I don't know if he's doing Sean Bean on purpose but it's awesome, if he is.
Quick takes: So that's that for Pyp and Grenn, and MAN. I get that bringing in other characters is hard but boy do I love them both, and having Grenn stand in for Donal Noye in the tunnel fighting Mag the Mighty was hard to watch. They were the first of the strange little family Jon Snow found on the Wall, and now, but for Sam, he's alone.
GHOST. Why the hell not let him loose earlier?
I really, really, really hate what they've done with the Thenns in the TV version, making them cartoonish cannibal villains. There are cannibals among the Free Folk (the Ice River clans, I think?) but the Thenns in the books are these very dignified, organized, almost-noble people. Turning them into ME GRUNT ME EAT ME FUCK was just cheap.
Tormund Giantsbane is also known as the Husband to Bears, though according to Ygritte that's just crap.
Maester Aemon is everything. Could they have found a more perfect actor?
Speaking of perfect and everything, holy shit, did I not expect to love Ser Alliser Thorne, but he was horrifically right about everything in this episode, everything on earth. You have to let everyone question you, but if you question yourself, you're lost. Thorne is an asshole, okay, and has spent the past three seasons running everyone else through his personal trauma in reverse, but even total assholes are right sometimes, and most of them are right a lot of the time.
I read somewhere, might have been The Sparrow, about vows of celibacy and what they come to mean to those who take them: A love beyond loneliness, that because it is not specific to one person can encompass all of humanity, and that transcends the selfishness of blood ties. If no one is mine, then all of you can be mine, and I am yours: Married, as it were, to the whole of what you see around you, and sworn to protect it all.
The Night's Watch is made up of outcasts, as foreign to the southron lords as the wildlings themselves: Rapers, thieves, murderers, disgraced lesser sons of once-noble houses, cast-offs and bastards and misfits and worse. They've forsworn all ties: Aemon Targaryen cannot rule, Samwell Tarly will not inherit, and Janos Slynt no longer commands. They're alone, by sacrifice or exile, and they tell themselves a story in their nightly vows, about why they are alone and what alone means.
It doesn't mean I do not love, as Sam and Jon know well. It means I do not belong. It means I cannot close the door, and say all I have to worry about tonight is you and you, and no one else.
It means I am here for all of you. It means you are all mine. It means the realms of men, all men, are not some platitude or abstraction but the totality of your responsibility. Think of the weight of that, for a moment, of the expanse of it, and then remember: It will not end until their deaths. Until their deaths, they've promised to carry everyone, and let no one carry them.