Game of Thrones Season 4 Review Part 1

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So we’re now over half way through the season so I thought I’d take a look back at some of the past episodes. Soon we shall reach the end and be sat around itching for a new season to begin and there will be a big emptiness where Game of Thrones used reside, below are my thoughts on some of the episodes so far, this is also from a viewpoint of someone who has read up to and part way through a Dance of Dragons so obviously, beware of spoilers.

 

S04E01‘Two Swords’ 

We have been placed back in King’s Landing witnessing events before joffrey is to marry Margery Tyrell. Considering the way weddings are going at the moment it’s rather obvious this wasn’t going to go down too well.

Plenty of screen time has been allocated to the newly introduced character Oberyn Martell, and quite rightly so, he’s going to be an important piece in the game of thrones this season. We know about his troubled passed and his feelings and attitude towards House Lannister due to his sisters horrific death during the sack of Kings Landing, he reminds Tyrion of this during their tense scene together. It was interesting to finally have some important and significant back story of Westoros, reading the books you learn so much but it’s hard to fit all the information in these hour long episodes.

We are soon back with Deanerys who is sat with one of her dragons(Drogon), her two others appear with a meal, scrapping over the food, Drogon begins to feast on it himself.In her attempt to try and calm him, he soon turns on her. Although she is not harmed, there is a sense that she will inevitably lose control over her “children”.

Back at the wall Jon Snow is having to answer for his ‘crimes’, due to the events in the last season when he went over to the wildlings. Showcasing some of Kit Harrington’s best acting so far, as he defends himself against those accusing him and manages to stay alive by the grit of his teeth – and the backing of maester Amon.

Rory McCann (Sandor Cleagane) has been given some of the most hilarious moments and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) adds to these perfectly. One of the most satisfying events to happen in this episode was seeing Arya finally getting her revenge and striking a name from her list. This moment feels like it has been a long time coming, the killing of Polliver was intimate and more importantly she had no problem watching him die at her own hand, showing some interesting character development, albeit slightly disturbing.

 

S04E02 ‘The Lion and the Rose’

This episode is one of the important game changers of Season two, The purple wedding, this episode certainly didn’t disappoint, the major aspect of this episode, unsurprisingly was the marriage of joffrey baratheon to Margery Tyrell, and what a wedding it was.

The scenes were absolutely perfect, I watched this episode unfold intently, near the end I just waited in anticipation for what was about to happen practically on the edge of my seat.

Joffrey’s insulting dismissal of the band at the wedding gave an idea of how badly this situation would be turning out for him. And his barbaric depiction of the war of the five kings was tasteless and uncomfortable to watch, especially given the wedding guests lack of amusement or enjoyment. joffrey also makes a public mockery of his own uncle Tyrion – again. As if it wasn’t enough for him to have to watch the public humiliation like the rest of the guests, he is insulted further to join in on the act. And to top it all off, he requests that Tyrion be his cupbearer.

Joffrey’s death so early on in the season will more than likely have had people celebrating all over the world, yes, it was deserved but seeing him, begging for his mother to help could almost make you have some pity on him. But then again, he WAS a monster and at least Margery is saved the future misery of having to be married to him.

Tyrion unfortunately gets the blunt end here, he’s now been accused by Cersi for the murder of her malicious son. But I highly doubt Tyrion would have been stood there red handed if he had actually done the deed. Even so it looks like he’ll be in chains again for the foreseeable future.

Aswell as these gripping events we headed back to see what the rather deranged Ramsey Snow is currently up to, thankfully it’s no longer torturing Theon – I don’t know if I could have coped with that much longer. But let’s be honest, his situation is not improving rapidly. He’s even been given a new name, ‘Reek’ who is fully devoted to Ramsey due to his fear of him – not entirely surprising really, Ramsey isn’t the kind of person you want to be on the bad side of.

On a side note.

Bran is still travelling further north but I don’t feel that his screen time is showing much progress and I feel like Bran is used to just fill out the story

Jamie and Brienne still have some nice scenes together while in Kings Landing and she’s still trying to get Sansa Stark out of the Lannisters clutches.

