Game of Thrones, Episode 7.06: “Beyond the Wall”

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Hello hello, and welcome once again to the great Chris and Nikki co-blog on Game of Thrones. It’s hard to believe, but we’re at the penultimate episode of this season! Only one more to go. And hopefully the final episode will be mind-blowing, because I found a whole lot about this one that quite simply pissed me off. This Saturday I will be doing a talk at the Avalon Expo here in St. John’s on cartography and world-building (plus another thing) … so you might imagine how this episode’s total fudging of geography might have annoyed me, yes?

But that being said … it’s my turn to lead us off, so—

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Christopher: I’m going to lead off by saying that I was about ready to give up on this episode about three quarters of the way through—as I’ve observed before, the show has pretty much given up on anything resembling a realistic sense of scale when it comes to geography, and so the whole premise that a raven could get to Dragonstone and Daenerys could get back with her dragons in the space of twenty-four hours was just obnoxious (the North is BIG, people—as is observed several times in the novels, the North is pretty much as big as the other six kingdoms combined. No way a raven could make that trip without several stops on the way, especially not if it was gripping a coconut by the husk). Also, the whole cunning plan to kidnap a wight and return it to the south was always just fakakta.

Also, Arya was REALLY pissing me off this episode.

BUT … the episode retroactively redeemed itself by giving us a critical mass of heartbreak and plot twists in the final fifteen minutes or so. I’m still not inclined to forgive the geographical discrepancies or the sheer stupidity of the wight-napping plan, but they do fade somewhat into the background.

We begin with an interesting opening shot, a long slow track up the map-shaped conference table at Dragonstone, moving from south to north until we’re past the wall—which would be a nifty little way to geographically situate Jon Snow and his merry band (assuming we’d completely forgotten the end of last week’s episode), if it weren’t for the fact that the episode then proceeds to completely fudge the distances involved. That being said, the first extreme long shot of Jon and the others is of a piece with this season’s self-consciously epic use of landscape porn. Every episode, we’re treated to gorgeous images of characters dwarfed by sea, sky, and cliffs—or in this case, snow and mountains. Which is, again, tonally and practically out of step with the ease with which characters seem able to traverse great distances, but I’ll let that one go for now.

However idiotic the wight-napping plot, my favourite part of this episode was the series of conversations that transpires. There’s a lot of exposition, which can often weigh down an episode; and while there are moments that have a “the story till now” feel, they are mostly really rather entertaining—due in part to good writing and good chemistry between the actors. We begin with the assertion of geographical relativity: Gendry’s never been north, and as far as Tormund is concerned, Winterfell is the south.

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We also have Tormund dropping a hint about one of the ways the episode will end: when Jon tells him that Daenerys will only help them if he bends the knee, he says, “You’ve spent too much time with the Free Folk. Now you don’t like kneeling!” Once upon a time, that would have been the highest compliment Tormund could have paid Jon. But his own experience, both north and south of the Wall, seems to have tempered Tormund’s views on the matter. “Mance Rayder was a great man,” he reflects. “Proud man. The King-Beyond-the-Wall would never bend the knee. How many people died because of his pride?” The fact that even a wildling like Tormund is now reconsidering the wisdom of Mance’s absolutism signals the stakes for which they’re now playing, and also works like Chekhov’s proverbial gun on the wall in act one, which is fired at the end when Jon (metaphorically) bends the knee to Daenerys.

The next expository dialogue is between Gendry and the Brotherhood—reminding us all of the fact that Beric and Thoros, for reasons both faith-based and pecuniary, essentially sold Gendry to Melisandre. For all intents and purposes, Gendry provides a decently “Previously on ..” in his complaint: “I wanted to be one of you,” he says. “I wanted to be a member of the Brotherhood, but you sold me off like a slave!” Of course, his initial description of what Melisandre did to him—“She strapped me down on a bed, she stripped me naked—“ doesn’t seem quite such a hardship, especially to those who’ve seen Melisandre. Though the next bit is about leeches, the Hound’s question, “Was she naked too?” suggests that perhaps Gendry’s initial fate wasn’t as bad as he’s making out.

