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Lady S.

The Night's Watch: The Swords In The Darkness, The Watchers On The Wall

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I admit to not being too invested in this storyline when I first started watching, but shit's getting real in the far north and it's bigger than just being about everyone's favorite curly-haired bastard. So, let's discuss the not-so-merry band of misfits who are the only thing standing between Westeros and snow demons who adopt Craster's sons and have an army of frozen undead, you know, the one true enemy who won't care how well anybody can play the game of thrones. (I doubt even Tyrell diplomacy would be good with those opponets.) Discuss the imminent battle with the wildings and the ultimate battle with the white walkers and what, if anything, the Night's Watch can do to stay in the business of protecting the lands south of the Wall.

I couldn't find a topic about the Watch, but beg forgiveness if I somehow overlooked it. There's a thread for every other noble house, so let's address the organization that defines itself as one House with members from varying regions and family backgrounds. Discuss their named members who are not Ned Stark's bastard, from his sidekicks to his former drill sergeant, from deceased legends Lord Commander Mormont, Qhorin Halfhand and Yoren to the mysteriously departed Uncle Benjen, from obvious douchebag Janos Slynt and obvious OTT evildoing mutineers to Locke the lying recruit, and of course, the old, blind and wise maester who also happens to be the last (known) Targaryen still in residence in Westeros.

 

Something I took away from the final scene is the real reason the Watch was wrong to ever ally with Craster. Sure, technically, it's not their job to stop a wilding from raping his daughters, but a wilding giving his sons to the white walkers does sound like their responsibility. Maybe all those years Mormont thought Craster was just a crazy guy leaving his sons to die of exposure, but then Jon tells him he saw a creature taking the child and this is after a wight tried to kill him at Castle Black. Wasn't it Mormont who said they didn't build the Wall to keep out other humans and that the Watch had forgotten it's true purpose? And it's Craster who gives them directions to find Mance Rayder and that path leaves them sitting ducks for the white walkers' army. Coincidence? Who the hell knows? But when you know "the cold winds are rising" and there's bragging how these cold spirits would never bother him and then you get eyewitness testimony that he might not be full of shit, I'd think that'd be something to look into. Even without Jon's blundering into the woods, when a guy who worships "the cold gods" bragging about how he's right with them in a time when it's looking more and more like the old enemy is returned should set off some warning bells, shouldn't it?

Edited by Lady S.
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I'm concerned about Benjen. I think there was a plan for him originally, but now he's fallen into a crevasse somewhere in the back of GRRM's mind and is now lost beyond finding.

 

btw: i think there should be a booktalk version of this topic.

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I admit to not being too invested in this storyline when I first started watching, but shit's getting real in the far north and it's bigger than just being about everyone's favorite curly-haired bastard. So, let's discuss the not-so-merry band of misfits who are the only thing standing between Westeros and snow demons who adopt Craster's sons and have an army of frozen undead, you know, the one true enemy who won't care how well anybody can play the game of thrones. (I doubt even Tyrell diplomacy would be good with those opponets.) Discuss the imminent battle with the wildings and the ultimate battle with the white walkers and what, if anything, the Night's Watch can do to stay in the business of protecting the lands south of the Wall.

Back in the TWoP Ages, I speculated whether it would make sense for the Night's Watch and Wildlings to make common cause since they share a common enemy.

The Night's Watch has a huge number of empty towers. I know there are only 3 manned towers, and I believe there are either 19 unmanned towers or 19 towers in total. With 16-19 empty towers, it seems as if they would have a lot of room. Not sure how they would feed them all, but presumably the Night's Watch supported a much larger force in the past.

However, there are a lot of road blocks.

1. Both sides are used to thinking of each other as the enemy. That would make it very difficult for them to trust one another (didn't Old Nan says that crows are all liars?).

One example of that is

2. Jon Snow - a living, breathing example of the double dealing Night's Watchman

Another example is

3. Mance Raydar, King Beyond the Wall and ex-Nights Watchman. The Night's Watch are supposed to execute deserters, not ally with them.

There are other issues too

4. Keeping wildling women away from Night's Watch - At best, it's a case where Wildling women such as Ygritte, Gilly or Osha leave Southern men as disparate as Jon Snow, Sam Tarly or Theon Greyjoy Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. At worst, it's Crasters Keep writ large.

5. The Thenns - They'd have to go vegetarian, so to speak, or be wiped out

No doubt there are other roadblocks.

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I think the Night's Watch is interesting in how the best, and worst, traits of these boys and men manifest under the extreme conditions and circumstances at the Wall and how they respond to the Oath they made when they took the Black.  The title of this latest episode was Oathkeeper, after Brienne's sword, but we also saw the contrast between the Watch members that take that Oath quite seriously and those that quickly abandoned their Oath and returned to being the monstrous criminals they were before they were sent to the Wall.