Hannibal S02E01 ‘Kaiseki’ Review/Recap

Hannibal is now airing in the UK Tuesdays 10pm on Sky Living.

Hannibal season two has finally graced the scene in the UK and is kicking off to a flying start. The opening begins with some brutal hand to hand combat between Jack and Hannibal, the latter using some rather unconventional weapons including a pepper mill and a fridge door to gain the upper hand, the scene ends with Jacks life hanging in the balance, my guess is he’ll survive, I couldn’t imagine Bryan Fuller killing off such an important character (in relation to the books) but who knows!

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This fight was spectacular; it really gives us an idea of how powerful Hannibal actually is.

Although Will is currently being held in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane he actually is in a better place he has more clarity, the fact that his brain is not “on fire” anymore is certainly helpful. Several times we see Will fishing in tranquillity, looking inside himself to figure out what actually happened to him and being in a mental institution is certainly giving him time to do so.

Alana Bloom feels that it is Jack Crawford’s fault that will’s life is ruined due to him pushing too hard, Bloom has filed a report with these accusations. Due to this report there will now be in internal investigation focusing on Jack. Bloom is one of the few who currently sticks by Will, yet she is still unwilling to believe that someone else could have committed these murders but wishes to help him establish a case for himself that it wasn’t truly his fault due to his mental state.

Hannibal goes to see Will (at Will’s request) who tells him “my inner voice sounds like you, I can’t get you out of my head” Hannibal tries to relate this to their “friendship” but Will quickly dismisses this as “the light from friendship won’t reach us for a million years” so they are certainly not friends in Wills opinion, and it’s understandable. Will promises that there “will be a reckoning” once he remembers what has been done to him.

Will Graham has now been “replaced” by Hannibal, he is now profiling on the new case which I found a little bit odd, I don’t see him as a Will Graham really but for now it I’ll go along with it. He talks about these circumstances with Bedelia Du Maurier stating “I got to be Will Graham today”, sounding a little bit too happy with the idea of stepping into his shoes.

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Beverly Katz goes to see Will, this is not a social visit, she believes that he can help with a tricky case they are currently working on. He identifies the motive of the killer by quickly looking at the pictures of the victims, sorting them and labelling it a “colour Platte”. I like that Katz was chosen to go see Will, she clearly still appreciates and trusts his input to go to him even if she’s unsure how she feels seeing him.

Another important aspect of this episode is the flashback in which Will realised how Hannibal gruesomely force-fed him Abigail Hobbs ear. It was interesting to have some clarity on how the ear ended up where it did in season one, as it was one of the main pieces of evidence which originally landed Will where he currently is. At least he now remembers something, the only problem now is getting someone to believe him, no one seems eager to do that just yet.

The episode ends showing us the killer’s newest victim who has managed to survive an intended drug overdose and has woken up after being sewn into the “colour palette” as Will named it.

The weeks the follow should give us a better idea of Hannibal and what his “end game” could possibly be, although he’s a hard nut to crack and his motives are not always what they seem, but you can clearly see that he’s missing Will and his company and the ability to manipulate him. Although considering the circumstances I can’t imagine Will feeling the same. And there’s now a ticking clock, at the end of the season we shall understand fully the confrontation between Jack and Hannibal and how that situation managed to unfold.

 

Leftovers.

  •  The scene where Alana takes the dogs for a jog was nice to see.
  • When will they realise that Hannibal is just making jokes at their incapability to see what’s right in front of them? I.e. – “I never feel guilty eating anything” or “in that case you are dining with a psychopathic murderer”. Trololol.
  • Hannibal keeping his appointment slot open for will as if he’s going to walk through the door. Someone’s looking a bit lonely.
  • Winston going “home”, looking for Will.

 

The Hunt (2012) Review

Running Time 110 minutes

Director Thomas Vinterberg

Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp

Thomas Vinterberg raises some powerful issues in a situation where a lie can spin violently out of control.

