- This article is about the episode. For the fishing village, see: Hardhome
"Hardhome" is the eighth episode of the fifth season of Game of Thrones. It is the forty-eighth episode of the series overall. It premiered on May 31, 2015. It was written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Miguel Sapochnik.
In the Throne Room, Daenerys ponders on what to do with Tyrion and Jorah. She asks Tyrion why she shouldn't kill him, since the Lannisters are enemies to her House. He claims to have killed both of his parents and by that he is an enemy to the Lannisters as well. Daenerys isn't convinced that killing one's own family is a good reputation for someone in her service. Tyrion counters by wondering aloud if she at least is worth his service. Ordered to tell her why he has come to her from the other end of the world, he explains how he learned about her own story from rumors and from Varys. He says that she – a lost girl born in a storm, who with virtually no assistance managed to acquire a barbarian horde, an effective army, conquer three cities, break the slave trade and hatch three dragons – might be worth living for when he lost everything he had lived for until then. He adds that Daenerys needs his advice despite having a powerful army and large dragons, as she lacks both political experience and practical knowledge of Westeros.
She eventually agrees to spare his life, but asks what to do about Ser Jorah. She seems poised to fulfill her promise of killing him if she saw him again, as it would not do at all for a queen not to keep her word. Tyrion defends Jorah, commenting that he is clearly devoted to her and quite possibly in love with her, but also that he did not trust her enough to inform her of his mission to spy on her for King Robert and that therefore he cannot be trusted to stand by her side. But, he argues, just as a queen should keep true to her oaths, she should also not kill those devoted to her.
Daenerys exiles Jorah from the city. Contemplating his greyscale, Jorah returns to Yezzan zo Qaggaz and offers to fight for him. He promises to lead Yezzan's team to the Great Pit and win the tournament for the Queen – after that Yezzan can make a fortune selling Jorah on the black market.
Later, Tyrion and Daenerys sit in her solar and have a talk about ambitions. When Tyrion mentions what a horrible father Tywin was, Daenerys admits that she no longer has any illusions about her own father. Daenerys is curious about the circumstances of Tyrion's murder of Tywin. He wryly promises that if she decides not to kill him then one day he will tell her, but on that day they will need a lot more wine than the large decanter they are drinking from.
They discuss the role of Varys in their stories and Tyrion assures Daenerys he trusts him, and that he's probably the reason she wasn't killed years ago. Tyrion was convinced by Varys that she could be a ruler who deserves his support.
Daenerys decides Tyrion will remain as her adviser, but confiscates the wine, as a drunk is of no use to her. When Tyrion asks Daenerys what she wants to be advised on, Tyrion nearly rolls his eyes at her desire for the Iron Throne. He suggests that she might want to stay in Slaver's Bay and build a new kingdom for herself in Meereen, complimenting her on reopening the fighting pits and her upcoming political marriage. She assures him that she will stay and help stabilize things, and make sure the slave trade stays broken, but Essos is not her "home." Tyrion asks who will support her in Westeros to which Daenerys somewhat idealistically answers that the common people will support her. Tyrion generously assumes that this will happen (which it generally doesn't); Tyrion then asks Daenerys what ruling Meereen, with the support of only the common folk while not having the support of the rich, was like (Meereen has been in a state of chaos without the combined support of the Great Masters and the smallfolk), and extends this to Westeros and its Great Houses. He notes that Houses Targaryen and Stark are effectively dead due to the combined actions of their "two terrible fathers". Neither House Lannister nor House Baratheon of Dragonstone will ever support her claim in light of their histories with the Targaryens. Tyrion says that this leaves House Tyrell who might be willing to switch sides due to Cersei's recent schemes against them but that is still not enough. Daenerys stubbornly likens the Great Houses, including her own House Targaryen, to the spokes on a wheel, one on top and then others, and on and on, crushing the commoners beneath them in their struggle for supremacy. Tyrion sarcastically warns that others have dreamed of stopping the wheel, but Daenerys clarifies that she plans to break it.
Arya assumes the identity of Lanna, a clam-seller, and shows Jaqen H'ghar she can convincingly become a different person, developing an elaborate and very believable backstory. The Faceless Man sends her, as Lanna, to the harbor where she observes someone referred to as "the thin man" refuse a contract to insure a man's boat, leaving the man in desperate circumstances. Jaqen explains the thin man's business is a sort of gamble yet he does not honor his agreements; when a ship captain dies at sea, he is supposed to make good on his promise and pay the family, but he often doesn't. Jaqen instructs her to kill him, and hands her a "gift" for the thin man — a vial of poison. The Waif is skeptical of Arya/Lanna's success.
In King's Landing
Septa Unella continues to demand Cersei to "confess" in return for her freedom. She remains defiant, despite being obliged to drink water from the floor out of sheer thirst. Qyburn visits her in her cell, and informs her that her trial will begin soon for the crimes of fornication, treason, incest, and Robert's murder, all of which Cersei furiously dismisses as "lies." Qyburn tells her that Grand Maester Pycelle has summoned Kevan Lannister to serve as Hand of the King. Kevan has, at this point in time, already arrived, and he has refused to visit her in prison. Qyburn also tells her that Tommen has become reclusive, refusing to see anyone and refusing to eat in his emotional state. Before leaving, he tells her "the work continues" on their secret project.
A bitter and determined Sansa confronts Reek about his latest betrayal. Reek apologetically affirms he was helping her and that there is no escaping Ramsay. He tells her that Theon Greyjoy tried to escape but Ramsay caught him and tortured him until there was no Theon left. Sansa coldly expresses approval and reminds Reek of the role he played in her family's downfall, and that if she could do to him what Ramsay did, she would. Reek shamefully admits he deserved his torture as he did terrible things, specifically killing "those boys." Enraged by his dismissive reference seemingly to her brothers as "those boys" rather than Bran and Rickon, Sansa vehemently demands to know why they should be dead while he still breathes the air, forcing Reek to finally admit that they were not in fact Bran and Rickon, only two farm boys. Stunned by this admission, Sansa's anger towards Reek cools but when she presses him as to where they might have gone, calling him Theon again, he breaks down and runs out the room, crying, "Not Theon! Reek!"
Roose Bolton maintains that his army must wait inside Winterfell, thus starving out Stannis' forces, as Winterfell had enough supplies to last 6 months under siege. Such conditions would cause a mutiny in the ranks of the Baratheon force and break them down. Ramsay, on the other hand, has a plan to defeat Stannis decisively and asks his father to lend him just "20 good men."
