Game of Thrones’ White Walkers Attack in Terrifying Battle — Read the Recap!

A White Walker on Game of Thrones
White Walkers showed their terrifying faces in the May 31 episode of Game of Thrones.  Courtesy of HBO


Hold onto your dragon glass daggers!

Game of Thrones season 5 has started to deviate from the books in a big way, and “Hardhome” saw the HBO hit tread ever deeper into uncharted territory. The masterminds behind the drama advanced many key plotlines that don’t exist (or at least haven’t been published yet) in the novels on which the series is based. From Tyrion Lannister’s tentative alliance with Daenerys to an epic battle foreshadowing the winter to come, the third-to-last episode of season 5 was intriguing and exciting from start to finish. 

Tyrion and Dany Play Drinking Games

If you were dying to see how Danerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) would handle Tyrion Lannister’s (Peter Dinklage) arrival on her doorstep, you didn’t have to wait long to find out that the little lion and the dragon queen trading witticisms was every bit as entertaining as you’d ever dared to hope for. After testing Tyrion’s political savvy by asking him what to do with Jorah  — “A ruler who kills those devoted to her is not a ruler who inspires devotion,” Tyrion replied — Dany was convinced of his bona fides. Tyrion looked impressed in spite of himself at Daenerys’s determination to not just win the game of thrones, but to crush the blood-stained playing board and all its pieces into dust. Calling it now: This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

And yes, Daenerys spared Jorah’s life. Looks like he’ll have to go turn into an alligator person somewhere else — unless he can finagle an encore audience with her via the deadly fighting pits.

Cersei’s First-Ever Bad Hair Day

Seeing Cersei (Lena Headey) brought low last week was so delightful to so many people, and the show checked in with her this week, too, in her new home in the dungeons. She was filthy, furious, and thirsty for revenge, but she was also getting pretty thirsty in general since she was being taunted daily by a nun who offered Cersei a ladle of water in exchange for a confession of her sins. It was a way out that she was far too proud to take… for now. But a few more nights on that cold stone floor — and a few more humiliating visits from Water Nun — and she’s bound to break eventually. 

Arya Stark, Pretty Little Liar

Arya (Maisie Williams) was getting better at weaving elaborate untruths — enough to earn her a promotion, and a makeover! With a new identity and an oyster cart, Arya’s new assignment was to go to the harbor and observe the goings on. Why? Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) couldn’t give her a straight answer. That would ruin it! (Jaqen H’ghar is, seriously, the Dumbledore of Braavos.) 

Observant Arya figured it out on her own when she witnessed a Braavosi bookie taking advantage of a desperate man. Her job was to mete out justice (in the form of deadly fountain water) to people whose behavior affronted the many-faced god.

Sansa Detected the Distinct Reek of B.S.

At Winterfell, the Boltons were preparing to be besieged by Stannis Baratheon’s army, but there was disagreement between Roose (Michael McElhatton) and Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) as to how to handle it. Roose was content to wait it out in the castle and let Stannis freeze to death, but Ramsay insisted that he and just a few men could attack first and secure a victory — which frankly seems awfully cocky for a guy who’s lived at Winterfell for all of five minutes.

More importantly, Sansa (Sophie Turner) confronted Theon (Alfie Allen) about his betrayal, and learned the shocking truth: Bran and Rickon, her brothers, are alive. Sansa looks like a woman who just got a whole new reason to survive her evil husband and reclaim her home.

Game of Thrones recap
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

The Walking Dead of Westeros

Further North, Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) young assistant wanted to remind everyone that he was still very upset about his boss going on a mission to parlay with the wildlings — and Samwell Tarley (John Bradley-West) wanted to remind him that he had two options: Make nice with the Free Folk, or be turned by an army of undead snow zombies. 

This was also Jon’s argument as he arrived at the willing encampment with Tormund and tried to convince their elders to join him. Despite making both a good case and a peace offering of White Walker-incinerating dragon glass weapons, only a handful of those present opted to return with him to Castle Black. But as Jon and his few allies got ready to leave, there was a sudden rumbling from the mountains above. 

Finally, the White Walkers and their army of snow zombies, whose appearance they’ve been foreshadowing in every other episode since April, had arrived. Between the first wave of killer corpses, the appearance of the White Walkers on horseback, and a truly terrifying scene in which an avalanche of undead soldiers cascaded into the encampment only to rise and start killing, the wildlings didn’t stand a chance. 

Jon Snow fought valiantly, but eventually there was nothing to do but retreat to the boats. He and his friends watched helplessly as everyone on the shore was slaughtered in seconds. And watching them watching? It was the King White Walker, who just scored about a thousand new recruits for his blue-eyed army of the dead. Uh-oh.

Tell Us: How terrifying was that battle? What do you think of how the show is deviating from the books?

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