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I think they might have had a much stronger defensive line set up if any accountants had been exiled to the Wall. We've heard so much about how under-funded they are, so what's the primary tool which each man defends a 700 foot high wall? A sword. Not even a sword and a cheapass wooden shield that might stop a few arrows. Certainly not  your own bow and arrow, or a bunch of javelins that you can throw down at people. When they're on the march, we see a few guys with axes, a few guys with spears, and a ton of swords. Way too much of the Night Watch's treasury goes toward

a. swords, which, while probably the best pre-gunpowder sidearm you can have in a fight, have quite a few disadvantages against some even cheaper primary weapons, and

b. Black dye for their emo suits. Black leather and black fur don't just fall from the sky in those quantities. In fact, they seem to be so rare that not one person in the entire wildling camp was wearing black fur, yet the Watch always has money for its handful of surviving men to look cool. 

Worry less about image. Try dressing in white occasionally. Not being seen a mile away by archers or warg-hawks is a good thing. It's not like the color of your enemy's terrain ever changes; you may not understand how the enemy actually manages to survive and eat there, but you do know what color will hide you, so try employing that knowledge. And put more emphasis on bows, spears, slings... especially now that the only guys who seem to know spears are useful have gone renegade. If all you're doing is walking through the snow dressed in black, with no shields or helmets, even a bunch of kids on top of a hill can massacre you by throwing rocks. 

Maybe that's what Walker Youth are being created for.

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Back in the TWoP Ages, I speculated whether it would make sense for the Night's Watch and Wildlings to make common cause since they share a common enemy.

The Night's Watch has a huge number of empty towers. I know there are only 3 manned towers, and I believe there are either 19 unmanned towers or 19 towers in total. With 16-19 empty towers, it seems as if they would have a lot of room. Not sure how they would feed them all, but presumably the Night's Watch supported a much larger force in the past.

It's 19 total, so 16 empty. Your spec is the only good long term course, especially since making killing each other is only going to create more corpses for the wight army. It's going to take a lot of changes to stand a chance against the common enemy.

 

 

I think they might have had a much stronger defensive line set up if any accountants had been exiled to the Wall. We've heard so much about how under-funded they are, so what's the primary tool which each man defends a 700 foot high wall? A sword. Not even a sword and a cheapass wooden shield that might stop a few arrows. Certainly not  your own bow and arrow, or a bunch of javelins that you can throw down at people. When they're on the march, we see a few guys with axes, a few guys with spears, and a ton of swords. Way too much of the Night Watch's treasury goes toward

a. swords, which, while probably the best pre-gunpowder sidearm you can have in a fight, have quite a few disadvantages against some even cheaper primary weapons, and

 

That's another mark against Ser Alliser, not only did he not bother to explain how to use a sword, this technique he failed to properly teach is only useful in close combat. That quick bit where Sam's walking around in the premiere is the only time we see them practicing archery. So it takes an imminent attack on the Wall for someone to remember how a wall is guarded, even though that's their primary duty. At least they have metal practice swords, the outerwear still looks like it's made out of black cardboard, but wearing that and swinging wooden swords was a particularly dinky combination.

Edited by Lady S.

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Blame Ser Allister? I like it. He's a dick anyway so why not?

I disagree about the armor looking like cardboard, though. To me it looks like it's made of bed mattresses. Which, until now, I found funny, but as I stop and actually think about it... padded armor isn't the worst of options n a cold climate. Oh, it certainly doesn't have the stopping power of metal, but one reason I stopped wearing steel-toed shoes was how cold they got during the winter. I'd rather not have to endure that extra chill factor over my entire body during the 99.9999 per cent of the time that they're not fighting anybody at all, but rather standing on top of a high, windy, wall of ice and stone. So maybe that's one thing the Watch got right.

And as I get serious here, The Allister argument is looking better too. High-ranking exiles continue to be high-ranking when they reach the Watch, so the Watch's trainers may very well indeed be top-heavy with people like him. And by people like him, I mean urban crowd control types rather than actual military minds. You know damn well that if Bronn or The Hound or Tywin Lannister were stuck running things there you'd see a much higher survival rate. If you could somehow actually keep them there.

It actually might have been a great place for Eddard Stark to end up, when you stop and think about it. If he still had a head, at least. Thanks, Joffrey. One more way the little shit screwed things up for everybody.

ETA: It's actually just Sam's armor that's made of bed mattresses. The rest just wear leather and fur, but a lot of that leather, I admit, looks kind of like it's made from car mats. Something to bear in mind for your Game of Thrones Halloween costume.

