Game of Thrones: Recap of Season 7 Episode 6 – Beyond the Wall
Game of Thrones loves its penultimate episodes. We’ve had Ned’s beheading, the Battle of the Blackwater, the Red Wedding, the Battle at the Wall, and now we have the Great Wight Kidnapping and the death of Viserion. There is much to like about Episode 6; it was high-intensity, action-packed and edge-of-your-seat entertainment. There was also much to dislike about the episode. I’ll get to all of that and more in this week’s recap.
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I’d like to start my recap and thoughts on the side story of the episode, which is the growing feud between Sansa and Arya Stark at Winterfell. (We’ll get to the real action Beyond the Wall later on.) The growing tension between the two sisters might be my least favorite plot-line this season. I don’t really understand the constant disagreements, or the fact that Arya truly believes that Sansa helped the Lannisters kill Ned. Does she have a reason to suspect Sansa of wanting ultimate power in the North? Yes, I think that’s fair. But because we know Arya’s past training with the Faceless Men, she is supposed to be this “human lie detector.” I thought we were going to get that (and ultimately, an agreement between the two) in the last scene of this episode, but it did not come to fruition and rather, Arya openly threatened to kill Sansa if she tried anything.
The entire plot is a bit tough to decipher. I am sure that is intended given Arya’s, Littlefinger’s, and, to a lesser extent, Sansa’s skills, but it has been confusing for many viewers, including myself. It is really frustrating to see Sansa continue to ask Littlefinger about plans and her worry that Arya has the letter, especially after Sansa has told off Baelish multiple times in the last two seasons. I hope this is a long con, but I am beginning to have my doubts. I’d also like to figure out why Sansa sent Brienne away. Was it merely a plot device to have Brienne in King’s Landing with Jaime or is there some sort of ploy being done by Sansa? In the end, the Stark sisters’ actions and behaviors are confusing to me, as they have been acting more like the argumentative sisters in Season 1 versus the experienced, more mature ones that we saw in recent seasons.
There continues to be tension between Daenerys and her Hand, Tyrion. In the brief Dragonstone episodes, Tyrion brings up three or four points that Dany disagrees with, the first being that Jon Snow is falling in love with her. The second is Tyrion’s warning to not rule by fear, like his sister has, and that the burning of the Tarly’s was a mistake. A pivotal moment between the two is how the succession of ruling will occur after Dany dies. (I thought this was particularly intriguing due to the fact that, earlier in the episode, Jorah mentions to Jon that he should pass Longclaw down to his sons and heirs, something that I cannot imagine Jon has even thought of previously.) Dany hates the mere mention of this conversation, despite its extreme importance for the future of a safe, prosperous Westeros. Of course, the final disagreements between Tyrion and Dany is when he begs her to not fly north on a rescue mission with the dragons. More on that, right now.
Beyond the Wall
The bulk of this episode, hence its title, takes place beyond the Wall. If you recall, one of my chief criticisms in last episode’s recap was the disappointing lack of dialogue between so many of these characters. I personally was excited to hear all of these conversations take place in the beginning of Episode 6 as it showed the multiple connections between the party. Perhaps my favorite dialogue was of course between the Hound and Tormund, both of whom never cease to amaze me in their banter. On a more serious note, Jon and Beric shared a deep discussion on the meaning of life and how their lives, reborn again, are to protect those around them.
As the snows get deeper and the wind gets stronger, the team encounters an undead wight polar bear, something that I was not at all expecting. This is a good point in the recap to express my utter disappointment and shock that we had no major (sorry, Thoros) character deaths in this episode. Even Thoros, who suffered what should have been a life-ending mauling by a dead bear on fire, died casually by freezing to death. I would hate to lose any of the players on this rag-tag team, but to have pretty much every one of them survive aside from the Red Priest and the random, no-name wildings and Night’s Watch members, it just seems SO unrealistic. I don’t like the show writers giving so many of these characters plot armor, similar to what The Walking Dead has done to its main cast. I will admit, I was on the edge of my seat throughout Sunday’s episode, but I can’t help but wonder if that nervousness will persist in future episodes knowing now that the show writers are more inclined to keep popular characters around rather than killing them off, as was very popular in Seasons 1-4 (of course, those heavily influenced by George RR Martin’s novels).
