We all know that nothing good happens beyond the wall in Westeros and tonight Game of Thrones fans were dealt a devastating blow. It was a night fraught with fear, heartache and a shocking event that rivals that of the Red Wedding. Our worst fears have been realized and things will never be the same. But wait! Before you read any further, I have to warn you. Not even the great Baelor himself can save you from the spoilers in this recap/review, so make sure you have watched Game of Thrones “Beyond the Wall” episode 6 of season 7 before you read this. Alright, GoT fans, you’ve been warned. Come on in and let’s discuss.
Brothers In Arms
What makes men heroes? Honor? Decency? Bravery? Sacrifice? Well tonight we got all of these in huge doses. Jon and company went looking for trouble beyond the wall and they found it. It was great that they were able to put their grievances behind them, and there was a beautiful moment between Jon Snow and Ser Jorah. There were some funny moments and we saw that a common goal can bring camaraderie between men who have no reason to be friends. We all hoped that Tormund would live to at least woo Brienne properly, that Jon, Gendry and Jorah would survive this foolhardy quest, and that even Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr would all return triumphant. But sadly that was not to be. This is Game of Thrones after all.
Their journey beyond the wall was fruitful. They got the wight they needed to bring to Cersei, but the cost was high. A few good men lost their lives to a zombie bear and some undead warriors. Thoros of Myr died and at the darkest point, when they were fighting for their lives it looked like they weren’t going to make it. Can you imagine if Gendry hadn’t made it back to Eastwatch to send a raven to Dany? Luckily Daenerys charged in on her dragons and saved them, but our relief was short lived. After Viserion died and sank into the icy lake waters, Daenerys had to leave Jon Snow behind and make a quick getaway or risk losing her other dragons. And then we watched Jon Snow get overwhelmed and fall into the icy waters, too. It was horrifying.
Sisters At Odds
Littlefinger’s plan is working but it’s even more devious than even I anticipated. Putting a wedge between Sansa and Arya wasn’t enough for Petyr Baelish. He wanted to completely destroy their relationship so that Sansa would have no one to rely on or trust other than him. He wanted Sansa to fear Arya. It’s so Machiavellian it’s brilliant. The note Sansa wrote to Robb pleading with him to come to King’s Landing and swear fealty at Littlefinger’s urging and Cersei’s behest has come back to haunt Sansa. And this is a betrayal in Arya’s eyes, no matter that Sansa was in a bad situation at the time. It also doesn’t help that Arya saw Sansa at their father’s beheading and Sansa, whatever the truth, looks complicit.
But did she, like Arya contests, have a choice? Or was she simply a self-serving coward willing to betray her family to save her own skin? On the one hand, I agree with Arya. Sansa was weak once. And Arya would have never written that letter no matter what the Lannisters did to her.
Petyr’s plan works better than even he expected I think because there is a deep seated resentment between Arya and Sansa for transgressions of the past that they can’t quite put behind them. And maybe they never will. Also, Sansa is irked and resentful that she’s not quite getting the recognition she thinks she deserves for winning Winterfell back.
And now Sansa fears Arya and her strange and creepy ways. She worries that Arya will reveal the letter to the Northern lords. She’s afraid that Arya can see her creeping desire to be queen. I think she’s even afraid that because she no longer knows her sister that Arya could be capable of killing her. So who will she turn to now? Who will protect her now that Brienne is gone to attend the meeting in King’s Landing? Petyr is there waiting. Brienne was right to voice her concerns against him but I fear Sansa won’t realize the danger he poses until it’s too late, or if at all.
I think the death of Viserion and almost losing Jon and Jorah has made a massive impact on Daenerys. I think she was losing sight of her original plan to break the wheel. But tonight I think the loss of one of her children, her relief at Jon’s miraculous survival, and the honesty of Tyrion will put her back on track. All this, and seeing the White Walkers and knowing the real danger that the Night King poses, has confirmed for Daenerys that she wants to be a different kind of ruler worthy of her people. Now she’s invested in the important war, not just the war for power, and that will make her worthy of the title of Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
The Death of Viserion
Did you feel it? Did your heart break? Thank Baelor that Daenerys didn’t listen to Tyrion and do nothing, but the death of Viserion caused all of us real, visceral pain and agony even though we know it’s only a story. It’s always stellar whenever Daenerys brings her dragons to battle. Yet watching Viserion’s fire die out as he plummeted from the sky, his life’s blood leaving a trail of crimson spray in the air and staining the icy snow covered lake, while his brother Drogon screamed in anguish, was terrible and devastating and heartbreaking. Yet at the same time the fall of Viserion was also a thing of heart rending beauty. It’s the kind of death the bards of Westeros will sing of for a thousand years and it is something we will never forget.
For the past year I have been filled with a sick dread knowing not all of Daenerys’ dragons would survive. I knew at least one of them would suffer the same fate as the Stark direwolves and now that that has come to pass we can only hope that we never have to watch the death of one of these beautiful creatures ever again. Except I believe that we will have to watch Viserion die, twice, and that hurts like a mother.