At the Wall
Gilly continues to tend Sam's wounds. Olly enters with some food, having heard what happened. Once Gilly leaves, Olly expresses concern at joining forces with the wildlings, particularly Tormund, who led the raid in which his parents were killed. Sam reassures Olly that Jon knows what he is doing, and that unless he is successful, neither the Night's Watch nor Westeros stands a chance against the White Walkers. Sam explains this is a hard choice Jon had to make, however unpopular, and then tells him not to worry, as Jon always comes back. Olly appears unconvinced.
Jon Snow and Tormund, along with other members of the Night's Watch and the Free Folk, arrive at the wildling town Hardhome to convince the rest of the wildlings to join them in the upcoming war against the White Walkers and their armies of Wights.
Insisting on never being an ally with a Crow, The Lord of Bones insults Tormund for being at the side of an enemy like Jon Snow. Tormund seizes the Lord's staff and beats his former ally to death with it. The wildling elders decide to gather in the Townshall to hear out Jon's proposal; an alliance between the Free Folk and the Night's Watch in the face of their common enemy, the undead.
Having not seen Mance Rayder since he was taken prisoner at The Wall, the Wildlings question his whereabouts. Snow reluctantly informs them that he is dead and that he shot him personally with an arrow. The group is infuriated, but as they move in to kill him, Tormund vouches for him, describing how Rayder was about to be burned at the stake as a warning from Stannis Baratheon, and how Snow defied Stannis by ending his life quickly instead of humiliating him and making him suffer in the flames. Some leaders are convinced, such as Karsi and the giant Wun Wun, but others like the Thenn warrior Loboda begin to leave. Jon offers them the dragonglass daggers, telling them that his friend had killed a White Walker with one. The Wildlings still seem unconvinced.
While approximately five thousand Free Folk gather to set sail to the Wall, the Night's Watch starts gathering the dragonglass daggers in the tent. Edd approaches Wun Wun who holds one of the daggers, examining it curiously. The giant appears unwilling to hand it over and asks Edd "The fuck you looking at?" in the giants' rudimentary form of the Old Tongue. Edd walks away quietly, without collecting the arrowhead. Suddenly, dogs begin barking and the sounds of a storm are heard. Recognizing the sign of approaching White Walkers, Loboda orders the gates of Hardhome to be shut, abandoning many of the Free Folk on the other side to their fate. As the storm reaches the village, the screams of the people shut outside the walls of Hardhome quickly fall silent. A moment later, a large host of undead wights begin breaking through the gates and climbing over the walls. Jon, Tormund, Loboda and Karsi fight alongside others to give as many people as possible an opportunity to make it to their ships. Eddison Tollett, Wun Wun, and others are trapped inside the townhall, which is set upon by wights and catches fire – in the confusion, the bag of dragonglass weapons is lost.
On top of a hill overlooking Hardhome, several White Walkers mounted on undead horses observe the battle, including the Night King. Noticing them, and realizing the need for dragonglass, Jon and Loboda go to the burning townhall, only to be confronted by a White Walker warrior. While Loboda faces the threat, Jon Snow goes for the dragonglass. Loboda is quickly killed after his axe shatters immediately upon contacting the White Walker's ice blade. Jon just manages to grab a dragonglass dagger but is tossed aside by the White Walker. Jon retrieves Longclaw and defends himself against the White Walker and both combatants are astonished to see the Valyrian steel remain intact after colliding with the White Walker's blade.
Seizing the opportunity, Jon strikes the White Walker, shattering his body into fragments of ice, confirming that Valyrian steel is just as lethal to them as dragonglass. The Night King, watching the entire battle from a distance, seems at least mildly intrigued by this turn of events. Meanwhile, Karsi fights off multiple wights before being confronted by a pack of undead children. Frozen by the horror, she is unable to resist as she is mauled to death. The White Walkers deploy another large host of wights, letting them hurl themselves over the cliffs above Hardhome. Jon, Edd, Tormund and the remaining defenders flee for their lives.
Shielded by Wun Wun, who throws several wights off himself and wields a burning log as a club before walking into the sea with them, they manage to get to the last remaining boat and quickly row out to a safe distance. As Jon and the others look on in horror, the Night King raises his arms triumphantly; all around it, the slain wildlings rise up as undead wights, including Karsi. The Night King and his army continue to stare in silence as they retreat.
- Main article: Hardhome (episode)/Appearances
- Lord of Bones
- White Walker
- Many unnamed Wildlings
- Many Wights
- Many unnamed Black Brothers
- 15 of 27 cast members for the fifth season appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Aidan Gillen (Petyr Baelish), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Carice van Houten (Melisandre), Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand), Conleth Hill (Varys), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Michiel Huisman (Daario Naharis) and Dean-Charles Chapman (Tommen Baratheon) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- Trevor Addie, Boian Anev, Adam Basil, Richard Bradshaw, Michael Byrch, Jonathan Cohen, Joel Conlan, Chris Cox, Jacob Cox, Dave Cronnelly, Levan Doran, Clint Elvy, Bradley Farmer, Pete Ford, Vladimir Furdik, David Grant, Richard Hansen, Bobby Holland Hanton, Paul Howell, Radoslav Ignatov, Borislav Iliev, Rowley Irlam, Erol Ismail, Danko Yordanov, Milen Kaleychev, Todor Lazarov, Phil Lonergan, Georgi Manchev, Jonathan McBride, Leona McCarron, Kim McGarrity, Richard Mead, Trayan Milenov, Sian Milne, Camilla Naprous, Daniel Naprous, David Newton, Jason Oettle, Radoslav Parvanov, Ian Pead, Velizar Peev, Rashid Phoenix, Andy Pilgrim, Dominic Preece, Marc Redmond, Paul Shapcott, Vencislav Stoyanov, Ryan Stuart, Roy Taylor, Marek Toth, Teodor Tzolov, Raycho Vasilev, Pablo Verdejo, Andy Wareham, Calvin Warrington-Heasman, Annabel E. Wood, Lewis Young, Steen Young and Shaun R.L. King were stunt performers in this episode.
- This episode takes its title from Hardhome, the wildling settlement beyond the Wall where the entire second half of the episode takes place.
- House Martell and Dorne do not appear in this episode, nor do Jaime and Bronn who are also currently in Dorne. Stannis Baratheon and his forces do not appear in this episode, though they are discussed. Brienne of Tarth does not appear in this episode. King's Landing and its associated storylines barely appear: only Cersei Lannister in her prison cell is directly shown, though Qyburn fills her in on changes which have occurred in the small council outside (similarly, the associated House Tyrell characters in this storyline do not appear, though they are discussed). House Greyjoy does not appear and has not appeared all season. Much of the episode focuses on Arya in Braavos and the Night's Watch in the titular Hardhome storyline.