Getting back to the plot, after the bear is killed, Jon and Co. discover a single White Walker with a small group of undead. Trapping them with a small campfire, the group attacks the enemy. Jon and the lone White Walker fight, with Jon ultimately killing him with the Valyrian sword. The group and the viewers discover that if you kill a White Walker, those undead that he has “risen” also fall. It is something to monitor as it will now be the Night King who will be the major focus in future battles. Luckily, there is one wight still moving. The group holds it down to tie it up, but only after its screech launches the attack of thousands of wights. Gendry is quickly sent back to Eastwatch to warn Dany and ask for her help while the others run onto a frozen lake and to an island in the center, where they wait as the undead army is unable to follow but waits at the lake’s edge for its next move.
The Fastest Man in Westeros™ is able to arrive at Eastwatch and tells Davos what has happened. Meanwhile, Jon and the men on the island wait out the cold and hope that the raven to the Mother of Dragons arrives quickly (and boy it does ever. That bird must have had some twin jetpacks on it). Beric discovers that the Night King and the White Walkers are also watching over the island, waiting for the appropriate time to strike. Once the Hound tries to chuck some rocks at a wight and they realize that the lake has refrozen, the time comes.
It’s battle time. After my re-watch, I did discover that the men were using dragonglass weapons to fight the army of the dead. Not only do they need to protect themselves, but they need to pay attention to the ice and water as well as their captured wight to ensure his security. Tormund narrowly escapes death (one that I am personally happy for but also thought was necessary to lose an important life). When almost all hope is loss for Jon (a scene that reminded me of the Battle of the Bastards), in comes the dragons! As chronologically infuriating and confusing as this timeline has gotten, with characters and animals traveling hundreds of miles in what appears to be hours, it was still awesome to see the dragons wreak havoc on the wight army. The crew, with the captured wight in hand, climb aboard Drogon as Jon fights off the nearby wights and Viserion and Rhaegal engulf the others.
Then, horror strikes. Future New York Jets 1st round draft pick Night King launches an ice spear which directly impacts Viserion, killing the dragon almost instantly as it freefalls towards the ground, ultimately slowly recedes into the lake. I was hoping to see a bit more emotion from Dany but after some thought, I think the horror and shock of the behemoth’s death is the better reaction. I don’t really understand Jon telling Dany and Drogon to leave without him, but it does make for a better story. They narrowly avoid another spear from the Night King as Jon sinks into the lake.
Later on, Jon drags himself out of the lake, only to find that the wights see him almost escape. Until, we get Benjen Stark arrive to save Jon. I really do hope that we discover that Bran was able to send Benjen to Jon’s aid, otherwise the convenience of him being there to save the day is incredibly unrealistic. I appreciate the finite end to his story arc, but a random occurrence here would be unbelievable.
At the Wall, Dany eagerly awaits Jon emerging from the woods with Jorah. She is about to leave until the lone horn notifies of Jon’s return south. As the episode concludes, we see Beric and Tormund parting ways with the Hound, who will be taking the living wight to King’s Landing. It is a somewhat surprising departure from his “friend” Beric, but enticing because it likely means a reunion with his brother. Aboard, the Targaryen ship, Dany is able to see the stab wounds that should have killed Jon. The emotion between Jon and Dany is ramped up in this scene, as they share their feelings, concern for each other, and appreciation that they are still both alive and ready to fight the upcoming battle against the cold. I was expecting a kiss to end the episode, and while we did not get it, I don’t believe we will have to wait too much longer.
The show ends with the wights pulling Viserion’s corpse from the frozen lake. Like he did to Craster’s baby in a previous season, the Night King touches the dragon’s head and a bright blue eye opens. The odds have evened; the Night King has a new weapon to unleash on the armies of Westeros.