Game Of Thrones: “The Watchers On The Wall” [s4e9]

One of the things that makes all the political machinations palatable to me is the very fact that there is a true force of nature descending upon this land, that will cathartically sweep the-oh-so-deserving pieces from the board. I mean I hope. Who knows if George Martin will actually finish it. I’ve got that uneasy Robert Jordan vibe about the whole affair to be honest.

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there’s still part of the story left over for the finale, as Jon and Sam exchange some meaningful words before Snow heads out to meet Mance Rayder for a final showdown that will seemingly rob the show of the true showdown between giant armies.

“I’ve always said that the key to a great review is to base your rating on what you think is going to happen in the next episode.” – No great reviewer, ever.


So just like the Battle of the Blackwater, the fortress has a lightly guarded wooden door at ground level with only a few guards where attackers can easily kick it in. No moat, not even a proper bar on the door.

I was saying before the episode that if my castle had something like The Mud Gate, I’d have 100 tons of cut stone blocks handy to barricade the damn thing.

Like the cast of the unwatchable “Falling Skies,” these guys don’t train, they just yell at each other.

Also, if the Watch is spread so thin that it can only defend a small portion of the wall, why does Nance attack at the only place there are defenders? Does the tunnel got through the wall? That kind of negates the whole purpose of a wall.

And of course previously we saw Bran use a secret tunnel that comes up through a well in the fort. Is that the same fort or a different post?

Why do they wait for the mammoth to be hitched to the gate before they dump burning pitch on it? I bet a mammoth would pull twice as hard when its ass is on fire.


A: It is Mance, not Nance
B: Castle Black doesn’t have the greatest defense on the south side because who in the right mind would want to attack the wall from the south? It doesn’t need to be impregnable.
C: There is a reason he is attacking the wall at Castle Black and it is because of that tunnel. I am sure the full reason will be addressed in the next episode. The nightswatch needs the tunnel to be able to range out in the north. It is as simple as that (and there is only one other way thru, the secret tunnel Bran went through)

I will agree with you on the mammoth point. Same with Alliser’s speech in the middle. Don’t talk just fight!

Yes, but they knew that there was a guerrilla band of Wildings running amok on the south side of the wall, because Jon had come over with them. And because they attacked that village (obviously filmed in Iceland BTW) and Mole Town, they knew that this force was within a few miles of their south gate. It was clear that Mole Town was a pub crawl distance from the south gate.

Ser Alliser didn’t take the threat seriously as he admitted. Also, a small guerrilla force against the full Nightswatch would have never worked and they knew that. A guerrilla force against a small number with the bulk of the Nightswatch on the wall? A much easier chance.

There actually was an effective way to block that lower gate – flood the tunnel, let it freeze and suddenly, no more tunnel. I assume this is what was also done in the other parts of the wall that were unguarded, but it wasn’t done at Castle Black because the commander balked at the idea of no longer being able to use the tunnel themselves – and also, on principle, because Jon suggested it.

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Anything the guys could toss of the wall would hit with lethal force. Arrows really are a waste of resources. A stone the size of a golf ball falling several hundred feet hits with tremendous force. I saw a guy knocked out cold by a rock the size of a deck of cards falling 20 feet. Anything tossed off the top of the wall is literally going to come in screaming like an artillery shell and leave a crater in whatever it hits.

If you have a fortification, at a minimum you put the entrance well above ground level and accessed by a bridge or even just a plank and the last thing you do is pull up the drawbridge, pull in the plank, burn the bridge. Beyond that, the castle should have a layered series of defenses where the attackers pounding on the gate have rocks and burning oil dropped on them from the overhanging battlements and “murder holes.” Ideally that is just the outer layer, and that the real entrance is offset some distance so attacker must traverse a gauntlet between the inner and outer walls.

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If I’m remembering the books correctly, the tunnel had another tunnel running over top of it with murder holes. I don’t remember the anchor though.

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It was a good enough episode, but it was bound to be disappointing after the last one no matter HOW good it was. Also, I find it very hard to care about anyone other than Jon and Samwell on the wall at this point.

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Apparently GRRM has told the show’s producers where he expects it to go/how he expects it to finish… So if he dies before finishing the books, the show will know (roughly) what direction to go in.

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This was one of the greatest episodes that I’ve ever seen.

Seriously, are critics watching a different edit or something?

Soooo much disagreement. OMG.

Castle Black doesn’t have the greatest defences on the South side because it’s the law. A long time ago, an ex-commander tried to carve the Wall and the Gift into his own little kingdom. Since then, it’s been decreed that the castles at the wall will have no significant Southern fortifications.

Like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and any number of other movie/TV adaptations, stuff generally makes more sense in the original books. If you’re looking for more depth, pick up the source material.


Thanks for this - I had totally forgotten about that part (it’s been a long time since I read this book), though I knew there was some reason for it.

Also, I liked the book’s way of defeating the southern attackers, as opposed to the show’s way of “Hey, we just managed to defeat all these hardened warriors despite the fact that most of us are completely untrained, way to go us!”.

How dare you neglect Dolorous Edd. Although, I suppose he’s used to it. Nobody ever paid him much mind, which is for the best, I suppose. -_-


Dolorous Edd will be the last living human in Westeros Bet on it.

Oh, in the book I cared about Dolorous Edd. And Maester Aemon. And Pyp. The television show isn’t doing as great of a job with that.

All of which would have to be cut and moved by hand. That not only takes time and effort, but money, and as the show made very clear more than once, the crown is deeply in debt. And, if they had gone to the trouble to fortify that particular spot, Stannis would have simply found the next weakest spot to target, as he knew King’s Landing very well.

And you’re looking at the tunnel in the wall thing the wrong way. If there were no tunnel, then Mance would have to cut his own, and they wouldn’t know which direction he was coming from; since there’s only one way through, they can defend that spot. (Mance could have chosen to cut his own tunnel anyway, but there could be traps hidden in the ice, like the scythe-on-a-chain in this episode; plus, that would have taken additional time, and not only is the top of the Wall patrolled, but he’d have to keep his people together for that much longer, and discipline is a problem for a group that barely sticks together on the best of days. That’s also probably why they simply didn’t go around either end of the Wall.)

The secret tunnel under the Wall goes into the Night Fort; it’s a secret (Sam had read about it in one of the books in Castle Black), plus the Night Fort has the reputation of being haunted.