Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO
June 01, 2015 at 04:11 PM EDT

Valyrian steel FTW! Bet you didn’t know Valyrian steel can kill White Walkers, did you? Maybe crossbows and lemoncakes kill the undead too? You really never know until you try…

Tonight we saw the big battle episode of season 5—and you probably didn’t even know there was a big battle episode in season 5. Unlike the Battle of the Blackwater in season 2, or the Battle of Castle Black in season 4, tonight’s Hardhome fight was a surprise since nobody ever knows when those White Walkers are going to strike. 

The structure of this episode was unusual too, with roughly half the hour a tasty Thrones-ian buffet of storylines—with Tyrion and Dany’s banter as one supremely delectable appetizer—then the second half suddenly giving us a big beefy entree of Jon Snow slaying the army of the dead for about 20 minutes. Overall, “Hardhome” managed to show the two very different styles of drama that Thrones does best: Intimate two-handers between great actors, and epic action unlike anything we’ve seen on TV before. 

Meereen: What happens when Tyrion and Dany finally have a real chat? Two fascinatingly clever scenes of sharp, witty exchanges that are everything we’d hoped for. I love everything about these scenes. First there’s a beat in Dany’s throne room (her “audience chamber” if you want to be technical about it). Dany sits regally at the top of the stairs looking down at Tyrion, who is forced to address her at the bottom. Jeez Dany, the man’s already a dwarf, no need to be a jerk about it. 

Dany says that Lannisters killed her family. Tyrion notes that he’s become pretty effective at killing Lannisters himself, and even tries a bit of reverse psychology—that he’s not sure if she deserves his advice. Dany decides to give Tyrion a test, and it’s a great one: What should she do with Ser Jorah, who betrayed her and was exiled?

At first, Tyrion defends Jorah, rather movingly, saying the knight is a changed man and Tyrion is “pretty sure he’s in love with you,” and noting “a ruler who kills those devoted to her does not inspire devotion.” That last line must hit Dany hard, because she executed her devoted follower earlier this season and caused a riot—clearly a bad move, and one that Tyrion would have apparently counseled against. BUT Tyrion also points out that Jorah’s betrayal must have a penalty, so he recommends banishing him yet again. 

I’m torn on this last part. Dany needs all the help she can get. But I wonder if Tyrion is partly recommending this move because it also serves him—exiling Ser Jorah means Dany will need Tyrion more.  

Later, they have a quiet drink, “two terrible children of two terrible fathers.” This was the first major scene Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke shot together, and we have a behind-the-scenes story about it in this week’s upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly that you should check out (it was charmingly like an awkward first date). 

NEXT: Comeuppance, it tastes like a dungeon floor 

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