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The story is situated in a close community in rural Denmark where everyone knows everyone. The Hunt is very realistic; it is harsh and unforgiving in its storytelling. Vinterberg touches on some sensitive issues and isn’t afraid to see them through.

Everything seems to be going relatively well for Lucas he has a large group of friends; he enjoys his job at a local school and is in a new relationship with local co-worker Nadja. But all of this changes when Theo, Lucas’s best friend’s daughter Klara becomes upset when Lucas returns a gift showing affection.

Klara is now withdrawn and informs the head teacher at school that Lucas has exposed himself in front of her. Although he is innocent in this situation, it all begins to spiral out of control rapidly as more of the children at the school seem to be joining in on the story, soon the tale becomes a much bigger issue as the parents in this predicament agree that “children never lie” – thus they want to protect their children as much as possible, like anybody would and with any means they deem necessary and although I do not agree with their actions, I understood the reasons behind them which is what makes The Hunt such a powerful statement.

Lucas is now being shunned for what the local community believe that he has done, becoming an outcast, people who were his friends have now become his enemies and they are now throwing all of their hatred in his direction. One scene shows a refusal to serve him in his local shop; his defence ends horribly, showing how savage and cruel people can really be. This escalates even further when the shop owner even tells Lucas’s son that he must also shop elsewhere, furthering the issue of discrimination.

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Lucas becomes completely detached from a community he was once in the heart of; he’s unwelcome and knows it. But on Christmas Eve he visits the church with the rest of the village creating an emotional scene of confrontation between Lucas and Theo for the whole town to witness.

Mads Mikkelsen portrays his role convincingly and passionately for which he received a well-deserved award at Cannes for best Actor, I felt tremendously sorry for Lucas and more than once I clenched my fists in anger often feeling like I couldn’t make it to the end, but I forced myself to and I certainly don’t regret it, it’s a masterpiece of honesty and gritty realism, showing how a small lie can lead to disastrous consequences

In the end we are forced to consider the obvious question; which side would I agree with in a circumstance such as this? It is also clear from the ending sequence that Lucas will never manage to escape the twisted lies which now wrongly define him.

Rating 4/5

Hannibal Season one review (2013)

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This TV show introduces us to a Hannibal which had been previously unexplored, the events before Manhunter and Silence of the Lambs. Dr Hannibal Lecter has been brought in to help a struggleing Will Graham, to assist him in keeping stable. Graham is a profiler with a unique ability to step into the mind of a killer, which slowly starts to take its toll, causing him to often rely on Hannibal and his counselling which is questionable from what we know of Dr Lecter.

Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is an extremely intriguing character; he has the ability to manipulate the people around him whilst managing to keep them from suspecting him. Seeing Hannibal before his capture is certainly interesting, he is of course a cannibal but the programme seems more focused on his relationship with Will Graham portrayed by Hugh Dancy, a fragile FBI consultant thrust into the deep end. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Will, his lack of social interactions cause him to be a lonely man who is separated from people in general, living with only his collection of stray dogs for company.

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Hannibal is beautifully filmed; the camera work is fantastic with subdued and faded shades used alongside deep over saturated reds which really stand out against the whites and the dull hues, showing the gritty world these characters are in.

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The show is not rushed, which is something that really makes this programme worth a watch, every moment is filmed with fantastic attention to detail from showing the remnants of a recent crime scene to showing the close ups of intricate objects. Making Hannibal pleasing and satisfying to watch and in my opinion, quite possibly one of the best programmes of 2013.

Hannibal season one is available to buy now and season two airs February 28th

The Art of Alice Madness Returns (2011) Review

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This book is based on the videogame:  Alice Madness Returns which makes a beautiful companion to the already visually impressive game. This is by far one of my personal favourite art books.

The book is hardback with good quality thick glossy paper, the images are superb some of which take up two pages on their own.