And even though we know that for the emotional connection a storyteller must kill their darlings, the death of Viserion was almost too much to take. It was beyond heartbreaking. There have been a lot of moments on this show when we’ve lost characters we’ve become attached to, but I think this one hurt so much because we have watched those dragons grow since the time they were eggs. It’s like they belong to us, and maybe that’s why we feel Viserion’s death as deeply as Daenerys.
Daenerys Isn’t Invincible or Unstoppable
And if you’ve been feeling a little disconnected from Dany because she seems invincible, tonight most likely changed that. Watching her face when the Night King threw his giant dragon killing super spear like an Olympic athlete and it struck Viserion, and knowing the pain she must have felt at the loss of one of her beloved children, must if nothing else get you invested in her story again. Her loss is our loss. She’s risking her children to win this war. And that is scary and that is something that makes her human again. How can we not feel for her deeply once more?
The Hated Night King
I’ve always wanted the good guys to defeat the Night King and his Army of the Dead. But now I hate the Night King with a primeval rage and all I want is to end him in the worst way. And if I’m honest I’m a little mad at Daenerys for not realizing before now that she’s not invincible, that her dragons aren’t impervious to death, and that you can’t just swoop in and set fire to everything without there being a cost. And I’m also a little mad at Jon Snow for going on this damn trip in the first place.
But at least Viserion didn’t die in vain. Now Daenerys knows the White Walkers are real, now she knows what they are capable of, and now she will join Jon Snow and fight for the living.
I hope when they think like their enemies in order to win they remember the undead bear and make the connection that the Night King will do the same to Viserion. I hope they will plan to target the Night King and kill him and that by killing him they kill them all. It would end the war with the least amount of casualties to the living, but that’s easier said than done.
The Sacrifice of Benjen Stark
What is it with these Stark men and their propensity for sacrificing themselves? It’s great that the fortunate reappearance of Benjen “Coldhands” Stark happened just in the nick of time, and luckily for Jon. It’s just sad to see yet another Stark die fighting the good fight. But at least he went out swinging like the bamf he is and it was so worth it since he gave his life saving Jon Snow.
The Big Questions
The question of succession came up tonight and Tyrion is right to think of the long game, even if that did piss Daenerys off. No one likes to think of their allies thinking about their death. Reluctantly I must admit that I think that there is something romantic brewing between Daenerys and Jon. I mean, he called her Dany for Baelor’s sake. Unfortunately she is his aunt and that has to become known before their relationship progresses much further. I do see heartache on the way for these two, but I think in the end they will do the right thing and deny the feelings they have for each other. As for whom Daenerys will consider to succeed her on the Iron Throne since she will have no children, there is only one choice, and that choice is Jon Snow. It makes perfect sense.
And what will our heroes do now that the Night King and his White Walkers have an ice dragon? Will the wight Jon and company captured do the trick? Will Cersei want to join them for real, or will she still be plotting to end them after they’ve served her purpose? Are they walking blindly into a trap? Will Arya end up killing Sansa, or will Sansa or Petyr or both of them together kill Arya? Maybe, but Arya is a bit of a wild card and very resourceful and has proven hard to kill.
Will Jon ride Rhaegal? What will happen when the Night King rides Viserion into battle? How will Daenerys deal with that? I hope she remembers that Viserion is dead and that the ice dragon with the blue eyes is no longer her child. Will Daenerys name Jon Snow her heir? When will they discover exactly who Jon is? What is Petyr planning next? And what will Cersei do? Will she come out on top in the upcoming meeting? What will it be like for Tyrion to see the sister who wants his head on a spike?
Hands down the entire sequence of the battle on the small island in the ice lake, Daenerys arriving with her dragons setting fire to the White Walkers, the Night King throwing that damn spear that killed Viserion, Viserion plummeting to his death, all of it was a feast for the eyes. Honestly Game of Thrones just gets better and better and the CGI is so on point that we can easily suspend our disbelief and cry for the death of a dragon.
But when the Night King pulled the dead Viserion out of the water, placed his hands upon him and resurrected the great dragon, and then when Viserion opened his great big eye and it was blue, well that was the best scene of the night. It was definitely the most chilling.
The haunting kinship demonstrated between the dead Viserys and the dragon named after him also dying is such brilliant synchronicity. It’s eclipsed only by the Night King touching and claiming a dragon tonight and the perfect juxtaposed symmetry of Jon Snow touching Drogon and earning his acceptance last week. And though Viserion is now one of the dead, his resurrection was eerie, horrifying, and exquisite and gets my vote for best scene of the night.
Also notable was Jon’s declaration of fealty. It was heartfelt and it moved Dany to tears.
In the End…
We lost some good men and an amazing dragon tonight. Benjen Stark, Thoros of Myr, we almost lost Tormund and Jon Snow and Arya and Sansa are easily playing into Littlefinger’s hands. At least Jon is alive and Daenerys will join him in the fight against the Night King. Jon has also made his decision to accept Daenerys as his queen and now that Daenerys is all in and they will be working together I believe that Westeros and the realm of man has a chance at defeating the enemy. Unless Cersei or Littlefinger have their way.
And though we will mourn Viserion greatly, we have to dry our tears, my friends. We have a war to win. And a Night King to destroy.
Check out this preview for next week’s final episode of Game of Thrones, and watch the season 7 finale on Sunday, August 27th on HBO.