Game of Thrones – Beyond the Wall
By: Tara Donahue
With the finale looming and things building, this episode was bound to be an epic one. We left off with Jon and his allies heading out to find and capture a wight to bring back and prove that the Army of the Dead exist and are a huge threat.
We start with Jon (Kit Harrington) and his motley crew trekking through the harsh weather conditions, in search of the Army of the Dead. Gendry (Joe Dempsie) has never seen snow before, probably because he’s been too busy rowing to see much of anything. Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) speaks to Jon about his reluctance to bend the knee, telling him how the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds), never bent the knee. “How many of his people died for his pride?” He asks, giving Jon some food for thought.
Jon and Jorah (Iain Glen) finally have a long overdue talk about his father. Jon tells him how the Lord Commander, Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo), gave him Longclaw, his sword. He’d changed the hilt, putting a direwolf on it, in honor of House Stark, but that the sword truly belonged to him. It wasn’t right for him to keep it. Jorah didn’t want it. He brought shame onto his house and broke his father’s heart. He forfeited the right to claim the sword. He tells Jon it belongs to him and to his children after him.
At Winterfell, Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) are talking about some older memories of life before everything happened and reminiscing about their father. Then Arya pulls out the scroll she found, reading it to her sister. Sansa argues that they forced her do it it. She tells her that she was a child, but so was Arya. She would have died before she would have betrayed her family. She remembers Sansa up there on that platform, but Sansa asks her if she was there, why didn’t she do something herself. She wanted to. But she didn’t, Sansa pointed out. Arya tells her that she didn’t betray her family for her beloved Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Sansa tells her she should be on her knees thanking her, they’re standing in Winterfell again because of her. They argue more about the scroll and Sansa points out that this is exactly what Cersei (Lena Headey) wants. To tear them apart. Arya asks her what little Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) would say if she knew. She’s got a point. Lyanna Mormont is no one to mess with. Arya has said all she cares to say and leaves.
Back to Team Snow in, well, the snow. Tormund and Sandor discuss Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and how Tormund wants to have ‘great big monster’ babies with her. I don’t think Brienne is down for this, but hey, stranger things have happened.
Beric and Jon bond over being brought back from the dead. Six times and once, respectively. Beric says they both serve the same lord, but, Jon argues that he serves only the North. It wasn’t the North that brought him back from the dead though. The Lord of Light never spoke to Jon, he knows nothing about him or what he wants from him. Beric points out that he wants him alive, but he doesn’t know why. Jon’s used to that answer. That’s all anyone will tell him. I don’t know. Beric points out that they just need to keep fighting, defend those who can’t defend themselves. Maybe they don’t need to understand anymore than that. Sandor sees the mountain shaped like an arrowhead that he saw in the fire. They’re getting close.
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) tells Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) that she likes that he isn’t a hero. Because heroes do stupid things and die. Drago (Jason Momoa), Daario (Michael Huisman) and Jorah, even Jon Snow all try to outdo each other and do the bravest, stupidest thing. Tyion points out that all the men she named have all fallen in love with her. Jon Snow is not in love with me, Daenerys argues. But, Tyrion (and the rest of us) hasn’t missed those longing looks.
The conversation moves to Cersei and their upcoming meeting. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has promised to keep the Lannister army (and hopefully Cersei) in check as long as Tyrion promises to keep Dany from doing anything impulsive. Dany doesn’t see her recent actions as impulsive and the conversation grows tense. As if tension wasn’t already high enough, Tyrion brings up Dany picking a successor. She refuses to discuss this matter until she wears the crown. This is an odd conversation and I have to admit, it brought up red flags for me. Why are they suddenly discussing the succession following the death of Daenerys. I hope this is just a red herring and not some kind of foreshadowing.
Jon and company are still making their way beyond the wall when they come across a zombie bear. It seems that people are not the only ones who can be turned into wights. It charges and attacks, but they ultimately fight and defeat it. But, Thoros (Paul Kaye) is injured and it doesn’t look good.
Sansa and Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) discuss the scroll. Sansa’s worried. She feels like Arya would betray her if she felt Sansa was going to betray Jon. Littlefinger points out that Brienne might be able to help. She swore an oath to protect both of Catelyn Stark’s (Michelle Fairley) daughters. So if one of them were to try and harm the other, she would be honor bound to intercede.
In the North, the men see a White Walker with a small group of wights. They attack the group and Jon defeats the White Walker leader with Longclaw. The wights that he ‘turned’ shatter with him. Except one. He’s the one they capture. He’s screeching though and this is not a good sign. Suddenly they hear thundering footfalls and Jon tells Gendry, because he’s the fastest, to run back to Eastwatch and send a raven to Daenerys. It doesn’t take long before the men are surrounded. Thankfully the ice is breaking so they stop, but they have Jon and his men trapped on a rock in the middle of a frozen lake. At Eastwatch, Gendry collapses outside the gate, but they see him and rush out to get him. Jon and the others are forced to spend the night on the rock and during the night, Thoros has frozen to death. Beric burns his body. To keep him from returning as a wight.
