Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 6 “Beyond the Wall”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

North of The Wall: The party trudges north through the snowy landscape. Who knows where they are going or what their plan is to capture a White Walker if/when they found some? Present: Jon, Jorah, Gendry, Sandor “The Hound”, Tormund, Beric, Beric’s priest who keeps bringing him back from the dead, and a few other random wildlings. Gendry complains about the cold, saying he’s never seen snow before. Tormund tells Gendry he’s weak, and that he himself comes from the cold North, but was fine when he visited the South. Gendry asks where in the South Tormund has been, and Tormund replies, “Winterfell”. Gendry chokes on his laughter as he says Winterfell is actually still in the North.

At a rest stop, Jon talks to Jorah about Jorah’s father, Lord Commander Mormont. Jon says Mormont gave him his sword, Longclaw, and had the hilt changed from a bear to a wolf for Jon. Jon offers it to Jorah, saying it’s his family heirloom, but Jorah declines the offer, saying his father gave it to Jon, so it’s his now. Jon also talks to Beric about what the Lord of Light wants for them, having saved both of them from death. Beric, as usual, says he has no idea why, but obviously it’s for some reason. Beric points out that a lot of men have died and had their loyal followers die because they were too proud to submit to someone’s authority – an obvious reference to Jon refusing to swear allegiance to Daenerys. Jon considers this.

Walking again through a foggy snow, they spot a large bear in the distance. The bear senses them and charges. Someone yells, “Do bears have blue eyes??” And then it’s on them, an undead zombie bear! Beric and his priest draw magical flaming swords as they and the rest of them fight it off. Eventually the bear is dead and burning, but Beric’s priest is wounded. Beric gives him a big slug of booze from a skin and then uses his flaming sword to cauterise the wounds.

They continue on in their impossible quest to find a small enough group of White Walkers that they can capture one without being slaughtered. Lo, they stumble across a small group walking through a defile, where they can ambush them! About ten of them – a perfect match for the party. They charge and initiate combat. The fight is short, as Jon slashes the leader with his sword and shatters it, which instantly makes a bunch of the zombies collapse dead, but conveniently leaves one of them still very much undead and struggling. The men jump on it and tie it up with ropes and stick a sack over its head. Someone asks why most of the zombies died when the leader was killed, except for the one they captured. Jon says, “I dunno, maybe he was the one who animated all of those ones, but not the last one.” Fair enough, I guess.

The problem is this small group wasn’t far from the entire White Walker army, and the struggling and groaning from the one they captured makes a noise which attracts their attention. Soon they hear the sounds of millions of zombie feet racing across the ice towards them. Jon tells Gendry to run for Eastwatch, tell them what’s happened, and send a raven to Daenerys. Gendry is reluctant to go, but Jon says he’s the fastest. Gendry turns to go, but Sandor grabs his giant hammer and tells him he’ll be faster without it. Gendry releases the hammer and tears off into the snow.

The zombie army approaches and the rest of the man, dragging their captive, race across a flat area of snow, but stop suddenly when they realise they’ve run onto a frozen lake, and the ice is cracking around them. The White Walkers keep coming, heedless of any danger. With no choice, the men start running again, heading to an outcrop of rock in the middle of the lake. As they retreat, Sandor hits the ice behind him with Gendry’s hammer, cracking it, and the front lines of the zombie army fall into the water. More ranks of zombies fall mindlessly into the water, before they realise the danger and halt on the far side of the gap. The men are stranded on the small island in the middle of the lake, surrounded by a ring of open water and then the White Walker army.

Eastwatch: Gendry races through the snow. Exhausted, he slips and stumbles, eventually collapsing. But he has reached the gate of Eastwatch. Davos orders the wildlings to open the gate and go get him. Gendry tells them what happened and has Davos send a raven to Daenerys with the news.

Winterfell: Arya takes the letter she found in Petyr Baelish’s room (the one he planted for her to find) to Sansa to ask her about it. Arya says it’s Sansa’s “pretty handwriting”, and she reads – it’s a letter to Robb asking him to come to King’s Landing and bend the knee to “my beloved Joffrey”. Sansa points out that she was a child in captivity and they forced her to write it, but Arya accuses her of betraying the Stark family and won’t listen to reason. She says if it was her she’d die before betraying the family. Sansa rebuts that Arya has no idea what suffering she went through, and how she was forced to watch as Joffrey had their father executed. Arya says she knows, she was there and saw it too, which surprises Sansa. Arya asks why Sansa didn’t try to save him, and she fires back why didn’t Arya run from the crowd and try to save him? Arya threatens to reveal Sansa’s letter to the Lords of the North, to show she can’t be trusted to lead them. Sansa desperately points out that that’s exactly what Cersei wants. Arya goes on to accuse Sansa of being power-mad, and stalks out.