Edited by CletusMusashi
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Well, technically I guess the bad training is a general fault of the Mormont regime. But I feel bad blaming the Old Bear for everything, when he tried his best and didn't deserve to have his skull turned into a wine cup. Ser Alliser is just bad at his job as well as a total dick, so I don't cut him any slack for having suffered beyond the Wall. It's a good point about him being Ser Alliser. We know there are people other than Mormont who know something about fighting, like Qhorin Halfhand, but the Watch officer corps really only had Mormont. I doubt a sellsword like Bronn would be given a position of power there. Everybody's equal in the Watch but some are more equal than others. They haven't totally discarded the class system. Just look at Ser Alliser's new lackey, fired from the City Watch but was Lord of Harrenhal for about a month. Useful lords joining the Watch would be very rare, so it's no wonder the only one who did (Mormont) ended up in charge.

 

It actually might have been a great place for Eddard Stark to end up, when you stop and think about it. If he still had a head, at least. Thanks, Joffrey. One more way the little shit screwed things up for everybody.

Yep, this series loves its irony.

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Well, technically I guess the bad training is a general fault of the Mormont regime. But I feel bad blaming the Old Bear for everything, when he tried his best and didn't deserve to have his skull turned into a wine cup.

I agree. Technically it was Mormont's responsibility, but I don't know if he can be blamed all that much. Beggars can't be choosers, as they say, and the Night's Watch must beg for every man they've got. Bonus if the guy knows how to fight before he joins the Watch.

I have a theory, based on no evidence, that the Targaryens are indirectly responsible for the decline of the Night's Watch.

I'm guessing when the 7 kingdoms were separate kingdoms they fought each other a lot. Winners get to take some of the losers' land and marry their daughters; (some of the) losers go the wall. Some might have even joined just to stay out of the fray, figuring life at the Wall fighting the occasional Wildling was in some ways an easier life than being at a frequent, if not near constant war time footing.

Unifying the 7 Kingdoms -- or 6 followed by Dorne sometime later -- would have eliminated all or much of that. A reasonably powerful Targaryen King, or at least one with a strong Hand, doesn't want his underlings fighting among one another.

Less war and strife means fewer "opportunities" for knights and soldiers to sign up for the Wall.

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Yes but that could be balanced by the use of the Wall as the destination of exile for highborn troublemakers.

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Since Ollie made his bones offing Ygritte, would he be permitted to join the Watch?  Or would he still be in the Junior ROTC version of the Watch since he's too young?

 

Also, the Watch needs to replenish its forces.  They can't just rely on Stannis.  I'm thinking they should have some troubadours sing catchy jingles around the land.  Something like

 

Rangers!

Builders!

Stewards!

The Watch!

 

We don't ask for experience

We give it

 

You won't read it in a book (because you're probably illiterate anyway)

You'll live it

 

Kill some Wildings

Defend the realm

Play yourself a part

 

Rangers!
Builders!
Stewards!
The Watch!

 

What a great place

What a great place

To start (the rest of your life)

Edited by Constantinople
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Hot Pie and Lommy were supposed to be going to take the black, so I think they really do take them that young, but perhaps 12yos have to train longer before swearing their vows. There doesn't seem to be a minimum age though, so it's probably at the discretion of Alliser/the next LC. That would likely be the plan for baby Sam as well, raising a member from scratch. I doubt he'll have time to be much help before his bright blue-eyed brothers come calling at the Wall, but who knows with what drag asses those white walkers are.

 

I enjoyed the battle of Castle Black more than I thought I would, but saving it for ep 9 felt like a big pacing misstep. The brothers still going to Mole's Town as if it was business as usual and being caught off guard after the attack on Olly's village really made the NW look even more incompetent.

 

If Ramsay, Roose, and the ironborn have left enough able-bodied boys in the North, then that should be a good enlisting pool, with the allure of getting away from the Boltons as a recruitment tool. The white walkers are much more honorable enemies.

Edited by Lady S.

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I think Dolorous Edd is the only named member of the Watch who has survived

 

  • the Fist of the First Men when the Walkers attacked
  • the mutiny at Craster's Keep and the subsequent attack led by Jon against the mutineers
  • the Battle of Castle Black and
  • Hardhome
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May I present Eddison Tollett, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm.   

 

 

That would throw everyone for a loop.

Edited by kcbuckeye2
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So, is that the last living giant? Without any of his people to build a new home with, he'd be a pretty good candidate to join the Watch. I think the language barrier would be worth dealing with, considering the benefits.

Edited by CletusMusashi

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