The concept art includes a lot of ideas which didn’t make it to the game but are still amazing to look through. Included are weapon ideas, the creation of Alice including her dress and her general appearance and many props out of the game.

IMG_3332The book includes a variety of concept ideas, there are chapters for each level in the game, such as London, with its gothic styles, The Mysterious East which clearly took inspiration from Chinese art and culture to The Dollhouse where we can see some very strange but brilliant ideas taking place. There are small detailed captions which inform you of who

the artists are and about the development process which made some of these strange but wonderful ideas came into realisation. The concept of the artwork link in with the story of the game in a massive way contributing to the story of the game so this book is amazing for anyone who like me loved the game or simply apprieciates the artwork.

Artists include: Ken Wong, Sun Guoliang, Luis Melo, Hong Lei, Wu Yuehan, Ben Kerslake, Nako, Tyler Lockett, Fellipe Martins, Pu Jinsong, Wang Shenghua, Yuan Shaofeng, Jin Lei.

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Tomb Raider 3 (1998) review

Okay this is kind of a review and kind of just me expressing my love for the game, I’m sorry I just really had to. enjoy!

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This is the first computer game I ever actually came into contact with at the age of about 7 or 8, I think I pretty much fell in love and my obsession with gaming seemed to just take off from there. As well as my whole families obsession with Tomb Raider as we eagerly purchased the two previous installments and waited with anticipation for the games that followed.

I’ve played through the whole game many times and I’m in the middle of another play through at the moment, my feelings haven’t changed. By today’s standards, we know the graphics are not superior anymore, the dialog isn’t the best but y’know what? I don’t care, its as enjoyable to play now as it was the first time.

I even ended up buying a new version just so I could finally play the add on Tomb Raider 3: The Lost Artifact. Way too excited about getting to play some levels I’ve never seen before!

One thing that I love about Tomb Raider 3 is the diversity of locations, you travel through jungles in India, go to Nevada desert, adventure through London and go to the antarctic and the South Pacific which are lovely settings and completely different to look at making for some much more interesting game play, The most difficult area in my opinion is London, especially while underwater as the controls are a little more difficult and the movement more clunky

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the game is actually fairly long really, levels last longer as you have to go backwards and forwards collecting any needed items to progress, although that might sound like a massive pain it really is enjoyable! And if you want to you can collect all the secrets in the game to access the bonus level at the end of the game (Which I’m actually doing on my play through at the moment).

The enemies in my opinion are not all that difficult but other players may feel differently, I can get through most of the game simply using the duel pistols. But if you feel the need for some more firepower there’s more to choose from such as shotguns, Uzis, grenade launcher desert eagles etc… which I tend use on the bosses. Although the enemies are not all that hard to beat, I still find myself jumping when one seems to come out of no where especially with the sudden loud and sharp noise which seems to also appear at the same time.

Although I personally don’t find Tomb Raider 3 tremendously difficult, new players to the series may, you are constantly doing something never really stopping. Sometimes finding where to go can be the hardest thing of all as you are never really told, you have to figure it out for yourself which is actually a positive for me, I don’t want to be guided through a game I want to find things out on my own, even after 2 previous play throughs I’m still having to think of where I am going and what I have to do to get there. Another point to mention is there can be difficult areas which you find you have to jump at some nearly impossible angles and make some ridiculous jumps but it can be done even if it takes several attempts and after a while you just get used to it.

One bad point is the amount bugs and glitches, these can be horrible things that stop you progressing, you have been warned, I had an issue of playing the whole of the first level and not being able get any further (the amount of times I’ve played through the whole India level is pretty ridiculous really) that can be a little frustrating.

It still manages to challenge me even though I’ve completed it before, I still look forward to finding time to get back to playing it, Tomb Raider 3 is an absolute classic in my opinion and I know far too many people who have never played it, so please do! You’re missing out on something really special.

7/10  

Fallout 3 (2008) review

I’m a little slow of the mark here really, but since I’ve recently finished it and I’m in need of something new to write about I thought why not! Who cares if I’m 6 years late?

