'Game of Thrones' scorecard: A mammoth battle at the Wall

All season long, we're keeping score in "Game of Thrones." Why? Because SOMEONE has to keep track of all the skull-crushing and heart-breaking. Oh, and the giant scythes. Can't forget those.

This "Game of Thrones" discussion is written by someone who has read George R.R. Martin's books but will generally only discuss events that have happened on the HBO's televised version. Please respect these boundaries should you choose to participate in the comments section.

Episode 4.9, "The Watchers on the Wall"

FINAL SCORE: Forfeit! Sex fails to field a team and concedes the episode to Violence.


Totals: As the Internet's only documented scorekeeper of "Game of Thrones," I of course try to maintain an accurate tally of deaths. For this episode, though, that would be a fool's errand. The sheer number of deaths by flaming arrow would be impossible to compute, and that's not even taking into consideration the eye gouging, the throats cut, the abdomens slashed open, a crossbow bolt to the face, the Night's Watchman impaled and launched into the sky by a giant's harpoon, arrows through the neck, the rampaging mammoth that crushes a man underfoot, a skull caved in with a ball-peen hammer, an immense scythe-anchor cleaving ice climbers apart, and beloved wildling minx Ygritte shot through the heart.


She died as she lived: aiming arrows at Jon Snow and telling him he was dumb.

Notes: If you make your way around the "Game of Thrones" recap circuit -- and if you're reading this, there's a good chance you do -- you're going to see people complain that "The Watchers on the Wall" falls short of Season 2's brilliant "Blackwater" (Alan Sepinwall called it "Blackwater 2: Black Harder").

That's the problem with critics: they're always bitching about plot or character or somesuch when the HD screen in their living room is filled with giants and woolly mammoths (or dragons or eye-popping nudity ... or just eye-popping).

So: is Jon kinda dull compared to show's other heroes? Sure. Has the show spent too little time at the Wall this season to give this episode the full weight? Yeah, I guess. Do I need to write a dissertation because the show gave me spectacle instead of wit? Nope, not when this is happening:




Jon Gruden: I call THIS GUY the Shark because he eats people and has a hammer in his head!

(top GIF via red riding hoodie; bottom two via Warming Glow)


Totals: Sam kissed Gilly, so ... what's the opposite of sex?

Notes: Strictly on the sexual front, this was a complete disappointment of an episode. Poor Ygritte didn't even get to wear Jon's dick around her neck.

Know Your Northmen

"Jon Snow's the brooding guy, Sam's the fat one, and, uh ... yeah, who are all these people again?" Here, lemme help:

• Ser Alliser Thorne - he's the constant douchebag nay-saying everything Jon does at the Wall

Last week's scorecard

Tormund Giantsbane - badass redbeard wildling

Janos Slynt - coward whose City Watch turned against Ned Stark in Season 1; later banished to the Wall by Tyrion

Styr - AKA "Shark" in some popular web forums, leader of the Thenns who gets a ball-peen to the frontal lobe (RIP)

Pyp - Shakyhands McBadaim, dies in Sam's lap (RIP)

Grenn - bearded bro sent to hold the inner gate of the Wall at all costs (RIP)

Edd - known as Dolorous Edd in the books, where he actually has a modicum of characterization. On the show, he's the guy with the scraggly hair who's in charge of the top of the Wall after Jon leaves

Aemon - blind maester at Castle Black, kind of a perv

A Note on Defensive Tactics

The Wall is 700 feet tall, as is the MetLife Tower near Madison Square in New York. It's not a giant by Manhattan standards, but 50 stories is nothing to scoff at, either.


Now, if you wanted to stop people from walking into the front door of the MetLife Tower, would you fire arrows at them from the top of the building? Of course not. You'd stake out a spot on a lower floor that provided you less crosswind and better range (most modern bowhunters won't take a shot at a deer unless it's within 100 feet or so, although firing at an area target of massed enemies certainly changes that range).

Hear me out, George R.R. Martin. I know the Wall was built a long time ago, and that ice is perhaps not the most malleable or stable construction material, but the Wall would be a much more impressive defensive marvel if it had some arrowslits, like, 80 or 100 feet up: they're too narrow to be an entry point, and they provide a vast improvement in accuracy.

(If you enjoyed this criticism on the effect of crosswinds on arrows in a show with dragons and magic, please subscribe to my newsletter for complaints about James Bond's tactical house defense in Skyfall.)

#TrueDetectiveSeason2 Rankings


SAM: What was she like?


No thanks.


- giants slain: 2

- arrows poking out of Tormund: 3

- kills for Jon Snow: 6

- times an owl has to caw instead of hoot before anyone notices: more than 5, apparently

SB Nation Television

- flaming arrows: ∞

- sweet-ass tracking shots: 2

- hams wielded in defense: 1

- mammoth trainer: now hiring. Please inquire beyond the Wall

DNP, Coach's Decision

Stannis and Team Dragonstone; Tywin, Tyrion, and the expansive cast at King's Landing (up to and including Ser Pounce); Daenerys and the Abolitionist Dragon Party; Arya and the Hound; Sansa and Littlefinger; Brienne and Pod; Bran and the vision kids; Ramsay and Theon; Mance Rayder (HOW THE CRAP WAS THERE NO MANCE?); Margaery; Margaery's boobs; everyone's else's boobs; all non-Ghost direwolves; the Brotherhood without Banners; Jorah Mormont on a walkabout; the Mountain; Oberyn's headless corpse; white walkers; HODOR.

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