We know we’ve passed a certain threshold with this particular fellowship when the Hound dismisses Gendry’s charge that Melisandre at al meant, ultimately, to kill him: “But they didn’t! Did they? So what’re you whinging about?” (Incidentally, the Hound’s statement that “Your lips are moving, you’re complaining about something, that’s whinging” is now on par for me with Buffy’s comment to Cordelia that “Your mouth is moving and sounds are coming out—that’s never a good thing” as one of the world’s greatest put-downs). Indicating Beric, he continues, “This one’s been killed six times, you don’t hear him bitching about it.” This dismissal of Gendry’s basic complaint, along with Tormund’s insinuation that they might all use Gendry for their sexual pleasure, capped with Thoros giving the boy a drink from his flask, all has the feel of a hazing ritual.

The cap to this sequence is the bonding of two figures separated for most of this series, but whose fates were pretty much inscribed from day one (though the fact that the name “Sam Tarly” STILL hasn’t apparently come up makes me as crazy as it does you, Nikki). History is burbling up at an accelerated rate now, as we’ll see in the Sansa-Arya conflict; here, at least, it’s conciliatory—Jorah acknowledging his transgressions and the justice of Eddard Stark’s sentence, as well as the rightness of his father’s disownment of him. Jon, having characterized his father as the most honourable man he ever knew, feels compelled to return Longclaw to Jorah and House Mormont—but again, Jorah’s a stand-up guy, and refuses Jon’s largesse. As well he should.

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Considering that we cut from the myriad bromances budding out on the ice to the cat fight brewing between Arya and Sansa, can I just pause and ask whether anyone else felt that this was something of an egregiously gendered contrast? It wouldn’t bother me as much if the conflict between Arya and Sansa wasn’t so fucking contrived. My argument with this episode as a whole is about its narrative logic—the idiocy of wight-napping and the erasure of geographical distance on one hand, but the antagonism between the Stark sisters on the other. I grant we can expect Arya to have developed a certain amount of suspicion and cynicism in her long sojourn apart from her family, but at no point did we see her relinquish her intelligence. Yes, coming home to Winterfell to find Sansa in charge would be expected to bring all those old resentments back—but not to this extreme, not to the point where she seems to threaten to kill Sansa and take her face. Is the idea that her time with the Faceless Men drove her insane?

I hate narrative conflicts that could be so easily solved by someone asking the obvious question, such as “Wait, where did you get that scroll?” If the series had made Sansa blindly trusting of Littlefinger’s council, this current dispute would make a certain amount of distressing sense. But LITERALLY EVERYONE WHO MATTERS distrusts Littlefinger! All it would take is for Arya to say “Oh, I found this in Baelish’s mattress,” and suddenly she’s fighting Brienne for the right to put Mayor Carcetti’s head on a pike.

Argh.

But speaking of Brienne—it’s a measure of my love and regard for you, Nikki, that I now pass the gauntlet to you to speak about what is possibly my favourite conversation from the entire series so far.

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Nikki: Yeah, as episodes this season go, this one was definitely the one I liked the least, even if it gave me 30 heart attacks in the final 15 minutes. The defiance of all laws of time and space rankled with me the whole episode, too (I half-expected Gendry to return in the goddamn TARDIS) and a friend of mine and I were joking about whether they now use Raven FedEx or Raven Email, given the swiftness of those birds.

But more on that later, I assume. Because what this episode lacked in actual common sense, it more than made up for with deep emotional resonance.

Last year we had the Battle of the Bastards, and in this episode we get the Smackdown of the Sisters. And it’s as emotionally painful to watch as I could have imagined. Now, I’ll agree with you, Christopher, that watching this scene made me want to tie Arya to a chair and force her to watch every Sansa scene from the past seven years… but that was the point, and the reason that I actually thought this scene was brutally realistic. If either Arya or Sansa had acted any differently in this scene I would have cried foul, but I thought it was as close to perfect as it could have been.

