Much of “Beyond the Wall,” the penultimate episode in Game of Thrones’ Seventh Season, was spent rushing through all the “oh my gosh they’re meeting” encounters the show could fit in its first half hour.
The Hound cusses out Gendry. Jon and Jorah discuss Jorah’s father. Tormund and the Hound talked “girls.” Beric Dondarrion and Jon (the resurrection brothers) talk why the “Lord of Light” or whoever brought them them back from the dead. We even get Gendry, the peasant who’s been south his whole life, seeing snow for the first time.
Then, the Army of the Dead showed up, and things got real real quick.
Making his annual appearance, the Night’s King brought the noise, seizing the opportunity to take down one of Dany’s dragon and bring it to his side.
But it was not all positive for the leader of the Army of the Dead. Jon and crew succeeded (and I’m still not exactly sure how) in their mission to capture a member of the Army of the Dead. And Dany’s rescue mission has her firmly on Jon’s side fighting the Night’s King.
She and Jon will probably have to wait until season 8 to discover just how costly the Night’s King strike on her dragon was (I suspect the Night’s King will return to the sidelines for the finale). But now comes what might be a more difficult task than dealing with an Ice Dragon: convincing Cersei Lannister to be a friend instead of a foe.
We’ll discover how successful those efforts are next week. As for this week, we’ll start in Winterfell, where the Stark sister are back to their Season 1 ways.
The same debate I was having about Arya and Sansa last week continued into this week.
Arya confronts Sansa about the Season 1 note she wrote that was strongly influenced by Cersei. But Arya claims she would have died before sending that note.
Over the course of the their discussion, Arya reveals that she too was there when Joffrey ordered their father executed. But what did Arya do to stop what happened? Sansa turns it quickly on her sister, saying Arya “would never survive what (she) survived.”
Now, Littlefinger left that note for a reason. And the reason was so Sansa would come to him seeking his advice. She’s been pretty cold to him most of the season. But Sansa is faced with a dilemma (the concern that Arya will reveal the contents of that note to the Northern Lords), so she seeks the advice of her old master.
And Littlefinger suggests using Brienne to deal with Arya. (“She did swear an oath to protect you should you feel in danger”).
Now, in my mind, I started seeing Brienne fighting Arya for real this time with one of the two not surviving (did anybody else play this horrifying scenario out in their heads?).
But instead (almost as if to avoid the temptation of asking Brienne to kill Arya), Sansa sends Brienne to King’s Landing to answer a summons sent by Cersei. The Queen wants “The Lady of Winterfell” to appear herself. But Sansa views any trips south as a trap. So Brienne will go in Sansa’s stead.
As for Arya, Sansa needs more information about her sister. So she breaks into her room (a lot of that happening in Winterfell recently) and discovers Arya’s masks (which surely could’ve been hidden better).
Arya walks in and explains everything to her sister. She says she trained to become a faceless assassin and (in Arya’s creepiest monologue to date. I mean seriously, Maisie William’s delivery here could be a spin off for an Arya led horror movie) could easily use Sansa’s face if she wanted to. She picks up the blade Bran gave her and walks towards Sansa before flipping it over, handing it to her, and walking out of the room.
I have to give the show credit here. I really thought these two would be working towards reconciliation by now. But if there’s a path to that, the show sure is hiding it well.
Last week, Varys pleaded with Tyrion that he must find a way to get Dany to listen to him.
Well, that sure didn’t happen this week.
The first conversation between the two involves how to handle Cersei and what to do about a potential successor. Tyrion wants Dany to think like Cersei before going to meet her. And since Daenarys says she can’t have children, Tyrion believes a succession plan must be put in place. Dany does neither one of those things.
The second conversation was much quicker and far more one sided. Daenarys received a raven from Eastwatch, and she believes she must respond to it right away. Tyrion pleads with her not to put her life on the line like this. But Dany will have none of it. Dany and her three dragons fly away heading Beyond the Wall.
Beyond the Wall
I already mentioned the various conversations that happened before things picked up here. So let’s get straight to the action.
The first peril came in the worst of the snow. A whitewalker bear finds the crew and attacks. He kills a few “red shirts” (I’m going to use the old Star Trek term to describe the nameless guys who were simply put on this mission to die) before sinking his teeth into Thoros of Myr. The bear leaves very deep wounds, but the rest of the crew is able to fight him off before Thoros passes.