- As Executive Producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss themselves explain in the Inside the Episode featurette, while the events at Hardhome apparently do happen in the novels they are "off screen," because neither Jon Snow nor any other POV characters go there. Jon sends an expeditionary force led by Cotter Pyke (commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea), who sends messenger-ravens to keep Jon informed of his status. The last that Jon hears from them as of the end of the most recent novel is a frantic and hastily written letter pleading for help, saying that they are surrounded by "dead things in the woods" and even "dead things in the water" (perhaps wights wading through the bay to attack their undefended side). Benioff and Weiss explain that they felt it was important to actually show what happened, and to send Jon Snow along as a POV character the audience is familiar with.
- Because Jon doesn't go to Hardhome in the novels, he doesn't go there to meet with the remaining wildling chieftains. Instead much of the fifth novel involves him negotiating with the wildling leaders (both captured and not) at or near Castle Black following their defeat by Stannis. Ultimately many agree to his terms because they know that to stay north of the Wall with the White Walkers is certain death, though a large number fled back to Hardhome.
- The decision to actually show the Massacre at Hardhome, or at least to make it a major set battle sequence near the climax of the season, was actually made relatively late in production on Season 5, after extensive re-writes. Snorri Þórisson, the line producer in Iceland, explained in July 2014 that the original plan was to film the Hardhome sequence there in November 2015 (because other scenes set Beyond the Wall were filmed on-location in Iceland), but after rewrites increased the size and scale of the battle sequence at Hardhome, these plans were canceled, and instead a fully realized set was built on-location at Magheramorne Quarry in Northern Ireland (the same quarry where the Castle Black set is located). A larger fight sequence meant they needed three full weeks to film the battle, and the window for filming during Iceland's winter months was too small to accommodate it. These rewrites may have led to several continuity errors with the rest of the Night's Watch storyline later in Season 5 (see "Notes" for the next two episodes).
- The battle sequence at Hardhome took a full 15 days to film, and involved about 400 extras and 50 stuntmen. Ultimately about 220 extras were used: after training the original set in fighting moves, the producers then held "tryouts" by having them mock fight each other, then picked who they felt were the best ones.
- Hardhome was built as a fully realized set in Magheramorne Quarry. Not only the buildings were real, but the entire wood log palisade wall, which was 300 feet long and 18 feet high.
- At one point many wildlings start panicking and try to rush the boats on the shore to escape, but too many pile in, causing some of them to capsize. This was achieved entirely with practical effects: the production team actually brought a crane in to pull ropes which flipped over a rowing boat containing 15 stuntmen. The lake at the quarry was freezing, and a safety team was present in the water just off-camera in scuba gear to rescue anyone in case they got trapped or knocked unconscious.
- At one point, Benioff and Weiss's script for the battle was on an even larger scale, showing the army of the dead slaughtering the tens of thousands of wildlings camped outside of the palisade walls, with vast sweeping camera shots. As they explained with a chuckle in a behind the scenes featurette, director Miguel Sapochnik had to rein back the scale of what was shown, pointing out to them that it was well beyond what their budget would allow. Instead, Sapochnik suggested that only the fight within the palisade walls be shown, as the wildlings struggle to keep the wights from breaking in; the slaughter of the thousands of wildlings outside the walls is only heard as muffled screams through the walls. Benioff and Weiss liked this idea, not just because it would cost less, because they realized that one of the rules of horror film is that what is not directly seen but only hinted at is much more scary.
- As to be expected in a meeting of all the remaining chieftains of the wildlings, several variant wildling groups are clearly shown in this episode. Some may have first appeared in the Battle of Castle Black last season but they were difficult to see in large crowd shots at night. Costume designer Michele Clapton explained that she developed six different wildling sub-groups by costuming, based on their geographic region. Mance Rayder and Jon Snow repeatedly said that in the present day there are about 90 different wildlings clans, but each large region has multiple clans in it (i.e., there may be over a dozen clans of "Hornfoots"). While Clapton did say that there are six different large wildling sub-groups in the TV series, she did not list all of them, except to say that the Thenns were one. She also didn't specify if she included the Giants in this count. Based on her descriptions, however, the six groups appear to be:
- 1 - The main, generic "wildlings" from the Haunted Forest, the vast taiga-forest which covers most of the lands beyond the Wall. By far the most numerous, they wear heavy animal furs from game they hunt in the forest. Mance, Tormund, and Ygritte appeared to be from this group.
- 2 - Wildlings who live close to the coasts, and thus decorate their clothing with more seashells. This may be the TV series version of the Frozen Shore tribes, who have been mentioned in the Histories & Lore featurettes. The lands they live in are desolate but the surrounding waters are plentiful, so they gain most of their sustenance from the sea. They cross the snow on sleds of walrus-tusks, pulled by dogs. Karsi and her daughters appear to be from this coastal group, given the seashell decorations on their clothing.
- 3 - Wildlings who live up in the Frostfang Mountains. Little grows there, and what few animals live there don't make for good furs, so they just decorate themselves with bits of bone from whatever small game they can hunt. The Lord of Bones and his followers are from this group. They may be the TV version of the Hornfoot people, which the Histories & Lore videos describe as living in the mountains.
- 4 - The Cave people, clearly seen during the meeting with the elders, they are notable for wearing facepaint (which is how the novels describe them). They don't just live around the mountains like the other group, but inside the cave systems of the Frostfangs.
- 5 - The Thenns, fierce warriors who wield their own bronze axes. Previously led by Styr, now led by Loboda at the meeting.
- 6 - The non-human race of Giants, previously led by Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg ("Mag the Mighty"), now represented by Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun ("Wun Wun"). Clapton's concept for the giants is that they just continually wrap their bodies with whatever scraps of cloth, fur, or animal bone they can find, haphazardly wrapped in materials almost like a mummy.
- This episode reveals that Valyrian steel is resistant to the White Walkers' weapons and lethal to the Walkers themselves. In the novels, Samwell Tarly reads over old books containing legends about the White Walkers in the first war against them in the Long Night 8,000 years ago (as he was seen doing a few episodes ago), and he discusses two things with Jon. First, he notes that besides Dragonglass (obsidian), it is also mentioned that "dragonsteel" can kill White Walkers - both of them suspect that this refers to Valyrian steel, which was forged in dragonfire (such as Jon's sword Longclaw). They don't know if the legend is true, however, and have not yet had a chance to test this information in the novels. This TV episode, however, confirms that Valyrian steel can indeed kill a White Walker.