First we have to recap Arya and Sansa in season one… these two were always at each other’s throats, and almost immediately after Robert and his entourage arrive at Winterfell, Sansa is betrothed to Joffrey. Sansa has always responded positively to being trained in “ladylike ways” — she has perfect handwriting, as Arya points out in this episode, and happily sewed when Arya pushed against societal norms and wanted to be out in the courtyard practising sword-fighting and archery like her brothers. All Sansa ever aspired to be was a lady, so when given the opportunity to marry Joffrey Baratheon — with the promise of becoming queen one day — it was every girly-girl’s dream come true. And it made Arya want to gag.

Ned packed up his daughters and took them to King’s Landing, and they took their direwolves with them. When Arya accompanied Joffrey and Sansa to the river and Joffrey threatens Arya, Nymeria bit him (as we discussed a couple of weeks ago on this blog) and Arya forced Nymeria to run away so she wouldn’t be hurt. What many of us have forgotten, though, is when they went back to King’s Landing and were questioned about what happened, Sansa played dumb, and said she didn’t see anything but she’s pretty sure it wasn’t Joffrey’s fault. Arya was beside herself, even when Sansa’s direwolf was the one sacrificed for Sansa’s lie. Arya never forgave Sansa for that betrayal, and eventually when Ned glommed onto the Lannister incest and was captured by Cersei, Sansa was “kept safe” and told to write the letter begging Robb to bend the knee before Joffrey, while Arya was forced to live on the streets. The last time Arya saw her sister, Sansa was standing on the scaffolding with a fancy dress and outrageously styled hair, while Arya had been eating pigeons and trying not to be killed (and, by the way, had already inadvertently killed a man). One can only imagine that image of Sansa burning into Arya’s retinas and searing into her memory, and Ned was beheaded by Joffrey, with Sansa standing right by his side.

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Arya hasn’t seen her sister since. But if those are her memories of her, of course she despises her. She’s had Joffrey at the top of her kill list from that moment, and was disappointed to find out someone else had the joy of killing him first. She returned to Winterfell and didn’t fall into Sansa’s arms, but instead kept her distance. She’s not at Winterfell for Sansa, but out of loyalty to the Stark clan. And now that she’s got the proof in her hands that her sister was a conniving accomplice to the Lannisters — and therefore part of the reason their father is dead — it’s brought back all those memories to her, and the loathing she’s always felt for Sansa since season one rises to the surface.

Remember, we all thought Sansa was an insipid, annoying, awful character in those first seasons, but we’ve had the privilege of watching her every move since then, while Arya hasn’t. We’re expecting Arya to have respect for a sister whom she hasn’t seen grow in character and maturity the way we have. All she sees is that conniving sister who wormed her way into the Lannisters’ hearts and has now taken over as Lady of Winterfell.

Meanwhile… Sansa remembers Arya being the little annoying twit who was trying to get between her and Joffrey. Her direwolf is dead because Arya wanted to play swords with Joffrey, and while she knows she’s to blame for what happened with the Lannisters, Arya as a child was always that voice yipping in her ear telling her she was just as bad a person as she feared she might be. Arya tried to stop her from becoming queen by getting her into trouble with the Lannisters, and is now standing between her and the lords of the northern Houses. While Sansa doesn’t harbour hatred for Arya, she harbours a deep annoyance, and her actions and words in this scene come from that feeling. She knows Arya is unpredictable and rash, and that very rashness could get them both killed.