Jorah points out that they’re all going to freeze soon, along with the water. They discuss the way the other wights died when the White Walker was killed. Maybe if they go for the Walkers they will stand a chance. No, they need to take the wight back with them. Daenerys is their only chance. Or, they could kill the Night King.
Sansa receives a scroll from Cersei, inviting her to a summit at King’s Landing. She elects to send Brienne instead. But, Brienne doesn’t want to go. She doesn’t want to leave Sansa alone with Littlefinger. But Sansa isn’t afraid. She’s the Lady of Winterfell and she is home. It’s the safest place for her. But is it, really? Brienne reluctantly leaves, to begin her journey to King’s Landing. Is anyone else excited by the fact that this means that Brienne might see Jaime again?
At Dragonstone, Dany is leaving to go help Jon, but Tyrion is trying to talk her out of it. “The most important person in the world can’t fly off to the most dangerous place in the world.” He points out, but Daenerys isn’t hearing it. Tyrion told her to do nothing before and she listened. She’s not doing that again. She flies off on Drogon, with Viserion and Rhaegal in tow.
Still stuck on the rock, Sandor throws rocks at the wights. One hits the ice and slides, making the wights realize the ice has frozen over solid again. They start charging and the fight begins. They’re losing unnamed men and suddenly Tormund is tackled and being pulled into the water, but luckily The Hound saves him. They are fighting a losing battle, because they are grossly outnumbered. There are legions of the undead, battling against a handful of men.
But, Daenerys and her dragons show up to save the day. They are breathing fire and wiping out as many of the dead as they can. Drogon lands and Dany starts pulling the, up onto the dragon. Jon, in true hero form, keeps fighting. The Night King grabs a spear and throws it. It hits Viserion, in the neck, flames and blood pouring out as the dragon crashes down through the ice, sinking below the depths. I have to admit I cried. Watching one of Dany’s children die was heartbreaking.
Jon is still fighting and he sees the Night King grab another spear. He yells for Daenerys to go and the wights tackle him into the water. Drogon takes off, the spear narrowly missing him.
It doesn’t look good for Jon, he’s beneath the water, but somehow, moments later, he climbs out, Longclaw in hand. He’s out of breath and exhausted, but still ready to fight as the wights start to descend on him again. He’s saved by someone on a horse and it’s Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle) with his fire chain. He puts Jon on the horse and sends him off, staying behind to fight. But soon he’s taken down. RIP Benjen.
Daenerys is at Eastwatch and it’s time to go, but she just wants to wait a bit longer. Her wait pays off and soon Jon arrives, unconscious, on the horse. They get him onto the boat and as they cut off his frozen clothing, Daenerys sees the scars on his chest.
Sansa is snooping through Arya’s room and finds her faces. Arya appears and Sansa looks scared. But she asks about the faces, Arya tells her about the training to become a Faceless Man. She tries to engage her sister in a game, but Sansa isn’t really into it. She’s still hung up on the faces. Arya points out how they always wanted to be different people; Sansa a queen and she herself wanted to be a knight. “The world doesn’t just let girls decide what they want to be.” Arya points out, in one of the greatest lines in the episode. But she can be, with her faces. She could even become Sansa, she says, picking up her dagger. She moves closer, looking menacing, before pointing out all she’d need is her sister’s face. Then she hands over the dagger and walks out. Creepy much, Arya?
Jon wakes and Daenerys is sitting there. He apologizes and wishes he could take it back as he takes her hand. (Jon and Dany shippers rejoice!) Dany doesn’t want to. If she hadn’t gone, she wouldn’t have seen it and it’s something you have to see to know. She’s ready to destroy the Night King and his army. Together. “Thank you, Dany.” Jon says. No one’s called her Dany since her brother and that’s not company Jon wants to keep. So, instead Jon calls her ‘my Queen’ and tells her he’d bend the knee if he could. He will convince his bannermen to do the same. She takes his hand this time and there’s an intense moment before Dany pulls away and tells him to get some rest.
The Army of the Dead are pulling Viserion out of the water with chains. The Night King approaches the deceased dragon and touches his snout. Viserion’s eye opens and it’s blue. The Night King just gained a very powerful weapon. An ice dragon.
What does that mean for this upcoming battle? How will Daenerys react to seeing her child resurrected and fighting for the other side? How will the other two dragons feel about their brother being the enemy? This will be one intense season finale!