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Thats What Ygritte Said

Weekly Game of Thrones Musings by Sam Ryu

Lets have a moment of silence for Ygritte.

Ygritte meant more to this newsletter than any other character on Game of Thrones. Her five words,
You know nothing, Jon Snow. (or more phonetically representative: You nuh nuthin Jon
Snuuh.)which we heard for the final timebecame the foundational basis for this newsletters
content and for its tone. She faced death and didnt blink (S2E6). She was sharp enough to see that Jon
couldnt kill her and used her wits to get free (S2E7). She had the skill to shoot an arrow in a rabbits eye
from 200 yards, but couldnt find it in herself to choose duty over love and hit Jon in non-fatal areas
instead (S3E10). And for all her badassery, it was her levity that made her such a pleasure. (Who else could
make the dour-faced Jon Snow crack a smile?) Unfortunately in the world of Game of Thrones, Valar
Morghulisincluding our favorite characters. Ygritte. Skilled fighter. Cave-sex enthusiast. Caller-
outer of know-nothings. Kissed by fire. Ygritte. But the beat goes on and so must the show. Right
foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot...

Season 4, Episode 9 The Watchers on the Wall

This episode was pretty much a self-contained, hour long movie. It had the pre-war taunting, the
unstoppable force trying to scale an immovable object, the deaths, and even scenes in the style of
Kubricks Paths of Glory. The Wall is the only meritocracy in all of Westeros and we saw that in full
swing (not a giant scythe joke). Grenn and Pyp both stepped it up before their deaths. Sam earned
some Man (of the Nights Watch) points. Ser Alliser Thorne showed that there is substance behind
the asshole. Jon is not a poet. Maester Aemon Targaryen is a lover. And Janos Slynt is a coward of
the highest order. (Tyrion to Janos Slynt while dismissing him as Commander of the City Watch:
Im not questioning your honor, Lord Janos. Im denying its existence.S2E2)
June 15, 2014
I dont get to talk about the filmmaking/craft as much as I want to in my newsletters, but I need to
single this episode out as the most impressive on a technical level (and its not even close). If you
havent rewatched it nine times already this week, take a few seconds to admire this gorgeous
tracking shot in the middle of battle. There was also that great tilt-up that showed the wildling
splinter attack from the south (remember they climbed over the wall already in S3E6?), went over
the wall, then revealed the massive wildling force from the north. Not to mention the use of slow
motion (I believe the only time the show has used slow mo) and selective audio in Jon and Ygrittes
final moments. It even used a POV shot for Ygritte, like it was a first-person shooter video game.
Sidebar: I know George R.R. Martins book seriestitled A Song of Ice and Fire in which A Game of
Thrones is the first bookis not about Jon Snow and Ygritte (could it ultimately be about Jon Snow and
Daenerys?) but this shot quintessentially captures that title. Ygrittes kissed-by-fire hair with fire in her half of the
background. Jons half with a quiet, cool blue light, and with reflective ice/snow to his right... Can you tell how
bummed I am about Ygrittes death? Mr. Martin, please have her come back as a White Walker and make the
series about her and Jon Snow. Their love is truly a song of Ice and Fire.
But while the episode was filled with cinematic flourishes that put all other similar TV shows (and
quite frankly many movies with 10x the budget) to shame, the story was not as compelling as other
Episode 9sI think by virtue of it taking place solely at the Wall, where were not as invested in
the characters, save a few. Throughout the seasons, the biggest threat has always been the dangers
to the norththe White Walkers and not the warring armies or even the dragons. But I never
really felt the urgency or got a sense of how truly big of a threat was beyond the Wall (a.ka. the
reason 100,000 wildlings are marching on the Wall to go as far south as possible). This episode gave
it some of the weight that it need and that weve been hearing so much about.
June 15, 2014
Quick Hits: Jon Snow is going beyond the Wall to meet with Mance Rayder. Has news traveled to
Mances camp that Jon Snow was a double agent? And does Ghost (his direwolf) go with him? We
finally saw the biggest fire the North has ever seen and also a classic war movie tropethe side
with smaller numbers lining their defenses with dummy bodies.
Maester Aemonthe great uncle of Daenerys Targaryen
tells Sam (Im not calling him Fat Sam anymore, he earned
it) the same thing he told Jon in S1E9: Love is the death
of duty. This ended up being true for both Ned and Robb
Stark. But the converse has been true for Jon Snowduty
was the death of his love. And not to get all high school
geometry and/or intro to philosophy on you, but the
contrapositive is true for Sam. If not love, then why duty?
Fun (Speculative) Trivia: While consoling Margaery after Joffreys death, Lady Olenna tells her
the story of how she was supposed to marry a Targaryenmarrying a Targaryen was all the rage
back then. And while recounting his past life to Sam, Maester Aemon says, I met many girls
[before I joined the Nights Watch]. This probably doesnt have legs, but its fun to think about.
When Jon and a small group of the Nights Watch
goes to kill the mutineers at Crasters Keep
(S4E5), Jon learned a very valuable lesson in his
showdown with Karl. Karl taunts Jon: You learn
how to fight in a castle? Some old man teach you how to
stand? How to parry? How to fight with honor? You
know whats wrong with honor? *spits in Jons eyes and
then takes him down* This. Jon uses the same tactic
against Styr, the skin-crawling leader of the
Thenns (the cannibal wildling tribe)Jon spits
blood in his eyes and then uses the opening to
smash a hammer into his skull. This signifies that
Jon might be a more qualified ruler than both
Ned and Robbthat he is willing to bend and
adapt his honor.
Insider Info: (Insider as in I read way too
much industry news, and not insider as in I
have some informant that works at HBO.) The
Season 4 finale is (apparently) going to be the best episode of the season. Not only is it 66 minutes
long, but it is also the only episode submitted to the Emmys for Outstanding Writing. The previous
writing Emmy nominees? Baelor (S1E9) and The Rains of Castamere (S3E9). For the first
time, an Episode 10 might be the true climax of the season and not an Episode 9.
***If you want to join the weekly newsletter mailing list, send an email to samryu9@gmail.com
June 15, 2014