Sansa has been in the midst of several battles, narrowly escaped being married to a man she knew would torture her for the rest of her life, was a suspect in his murder, was whisked away by a man who fancied her mother and now doesn’t seem to notice she’s not her mother (ew), learned from the inside by watching and listening just how to duck and parry her way through the political machinations happening around her, was then married to Ramsay Bolton and raped repeatedly for their entire marriage, narrowly escaped from his clutches, and then called on Littlefinger — the very person who married her to Bolton — to help save Jon Snow from the battle, thus winning the Battle of the Bastards, regaining Winterfell for her family, and still taking second chair to a brother that isn’t even a proper Stark while possessing more political knowledge and experience than many of the people in that room.

Arya lived hand to mouth for years, pretended to be a boy, and (in no particular order) narrowly escaped Melisandre and the Brotherhood Without Banners, travelled with the Hound and his unfeeling, unemotional ways, met Brienne (and Brienne remains the only real connection between Sansa and Arya in all these years, since she served both of them), was this close to reuniting with her mother and brother before hiding in the stables as she heard their screams as they were slaughtered by the Freys, narrowly escaped being killed and tortured by Tywin Lannister, met and was saved by Jaqen H’ghar, then trained to be a Faceless Man — where she was beaten and belittled by Jaqen and the Waif, was blinded, continued to train, taught to be devoid of emotions, and eventually came out of there a warrior — and along the way has killed so many people.

Their paths diverged long ago, but both of them have been brutalized in many ways that are unfathomable, and yet each one imagines there’s no way the other one has been through as terrible a time as they have, and they say as much in this scene. Seven years ago, Ned’s daughters couldn’t have possibly imagined their lives turning out the way they did.

What’s interesting is that when Bran showed up, he instantly knew everything Sansa had endured, and she had to walk away from him because knowing that her baby brother had watched her in his weird timey-wimey way as she was raped by a monster was too much for her to handle. The problem with Arya, on the other hand, is that while Bran knows everything that’s happened to Sansa but is unable to show any emotion because of the mystical state he’s in, Arya knows nothing of what has happened to Sansa out of her arrogance that no one could have possibly gone through what she has. And Sansa has never asked Arya what she’s been through, either.

At the top of this scene Arya remembers standing all alone in the courtyard shooting an arrow and hitting the bullseye, and looking up to her father’s slow clap up on the balcony. Interestingly, many of the details in her story are wrong, which seems to have been done on purpose. She wasn’t alone (Bran was having his archery practice and Robb and Jon were standing nearby), Catelyn was with Ned, and he didn’t slow clap.

But she did hit that bullseye, and her father was watching. Time and experience have faded the other parts of the scene for her, but I loved that she remembers being all alone — after so many years of being exactly that, she no longer remembers being surrounded by people who loved her.

She ends the little reverie, however, with words that seem to foreshadow what’s coming next; the underlying threat is unmistakable: “I knew what I was doing was against the rules but he was smiling, so I knew it wasn’t wrong: the rules were wrong. I was doing what I was meant to be doing and he knew it.” And then she adds, “Now he’s dead, killed by the Lannisters, with your help.” Sansa had been smiling on this little memory until that moment, where the shift was something even someone who has come to expect anything… didn’t expect. They discuss the day Ned was beheaded, and Sansa discovers for the first time that Arya was in the audience (when Ned was killed, Sansa feared her sister had been killed by soldiers). As Arya talks about Sansa standing on that scaffold doing nothing, Sansa counters that if Arya was in the audience, why didn’t she just rush the stage and save all of them? Then she uses the kind of words that Sansa used to use when they were kids, the very thing that would drive Arya mad in this scene: “You should be on your knees thanking me,” she says, and she’s right: if not for Sansa and her brilliance, Winterfell would not be in the hands of the Starks right now. She explains exactly what she did at the Battle of the Bastards, which SHOULD have opened up a line of dialogue for the two of them to sit down and tell each other exactly what they’ve been through. But neither of them is interested in a catch-up chat, especially Arya, who seems to have kept Sansa off her kill list only because they share DNA.

