Wildlings on the south side of Castle Black await their signal from the north. The group is impatient, especially Ygritte, who sneers at Tormund's lighthearted campfire story. Her focus is on the upcoming battle, and shooting as many crows as possible. Styr questions Ygritte's commitment to killing - especially when it comes to her former lover. Ygritte assures the Thenn that she will be the one to take him out: "Jon Snow is mine."
Samwell Tarly and Jon Snow stand watch atop the Wall. Sam probes Jon for details about his relationship with Ygritte, reasoning that Jon's stories may be the closest he ever comes to intimacy. Nothing happened with Gilly, Sam shares, but even if it had, there's nothing in the Night's Watch vows that specifically forbids sex. Jon reflects upon his romance, dismayed it ended in a hail of arrows. Both men lament that more violence is inevitable, as Mance's army bears down on the Wall.
Maester Aemon finds Samwell Tarly reading by candlelight in the library. Realizing that Sam has abandoned his post to research Gilly's predicament, Aemon reiterates what he once told Jon: "Love is the death of duty."
En route to his quarters, Sam is shocked to see Gilly and her baby at the gate, begging for entrance. Sam orders Pyp to stand aside and swears he will never leave Gilly again. Their reunion is cut short by two horn blasts. The men begin preparing for attack; Jon climbs to an outlook and sees, as promised, the greatest fire the North has ever seen.
Sam ushers Gilly to the Castle Black larder to keep her out of the fray. She's distraught at the idea of Sam joining the battle, but he explains that he must do his duty. "That's what men do," he adds, and the two share their first kiss. Before leaving, he promises Gilly he will survive. Later, as Sam tries to soothe Pyp's frayed nerves, Sam confesses that he wasn't afraid when he fought the White Walker. Things are different now, Sam realizes, because he has much more to live for.
Alliser Thorne oversees the top of the Wall as the men ready their defenses. The acting commander concedes to Jon that he should have sealed off the tunnels, but leadership means making the hard choices. Thorne informs Jon they'll work together against the enemy tonight, but when it's over, they'll go on hating each other.
Hundreds of thousands of wildings, including mammoths and giants, charge the Wall. As they approach, a horn announces the attack on the southern gate. Thorne tends to the second front, leaving Janos Slynt in charge at the Wall. Slynt freezes in panic, cowering in a corner until Grenn comes up with a story to send him below. Jon takes command, supervising the archers to send flaming arrows at the climbers on the Wall.
On the ground, giants affix a series of spikes to the gate, attaching the other ends to the harness of a mammoth. Jon sends Grenn down, commanding him to hold the gate at any cost. From atop the Wall, crows drop buckets of oil, which implode on the giants and mammoth, leaving Mag the Mighty to take on Grenn's band of men. As the giant charges them, Grenn leads his brothers in a recitation of their vows and spurs their courage.
Thorne rallies the men of the Watch and the group bravely faces off against the Thenns who have infiltrated the courtyard. Olly looks on in horror as he watches Styr, the man who promised to eat his parents, hack through men left and right. Ygritte shoots an arrow straight through Pyp's neck, and the boy dies in Sam's arms. Tormund takes on Alliser Thorne and seriously wounds him.
Sam realizes more men are needed on his front and he orders Olly to hoist the elevator and grab a weapon. At Sam's behest, Jon leaves Edd in charge and heads to the courtyard. Jon instructs Sam to release Ghost, who jumps right into the fight.
Jon faces off against Styr, and ultimately kills the Thenn with a hammer. He staggers to his feet, and sees Ygritte with an arrow pointed right at his heart. She hesitates for a moment, and is hit from behind by Olly's arrow. Jon rushes towards to her side and cradles Ygritte as she dies.
Under Edd's command, the Night's Watch uses a giant scythe to slice the remaining climbers off the Wall. The battle ends. Refusing to surrender, Tormund is taken hostage. Samwell returns to Gilly in the larder and is startled to find Slynt cowering in a corner.
The next morning, the men assess the carnage. Jon knows that although the crows won the battle, Mance will attack again that evening. With their diminished numbers, they don't stand a chance. Jon decides to treat with Mance, and kill the king beyond the Wall. "It's a bad plan," Jon admits, but it's the only one they have. On the way out, Jon finds the body of Grenn, who died holding the gate. Jon hands Longclaw to Sam for safekeeping, and steps out of Castle Black.
The Night's Watch prepare for the coming invasion by the wildlings. Gilly arrives at the Wall shortly before Mance Rayder's army. The wildlings attack from both sides, with one army climbing the Wall, and Ygritte's army attacking Castle Black. After Ygritte and her army get through, a bloody battle ensues. The wildlings attempt to break through the tunnel leading into Castle Black with the help of several giants and a woolly mammoth, but are stopped by Grenn and five others, who die holding the tunnel. Alliser Thorne goes down to the main level of Castle Black to fight, leaving Janos Slynt in charge. However Slynt proves to be incompetent as a commander, and is tricked into going down the main level, effectively leaving Jon in charge. Pyp is shot by Ygritte and dies in Sam's arms. After watching Jon kill Styr the Thenn, Ygritte prepares to kill Jon, but is shot by Olly, who finally gets revenge on Ygritte for killing his family. Jon holds Ygritte in his arms as she dies. With the help of Jon's direwolf, Ghost, the Night's Watch secure the ground level of Castle Black. The wall climbers are sliced apart and completely obliterated from a massive scythe that acts as the Wall's secret weapon. The wildlings retreat, but, Jon predicts, not for long. Seeing no other choice, he goes beyond the Wall to find and kill Mance.