Sansa talks to Petyr Baelish about Arya. He says he has no idea how Arya got the letter – uh huh. He says that Brienne is sworn to protect both Stark daughters, and she would step in to protect Sansa if Arya did anything rash. Now what is he up to here? He’s driven a wedge between the sisters, and now he’s inserting Brienne in there for some reason. I don’t know what he’s up to, but it can’t be anything good.

Sansa gets a raven from Cersei, asking her to come to King’s Landing to discuss their situation. Sansa refuses to go, saying she’s needed at Winterfell, and decides to send Brienne. Okay, so Sansa isn’t keeping Brienne around, despite Petyr’s suggestion. It’s not clear why – does she not trust Petyr either, or does she think Arya wouldn’t dare do anything to hurt her so she doesn’t need Brienne around to protect her? And Brienne wants to stay to protect Sansa from Petyr, but she reluctantly agrees to go, leaving Podrick to stay behind and look out for Sansa.

Sansa sneaks into Arya’s room and goes through her stuff. She sees the Valyrian steel dagger on a table, and digging through a bag she finds a bunch of faces that Arya has used as disguises. Arya finds her there, and Sansa demands to know what the faces are. Arya says they’re the faces she wears to sneak around unseen. Sansa asks why Arya wasn’t around while she retook Winterfell, and Arya says she was training. Sansa asks training for what? Arya grabs her dagger and points it at Sansa, and says she could take her face and rule Winterfell in her place if she wanted. Sansa is shocked, but Arya turns the dagger handle towards her. Sansa takes it and Arya leaves.

Now what on earth is going on here? Arya is behaving like a spoilt brat at the moment. I thought she’d be cool and reasonable and a great help to Sansa, but now it seems like all she wants to do is find excuses to tear her sister down. I even thought for a second that she might kill Sansa and take her face. But then she didn’t, and made herself vulnerable by giving Sansa her dagger. I just don’t know what is going through Arya’s mind here. Hopefully she has some sense to realise that it’s Petyr who is manipulating them and then she’ll take action against him. But I dunno. I don’t like this development of antagonism between the Stark girls.

Dragonstone: Tyrion and Daenerys discuss plans for winning the war and then establishing a benevolent rule of Westeros. Tyrion is worried that building a peaceful society takes time, and it will be the job of Daenerys’s successors to continue the work. He wants to know who will succeed her. Daenerys brusquely says that she can’t have children, and refuses to discuss the issue. She says something about having men like Drogo, Jorah, Daario, and Jon to help her. Tyrion points out that all the men she named fell in love with her. She half-blushes and says that Jon doesn’t love her. Tyrion says oh yes he does…

Gendry’s raven arrives with the news of what has befallen Jon in the North. Daenerys leaps into action, racing to her dragons. Tyrion tells her not to go, it’s too dangerous. But she ignores him and flies north.

North of The Wall again: The men shiver through a cold night on the island, trying to stay awake. As dawn lightens the sky, they see that Beric’s priest has frozen during the night. Beric ignites his flaming sword to burn the body.

As the day slowly passes, Sandor gets bored and flings a rock across the ice at one of the zombies, hitting it in the jaw. The jawbone breaks off, but the zombie is unmoved and keeps watching. Sandor grabs a bigger rock and throws it, but it fails to reach its target and clatters across the ice, skidding right up to the ranks of zombies. Sandor realises what he’s done, as the zombies realise the lake has refrozen and now they can march on the men again.

A huge battle ensues, with the men cutting down rank after rank of advancing zombies. One or two of the wildlings get taken out, but the rest take a last stand atop the rock outcrop, fending off the attackers. And then right on cue Daenerys arrives on Drogon, with her two other dragons as well. They flame the hordes of zombies, melting the ice and causing hundreds more to fall into the water. Daenerys lands and the men start climbing onto Drogon’s back to be ferried to safety. But the Night King sees what is happening from his vantage point in the distance, He grabs an icy spear and hurls it into the sky, hitting one of the other dragons, and causing it to plunge to its death, crashing into the ice and sinking into the water.