Arya believes Sansa has sat around being pretty for seven years; Sansa believes Arya has been travelling the world as a carefree vagabond while she’s been working to take back Winterfell. “While you were training, I suffered things you could never imagine,” she hisses at Arya.

“Oh, I don’t know about that, and I can imagine quite a lot,” Arya replies.

And that’s the moment where most Game of Thrones fans probably screamed in frustration. Sometimes dramatic irony REALLY SUCKS. (I actually gasped aloud and went, “Arya, NO!”) Sansa counters by saying, “You never would have survived what I survived,” and again, viewers around the world gasped a eollective gasp and yelled, “Sansa, NO!!” A few weeks ago, when Arya re-encountered Nymeria and I said she shouldn’t return to Winterfell because there is nothing between her and Sansa, I did so with regret because I wanted to see a happy reunion. But deep down I knew this is what would happen, and that Arya should have turned that damn horse the other way.

I hope the context I provided above might help us move through this scene a little better and understand the perspective each of these young women brings to this scene, but there is one moment where Arya actually seems to affirm Sansa’s notion that she’s too naive, and that’s when she begins taunting Sansa about the letter, saying there’s no reason Sansa has to be nervous because if she hasn’t done anything wrong, she won’t be punished. Even Sansa responds with an exasperated, “Arya!” How did Arya get this far thinking that only villains are punished, innocent people are never hurt, and the good guys always win? Of COURSE she knows if she shows that letter to anyone it’ll hurt Sansa even if Sansa was innocent — there’s always someone in the shadows waiting to twist things to their advantage, and 75% of the time that person is Littlefinger. But Arya’s not actually that naive; she’s just mocking Sansa to terrify her.

The only one who says anything remotely correct in this scene is Sansa, who points out that if Cersei could see them now, she’d be thrilled. Sansa maintains that she was a child when she penned that letter, and Arya points out that tough, take-no-shit Lyanna Mormont is younger, but she would never write a letter like that. The scene ends with Sansa saying, “Sometimes anger makes people do unfortunate things,” and Arya countering, “Sometimes fear makes people do unfortunate things. I’ll go with anger.”

And Game of Thrones fans everywhere sob.

And then it’s back to the north, where time and distance mean NOTHING, with the Hound making comments about gingers, dicks, and Brienne. What did you think of this lovely little bit of fan service, Chris, with Tormund imagining a, um, romantic future with Brienne?

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Christopher: Well, that was a very nice way of reminding me of all the emotional baggage weighing down the Stark sisters. Perhaps their conflict is not quite as contrived as I suggest.

But Arya’s still pissing me off.

One little correction to your account before I go on: you suggest that Arya is misremembering or misrepresenting her story about practicing archery, alone, in the Winterfell courtyard, citing the scene in the very first episode when she intrudes upon Bran’s shooting—with Ned and Catelyn looking on, and Jon and Robb helping. As Bran keeps missing his mark, suddenly Arya appears and shoots a perfect bulls-eye. But the episode she recounts to Sansa is a different one entirely—I took that story to mean she picked up the bow and shot again and again, earning her father’s approbation, so that when she shows Bran up in the first episode, she’d already practiced enough to hit the bulls-eye with ease.

But back to the North! And thank you for letting me talk about what is my favourite scene in this and probably ever other episode. Tormund and the Hound—if ever on this show there were brothers from another mother, it would be these two. Both big, violent, but ultimately good-hearted men. Already by the time of my writing this there’s half a dozen remixes on YouTube reimagining this scene as a sitcom of one stripe or another. From Tormund’s first line—“You’re the one they call the Dog!”—you know this is going to be comedy gold. And it’s doubly hilarious because we hear Tormund lay out clearly what the show has left un-verbalized, namely his infatuation with Brienne.

