Okay, let’s start with the obligatory “how’s everyone doing”? Have we caught our breath? Are we still in mourning? Episode six, “Beyond the Wall”, played off like any other seasons episode nine. You know those episodes well. Those are the episodes where main characters lose their heads after confessing to crimes they didn’t commit or when innocent children who survived greyscale are burnt alive to serve a God who doesn’t really care about your plight Stanis! Sorry, that one still gets the blood boiling, oh god, pun not intended! In the past, episode nines have taught us to never attend a wedding thrown by the Freys or to let Olly near a bow and arrow. In short, episode nine always holds some sort of substance and impact. Think back to the first time that we saw Daenerys ride a dragon or watch the Night’s Watch pull a 300 and survive a Wildling attack. Yeah, those were episode nines. Season seven presented us with an episode six that looked to carry on the tradition of episode nines. A six-year tradition that makes its viewer need a hug and counseling upon the episodes ending. In that regard did “Beyond the Wall” live up to the hype?
The short answer is yes. Dear God yes.
Part of the territory of being a Game of Thrones fan is understanding that if you love a character then chances are they’re going to die. Horribly. It’s almost inevitable. You liked Ned Stark? Cool, here’s a beheading. Oh, did you say you were a fan of Robb Stark, his pretty pregnant wife, and his mother? Here’s the worst wedding reception ever. Khal Drogo? Sorry, infections are real. Hordor… I can’t on this one. The list goes on and on and on and we continue to fall in love with these characters in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, they’ll survive. Last night the deck was stacked against seven beloved characters. A hodgepodge of Westerosian ass kickers. We had Jon Snow, the Hound, Jorah Mormont, Tormund Giantsbane, Gendry, Thoros, and Beric Dondarrion. All these men are characters that have specific followings. If you recall from yesterdays preview, I made an irrational plea for Tormund’s life but I know there are plenty of you out there who felt the same way towards the Hound or Jorah or Gendry. It’s part of the territory of being a Game of Thrones fan, and seeing such beloved characters put in a situation where survival seemed low… well, it stresses you the hell out.
Let’s call a spade a spade here. The mission to go beyond the Wall and capture a White Walker, or wight, was a garbage one. A suicide mission that even the Suicide Squad would have guffawed at. Yet, we trust Jon Snow. We need to trust Jon Snow as he’s our representation of Ned. That noble, courageous, put myself in danger for the sake of others, hero that we’ve been yearning for since poor Ned met his demise. When Jon made it known that he was going to lead a mission beyond the Wall in the hopes of uniting the Seven Kingdoms against their common enemy, we collectively shook our heads, but we knew that if this had to be done then Jon was the man for the job. Plus, he’s already died once there’s no way they’re going to kill him again before season eight, right?! Right?!
Before the shiz hit the fan, “Beyond the Wall” provided us with a number of tremendous character moments that we’ve been either waiting for or had no I idea we’d been waiting for. I would honestly watch the hell out of a Tormund and the Hound spin-off. It would be crude, violent, and everything I’ve ever wanted from a show. Gendry gets his moment with the Brotherhood who sort of apologize but mostly point out that he’s not dead. They share wine and things are apparently cool. Jorah tells Thoros he’s the bravest man he’d ever seen fight only to find out that Thoros’s charge at Pyke was due to being blackout drunk (would you say he pulled a Rick Sanchez?). Then there was Jon Snow who continues to be our #MCM every day of the week by offering Jorah his father’s sword. Not to be outdone Jorah turns the sword down and says it’s Jon’s. Oh you two.
Then the group got attacked by an undead polar bear in what I’m referring to as the opposite of LOST, and things moved pretty quickly from here. I’m talking Gendry returning to the Wall quickly. My man did his best Barry Allen last night in a season that continues to make time and distance irrelevant (a minor complaint as I understand that we don’t have, umm, time for time and distance).
Before the onslaught of Walkers attacked we are casually shown that if you kill a White Walker then all the wights it has turned also die. A complete hive mentality that was thrown out super casually. Almost like, hearing Gilly read a book about a certain Targaryen who secretly married after getting a secret divorce, casually. This is a huge turn of events as it seems that the Night King is responsible for turning them all, so logic dictates, kill the Night King save the world. Easier said than done though as the Night King has quite the army with him. The Magnificent Seven killing that little scouting party and obtaining their wight hostage seemed too easy at the time and turned out to be too easy, as hoard after hoard of undead soldiers charged seemingly from nowhere. Jon makes a smart decision to send Barry-Gendry back to the Wall to send a raven to Daenerys who instantly becomes their only hope to survive. Luckily for the gang the ice they cross breaks and the White Walkers freeze up because we all know that White Walkers don’t do water. Which begs the question, why not just build a giant moat in front of the Wall? I digress.