- This makes Jon only the second character in the TV series to have killed a White Walker (he has not yet in the novels because he didn't attend the battle of the Fist of the First Men and didn't go to Hardhome), after Samwell killed one back in Season 3. Jon is also the only one to have killed a wight (Othor back in Season 1, many more now), though in the novels, Samwell also killed a wight when he was fleeing south back to the Wall with Gilly.
- Interestingly, both weapons that are lethal to White Walkers are not particularly useful against their minions. Sam discovered it by trial-and-error in the novels: as he and Gilly are attacked by a wight, he stabs it at its back with a dragonglass dagger, but the dagger shatters to pieces; Sam manages to kill it by shoving a piece of burning wood into its mouth, setting it ablaze. Dragonglass isn't very useful against wights because it is very sharp but very brittle, shattering if used as a sword, better used as arrowheads and daggers. Against wights, dragonglass is just a sharp but brittle blade, when what is really needed are numerous hacking attacks to physically carve them apart. In contrast, a Valyrian steel sword isn't entirely useless - but unlike against the White Walkers, against the wights it is just a very sharp and very strong sword, which can cut through objects better than other weapons. Fire is still the best way to kill wights because they are very flammable, as if their flesh was coated in pitch (even a small flame will make their entire body quickly catch fire). Samwell asks Melisandre about this in the novels, saying, "The dragonglass only shattered when I tried to stab a wight," and she smiles and answers, "Necromancy animates these wights, yet they are still only dead flesh. Steel and fire will serve for them. The ones you call the Others are something more" (in the novels the White Walkers are alternatively called "the Others").
- Unfortunately, in the novels it is stated that there are only around two hundred Valyrian steel weapons remaining in Westeros - mostly swords, but a few daggers or even axes. After the Doom of Valyria four hundred years ago the secret of making new Valyrian steel was lost, making them incredibly rare and priceless. There are also surviving Valyrian steel weapons in Essos, but they were few in number to begin with, and many destroyed in the Doom itself. As explained last season, a few very skilled blacksmiths in the Free Cities have figured out how to reforge pre-existing Valyrian steel, i.e., the House Stark heirloom greatsword Ice was melted down into two regular-sized longswords, but the remaining amount is finite. Even after the Doom, when the Targaryens took the only surviving dragons to Westeros, they had lost the knowledge of how to make new Valyrian steel - so even though Daenerys has new dragons, it is unknown if they could ever be used to forge new Valyrian steel weapons. Brienne of Tarth was given one of those two Valyrian steel swords made from Ned Stark's sword, which she named "Oathkeeper."
- In the novels, the cold from White Walkers' ice-blades and perhaps of their own bodies can shatter steel weapons used against them, though not quite instantly. When Waymar Royce fights them in the Prologue at the beginning of the first novel, he parries a few blows, but his sword quickly becomes covered in frost, then shatters after a few hits. When their ice-blades initially hit his sword, they are described as making an unusual high-pitched noise: not the ring of metal against metal or metal against ice, but "only a high, thin sound at the edge of hearing, like an animal screaming in pain." The TV series changed this slightly so that any normal iron weapon they make contact with will instantly shatter on the first blow from the cold (though maybe Waymar's sword survived a few blows because it was high-quality steel, as he was a rich nobleman, and low-quality iron weapons won't even last that long). The TV show kept the detail that any blade that the White Walkers' ice-crystal weapons make contact with, if it doesn't shatter, will make a strange high-pitched ringing noise, when Jon parries with Longclaw.
- Samwell also finds references in old annals to "ice spiders"; he and Jon do not dwell on the issue, because Jon is more interested to know how the Others can be destroyed. Old Nan mentioned them to Bran, when she told him about the White Walkers and the Long Night, both in the books and the show ("Lord Snow"). As of the end of the most recent novel, such creatures have not appeared yet. In this episode, Loboda the Thenn scoffs at the legends that dragonglass can kill White Walkers, comparing them to legends that the Walkers also have giant ice spiders - at which Karsi earnestly chastises him that given everything they've seen, there is no reason to doubt any of the legends about the White Walkers anymore.
- This episode seems to have revealed the identity of the "White Walker's master," the White Walker with crown-like horns, first seen in Season 4 episode 4 "Oathkeeper". If this character exists in the novels he has not appeared at all yet. When the episode aired, the HBO Viewer's Guide briefly listed him as the "Night's King," before hastily being corrected to remove this. It was unknown if this description was simply a mistake, or if it as an accidental leak of information. For this episode, during the Inside the Episode featurette Benioff and Weiss consistently refer to him as "the Night King," and the Viewer's Guide's official synopsis also refers to him as "the Night King." In the novels, and also explained in the animated Blu-ray featurettes from past seasons, the original character known as "the Night's King" was the 13th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, who lived not long after the Wall was constructed 8,000 years ago (for comparison, Jon Snow is the 998th Lord Commander). According to legend, he was seduced by a White Walker woman from beyond the Wall, fell under her thrall, and declared himself "the Night's King" – ruling the Wall like his own kingdom, and leading the black brothers to conduct human sacrifices. The Stark King in the North and King-Beyond-the-Wall Joramun eventually went so far as to join their forces to defeat him, and then reform the Night's Watch. At the end of the Fall of the Night's King it is said that he was killed. This leads to several questions:
- Is the White Walker leader seen in this episode the same character as the Night's King? It was revealed that humans can be turned into White Walkers, as seen with Craster's son back in "Oathkeeper." On the other hand, is "Night's King" a title, like "King in the North" or "Storm King," so that there can be more than one?
- While the legendary figure is called "the Night's King," Benioff and Weiss as well as the official synopsis consistently refer to the figure in this episode as "the Night King" – without a possessive "s." It is unclear if this distinction is significant.
- The novels have never actually depicted corpses being raised by the White Walkers as undead wights, so it was unclear what the process entailed, i.e., spell incantations of some kind. It does seem to happen very fast: after Waymar Royce is killed in the Prologue, Will hides for some time in a tree, only to be attacked by the now-wight Waymar. So it seemed to be something the Walkers could do fairly quickly. This episode reveals that the process is very fast and very simple: the White Walker leader just raises his arms silently, at which the thousands of corpses in the area twitch for a few seconds then spring back up, opening their eyes to reveal that they are now glowing blue.