The Night's Watch prepares for the wildling invasion. Gilly and her son arrive at Castle Black, where Sam hides them in an underground room. The wildlings attack from both sides. Tormund's army gets through from the south and engages the Night's Watch. One giant manages to break through the tunnel leading into Castle Black but is killed by Grenn and five others, at the cost of their own lives. Alliser Thorne goes to fight in the southern part, leaving Janos Slynt in charge. However, Slynt proves to be incompetent and is tricked into going down the main level, effectively leaving Jon in charge. After watching Jon kill Styr, Ygritte prepares to kill him but is shot by Olly. Jon holds her in his arms as she dies. With the help of Jon's direwolf, Ghost, the Night's Watch secure the ground level of Castle Black, leading to Tormund's arrest. The wall climbers are obliterated by a massive scythe launched by the Watch. The wildlings retreat but not for long, Jon predicts. Seeing no other choice, Jon goes beyond the Wall to find and kill Mance Rayder.
We open atop a windswept Wall at night. Jon Snow and Samwell survey the land. Sam asks about Ygritte. he wants to hear about loving someone and having them love you back especially since they're all going to to die sooner than planned. Jon figured that Sam and Gilly might have. Sam points out that she'd just had a baby. Plus, she never offered. Jon asks if he would've broken his vows. Sam notes there's some wiggle room in the vows since all it says is they can't have kids or take a wife. He asks again what "it" was like. Jon tries to explain and can't and says he's no poet. Sam notes he is not. Jon notes all he got for it was an arrow close to his heart. Sam says they wildlings have already taken anything he ever wanted when they killed Gilly. The Wildlings sit around a campfire and Tormund tells stories about a woman he bedded who was actually a bear? Ygritte has heard this story before and doesn't care to hear it again and only wants to make more arrows so she can kill Crows. She's mad as hell and she's not going to take it anymore. The Then leader challenges her on the fact that Jon is still alive and taunts her that if she didn't she will serve him up some of her ginger hooha. She says no matter what happens she's going to be the one to kill Jon Snow. Sam is in the library reading and is disturbed by the Maester. He talks about growing old and blind and how he is surrounded by books and how ironic that is. He asks what Sam's reading. Sam is reading about Wildlings and the things they "do" when they attack. He busts Sam for falling in love with Gilly and says he was in love once. The Maester apparently was someone special, he's a Targaryen, and he could've been king and lots of girls threw themselves at him. One was successful he says. Sam asks who she was. The Maester says he could tell Sam everything and can still see her right in front of him. The Maester tells him to go to bed. As he's leaving he hears Gilly begging to be let in the gate with the baby. He convinces the man guarding the gate to let her in. He apologizes. She begs him to not be sent away again. He says from now on wherever she goes he goes too. A horn sounds. There is shouting. An owl on the wall caws. A Then mog comes out of his trance at the campfire, apparently he was in the owl, and he says "It's time." Jon goes to the top of the wall and he sees a huge bonfire, just the kind that Mance Rayder promised. The Crows light torches at the top of the wall and roll ammunition into place. Jon runs into the leader Alliser who is looking at the bonfire. He asks '100,000 you say?" Jon says yes. Alliser says Jon is within his rights to say "I told you so" basically about closing the tunnel. He says being a leader means constantly being second guessed and you can't second guess yourself or it's the end. Alliser says this is not the end, not if the Night's Watch does it's job. Then Jon can go on hating him and Alliser can go on wishing Ygritte had killed Jon. Sam takes Gilly to a food pantry deep within Castle Black. He says he will check on her as soon as he can. She's worried he's leaving her again. He says he has to go fight and can't hide. She says he won't matter up there but will down here with her. He says he swore an oath and he has to keep it because that's what men do. And then he kisses her. She asks him to promise that he won't die. He does. The Crows scurry about preparing for the fight. One of them is very nervous. Sam tries to buck him up. He asks how Sam killed a White Walker. Sam says he wasn't trying to kill him he was just trying to protect Gilly and the baby. In that moment he wasn't himself, he was outside himself, nothing. But he's afraid now because he's not nothing anymore. Ygritte takes a peek and reports back that there are not very many men and they can take them. The pack of Wildlings heads out to kill some Crows. We pull up and see their position is directly at the Wall's base not the other side where the fire is burning. A large group of Wildlings march through the woods, including Giants on what look like woolly mammoths. Those on top of the Wall regard them. Alliser pumps up the gang on the Wall and they start shooting flaming arrows at the approaching gang, but this group, by the fire is a decoy. When the arrows hit a few of them they step a few feet out of range and continue making noise to draw fire. Brother Sledge runs up on to the wall and reports that the real threatening group of Wildlings isn't this group but those attacking the southern gate. Alliser gets the word and freaks and heads down to the southern gate, where Sam and just a few others are unsuccessfully