Sibling rivalry goes in some dark directions, the worst laid plans in Game of Thrones history goes about as well as the best laid plans on Game of Thrones, and once again the happy shouts of a million fan theorists echo across the land. So much to talk about after the break. Yes, there are spoilers.
“Beyond the Wall” was a bit of a weird episode, and a difficult one to recap. In many ways, this felt like more of a transition episode and not the penultimate episode of the penultimate season. And this is especially pervasive in the scenes north of the wall. Through their shifting conversations the show gives us a chance to reintroduce characters who are old to us, but new to the other members of Operation Wight Drop. And I’m not sure how well this works because nothing new really gets revealed. We already know that The Hound hates fire and that Jorah is a dishonored, though honorable man. We know that Thoros is a drunk who was a hero, and Jon is a hero that is brave and impulsive and always tries to do the right thing. Nothing in their interactions changes that. I suppose that the writers had these moments to help us remember what these men stand for and what we’ll lose if they die; but, after the frenetic pace of the last five episodes, the slow timing of the walking and talking scenes seem like placeholders until the real action starts.
This is in stark contrast to the sisterly scenes in Winterfell. Don’t get me wrong, I am greatly annoyed at how easily Litttlefinger has played Arya and Sansa, turning them into wind-up toys that seem capable of doing only his exact bidding. I can almost understand Arya getting played – though her faceless man training should allow her to see through his machinations (unless he is a faceless man himself!), but Sansa KNOWS her creepy uncle’s methods. Literally, the moment Arya shows her that scroll, she should have seen Littlefinger’s slimy little finger prints all over it, and reacted appropriately. Yet, she seems to be forgetting everything she’s learned over her last five years in Hell, falling back on old hurts.
Still, the scenes between Arya and Sansa were ripe with tension, really leaving you unsure where things were going to go. Again, in contrast to the scenes in the north, which really seemed to follow the fan theory playbook to the letter. Their last scene was especially effective, with Sansa finding the faces like the last girl in a horror movie, and Arya playing the role of serial killer (complete with the creepy monologue), proving that she is a real threat. Her final action, handing the assassins knife to Sansa, is vital and seems to say, “the ball is in your court, sis.” I’m holding out hope that this means Arya isn’t entirely convinced of her sister’s guilt, and that Sansa’s next step will be one that ensures the Starks stick together. Who knows, maybe this is all part of one long con that will be revealed next week!
So now we need to talk about the battle and the aftermath between the Night King and the dragons, and jeez – again I don’t know where to begin. Maybe with the idea, again, that they shouldn’t have been there in the first place, because the plan to go into the North, pick a random wight out of an army of 100,000 and take it into Kings Landing to convince Cersei to give resources, is still incredibly stupid, not just because the task was impossible, but also because it’s doubtful showing the wight to Cersei (who already has an undead minion) will result in her committing resources (especially since she doesn’t really have armies to spare!). And the fact that the first part of the plan worked – and no surprise that it needed some serious Dragon ex Machina – means nothing, since the cost was way too high. Jon Snow’s little excursion may very well have handed the Night King the keys to the kingdom.
If wights hate fire, what exactly does a dragon wight breathe? Wouldn’t it be something if the moment Viserys tries to breathe fire onto the wall, he bursts into flame and lands at the Night King’s feet?
Where in seven hells did the undead army find several hundred feet of giant iron chain? I mean seriously, have they been dragging that behind them just waiting for this moment? No wonder they’ve been moving so slow.
I know the aunt-nephew incest has a bit of an ick factor, but once again I love the pacing of the Jon and Daenerys love affair, and his offer to bend the knee has so many facets. Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke have some really nice chemistry, and you start to realize that this might be the potential for her first ‘normal’ relationship – which of course means someone is going to die.
How hard must it be for the showrunners and scriptwriters on this show? People have been talking about the possibility of an undead dragon for three years now. As the show winds down, and more and more fan theories are confirmed, the temptation to surprise people and just throw some out-of-left field plot point to do so must be very great. (I’m going with Sean Bean wakes up in the shower and as the camera pulls back you find they’ve all been living in a snow globe?)
I wonder what fan theories will bear fruit in the final episode. It appears The Hound is headed south, so I guess Cleganebowl could still be on. And if the trailer holds true, all the major characters will be in the same scene for the first time in the series, so that should be very interesting.
I guess we’ll find out in the season finale, next week!