- The Night's Watch and the wildlings do know that wights are very flammable; it seems that the White Walkers commanded a wave of cold wind to blast through Hardhome that put out all of their fires.
- Wights are incredibly durable in the novels, a bit more than the TV series has been able to show: wights are not like classic "zombies," in which destroying the head or brain will kill them, but instead every part of a wight including severed limbs will keep moving as long as it has enough muscles and joints left to give it basic motility. Jon Snow killed Othor after he re-animated as a wight back in Season 1, and even cut off Othor's forearm without even fazing him - in the book's version of this scene, however, Othor's severed arm starts crawling around on the floor. This TV episode does display wights taking immense amounts of damage and still trying to attack; a wight with the entire left half of his head missing, a wight with an arrow going completely through his skull and brain, and wights cut in half at the waist still trying to move. Using swords or melee weapons can incapacitate wights somewhat but it is not nearly as effective as fire: characters are seen hacking wights apart limb by limb to at least stop their advance. The executive producers also point out in the Inside the Episode featurette that they had a wave of wights charge headlong over a cliff like lemmings to get inside the walls, only to then keep advancing, to highlight just how much of a beating wights can take and the extent to which they mindlessly ignore any pain.
- Because the wights that fall off the cliff onto the ground have to seamlessly transition into getting back up and attacking, interacting with the other actors, they couldn't be CGI for the entire shot. Instead, the stuntmen playing the wights fell from a safe height onto a box rig - so they would realistically bounce when they hit the "ground" before getting up again to fight.
- Totally skeletal (and relatively fast) wights first appeared in the Season 4 finale "The Children," in a scene acknowledged to be an homage to Jason and the Argonauts (1963). The wights in this episode are shown in varying states of decomposition, from freshly dead to nearly completely skeletal. Wights in the novels are not lumbering but they are not fast either - more or less how the wight-Othor was depicted when Jon Snow fought him in Season 1.
- While this may have started out as an homage in Season 4, director Miguel Sapochnik explained that Benioff and Weiss stressed to him that they wanted to visually distinguish wights from more traditional "zombies" (such as featured on The Walking Dead), apparently worried that in the visual medium of television, audiences would find them too generic. Sapochnik said: "Movement was a big thing, making them feel like they swarmed where possible. The writers wanted to distinguish them as not zombies. They are puppets for the Night King. And they don’t think; [they] just pick a target and go after it until it’s dead, or they are cut into enough pieces they can’t chase it any more." Wights in the novels are not exactly like zombies: they can't turn other people into wights with infectious bites, every body part keeps moving even if amputated, etc. (the term "revenant" is a closer description).
- On filming the battle sequence, Sapochnik said: "I look for an emotional and dramatic spine to the sequence, whatever it is. In this instance it struck me that this is not a battle… it’s a massacre. Instead of just an action sequence, I wanted to make it a tragedy."
- The heavy metal band Mastodon, from Atlanta, Georgia, made a cameo appearance as background wildlings in the battle who get killed and later re-animated as wights.
- Will O'Connell first appeared in the Season 3 finale "Mhysa," credited only as "Night's Watchman." This episode identifies his character as Todder, who was first mentioned in Season 1's "You Win or You Die."
- In case there was any confusion for viewers based on an audio-visual format, when Loboda accuses that as soon as they are on the Watch's ships they will slit their throats and dump their corpses into the "shivering sea" he isn't just being descriptive: the actual name of the ocean north of the Narrow Sea, which borders the North and Hardhome, is "The Shivering Sea" Further south Braavos is located at the northwestern corner of Essos, where the Narrow Sea joins the Shivering Sea.
- Kristofer Hivju (Tormund) broke all four of the prop sticks he was given to beat the Lord of Bones to death with.
- Karsi saying to Tormund that "I fucking hate Thenns" after Loboda is being obstinate is a callback to when Tormund said the same line in the Season 4 premiere, "Two Swords."
- When the crowd of wildling leaders reacts to Jon saying he shot Mance Rayder (as a mercy kill), one of the background actresses shouted "you fucking cunt!" very loud and clear in every single take. It wasn't in the script and the production team thought it was too distracting, so it was deliberately "lost" in the babble of the shouting during post-production audio editing.
- The wight-boy that leads the attack against Karsi is actually a 23 year old man previously used as a stand-in for Peter Dinklage (Tyrion). They used him instead of a child actor because the extensive makeup and rehearsal required a large amount of time to set up, and as a legal adult he could work for longer hours than a child actor could.
- In the original script, the giant Wun Wun was going to use a large whale-bone as a weapon, but this was later changed to a log he grabbed. The showrunners explained the change as "because Wun Wun prefers logs".
- Apparently Jon Snow only managed to evacuate fewer than 5,000 wildlings from Hardhome, as the rest were not yet willing to go and they didn't have enough time to get on the ships once the White Walkers attacked. They are not necessarily the only surviving wildlings, as Stannis and Jon mentioned that they took a large number of wildlings prisoner after the Battle of Castle Black (some of whom were seen in chains along with Tormund in the Season 5 premiere). Many hundreds if not thousands also died when Stannis's attack took them by surprise. In the novels, because Jon and Tormund don't actually go to Hardhome, various wildling warbands have simply fled into the surrounding forests and splintered into different groups around Mance's lieutenants like Tormund, and Jon eventually negotiates to just let them through the Wall's tunnel, and no one has yet returned from Hardhome.
- Tyrion Lannister's storyline has officially surpassed his material from the end of the fifth and most recent novel - at which point he was in Meereen and had caught sight of Daenerys from the fighting pits, but had not met her yet. They are on the verge of meeting and will in the next novel. That said, Tyrion's scenes with Daenerys in this episode are generally in keeping with the characters and their backstories – discussing how as the children of Tywin Lannister and Aerys II Targaryen, the Mad King, they both had terrible fathers, that it was Tyrion's brother Jaime who killed her father at the end of the rebellion, etc.
- Tyrion's line to Daenerys that his mother Joanna Lannister died giving birth to him is actually the first time that her full name has been mentioned in dialogue in the TV series (though it has appeared in official family trees released by HBO since Season 1). The only people who have discussed her so far were her children (Cersei, Jaime, Tyrion) or their father Tywin, so understandably, they just referred to her as "mother" or "your mother" without giving her full name. Actually, Joanna was Tywin's first cousin, and her full name was thus already "Joanna Lannister" even before she married him (first cousin marriage is fairly common among the nobility in Westeros and is not considered Incest).
