen refuses to bow before the religious zealot and ask for forgiveness. Instead we see the woman who’s too proud to beg is apparently not too proud to suck water off the stone floor of her cell. Oh how fickle the wheel of fate can be, Cersei.

One of Cersei’s early victims, Arya, has continued her own quest for justice, though no longer fighting for the Stark name. As Arya continues to dig deeper into the cult of the Many Faces, she is finally given her first mission: A pitiless Braavos bookie has shown no respect for morals or integrity to his clientele (imagine that), and Arya has been tasked with slipping the man some poison while disguised as an oyster girl. Arya smiles as she walks away with the poison in hand, but even her mentor is unsure if she’s truly ready for the job.

Meanwhile, back at Winterfell, Sansa accosts Reek/Theon for betraying her to the despicable Ramsey Bolton. The pitiful Reek tells Sansa he did it for her own good, and proceeds to tell her the horrible things Ramsay did to “Theon,” which she delights in, telling Reek she’d have done the same if she could’ve to avenge her little brothers. But in her fury, she squeezes something out of Reek that changes everything: Reek reveals he never killed her brothers — Bran and Rickon still live! It’s a huge revelation for Sansa, and a rare, but poignant win for the doomed Stark family.

A few floors below her, Ramsay and father Roose Bolten strategize about the coming attack on Winterfell by Stannis Baratheon. Roose favors caution, claiming that the Bolton clan has plenty of supplies, and can simply wait out the siege as cold, starvation, and mutiny pull apart Stannis’ forces. But Ramsay has other ideas, claiming all he needs are 20 good men to strike at Stannis’ heart now. Just what does this resourceful young psychopath have planned?

It’s an intriguing question, but the battle for the North, like so many of the story lines in Game of Thrones, simply can’t hold a candle to the true battle ahead; the clash between the world of men and the White Walkers. And stepping outside the book once more, Hardhome gives us a taste of just how desperate that battle truly is.

Shortly after Jon lands in the Wildlings’ title village, he’s got a good start at rallying around 5,000 Wildlings to the cause of banding forces together — and then all hell breaks loose. Avalanches appear on the cliffs above, as do about 1,000 White Walkers, who proceed to pitch themselves over the 100-foot precipice en masse, only to get right back up and tear into every man, woman, and child.

Game of Thrones Recap

There’s a nice chunk of action to enjoy as the Wildlings and a few Night’s Watchmen try to battle the Walkers off for a time, including some epic badassery from the Wildlings’ giant, who crashes out of a hut and proceeds to smash the wretched skeletons that clamp onto his massive body like twigs. Later in the battle, we also learn that Jon Snow’s Valyrian-steel sword, Longclaw, can kill White Walkers, shattering a Lieutenant in the army much to the amazement of the icey Night’s King.

However, as the survivors float away south on the last boats to safety, Snow looks back at the carnage and meets the glassy blue eyes of the Night’s King. The translucent zombie holds out his hands in chilling defiance, as all of the Wildlings who gave their lives in the massacre slowly go blue in the eyes, and rise as new members of the viral White Walker army.

One thing, at least, is beginning to become abundantly clear: It’s going to be a very long winter.

Movies & TV

A U.S. comedy that ended in 2004 is now the most-streamed show in the U.K.

It ended 14 years ago, but Netflix has given a U.S. comedy a new lease of life in Britain. In fact, it's currently the most-streamed show there, beating the likes of The Grand Tour and Stranger Things.
Movies & TV

Premium network, premium content: The best movies on HBO right now

HBO always has a solid selection of feature-length films on tap, but the offerings rotate fairly regularly, and browsing fatigue can set in given the sheer volume of the catalog. Here are our current favorites.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this summer with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in August 2018, from ‘Blue Valentine’ to ‘Jurassic Park’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

Study up for season 8 with the best 'Game of Thrones' theories

Season 8 of Game of Thrones is still on the horizon, meaning there's still time to brush up on the best 'Game of Thrones' theories. Whether you're one of the last adherents of the Cleganebowl, or a King Aerys truther, here are our top…
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Slaughterhouse Rulez,’ ‘The Nutcracker,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. To simplify things, we round up the best of the best each week. On tap this week: The trailers for Slaughterhouse Rulez and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
Movies & TV

‘The Meg’ devours the weekend box office to knock off ‘Mission: Impossible’

Giant shark movie The Meg surprised just about everyone with a massive opening weekend that gave studio Warner Bros. Pictures its biggest premiere of the year so far. It knocked Mission: Impossible -- Fallout down to second place.
Movies & TV

Star Trek 4 in trouble as Chris Pine, Chris Hemsworth take their Kirks and go home

Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth have both reportedly left talks to star in Star Trek 4 due to contract disputes with studio Paramount Pictures, leaving the status of the fourth film uncertain.

Listen up! These are the best movie soundtracks of all time

Whether you're a lover of beautifully composed original scores or a fan of perfectly compiled background music, these are the best movie soundtracks of all time — from Star Wars to Garden State.
Home Theater

Put your home theater to the test with these spectacular Blu-ray releases

What's the point of having all of that awesome home theater gear if you can't breed a little jealousy in your friends and family? We've put together this list of fantastic Blu-rays that have the goods to drop a few jaws.
Movies & TV

Was there a 'Captain Marvel' Easter Egg In 'Avengers: Infinity War'?

Academy Award winner Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel in the upcoming Marvel Studios movie hitting theaters in March 2019. Here's everything we know about Marvel's first female-led superhero movie.
Movies & TV

'Westworld' creators hint at characters they have big plans for in season 3

HBO wrapped up the second season of Westworld with a finale that asked as many questions as it answered, leaving fans eager to know more about season 3. Here's everything we know so far about the show's next act.
Movies & TV

MoviePass re-enrolls customers, while Costco offers refunds

MoviePass is reportedly re-enrolling users who had recently canceled the service, giving them an error message when they try to jump ship again. This comes as part of the launch of a new plan from the struggling company.
Movies & TV

'Star Trek: Discovery' has found its Mr. Spock for season 2

The crew of the U.S.S. Discovery will return for more adventures on CBS All Access in the near future. Here's everything we know about Star Trek: Discovery season 2, from the cast and themes to the season premiere.