But before we get there, we get more indications that Tormund is one of the smarter and more insightful characters on the show. Certainly, he’s verbally dexterous—“Gingers are beautiful!” he says in cheerful response to the Hound’s insult. “Kissed by fire—just like you!” He reaches a finger out to indicate the Hound’s scars, which (surprise surprise) is not met with smiles and kisses. “Don’t point your fucking finger at me!” he snarls, smacking away Tormund’s hand and stalking away. But Tormund only grins, and pursues his quarry. Not, it should be clear, in a mean-spirited manner—he’s not interested in antagonizing the Hound, he’s just … interested. A curious nature speaks to an active mind, and his questions betray an actual interest. When the Hound admits he was pushed into the fire (if we recall, it was his older brother Gregor, The Mountain, who pushed young Sandor’s face into a brazier when he caught him playing with one of his toys), Tormund says “And ever since, you’ve been mean!” (I imagine this entire conversation unfolding in a psychiatrist’s office, with the Hound reclining on a handsome leather couch and Tormund making careful notes as he speaks). In what has to be one of my favourite character observations in the series, Tormund says, “I don’t think you’re truly mean. You have sad eyes.” I might have actually said “Wow!” while first watching this; coming from anyone else, such dialogue would have seemed trite, but from Tormund it has the undeniable ring of truth … not least because it rather pithily articulates something we’ve all known about the Hound for some time now—that he is a man driven by loss and anger and, since his “rebirth” following Arya leaving him for death, atonement.

Of course, the Hound is a reluctant patient at best, and tries to shut Tormund down with a classic masculinist attack—charging that the wildling is gay, and that his disturbing insights into the Hound’s character are really just an expression of homoeroticism. Hilariously, this attack founders on a basic misunderstanding: apparently, “dick” is not a colloquialism used north of the Wall. But once Tormund understands the Hound’s attempted insult, it allows him to wax poetic about the true object of his affections: “I have a beauty waiting for me back at Winterfell … if I ever get back there. Yellow hair. Blue eyes. Tallest woman you’ve ever seen. Almost as tall as you!” And then the Hound twigs to what he’s saying. “Brienne of Tarth?” he demands incredulously. “You’re with Brienne of fucking Tarth?” Which of course means Tormund has to demure, admitting that they’re not actually together, not yet, but “I want to make babies with her! Think of them! Great big monsters! They’d conquer the world!”

I want to pause here to note that in our last post I said that if Tormund “and Brienne don’t get together and spawn a bunch of massive lethal babies, a large number of GoT fans will be storming HBO’s main offices.” Obviously I’m on the same wavelength with Tormund.

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And then in yet another in the snowballing number of hints that Jon Snow is not the son of Eddard Stark, Beric says “You don’t look much like him.” What follows, however, is a theological discussion about the Lord of Light, with Beric finding common ground with Jon—both have been brought back from the dead (Beric, admittedly, many more times than Jon). Beric has little to offer Jon in terms of concrete knowledge—all he can say, ultimately, is that the Lord of Light moves in mysterious ways (cue the U2). But he also expresses a certain consonance with what Jon Snow has been on about for two seasons—namely, that this war has little and less to do with the game of thrones, and everything to do with the greater existential threat posed by the Night King. “Death is the enemy. The first enemy and the last.” When Jon points out the obvious—that we all die—Beric says, “The enemy always wins. But we still need to fight him.”

I loved Beric’s fatalism here, and was gutted by it—his acknowledgement that he finds no joy in life any more. His confident assertion that neither will Jon is somewhat undercut at the end of the episode, but in the moment, his words seem to resonate. “I am the shield that guards the realms of men,” Jon says, quoting his Night’s Watch oath. “Maybe that’s enough,” says Beric.

Not to harp on the geography issue, but the Hound then spots the mountain shaped like an arrowhead he saw in his vision. It’s unclear how long they’ve been walking at this point, but if Gendry can sprint back to the gate without slowing to a walk, they can’t have been on the road that long. And if they’re really less than a day out from Eastwatch, THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SEE THE MOUNTAIN FROM THE TOP OF THE WALL. It really should have been in their sights from the beginning.