- Tyrion mentions in passing to Daenerys that his sister Cersei had her own husband King Robert Baratheon killed. Cersei admitted this to Tyrion in the novels, but there was no corresponding scene in the TV series - apparently he either pieced it together, or she simply told him off-screen. In the novels, soon after Tyrion arrives in King's Landing he asks Cersei about the situation and she bluntly admits to him that she had Robert killed. He responds by asking how she killed Jon Arryn - which evokes a surprised reaction, and she denies having anything to do with Lord Arryn's death. This leaves Tyrion confused, because given that Cersei just freely admitted that she killed her own husband the king, she has no reason to lie about killing Arryn – one of the first hints that it wasn't really the Lannisters who killed him, as was assumed in the first novel (but actually Littlefinger).
- Tyrion mentions to Daenerys that he suspects that while as King Robert's spymaster Varys was in charge of assassination plots against her, given that he was secretly a Targaryen loyalist he was probably intentionally setting each plan to fail, and was ultimately protecting Daenerys for the past 20 years. Varys did send the Wineseller to Vaes Dothrak in Season 1 to give her poisoned wine - but it was never confirmed if Varys expected him to fail in the attempt. Particularly, this was at a time when Jorah was sending him reports that Drogo wasn't feeling inclined to go to Westeros any time soon, thus a failed attempt on Drogo's pregnant wife Daenerys would have been enough to change his mind.
- Interestingly, both Tyrion and Daenerys's mothers died giving birth to them, and both of their fathers were killed by a Lannister (Tyrion and Jaime, respectively). They were also both treated cruelly by their siblings and were despised by them for "killing" their mothers (Viserys to Daenerys, Cersei to Tyrion).
- Tyrion's run-down of the prospective political situation in Westeros if Daenerys Targaryen returns oddly doesn't include all of the Great Houses in the Seven Kingdoms: he mentions the Targaryens (gone), the Starks (defeated, and probably also including their Tully allies), the Lannisters (apparently including their allies the Boltons and Freys), the Baratheons (the real ones, under Stannis), and the Tyrells, and says that of these only the Tyrells might switch to her side. However, he omitted any mention of House Greyjoy, House Martell, and House Arryn. A major point is actually that at this stage in the war, those who have been fighting for years are nearly exhausted (the Starks, Lannisters, and Baratheons), while because the Arryns and Martells have remained neutral so far, they still have full and fresh armies which are now in a position to alter the game board significantly. Like the Tyrells, the Greyjoys have been in the war so far but they haven't been very badly bloodied yet - their main action was to declare their independence from the mainland and then make a few opportunistic raids against the North (a few of which were defeated by the Boltons, but their losses numbered in the dozens, not hundreds). Littlefinger even told Cersei that he intends to use the Vale's armies to launch an invasion of the North. It is further odd that Tyrion doesn't mention the Martells, as due to the Lannisters murdering Elia Martell and her children the Martells would want revenge on the current regime and would be obvious allies for Daenerys. Tyrion may have thought that as Myrcella is betrothed to Trystane Martell the trouble could have ended, but considering the recent death of Oberyn Martell the rivalry between Dorne and the Iron Throne could be exploited.
- During Robert's Rebellion, the Tyrells and Martells fought on the Targaryen side, though this is no guarantee of their future loyalty (the Tyrells tend to just side with whoever they think is going to win in any conflict). The Starks (and Tullys), Lannisters, Baratheons, and Arryns fought against them. The Greyjoys didn't think the civil war on the mainland was really their concern and stayed out of it – only nominally siding with the rebels after the death of Prince Rhaegar at the Battle of the Trident, when it was clear the Targaryens would lose (which is also what the Lannisters did).
- In the novels, at Daenerys's wedding to Khal Drogo, her brother Viserys thinks that if they invade Westeros, the Martells, Greyjoys, and Redwynes would be most eager to support them. The Martells because they are still upset at King Robert (and the Lannisters) about the death of Elia Martell, and the Greyjoys because they came to hate Robert after the subsequent Greyjoy Rebellion. House Redwyne is Olenna Tyrell's family (she was born "Olenna Redwyne") and controls the Redwyne Fleet, one of the three main standing navies in Westeros (Viserys cites the Redwynes in particular as staunch Targaryen loyalists, though he hoped the Tyrells would come around as well). Viserys was not politically skilled at all, however, and some of his assumptions may have been naïve (the Greyjoys did hate Robert but they also care most about themselves); Viserys also thought that the commoners of Westeros were desperately waiting for him to return as king, when as Jorah explained to Daenerys this was pure fantasy.
- Though Daenerys has been empathetic to the slaves and the poor before, as that is the whole point of her Liberation of Slaver's Bay, her conversation with Tyrion in this episode is the first time she specifically criticizes the Great Houses of Westeros, including her own, for their treatment of the smallfolk: she claims she will break the systematic warring of Great Houses in Westeros ("The wheel"), which includes House Targaryen, as it is crushing the smallfolk.
- Grand Maester Pycelle of all people has turned on Cersei, by summoning her uncle Kevan Lannister back from Casterly Rock to rule as the new Hand of the King. Even if Cersei manages to evade the trial by the Faith the two of them have no intention of letting her wield power again, as she was running the Iron Throne and House Lannister into the ground with her inept leadership and increasingly erratic behavior. Previously, he was Cersei's loyal lackey on the small council, and was even the spy for her against Tyrion - as seen in Season 2's "What Is Dead May Never Die." Pycelle had a lengthy scene with her father Tywin Lannister back in Season 3 which was deleted for time but was included in the Blu-ray set which goes a long way to explaining his actions now (the scene was also released for free on the Game of Thrones official YouTube account: click this link to watch). In the deleted scene, Pycelle explains that he is loyal to Tywin because he has built House Lannister into the strongest House in Westeros, and he genuinely believes that the strongest House is the only one that can maintain peace and order over the fractious lords of the Seven Kingdoms. Tywin bluntly asks him what he will do if the Lannisters are no longer the strongest House, and he simply says that hopefully that will be generations from now, when he has long since been rotting comfortably in his grave. Cersei isn't the effective leader that Tywin was, however, and throughout the season Pycelle has become gradually disgusted with how she has been weakening the Lannisters: stacking the small council with sycophants like the disgraced ex-maester Qyburn (whom he vocally disapproved of), ineptly dealing with the debt crisis to the Iron Bank, entering into a feud with Margaery Tyrell that needlessly alienated badly needed allies, and foolishly re-arming the Faith Militant (blindly assuming they would be totally loyal to her, when she actually handed the High Sparrow his own army that the Lannisters can't control). She also simply ignored all of his rational advice and slighted him as if he had been disloyal - when he had been nothing but loyal, betraying Eddard Stark, Tyrion, and Jon Arryn for her, and even keeping the secret that her children were all really born of incest. Pycelle is still loyal to "House Lannister," but not to Cersei anymore.
