This May Have Been Game of Thrones’ Most Important Episode Yet (SPOILERS)

Game of Thrones
Jon Snow battles an undead army, signaling winter’s long-awaited arrival. (Photo credit: Game of Thrones/HBO)

As much as we love your attention, we respectfully request you don’t read what follows unless you’re currently all caught up with Game of Thrones. We’d rather endure the Seven Hells than be cursed for spoiling the show for you.

Jon Snow may know nothing, as Melisandre said prophetically, but his dire warnings of winter’s dreaded arrival—which repeatedly fell on deaf ears—have finally come true, and it’s more horrifying than we ever imagined.

If you thought Long Island had a winter from hell, just think about what these poor souls north of the Wall, and presumably the privileged and impoverished alike in the Seven Kingdoms to the south, have to deal with. Hell hath no fury like the Night’s King scorned.

Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode may have very well been the most important one to date, as an army of frozen zombies “avalanched” on Hardhome, the Free Folk’s refuge, before the evacuation to Castle Black organized by Jon Snow could be completed. Meanwhile thousands of miles south in Meereen, Tyrion quickly won the trust of Daenerys—the mother of dragons. A formidable duo, indeed. But will they be enough?

As dramatic as the meeting between what Tyrion called “two terrible children of two terrible fathers” was, we can’t stop thinking about winter’s blood-soaked icy onslaught beyond the Wall and its terrible repercussions.

With a fleet of ships in the Hardhome harbor, Jon Snow and his loyal band of the Night’s Watch were just beginning to help agreeable Free Folk leave the docks when dogs started howling, and that’s when we knew this diplomatic mission between the two hated rivals was going to get bloody.

Then in a cloud of ice and snow the undead army stormed into the wildling camp, sending droves of Free Folk fleeing behind their fort’s vulnerable wooden fence and clambering frantically for the waiting ships.

Those who came face-to-face with winter’s army were no match, except for a few battle-tested warriors, Jon Snow among them.

Jon Snow, he who knows nothing but is damn good at wielding a sword and inspiring downtrodden men, gracefully cut his way into a wildling tent during the beautifully produced battle scene, which reportedly took a month to film, and was met by a frozen demon who seemed to have the upper hand. As the Lord Commander told his wildling hosts before winter came to their camp, the only way to kill such demonic ice warriors is with dragon glass, or so we thought. Snow, whose sword (Longclaw) is forged from Valyrian steel, was able to turn his foe into hundreds of ice cubes with one life-saving swing—a shocking victory in what turned out to be a complete rout by the undead army.

After watching his army besiege the Free Folk from atop a cliff, where he got a good view of Snow’s surprising defense, the Night’s King, the devil-horned leader of the dreaded White Walkers, sauntered down to the edge of the pier and gave the few remaining survivors on the departing ships one more reason to fear for their lives. The Night’s King raised his arms in the air, as all evil conquerors seem inclined to do, and awakened the newly deceased, essentially doubling his zombie army.

Jon Snow and the boys were in a state of shock as they sailed away at a glacial pace, forced to watch their slaughtered companions join the Night’s King’s evil ranks.

While the dramatic battle scene was brutal in its one-sided dominance, it was powerful to watch because the chaos was totally engrossing, leaving us with a sense of dread long after the episode was over.

After we survived winter’s terrifying arrival, we may have discovered a sliver of hope among the pile of mutilated bodies. And that’s the disclosure that only fire can ultimately kill (re-kill?) the undead. That strategic tidbit has us thinking that Daenerys—and her trio of dragons—is Westeros’ only hope, which we assumed all along.

Here we are, folks. Winter has come, as the House of Starks has been predicting since the series began. And now that we’ve gotten a glimpse of its treachery, we know we’ve reached a pivotal turning point. For five seasons, we’ve been consumed with the contests over who sits on the Iron Throne. But now that question seems so inconsequential. Daenerys may be vying for control of the Seven Kingdoms, but it seems like this unfortunate turn of events may force her into a different destiny, one she did not see coming. We can only hope she’s up for the task. Good thing Khaleesi now has Tyrion by her side. Too bad she doesn’t have Ser Jorah.