Jon yells at the others to go, as he brings up the rear, fending off zombies from their retreat. They overwhelm him and drag him into the water. With Jon and one dragon gone, and the Night King getting another spear ready, Daenerys has no choice but to order Drogon to take off, leaving Jon behind. As the dragon climbs into the sky, the Night King lets fly with the icy spear, but narrowly misses Drogon. Daenerys is visibly upset at having left Jon behind.

Jon however is not dead yet! He hauls himself out of the water, using the hilt of Longclaw as an ice pick to get leverage. Shivering he prepares to fight off more zombies. But then a whirl of flames appears and cuts through the army, a mounted rider wielding a flaming censer on a chain. It’s Benjen! Jon is astonished to see his uncle. Benjen throws Jon into the horse and tells him to go. Benjen stays behind fighting off the zombies as his horse flees into the snow, carrying Jon to safety.

Eastwatch again: Jon has reached Eastwatch and everyone is reunited. Sandor loads the bound White Walker onto a boat and kicks its still struggling form, and they head to the ship to set sail for Dragonstone. On board, Jon lies resting in a cabin. Daenerys is there and they exchange lovey-dovey looks. Jon says he’s sorry about her dead dragon. She is upset, but says it’s the price of rescuing him and of seeing for herself the truth about the White Walkers. She vows to help Jon fight them. He says she is a worthy Queen, and he’d bend the knee now, but he’s too weak to get out of bed. She worries that the Lords of the North still won’t trust her, but Jon says they’ll see sense in the same way that he has.

North of The Wall again: Using heavy icy chains, the zombie army drag a huge weight across an icy landscape. As the camera swivels, we see the chains lead through ice into inky water. The head of the dead dragon breaks the water, and the zombies slowly drag the body out. The Night King walks over and lays a hand on the dragon’s snout.

The dead eye reopens, and the eye inside is blue, not red.

Oh dear. Now the White Walker army has an undead dragon on their side. That’s a new wrinkle. I wonder if it’ll breathe fire like it did when alive, or if it’ll now breathe an icy blast of cold. That’d be awesome. The war is far from over.

So, their crazy plan worked, and they have a zombie captive. I suppose that might convince Cersei, if they can manage to get an audience with her without her simply killing them all. Brienne should be in King’s Landing too by the time they get there, so presumably there’ll be some interaction with her. I can’t see Cersei making a genuine alliance though, without looking for every possible opportunity to stab them in the back and take control at some point.

And what of Bran? We didn’t see him this episode, but presumably he’s still hanging around Winterfell. Why doesn’t Sansa talk to him? He’d probably have some insights into Arya’s behaviour, and definitely into Petyr’s behaviour, as we’ve seen already. He’s a valuable resource going to waste at the moment.

And Sam? He must have some significant part still to play as well, but I can’t see where or how. Hopefully we’ll see more of Bran and Sam again soon. And what is Arya up to? Is she going to mess things up for Sansa, or is she going to be more sensible and realise that it’s external forces trying to disrupt her and Sansa? She needs some action – someone to focus on as an enemy.

Next episode: the season 7 finale!

3 Responses to “Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 6 “Beyond the Wall””

  1. Brian Rapp says:

    My immediate thought was “Where did they get that chain?” When I googled that question, I found that author Joshua Gayou had asked it as well, and proposed a better scene that removes the question.

  2. Glen says:

    Good job on that.

    “It’s not clear why”; “Now what on earth is going on here?” – Usually you’re quicker than me to guess at what’s happening, but in this case I guessed in general terms what was going on with this shortly after first watching this episode. I wasn’t sure of it though.

    “Why doesn’t Sansa talk to him?” — Creeping her completely out over her wedding night might make her hesitate; or her having a ton of stuff to do running a kingdom half the size of Westeros might have her too busy to think of it, let alone having an angry murder-ninja for a sister and dealing with all the other lovely chaos that is suddenly appearing (Baelish loves strife); or maybe she hasn’t fully comprehended what he’s capable of just yet.

  3. Javier says:

    Did you wonder how on earth Gendry got that fast to Eastwatch? how the ravens flew so fast to Dragonstone to warn Daenerys? And how on earth does the dragons flew so fast to the spot where Jon and friends were in trouble, without them being already killed? Some things “happen” fast on GoT because the time between travels is left out, but this time, that’s a huge gap to be considered…

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