- The paving stone that Lena Headey (Cersei) laps up water from in her prison cell was made from plastic and covered in cellophane to keep it hygienic. 
- Roose Bolton explains that his forces have repaired Winterfell's walls and can withstand a siege, as they have stockpiled enough food to last six months – while winter is weeks away and heavy snowstorms have already slowed Stannis's advance. If Stannis tries to simply surround Winterfell his forces would starve in the snow before the Bolton garrison does. Castles in Westeros are used to stockpiling food supplies for months or even years at a time during winter, so sieges can be quite lengthy if the garrison manages to gather enough food stores beforehand. In the novels, Jon Snow mentions that centuries ago when the Starks fought the Boltons, they once tried to surround and starve out their castle-seat at the Dreadfort, but the siege ultimately lasted for two years before the Bolton garrison ran out of food.
- Ramsay's line that "We hit first, and hit hard, and leave a feast for the crows" is name-dropping the title of the fourth novel of the book series, A Feast for Crows. One of the points behind the name is that Westeros has been devastated by the ongoing War of the Five Kings – tens of thousands are dead, and entire swaths of the Riverlands have been reduced to burned-out devastations - that even those who technically "won" the early phases such as Cersei or the Boltons are just like crows fighting over the corpse of what little is left of the Seven Kingdoms.
- Bolton scouts report that Stannis Baratheon's army numbers about 6,000 men, though half of them are mounted. From last episode, Ramsay explained that Stannis had bolstered his forces with "thousands" of foreign sellswords. He must have hired these with new loans from the Iron Bank of Braavos, off-screen, while he was reconsolidating at the Wall in the first half of the season (a substantial condensation from the novels, in which major subplots involved Stannis trying to convince the bank for even larger loans, and the bank's growing acceptance as they become frustrated with Cersei and Tommen). Stannis said last season that he had about 4,000 men left. Visually he had about 3,000 men at the Battle of Castle Black - assuming several hundred beyond that were left in his supply train, or that he left a small garrison behind at Dragonstone (as he did in the novels). Thus Stannis seems to have hired anywhere between two to three thousand sellswords who are still with his army.
- Sansa Stark does not return to Winterfell in the novels and never even meets the Boltons, much less marries Ramsay. Therefore she doesn't encounter Theon/Reek again, and at the end of the most recent novel she still thinks Bran and Rickon are dead.
- For Season 5, the production team built expansive, fully realized sets of the streets and buildings of Braavos, now used in the lengthy sequence in which Arya Stark walks around the canals in her "Lanna" persona. Actress Maisie Williams was also excited that after years of wearing the same plain costume because she was pretending to be a commoner and a boy, she finally got an interesting new costume this season, switching to Braavos-style clothes (see "Costumes/Essos - Free Cities"). Williams greatly enjoyed being able to symbolically throw away the boring traveling clothes she wore in the Riverlands for over three seasons, since Season 2 began. As Michele Clapton recounted, "Maisie was very, very keen to get rid of that last costume. She said, 'Please can I burn it?'"
- Arya uses the name "Lanna" for her false persona. In the novels, she actually called herself "the Cat of the Canals" - a reference to Syrio Forel's training which urged her to be agile like a cat, and in memory of her mother Catelyn Stark. Arya in the TV series is older and wiser during her training, however, so she probably realized that using a variant of her mother's name from her past life was a bit conspicuous - and thus just picked a different name entirely. "Lanna" actually is the name of a minor character in Braavos, a prostitute mentioned in passing - it would seem that the TV writers re-used that name to try and still use a name that matched the Braavos setting. A small in-joke reference is made to Arya's "Cat of the Canals" pseudonym from the novels, however: just as she says that she walks to the canals every day with her cart, a cat crosses her path in the street.
- It is not anachronistic to the time periods that Game of Thrones is based on for the Thin man to sell insurance policies: there is evidence that the concept of insurance has been known and practiced by Chinese and Babylonian traders during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, respectively. It's even more appropriate for Braavos, an economic powerhouse akin to the Dutch Republic, Genoa, or Venice, all states where uninsured ships had little chance of successful ventures. The novels actually do mention merchants in the Free Cities buying and selling insurance: apart from the thin man himself, the Triarch of Volantis named Vogarro was specifically said to sell insurance to shipowners against the hazards of the sea.
- The paperwork that the sailor presents to the thin man is actually the first time that a map featuring both Westeros and Essos has appeared on-screen (though they are both shown in the opening credits sequence). The neatly drawn map accurately depicts Westeros and all of Essos east to Slaver's Bay (but not to Qarth). It is worth noting that the course shown to the thin man goes through the Smoking Sea of Old Valyria. The thin man looks through the paperwork until he sees this course at which point he declares that he can't insure the sailor. Only three episodes ago Jorah and Tyrion took this route, explicitly said that the Smoking Sea is so dangerous that even pirates fear it.
- "Hardhome" won several Emmy Awards for 2015:
- Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series
- Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (One Hour)
Daenerys Targaryen: "How do I know you are who you say you are?"
Tyrion Lannister: "If only I were otherwise!"
Daenerys Targaryen: "If you are Tyrion Lannister, why shouldn't I kill you to pay your family back, for what it did to mine?"
Tyrion Lannister: "You want revenge against the Lannisters? I killed my mother, Joanna Lannister, on the day I was born! I killed my father, Tywin Lannister, with a bolt to the heart! I am the greatest Lannister killer of our time!"
Daenerys Targaryen: "So, I should welcome you into my service because you murdered members of your own family?"
Tyrion Lannister: "Into your service? Your Grace, we have only just met. It's too soon to know if you deserve my service."
Daenerys Targaryen: "I know what my father was. What he did. I know the Mad King earned his name."
Tyrion Lannister: "So, here we sit. Two terrible children of two terrible fathers."
Daenerys Targaryen: "I'm terrible?"
Tyrion Lannister: "I've heard stories."
Daenerys Targaryen: "Why did you travel to the far side of the world to meet someone terrible?"
Tyrion Lannister: "To see if you were the right kind of terrible."
Daenerys Targaryen: "What kind is that?"
Tyrion Lannister: "The kind that prevents your people from being more so."
