Warning! This Review Contains Spoilers.
So here we are week 9 and the Wall. And that's all we see the see this episode, but don't take that as a complaint, this weeks episode was really good (I mean it is Game of Thrones after all, a bad episode is still a pretty good show).
So we start the episode off on top of the wall with Jon and Sam in a conversation about women, where Jon is still scorning/missing Ygritte. But Sam basically won't stop asking about her because he wants to know what its like to be with a girl before he dies knowing the Watch's impending doom. Jon tells him he'll take the first watch so Sam goes to the library to read where he talks with Maester Aemon, who tries to put Sam's mind to ease about his whole women problem. Meanwhile, Ygritte and the Wildling band are camping just outside Castle Black waiting for the signal to attack. Here we get a hint that Ygritte might care for Jon but covers it up to her companions by claiming revenge and threatening to kill anyone who would steal it from her. Without being seen, Gilly somehow sneaks past everyone with a baby to make it back into the castle. In the midst of Sam taking Gilly into the castle against orders, Mance Rayder gives the signal to attack by lighting his own wall of fire in the forest. Then the battle begins and lasts the rest of the episode.
At the start, no one is down on ground level except Sam and a few others who jump onto the fortifications and start preparing bows, crossbows, etc. At the same time, Mance's army is starting to walk out of the forest, men, mammoths, giants, and all. It was pretty gratifying to see Ser Alliser's face as the mammoths stroll out, although he quickly followed with a half you were right half insult. Upon hearing of the attack on the ground Ser Alliser takes some men down below to help out, leaving Janos Slynt in charge. Slynt is struck with fear, refusing to believe his eyes, to which the men lie to him and say that Ser Alliser needs help below. Slynt snatches the opportunity to go down and hide, and ends up hiding with Gilly. While on the ground we actually find Sam being not only brave, but inspiring others.
Now I won't go through every detail of the battle, it's better to just watch. A large portion of the fighting on top is just shooting arrows, barrels, and oil...... and oh yeah, GIANT SWINGING CLAWS. There's an awesome quick scene where they release giant metal claws hanging from chains to swing across the ice, wiping off any climbers like bugs off a windshield. Eventually a single Giant is able to open the gate and get into the tunnel (the gate still being intact and closed behind). Jon sends down about five guys who we later learn die killing the giant. Jon ends up joining the fray down below (and Ghost too who rips a guys throat out), and surprise, Ygritte has a clean shot on him. Of course she falters and gets shot herself, by the young boy working the lift to the wall, one of Sam's inspired troops. This is about the only real complaint I have in the episode, Jon gets that cliched moment of running to her and holding her in his arms while the battle rages on. Its not a big thing, it doesn't ruin anything, I just thought it was cheesey. Also, the leader of the Wildlings on the southern side of the wall (Giantsbane, the bearded guy that "f***ed a bear), gets captured. Keep note of that he'll come into play next season in an interesting way. Aside from that, a lot of fighting, stabbing, and killing this episode and its pretty awesome, and Same really evolves as a character.
We end the episode with Jon deciding that the only way to save everyone, is to go talk to and kill Mance Rayder. Sam kind of tries to stop him, but knows he wouldn't be able to, plus Jon kind of convinces him of the idea.
Now what I've been hinting at and dying to see will finally happen next week, and trust me if that alone happened it would be a great finale. But there's a lot of ground to cover for next week's finale. I wouldn't expect much to happen with characters like Daenerys, Brandon and friends, Pod and Brienne, but just a quick scene to show where they're at or where they're going would be good. For characters like Ser Jorah, Theon/Reek and Ramsay we probably won't get anything. For Arya and the Hound, their part could be left for next season, but I expect to see it in the finale. Now as far as Jon and the Wall, and the Lannisters and Kings Landing there's quite a bit to happen and its all pretty great. Episode 9 was a pretty good action packed episode, but get prepared for a big finale. Should be a good one.