As has been established by just about every single episode of Game of Thrones, Westeros is a dangerous place where the virtue of being a good person (poor Ned Stark) or a fan favorite (sexy Oberyn Martell) is no guarantee you’ll survive the season. And with the penultimate episode traditionally the most action-packed and bloody of the bunch, we knew someone big and possibly beloved would go down last night in “The Battle of the Bastards.” But thank the old gods, the new, the drowned, and the of light, it wasn’t this season’s scene-stealer.
Tormund Giantsbane survived!
I know. We should be most concerned about Jon Snow and Sansa
Bolton Stark. But as Genevieve and Brian pointed out quite rightly, those two crazy kids are practically immortal. Sure, there was that spot early on when Jon took the bait (that Sansa warned him would be thrown down), and nearly followed poor doomed Rickon into the great beyond. But he survived! And more to the point Tormund survived!
Played by Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju, this red-haired wildling has always brought a Viking-like brand of fun and fierceness to the show. But this season, he stood out, thanks to his earnest attraction to Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). With an eyebrow wiggle and suggestive meat eating, his was the face that launched a thousand ‘ships, and countless fan art.
And you know how Thrones goes. These sunny moments of flirtation could be read as a death sentence. The show gives us someone wonderful, builds them up with saucy character moments, and/or valiant deeds. And then:
Backed by this awareness of Game of Thrones sadistic nature and G&B’s odds (50/50), I feared for Tormund going into Bastard Bowl more than anyone else. When he went up against the in-formation Boltons, my breath stopped short. When he fell, I yelped. When he went toe-to-toe with that treasonous Northerner, I bit my lip and whimpered. Aside from the mountains of bodies and dump trucks of blood, “The Battle of the Bastards” demanded a human sacrifice to really sell the traumatic drama and cruel stakes of this showdown. And sorry, Rickon, but you’ve been away too long for fans to mourn you. (We pretty much assumed you got Judy Winslowed.)
So who would die in service to the show’s seasonal battle? That dark distinction went to the wildling giant, Wun Wun, who smashed Bolton’s line, ripped men in two, and then prevented a siege at Winterfell by throwing himself through the front gate, riddled by arrows or no. This big bastard needs a statue erected in his honor. But back to the point:
To fight another day, and to maybe follow Genevieve’s theory and wed Brienne—with Jon’s blessing—for diplomacy (and big burly love) to thrive in the North! I spoke with Hivju himself last week about this very possibility, and he said:
To speak on behalf of Tormund: Hell yeah! [Laughs.] But we’ll see. We’ll see.
We certainly will. Because Tormund lives!