After arriving at the arrowhead shaped mountain the Hound saw in the season premiere, the crew spots a small group of Wights. Lead by a Whitewalker, the group of zombies notices a fire. But before they can dig too deep into investigating, Jon and his crew attack. The fight proves easier than expected as Jon uses Longclaw to take out the Whitewalker. Once the Whitewalker is defeated, all the zombies with him fall over (so that is “Step 4” in the book “How to Defeat the Army of the Dead”).
Conveniently, there is one wight still standing (not sure how he ended up with this crew), and Jon’s crew pounces to tie him up and capture him.
Well, that just seemed way too easy until a large army can be heard charging. Jon sends Gendry back to Eastwatch to send a Raven to Daenarys. As for Jon and his crew, they run across a frozen pond and make it to the center of the pond just before the ice starts to fall in. So the good news: Jon’s crew is temporarily safe from the Army of the Dead. The bad news: they are completely encircled by the zombies with no means of escape.
I had a feeling at least one of these guys had to die on this mission. That man was Thoros of Myr. The men burn his body and resume their long wait for help.
I’m not exactly sure what the Hound was thinking about here (I guess he was just bored), but he starts throwing rocks at the Wights. Eventually, those rocks end up sliding across the pond which is now frozen over again.
The Army marches forward and Jon’s crew fights them off. A few more red shirts are lost in battle, and Tormund nearly joins them as the Wights almost pull him down into the cold water. But the Hound saves him.
We get more of Jon getting all retrospective (similar to the Bastard Battle when Jon stared down the entire Bolton army) and fighting looks hopeless until Daenarys shows up with all three dragons.
The dragon fire clears many of the wights and gives Jon and his crew the chance to get on Drogon. But Jon keeps fighting, taking out wights that are trying to get on that dragon.
The Night’s King sees a huge opportunity. He picks up an ice spear and fires it into the air. One of Dany’s three dragons is hit. He falls into the water and dies.
Dany must recover quickly as Jon tells her to get out of there now. She flies away without the King of the North as Jon is pulled down into the water by a number of Wights.
Raise your hand if you thought that was the end of Jon? Anybody?
I’m not sure how he survived, but Jon pulls himself up out of the water. However, in his current state, there is little chance Jon would be able to fight his way back to Eastwatch.
Enter Coldhands (or Jon’s Uncle Benjen), who arrives to sacrifice himself in order to save Jon.
Jon arrives back at Eastwatch on his uncle’s horse. The Hound takes the captured Wight’s body and takes it somewhere (????). I guess they didn’t want the body on Dany’s boat with all those important characters.
It’s on Dany’s ship that Jon wakes up, and the two power players have their most touching moment of the series so far. Jon apologizes for the death of one of the dragons. But Daenarys says it’s ok because now she’s seen the Army of the Dead and will help Jon defeat it. Jon returns that favor with a declaration of “My Queen.” The two are just smitten at this point, holding hands and getting all googly eyed before Dany stops herself and pulls her hand away.
I doubt either Jon or Dany would have been smiling if they’d known what was happening Beyond the Wall. The Wights use giant chains (purchased from ACE Hardware in Hardhome, I guess) to pull the dragon out of the water. The Night’s King touches the dragon, and the dragon’s eyes open up and turn blue. We have an Ice Dragon!!!!!
-I am not sure how you take down an Ice Dragon. But it looks like we have two ways to deal with it. The first is the dragon spear Qyburn invented. The second (using the knowledge gained this episode) is killing the Night’s King.
-I really liked the moment between Jon and Jorah. I think it was important for both Jon to offer Longclaw to Jorah and for Jorah to refuse it.
-With Thoros gone, it looks like Beric’s next death will be his last. But that fiery sword sure will make it difficult.
-Before he died, Thoros discussed the battle he and Jorah participated in on Pyke. Thoros lead the charge on Pyke with a fiery sword. The battle was in response to Balon Greyjoy’s rebellion against then King Robert. Balon’s punishment for his rebellion was the loss of all three of his sons (two of them died in the battle and one, Theon, became a ward to the Starks).
-“I was doing what I was meant to be doing and he knew it.” Great quote by Arya that really puts into context just how great a dad Ned was.
-Arya also made a great point about what both her and Sansa wanted to become (Arya a knight, Sansa a queen). What both became was a twisted version of their dream. Instead of being a knight, Ayra became a horrifying assassin. And Sansa, though she is currently ruling the north, went through a series of horrifying ordeals to get here.
-“I don’t want you to be a hero,” Dany tells Tyrion as she goes over a list of everyone she considers a “hero” (Drogo, Daario, Jorah, Jon). So I guess Dany has a thing for heroes then?
I cannot believe the season finale is already upon us. I am sure there will be plenty to unpack, so come back next week as we wrap up season 7.