Tyrion Lannister: "When you get back to your home, who supports you?"
Daenerys Targaryen: "The common people."
Tyrion Lannister: "Let's be generous and assume that's going to happen. Here in Slaver's Bay, you had the support of the common people and only the common people. What was that like? Ruling without the rich? House Targaryen is gone. Not a single person who shares your blood is alive to support you. The Starks are gone as well. Our two terrible fathers saw to that. The remaining members of House Lannister will never back you, not ever. Stannis Baratheon won't back you either. His entire claim to the throne rests on the illegitimacy of yours. That leaves the Tyrells. Not impossible, not enough."
Daenerys Targaryen: "Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, Tyrell...they're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that one's on top, and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground."
Tyrion Lannister: "It's a beautiful dream...stopping the wheel. You're not the first person who's ever dreamed it."
Daenerys Targaryen: "I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."
Sansa Stark: "Why? Why Theon?"
Reek: "Not Theon. There is no Theon. Reek!"
Sansa Stark: "Reek. Why did you tell him, Reek?"
Reek: "I was helping you. You wanted to escape. There is no escape. Not ever. Theon Greyjoy tried to escape. The master knew. He knows everything. He hunted him. He caught him, strapped him to a cross, cut away piece after piece until there was no Theon left."
Sansa Stark: "Good. If it weren't for you, I'd still have a family. If I could do to you what Ramsay did right here, right now, I would."
Reek: "I deserved everything. I deserve to be Reek. I did terrible things. Turned on Robb...captured Winterfell...killed those boys."
Sansa Stark: "They weren't 'those boys', they were Bran and Rickon. They were your brothers. You've known them since they were born!"
Reek: "They weren't! They were only..."
Sansa Stark: "Only what?"
Reek: "I can't!"
Sansa Stark: "Tell me!"
Reek: "I can't! Not unless the master says..."
Sansa Stark: "Tell me! They weren't what?"
Reek: "They were only..."
Sansa Stark: "Tell me why Bran and Rickon should be gone while you still breath the air!" [Grabs Reek by the face and shakes his head.] "Tell me to my face, Theon! TELL ME THAT THEY WEREN'T YOUR BROTHERS!"
Reek: "They weren't Bran and Rickon!" [Pause] "I couldn't find them. It was two farm boys. I killed them and burned them so no one would know."
Sansa Stark: "You didn't?" [Theon shakes his head.] "Do you know where they went? Bran and Rickon?"
Reek: "I can't talk to you anymore."
Sansa Stark: "Theon, you have to tell me. Do you have any idea where..."
Reek: "Not Theon! Reek!"
Roose Bolton: "And what do you recommend?"
Ramsay Bolton: "That we not sit and wait for Stannis to decide what sort of fight this is going to be. That we hit fast, and hit hard, and leave a feast for the crows."
Roose Bolton: "A smart commander does not abandon a defensive advantage. As long as we stay behind these walls, they can't touch us. Not to mention the snow is so deep, we couldn't get an army through to engage them even if we wanted to."
Ramsay Bolton: "I don't need an army. I need 20 good men."
Jon Snow: "The Long Night is coming, and the dead come with it. No clan can stop them. The Free Folk can't stop them. The Night's Watch can't stop them, and all the Southern kings can't stop them. Only together, all of us, and even then, it may not be enough, but at least then we'll give the fuckers a fight."
Loboda "My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a crow."
Karsi "So would mine, but fuck 'em. They're dead."
In the books
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Feast for Crows:
- Chapter 22, Arya II: The Faceless Man tells Arya she must leave the temple and adopt a new identity.
- Chapter 34, Cat of the Canals: Arya gets used to making a living in Braavos under the identity of an orphan girl who wanders the city's canals and sells oysters, clams and cockles from a cart. Every day, Arya comes back to the House of Black and White and informs of her daily routine to the Faceless Man.
- Chapter 43, Cersei X: Cersei remains imprisoned at the Great Sept of Baelor, where Septa Unella continuously asks her to confess her sins. She has been stripped of her garments and is made to wear rags. A septa offers Cersei a bowl of soup, which she finds disgusting and throws at her face. Later, however, she is too thirsty to refuse the water she is brought. Qyburn visits her and tells her the Faith will try her for murder, treason, and fornication, and that Grand Maester Pycelle sent a raven to Casterly Rock asking for her uncle Ser Kevan to take over the small council.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Dance with Dragons:
- Chapter 7, Jon II: Jon discovers that Valyrian steel may kill White Walkers.
- Chapter 31, Melisandre I: A Free Folk settlement beneath a great cliff is prophesied to become engulfed in snow and ashes while men shoot flaming arrows at the dead things on the other side of the palisade. Then the wind rises and the cold white mist comes in, until no wildling remains alive. Jon learns about the death of the Lord of Bones.
- Chapter 35, Jon VII: While ranging Beyond the Wall, Jon Snow meets the giant Wun Wun and some wildling men, all of whom Jon convinces to come back to Castle Black with him.
- Chapter 51, Theon I: Roose Bolton reluctantly decides to let out a host to fight Stannis in the snow.
- Chapter 54, Cersei I: Ser Kevan comes back to King's Landing and now presides over the small council.
- Chapter 58, Jon XII: A senior officer of the Night's Watch leads an expeditionary force to Hardhome in order to bring the Free Folk south of the Wall and save them from the White Walkers, but they are met with distrust and aggression, the seas become wrecked by storms and, worse of all, the settlement is surrounded by wights.
- Chapter 64, The Ugly Little Girl: Arya is charged with her first assassination target: a man who sells insurance to ship captains. Arya is to follow him in her disguise of the clam-selling orphan and learn as much about him before killing him. When the captains die at sea, he is supposed to make good on his promise and pay the family, but sometimes doesn't. The man is always protected by two guards, and counts his coins jealously. Arya is given a poison to accomplish the task silently.
- Chapter 66, Tyrion XII: Tyrion Lannister talks his way out of his bondage to Yezzan zo Qaggaz and comes to an agreement with Queen Daenerys's side.
- Chapter 69, Jon XIII: Jon is to lead a rescue mission to Hardhome with Tormund.
- The sixth novel, The Winds of Winter, remains unpublished, so there are some events brought forward from it that may occur in the story, yet the specific chapters are unknown. This may include Sansa’s wedding and her return to Winterfell, both of which are also part of Littlefinger's plan in the books but have not happened yet, and the specifics of the events at Hardhome. The meeting of Tyrion and Daenerys has been confirmed to take place in the sixth book.