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You are the “lone wanderer” you have been brought up in the safety of Vault 101 when one day your father decides to leave and head into the wastes created from the destruction of nuclear war, you’re forced into an unwelcoming harsh world and for the first time you have to fend for yourself.

There is a main quest line to follow, but if that isn’t enough for you there are side quests and a huge selection of areas which can be explored. I found the quests all enjoyable, although I personally didn’t find the story line as engaging as I would have liked, but this didn’t take away any of my enthusiasm to play it.

Fallout 3 gives you the option to be good, neutral or evil , this is usually determined by actions you make, this can affect the game in different ways, certain followers won’t join you if you have the wrong type of karma (if you have bad karma for example, someone who is good will not follow you).

The world is vast, there are many different places to explore such as massive stations which can be a good way to travel to new areas there are also towns, office blocks, destroyed buildings and much more. Quite a few of these areas do look the same (the metro stations for example) but that’s to be expected from such a large game.

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The combat is entertaining (and sometimes amusing) whether you want to go with melee, firearms grenades or just ridiculously huge rocket launchers. One of the big plus points of the combat system in Fallout 3 is V.A.T.S. (vault-tech targeting system) this allows you to target a specific area on your enemies, this also informs you of the expected damage and the chance of a hit. This feature also shows you your destruction up close and in slow motion which I have to say, never gets boring.

Unfortunately as you have more than likely heard/seen the game is constantly suffering from bugs and glitches, luckily this happened rarely to me and I’m pretty thankful for that, one issue that came up is that my companions had a habit of occasionally going missing.

This game is totally worth the time and effort I put into it and if you haven’t yet played it I suggest you go pick it up as soon as possible.

Rating 3.5/5

Heart of the Diamond Review

Heart of the Diamond – Carrie Brock

I have to confess, regency romance is not a genre I would usually choose although I will certainly be keeping an eye out for them from now on, this book has definitely changed my opinion for future reading material.

The two main characters are perfect and very well developed, both were intriguing. Nicole (Nicki as she prefers to be called) isn’t your average women and doesn’t want to settle down anytime soon, Blake is cold hearted and out for revenge. At first Nicki seems to be the perfect way to go about it, until it all goes wrong and he begins to fall for her charm. Their interactions are enchanting and often amusing as they both contend with one another as well as their own emotions.

As the story began to unfold I wondered where it would go next, question after question left me guessing as to each character’s motives, sometimes giving me answers I would have never suspected. These questions do not only concern Nicki and Blake, but everyone else around them such as Nicki’s father and step mother who have already come across Blake earlier in life, and Teddy who Nicki seemed to think her one true love and best friend.

I was beginning to enjoy the book so much that to an extent, I was rather disappointed for it to come to an end as I would have loved to see something more from these characters.  There were points in which I did not want to put it down. When I managed to pull myself away, I could hardly wait to read more, I was eager to get back to reading it again.

Carrie Brock has certainly put a lot of effort into this book and I would be interested in reading any future books she releases. I would highly recommend to anyone, and I’ve already been persuading others to take a look.

The Last of us Review (2013) Endure and Survive

After an emotional opening sequence we are placed 20 years after the viral outbreak where survivor Joel is set the important task of helping Ellie across this harsh terrain. Joel is withdrawn from the world and holds his emotions back not allowing people, especially Ellie to get close to him. Ellie is the opposite, she’s joyful, amusing and captivated seeing the outside world. Their relationship is the main focus point as we continue through this story.

The characters work together favourably and they are brought to life by some believable voice acting. As a player I could understand them and their detailed facial expressions communicated the characters real feelings.

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Ellie constantly tries to communicate to Joel, to get an understanding of the man she is travelling with, through much of the experience he won’t talk about his past, for obvious reasons and clearly doesn’t really want to be stuck in this position. But as the situations develop and the story unfolds he begins to accept her and you can see how Ellie is beginning to rub off on him. In the end their attitudes seem to change and they become opposite again – Joel being the more enthusiastic of the two stating after a fight with the infected “Endure and Survive” and Ellie becoming more withdrawn and quite.