With Gendry gone and Thoros dead, he got taken out by the zombie polar bear, the group appears to be all types of effed. They have two options. Freeze to death or be killed by an unrelenting army of the undead. The Hound helps speed up the decision-making by throwing rocks at the wights only to come up way short with one of his throws exposing the water as frozen. From then on we were off to the races as the undead charged, we lose a couple of red shirt Wildlings, we almost lost Tormund (thank you for not doing that but I did cry out at my television as he almost had the Hudson from Aliens like death), and things got hopeless. Hopeless until Daenerys and her three dragons arrived. That’s right, apparently, ravens and dragons move just as fast as Gendry. Time is a flat circle!
Watching the dragons lay waste to the White Walker army was pretty incredible/dramatic, and it was made even more so by the tone shift in the score (can’t wait to play that over and over on my ipod). Was it Loot Train incredible? No, but it was quite the spectacle watching the family work together blasting wave after wave of fire on the undead. I cheered. I have no shame in admitting that, but much like the Magnificent Seven, five at this point, I got so wrapped up in what was going on and forgot that the Night King was still afoot. And then episode nine kicked in.
We’ve lost people and direwolves on this show, but last night was the first time we lost a dragon and it effin hurt. A lot. I gasped. Not just because half the teams in the NFL would give anything to have a quarterback with the arm strength of the Night King, but because this is a real loss. Okay, I can deal with the majority of the Magnificent Seven surviving their suicide mission, but this episode still came with consequence. Losing a dragon is more of a defeat for Daenerys than any of the battles from earlier this season. These are her children. The only children she can have until the sun rises in the west and sets in the east (don’t forget your prophecies Geeklings). Now Viserion belongs to the Night King. Something I’ve been predicting all season long but didn’t negate the pain. This is a real tide turner as this journey beyond the Wall was not a victory. Not even a little bit. One of their greatest weapons has fallen into the hands of their enemy. If we thought that the Night King was unstoppable before, well, now he has an undead ice dragon.
The episode ends with Jon almost dying twice (drowning in ice water as everyone gets a free dragon ride and emerging from said ice water to be attacked by the undead) only to be saved by Uncle Benjen who sacrifices his undead life so Jon can escape. Which leads us to one of the episodes biggest moments, Jon verbally bending the knee to Daenerys (who seemed like she might have been in the process of bending the knee to him). They have a moment where the love and tension hangs above their hand holding as the audience tries to figure out just how gross this relationship is and ultimately decides they want to see these two kiss. Shut up, you felt it too! Now the King of the North and the Mother of Dragons are united in their cause to defeat the White Walkers. How will the North respond, Jon seems to think favorably but if we know anything about Northerns in Westeros it’s that they’re a fickle bunch. I for one am happy to see these two unified and curious to where we go from here. We can’t go right at the White Walkers because there’s still that whole Cersei sits on the Iron Throne and needs the convincing thing to deal with.
Some quick thoughts before I let you go because I didn’t even touch on Winterfell-
- I am not shy about my dislike for Sansa. I also really enjoyed how Arya gave her the verbal business this episode. With that being said though, the two of them need to sit down and have a conversation about their time apart because they are falling right into Littlefingers trap. Just pour some wine and start chatting. Maybe it’ll open some eyes. Yes, Sansa is no longer that naive little girl who wrote that letter to Robb but she’s still naive and slightly blinded by the small taste of power she’s been given. Arya needs to listen to her and understand that the stuff she went through doesn’t trump the stuff that Sansa went through.
- Did Littlefinger just imply to Sansa that she should have Brienne kill Arya?! Cause it sounded like Littlefinger just implied that she should have Brienne kill Arya.
- Anyone else starting to think that Arya is going to wear Sansa’s face at some point?
- Tyrion talking to Dany about an heir reminded me a great deal of Robb and Catelyn’s discussion about naming an heir. Book fans will understand that Robb’s heir is still a mystery but could it be possible that Jon Snow is the answer for both? I understand that Daenerys doesn’t want to talk about it but she can’t think that every suggestion that Tyrion makes is because he’s loyal to his family. She has to take the blinders off at some point otherwise Tyrion’s position as Hand will be short-lived.
- As a pop vinly collector I need to ask Funko for winter dragon riding Daenerys and Beric Dondarrion and his fire sword. Please and thank you.
There you have it Geeklings, I know I kind of glossed over Winterfell but there was a great deal to cover beyond the Wall. What did you think of last night’s episode? Is the Night King unstoppable now that he has a dragon? Are we leading towards a Daenerys/Jon Snow marriage? Was the sacrifice worth this one wight? Sound off in the comments below. As always if you’d like to talk more Thrones with me, you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. I will be back later in the week with my season finale preview (*gulp*) but in the meantime remember the night is dark and full of terrors so believe in the buddy system. Long live Tormund Giantsbane!
Images from HBO