Warning: spoilers ahead!
‘Beyond the Wall’ is the penultimate episode to season 7, and like its predecessors, it comes neatly wrapped in death.
Despite this, it’s an excellent episode that broke away from the questionable plot we’ve had over the last few weeks. With the stakes rising and tension building, not everyone is bound to live to see the remaking of Westeros. Here we have seven men who go beyond the Wall, and let’s take your bets on who makes it out alive.
There are a few man-to-man conversations that occur on their trek, and while they all served a purpose, some were more significant than others. The one that comes to mind is the conversation between Jon and Jorah, during which Jon offers Longclaw to Jorah as it belongs to Mormont family. It’s an honourable gesture, but what is even more honourable is Jorah’s declination.
Now this is where things get a little intense. After encountering an undead bear, the Night King’s army surrounds the men on a frozen lake. The sheer number of White Walkers is incredibly terrifying, but not as chilling as seeing the Night King perched on the crest of a hill, watching. Gendry was sent back the Wall to send a raven to Dragonstone, and his awkward stumbling through the snow only adds to the growing tension that maybe Jon and the others won’t make it out alive.
Who did you think would live? It honestly could have been any of them. But we lose Thoros of Myr, who peacefully dies frozen after being wounded by the undead bear. The hunting party goes from seven to six, and their chances against an army of the undead are looking nonexistent.
But this is Game of Thrones. The supernatural and incredulity takes precedence, and it does not disappoint. Gendry is successful and the raven miraculously makes it to Dragonstone. Even after Tyrion speaks to Daenerys about being a better ruler, about understanding her temper and making rational decisions, she ignores the dwarf and takes her children to rescue Jon.
What follows is one of the most chilling scenes in Game of Thrones. With the lake solid enough for the undead to cross, a battle commences, one where the breathing are significantly disadvantaged. As Daenerys soars in to save Jon and his men, her dragons charring hordes of the undead, it feels like victory. Ice meets fire. You bathe in it, watching the long-standing threat lose his men. But not all battles are so sweet and Daenerys’ rash decision comes with consequences.
With a ice spear, the Night King takes down Viserion, one of Daenerys’ dragons. Screeching in pain, bleeding all over the snow, the mighty creature sinks into the cracks of the frozen lake. The elation of the rescue immediately goes cold as the mortality of her children sinks in. It’s a horrific sight,
and one that will fall in line with many of the show’s infamous deaths.
‘Death is the enemy, the first enemy and the last … we still need to fight him, that’s all I know,’ says Beric.
And you know, just to twist the knife a little further, the final moments of the episode show the undead army dragging Viserion from the water. The Night King steps forward, places his hand on the snout of the fallen creature and for a heart-stopping moment, you pray it doesn’t work. But Viserion’s eye opens and the haunting shade of blue is traumatising. If the White Walkers weren’t enough of a threat, they just gave themselves a huge asset.
However, there is optimism in Viserion’s resurrection. There were questions over who would be the third rider of the dragons, and it would seem we never considered fire becoming ice. Ice dragons haven’t been mentioned too much throughout the show, but it seems the possibilities are endless with these creatures. According to Pedestrian TV, in The World of Ice and Fire, a companion book to the book series, GGRM describes ice dragons as bigger than regular dragons and have an icy breath that can “freeze a man solid in half a heartbeat.”
Despite the tragic turn of events, Jon, who was left behind to fight off the undead, makes it back with the help of his Uncle Benjen (who we may have forgotten about) and he’s patched up by his men. Furthermore, it seems Jon and Daenerys are on the same page for once. Sharing an intimate moment, Jon essentially bends the knee and in calls her Dany. It’s a subtle hint at a romance between the two, but it’s impossible to get over the fact they are related. In turn, Daenerys throws away all doubt about the Night King’s army, pledging to help Jon.
‘We are going to destroy the Night King and his army and we’ll do it together. You have my word.’
Back in Winterfell, the tension between the Stark sisters is downright uncomfortable. Their reunion has been met with some criticism, but this scene was important in understanding where they are both standing. The complexity of sibling relationships has always been prominent, but as two girls who have experienced things the other cannot understand, it’s difficult to see how the two sisters will reach a compromise.
As the Lady of Winterfell, Sansa is desperate to keep Winterfell and the loyalty of the Northmen, while Arya is still haunted by her father’s death. Watching Sansa stand by their father’s execution has simply solidified in her mind that Sansa was a part of his death, and thus, given her a reason to be hostile. It’s not like they have always been warm with each other, and having parted on bad terms has done nothing to smooth over their differences. But as
Arya says, one of them is driven by anger, the other by fear.
To make matters slightly even more uncomfortable, it looks like Littlefinger may be back in Sansa’s good graces. Considering she sends Brienne in her place on an invitation to King’s Landing, she’s now all alone in the North, with a mix of questionable allies and men who have sworn fealty to Jon. And with Arya posing a threat, Winterfell has never felt quite so unpredictable.
Special mention to Tormund for his iconic line on Brienne: “I want to make babies with her.”
Stay tuned for the finale next week!