The fights allow you to play around with different tactics, some situations are best matched for stealth as Joel can take quite some damage, running head first into an enemy will usually turn out to be a bad idea. One gunshot will stop Joel in his tracks and push him back, slowing you down and causing you to take even more hits. Joel comes across as being middle aged, his running is at a fairly slow pace when out of battle, his movements are very cumbersome and he lacks the ability to jump long distances, but this just makes his character more believable and genuine.

Ellie is beneficial in fights, early in the game she will warn Joel as to where enemies are, once Joel gives her a weapon she will then begin to fire at them which will allow you to have extra time to consider your options in battle, she can also help Joel when he’s in a severely bad situation such as when he’s been grabbed by an enemy and sometimes she will even finished them off using her knife.

Sometimes there are long stretches where there is  little to no combat at all which allows the player to look and experience the environments around and scavenge for useful pickups to “craft” items which will be vital in continuing the game, such as medi packs, smoke bombs, shivs (etc.etc.) while you search for supplies Joel will also occasionally come across training manuals, these will upgrade your weapons capability which are certainly useful.

I found very little to complain about with The Last of Us, there are some points in the game where Ellie clearly walks into an enemy’s line of sight and they either walk into her or just ignore her existence, which took some or the realistic experience away. But if she’s just planning on running in fount of them, I’d rather they ignore her than call out my position every time she’s spotted. But I didn’t let that bother me while playing the game and it had no real effect on my experience. Oh and the ending. There was nothing wrong with it, I was just left wanting more, which is good and bad I suppose.

The Last of Us is a realistic representation of a catastrophic viral outbreak with characters to match, with very little flaws included.

Rating 4.5/5

Game of Thrones Season 3

So the third season of game of thrones is over and I’m feeling ever so slightly lost without it, nothing is quite comparing so here’s a couple of moments which I enjoyed from the season, (not ALL, I haven’t had enough time on my hands lately which has been unfortunate, I may update and add some more.) Oh and as usual spoilers.

The Red Wedding

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Let’s begin with getting one of the more obvious scenes out of the way, for me, the reaction Catelyn gives when she begins to hear the music play is rather chilling, we already know something bad is coming around the corner once this begins and that they have none else to protect them. And her determination to attempt (in vain) to save her son is truly heartwrenching.

Arya

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I found the moment when Arya slid from the horse on the road to go back a kill the man who was boasting over the events from “the red wedding” it was as if she felt like she was getting some kind of revenge and progressing as a character. And I when Sandor Clegane came to finish the other men you know he is doing what he can to protect her and I just think that their relationship is well put together and their scenes even before now still hold some amusing aspects.

Tywin and Joffrey

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The moment when Joffrey calls for his uncle, Tywin to come to his throne room has to be given a mention, this scene alone tells you that Tywin is the more powerful man and is unafraid to speak up (and down) to Joffery. We can even see his dominance when he is slowly pacing up the stairs to talk directly to the king, with a high camera angle being used, we get a sense that Tywin is much stronger,bolder and more important than Joffery who looks increasingly more uncomftable through this whole scene.

Brienne and Jamie

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I couldn’t decide on a single scene from this couple that I enjoyed the most – I found them all to be one of the most entertaining pair within the programme. I was surprised how Jamie could turn from a character who I had no real love for to one of my favourites in this season.

The main point in which my opinion of Jamie Lannister changed was the scene in which he opens up and describes how he gained the name “Kingslayer” as he finally seemed to open up about himself as if he was letting some sort of ‘mask’ slip away and reveal himself for himself for who he really is.

Ygritte

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The scene when she sees the windmill thinking that it must be a castle is entertaining, and shows exactly how much the wildlings know about what is south beyond the wall. This scene with Ygritte and Jon Snow really shows some natural chemistry between the two characters which would have been nice to see some more of, but Jon Snow still apparently “knows nothing”.