Let's talk about "Game of Thrones" season 4 spoilers for the show's next episode, "The Watchers On The Wall." We know this is a really big episode. We know it's about the Battle of Castle Black. But we don't know if the show is really going to do it justice. And that's because they haven't, in my opinion, set it up properly. They have made it very unclear whether Mance Rayder is even attacking, or if the small wildling host is the full force. Am I missing something obvious, or could the next episode be a big disappointment? Here's the teaser:
Let's hope I'm missing something obvious. It should go without saying that this post contains lots of "Game of Thrones" season 4 spoilers, and possibly season 5 spoilers, so bear that in mind starting right now. Here's what should happen in "The Watchers on the Wall." The wildling raiders led by Tormund Giantsbane attack Castle Black from the South. They take heavy losses, but eventually drive the Night's Watch onto the stair leading up to the wall. The Watch lures the wildings onto the stair, and then burns it, killing most of them. Ygritte dies in Jon's arms. The raiding party is defeated.
And then, the next morning, Mance Rayder attacks. Not with a force of a few dozen or hundred raiders, but with tens of thousands, the force we've seen hints of before, complete with giants and mammoths. It's the real battle, a battle that risks the very survival of the realms of men. And it's one of the most epic battles in the series. And I'm not sure we're going to see it properly.
Why not? First off, because the core of the attack is Mance Rayder's army, and we've heard nothing to say that his force is within actual striking distance. We know it's coming, and not too far away, but the whole season has been about the threat of Tormund and his wildling raiders, not the immediate threat from farther north. Second, the show has not re-established Mance Rayder. They cast Ciaran Hinds as Mance for season 3, but we haven't seen him since, and that makes me wonder. The show usually does a good job of visually reminding the audience who everyone is in advance. Mance's conspicuous absence puts us on shakier ground. The teaser doesn't show anything suggesting Mance's appearance either.
Before "Blackwater," HBO made a huge deal about how the episode was going to be truly massive, the sort of thing that had never been seen on television before. Which was true. They haven't been making the same kind of push for "Watchers on the Wall," even though it has the same director, and that also suggests to me they don't want us overly excited. Perhaps because it's a disappointment.
Or maybe I'm all wrong. Maybe they're just downplaying Mance's attack to make it more of a surprise, and are trusting us to remember who Mance is and what he looks like. Maybe it's all a secret. I sure hope so.
What do you think? Is "The Watchers on the Wall" just about the first part of the Battle of Castle Black, or is it the whole thing?