Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6, "Beyond the Wall," written by executive producers Benioff & Weiss and directed by Alan Taylor.
In short: Jon and his frozen fighters stumble across a zombie bear (undo it, undo it!) and then the rest of the Night King’s horde of undead on a very precarious frozen lake. The good guys are surrounded by the undead in what looks to be their last stand. At Winterfell, Arya unnerves Sansa with accusations about family betrayal, and eventually reveals that she’s a Faceless Man.
Well, that was about 70 minutes of tension, heartbreak, and abject terror! We thought “The Spoils of War” was a big episode! Nope. Benioff & Weiss laugh in our general direction knowing “Beyond the Wall” has three dragons in battle against an undead army on a frozen wasteland. Can someone check on Leslie Jones? I’m worried she might have pulled something watching this one.
The episode starts off unassuming using the hike into the frozen North as an excuse to have some key conversations without our Brotherhood of Misfit Toys. I love the good use of exposition. For this, we’ll call it Frozen-sposition. Gendry is sore at Beric and Thoros for selling him to Melisandre, but The Hound just laughs and calls the young Baratheon a whinger. At least he wasn’t called a c-word. Consider yourself lucky, Gendry; later on, all gods, including The Lord of Light, get called a c-word by The Hound. It’s like he’s asking for a bolt of light to get him.
Then Tormund gets moon-eyed about Brianne to The Hound, who thinks the ginger Wilding is even more of a nutcase. I, however, am 1000% on board with that 'ship. Make those giant babies! But more importantly, Jon tries to give Jorah back his family sword, Longclaw. However, Jorah feels he truly failed his father and forfeits all rights to it, making it Jon’s to keep. He’s going to really appreciate that less than 24 hours later when it helps him Longclaw out of that frozen lake.
Talk turns to fighting when the snow reveals a zombie-bear! Amazing VFX and fight sequence with that undead polar bear killing a red-fur, and then getting sizzled by Beric’s flaming sword of death! Great portending of what’s to come at episode’s end with Viserion’s turning.
The entire fight on the lake was stellar. The tension as the men raced across the cracking ice as the wight army literally surrounded them was nail-biting stuff. Gendry’s told to run back to The Wall to send a raven to Dany, which was a smart call because the King’s Landing kid was not ready for the kind of battle they had to wage. He’s also obviously meant for more in the end-fight when it comes to his lineage, and perhaps his skill forging that newly mined dragon glass. Meanwhile, the rest do some incredible wight-kicking to save one another. Was great to see the former foes bond when it counted. Not to mention, The Hound beaning a wight so his jaw falls off. Who says the show isn’t funny?
However, it was completely unfunny when the show made me think Tormund was a total goner. Guys! My heart! We can’t lose our Ginger-bear! Bless the Hound for saving him, and then Drogon and his brothers soaring in to pick up the whole lot of them to fly to safety…until the Night King casually spears Viserion in mid-flight, making Dany panic leave just as Jon falls under the ice. Also not funny.
But the Lord of Light, or maybe just luck, or Longclaw, helps Jon climb out, and his destiny is saved when Uncle Benjen shows up out of nowhere with his flaming lantern of death and sets Jon alight on his horse to safety. We (and Jon) see his savior die by the horde, but it’s a great way to end that character’s arc, plausibly seeing Jon survive to the wall.
And it was another smart move to allow Dany not only to see the Night King in action, but to see Jon’s scars, and know that he truly did die for his people to live again. It bonded them further, as well as his pained reaction to what happened to her beloved dragon-baby. They hold hands in their grief and growing connection, which could mean all kinds of trouble…or their destiny fulfilled?
Viserion died! And now he’s a zombie-dragon! That’s a TA-wist for sure, and it certainly evens the playing field for when man meets the Night King again in battle. Wow, what a loss. It needed to happen to ratchet up the stakes, but let’s mourn with Dany. And kudos again to the VFX team for their incredible work bringing all three of Dany’s babies to life, but then making us feel so much when Viserion was painfully lanced by that walker javelin and then fell from the sky in a bloody avalanche of blood and fire.
Creepy Arya is chilling for sure, but there was something about her intense confrontations with Sansa all episode long that felt jarring against the epic showdown beyond the wall. Maybe it was the juxtaposition of Jon and his band coming together, and then Dany even joining the fray, that made Arya’s pointed verbal attacks on her sister seem inconsequential and even petty, considering the scope of what was going on only miles away? We know the sisters were never close, but I never saw Arya hating Sansa until this episode. Or maybe it feels odd that we’re supposed to buy that Arya isn’t clever enough to know she’s being played by Littlefinger with Sansa’s old message. I still hope she’s actually doing her own dance within the walls of Winterfell to prove to Baelish that he’s met his match in Arya Stark when she decides to finally cross him off her list. I did appreciate her seeing right through Sansa and her propensity to make decisions out of fear rather than anger. After Ramsey Bolton, Sansa should be A LOT more angry with Littlefinger, and she’s just not. More than odd.
Things to Ponder...
Did Sansa send Brienne down to King’s Landing because she really doesn’t want to be near Cersei, or is she doing it so Littlefinger isn’t able to exploit the sister Stark rift to a point where Brienne would get involved and someone would end up dead? If that’s really what the “banishment” of Brienne is about, then I respect it.
Speaking of Brienne in King’s Landing, are we finally going to get the reunion of matched souls -- Jamie and the Tarthster? Jamie could certainly use a big dose of support and self-worth right about now, as he’s enabling his sister/lover to become a monster. Maybe seeing the woman who believed there was something still honorable inside the “Kingslayer” is exactly what he’s going to need to become a “Queenslayer” for the good of humanity once more.
Tormund didn’t make it out of that lake for no reason! #GingerGiantBabiesForever
So Jon’s too little for Dany? That sound after she said it was not only Tyrion wincing, but every short man in Westeros (and on planet Earth) experiencing a communal gut-punch. But let’s be honest, Dany wearing flats for life is less of a compromise than if she gets it on with Jon…who is assuredly a family member. The poster couple for inbreeding -- Jamie and Cersei -- don’t need competition guys. Let’s spread out these bloodlines! And no, I don’t think Dany is staying infertile. Jon came back from the dead. His swimmers are certainly not blanks anymore.
Succession for Dany. Yes, a tad bit jumping the gun considering the bleak loss in this episode, but who would keep Westeros united and peaceful? What’s Tyrion thinking when it comes to the long game?
Will zombie Viserion have any remembrance of his mother? Will it be another soul-less monster or will the pull of the Mother of Dragons go beyond the grave?
What did you think of "Beyond the Wall"?