Towards the beginning of “The Watchers on the Wall,” Sam Tarly distracts himself from the approaching horde of wildlings by picking apart the vow that gives the episode its title. Technically, he equivocates, the brothers of the Night’s Watch don’t have to stay celibate. They’re just not supposed to marry or have kids, and all the rest is “up to interpretation.” When six brothers are facing down a giant mere hours later, however, there’s no interpreting or qualifying the vow when it’s helping them stand up to a twenty-foot juggernaut. To put it in Maester Aemon’s terms, nothing gives previously empty words significance like the prospect of imminent death.
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