trying to hold off Ygritte, Tormund, and the Thens who climb the much shorter gate. Alliser tries to pump up the gang on the ground and tells them they should not want to fill the bellies of the Then's tonight and that tomorrow the Night's Watch will stand. The Wildlings breach the gate an Alliser leads the fight against them. Tormund makes it to wear Sam was on the bridge and he and his buddy make haste. Sledge is freaking out on top of the Wall and is clearly frightened of the coming Wildlings even as he poo poos them as a gang of thieves and says there is no such thing as giants. Jon says they can't just let them attack. One of the smarter Crows sends Sledge away and Jon commences giving orders. Wildlings begin climbing the Wall and the Crows lean out and begin picking them off. The ginats and the Thens are proving to be very adept at killing. As is Ygritte. The Wildlings break in to the kitchen and continue their attack. Brother Sledge is a coward and runs away. he goes to the food pantry where Sam hid Gilly. Sam and his buddy take up a new position and start trying to kill people. His buddy gets one and then is shot in the neck with Ygritte. Sam comforts him in death. Back on top of the Wall, Jon continues to give successful orders. But then one of the Giants uses his mammoth and his own strength to bust open the gate. Jon sends his best man and five others down to hold the inner gate. He says if they make it through that inner gate, it's all over. The fight continues down below with Alliser holding his own. He comes face to face with Tormund. They spar. Alliser falls and is injured but he yells to the men to hold the gate. Sam lays his fallen comrade down. He surveys the fight and begins to run. He kills a Then. The men come down and Sam says they need more men. They say they're off to hold the gate and to tell Jon. Sam tells the frightened little boy powering the elevator to wait for their signal to bring them back down and to fight them. They drop flaming oil barrel on the mammoth and men pulling at the Wall and successfully stave them off for the moment. They also manage to kill one of the giants. This makes the other Giant so mad he begins opening the gate singlehandedly. When they try to drop another flaming barrel but it backfires and kills men on top of the wall. Sam arrives and tells Jon of the dire situation below. Jon gives his buddy command of the Wall. The guy, surprised, turns to his comrades and says they might as well enjoy their last night and tells them to light them up. They all take flaming arrows and begin shootng. The "hold the wall" gang arrive at the inner gate as the Giant is still trying to bust through the main gate, he is successful. It falls behind him. He runs towards the inner gate and the men begin to chant the vows of the Night's Watch preparing to fight him off. Jon and Sam descend. Jon says he doesn't want Sam in the fight. Sam says he can't protect him forever and if the Wall falls they'll all be dead anyway. Jon hands him a key and says "I need him more than I need you." Jon jumps out of the elevator and begins to fight off Wildlings. The battle is raging in every corner. It's hard to tell who's winning but it seems like the Wildlings. Sam runs and unleashes Jon's Direwolf Ghost who helps in the fight. Jon fights with a Then. Ygritte is on the move and spots them fighting. The Then is about to kill him when Jon gets the upper hand and does him in first. He hasn't caught his breath when he sees Ygritte has drawn on him. They take a moment, both overwhelmed by emotion. Suddenly she has an arrow through her chest. The little boy, whose family he saw Ygritte help kill, shot her. He nods at Jon. Jon grabs her as she falls. She asks if he remembers the cave. He nods. She says they should've stayed in that cave. He tells her they'll go back there. She says you know nothing Jon Snow, and dies. He cries over her body as the fight rages around him. On top of the Wall as the climbers get higher the man in charge now says to drop the scythe. A huge scythe flies across the face of the ice and cuts down the climbers. The Crows can see they've won the battle for the night as the Wildlings retreat. Down at the bottom Tormund, with a couple of arrows in his back still wants to fight. Jon tells him to simmer down but Tormund wants to fight. Jon shoots him in the leg and tells some other Crows to drag him away in chains and they'll question him in the morning. Tormund promises to throw him off the Wall. Sam comes to Gilly in the pantry. She is happy he's still alive just like he promised. He's surprised to see Brother Sledge cowering in the corner. As morning light breaks and the bodies are piled up Sam and Jon survey the wreckage. Sam wants to call it a great victory but Jon points out that they held them off for one night, they almost got through and they have a thousand times as many men. So not so much with the great victory and they'll hit them again tonight. Jon says he's going to go kill Mance, because if he can the warring tribes he united will go back to warring with each other and scatter back home. Sam says he'll never get within yards of him and they will not only kill him but boil and flay him and make it last days. Jon says; "You're right, it's a bad plan. What's your plan?" Sam doesn't have one. They go to survey the damage at the gate. All of the men defending the inner gate are dead but they killed the Giant so they were successful. Jon says they need to burn the bodies. They walk towards the outer gate. He tells Sam to raise the outer gate and lower it again as soon as he's out. He gives Sam his sword. As a farewell, Sam simply says: "Jon, come back."