“Game of Thrones” Season 4, episode 9, “The Watchers on the Wall,” was wall-to-wall on the Wall and the Battle of Castle Black. The battle was the biggest to date for the series and did not disappoint fans.
Warning: Full “Game of Thrones” Season 4 spoilers ahead.
The epic scale of Battle of Castle Black is credited to director Neil Marshall, and series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss get props for crafting the spectacle. The Night’s Watch is severely outnumbered by Mance Rayder’s Wildling army but manage to hold back the attack for one night. As the episode ends, Jon Snow knows it is just the beginning and Mance was just testing the defenses of Castle Black. The “Game of Thrones” Season 4 finale will see the next stage in the battle as Jon makes his way into Wildling territory to speak with Mance.
In the new “The Watchers on the Wall” clips released by HBO, Marshall, Benioff and Weiss break down the Battle of Castle Black, Jon Snow’s leadership and the death of Ygritte.
In the “Inside the Episode” clip for “Game of Thrones” Season 4, episode 9, Weiss notes the similarity to the "Blackwater" episode in Season 2. The episodes were directed by Marshall and focused on a singular story and a single location. Benioff said the key thing in making the Battle of Castle Black interesting and engaging for 45 minutes was to create moments that broke up the action. As Harrington explains, there is a sense of joy
Sam and Gilly's relationship also gets discussed. Sam is trying to make sense of his vows to the Night's Watch and his feelings for Gilly and their kiss before the Battle of Castle Black was a strong emotional moment in the episode. Marshall described the episode as a "regular slaughterhouse" as Ygritte, Pyp and Grenn are among the major casualties. Jon Snow is the "centerpiece" of the episode and Weiss calls Jon, and Kit Harrington, an "action hero."
Ygritte's death is another important moment in the Battle of Castle Black and Weiss calls the final moment between Jon and Ygritte his "favorite shot of the episode." Harrington and Rose Leslie discuss the Jon and Ygritte reunion in a seperate clip. Harrington describes the emotional toll of seeing Ygritte, the only person he has ever loved, right after he killed Styr. As Harrington explains, there is a sense of joy in seeing Ygritte despite her pointing an arrow at Jon. Despite Ygritte's promise to kill Jon throughout "Game of Thrones" Season 4, Leslie says Ygritte could never kill her lover.
In the "'Game of Thrones' Season 4, episode 9 - A Formidable Fortess" clip, "A Song of Ice and Fire" creator George R.R. Martin disccuses the defense of Castle Black as well as the strategic advantage of the 700-foot Wall. The Night's Watch can attack from above while the gate is small and only a few people can enter at any given moment.
For the final clip, Marshall dissects the Battle of Castle Black and the many action beats seen throughout "The Watchers on the Wall." Marshall, after arriving on set, said he saw "massive potential" and said Castle Black was a "360-degree set." In addition to the main cast, there are numerous background actors also working to create the sense of scale seen in the episode. The shoot was not easy, explains Marshall, as the set was flooded during the filming of the Battle of Castle Black.
HBO also released a viewer's guide for "Game of Thrones" Season 4, episode 9 which can be viewed here.