Argh.

But then we’re back to those who sit at wait at Dragonstone. What did you think of the exchange between Daenerys and Tyrion, Nikki?

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Nikki: I love that in an episode that seemed not to have the same depth as the rest of this season, you and I are going to stretch it out to be the longest GoT post EVER. Hahaha!! (And you’re probably absolutely right about Arya; I just thought it would be really poetic if her character misremembered a scene involving her entire family and reduced it to her and her dad all alone and against the world, which is how she lives her life: alone, with Ned’s spirit inside her.)

The chat between Daenerys and Tyrion finally makes it clear that despite me desperately wanting the look in Dany’s eyes to be one of respect, she’s got a thing for The Man Who Knows Nothing, and despite me thinking Jon had an emotionless face, Tyrion saw a lustfulness for Dany there. I just can’t stop thinking about her being Auntie Dan, although as you point out, Chris, this is a land where incest is the order of the day. Dany tells Tyrion that she’s happy he’s not a hero (to which Tyrion hilariously mumbles that he’s been heroic on occasion and points to the scar bisecting his face), that heroes are the people who do stupid things and then they die. She mentions specifically Drogo, Jorah, Daario, and Jon Snow, and Tyrion points out they’re all people who fell in love with her. For the first time in a long time she comes off as a teenage girl going, “oh my GAWD Jon Snow is not in love with me get OUT!” and he says, “He IS in love with you, bae, I could TOTALLY see it in his eyes” and she said “oh shut UP stupid, you are cray-cray!!” (I may be paraphrasing.) She counters that Jon Snow is too little for her (as a joke) and then realizes whose ears that joke just fell upon. (D’oh.) They switch gears to discuss meeting with Cersei once the Avengers bring back the wight, and Tyrion says Cersei would torture Daenerys terribly and then murder her, and that no one trusts his sister less than he does (note proper use of the word “less”). Tyrion says they need to keep their eyes open on this one — after all, they was caught by surprise at Highgarden, and then caught the Lannisters by surprise at the valley, so she knows it’s her turn to get stabbed in the back. She wonders if Cersei could be laying a trap for her.

He tells Daenerys that when they enter King’s Landing, they will do so with their two armies and three dragons, and it’ll be unavoidable to everyone there that there’s no way Cersei is stronger. However, he advises her that if you rule in fear, then everyone below you will simply want you dead, much like his sister who knows only how to rule with fear. He tells Dany that Cersei is going to say something to provoke her, and she cannot be provoked or she might do something impulsive (here it comes…) Daenerys spins around, eyes aflame, and says what exactly has she done lately that was impulsive? He stands still for a moment and then mutters that maybe she could have killed the father and not the son… or just let them rot in a prison… just sayin’… and she explains that no, killing the Tarlys was a well-thought-out action and she will not be called impulsive for doing what she did. (And we can’t help but wonder if a male leader would be questioned the same way here…)

dany-questioning

He reminds her of the discussion they had at that table two seasons ago when she said she wants to create a new society by breaking the wheel. He says, “After we break the wheel, how do we ensure it remains broken?” He wants to discuss succession, but she responds to it the same way people do the first time they have to make a will, and says, “Um let’s talk about this later k bye.” Or, in her words, she won’t discuss this at all until she’s wearing the crown. You can tell she’s becoming annoyed by him — first he’s questioned her actions with the Tarlys, something he’s suggested wasn’t merciful enough (remember, last episode he discussed it with Varys but not Dany), and now he’s imagining her death and wondering who would take over from her. In a season where, as you’ve pointed out a couple of times now, Chris, Daenerys seems to be suspicious of everyone, suddenly having Tyrion ask about who would succeed her when she dies and making sure everything would be fine would be enough to send her over the edge. After all, just because she’s paranoid doesn’t mean Tyrion isn’t looking to unseat her. (We know that’s not the case, but Daenerys has been betrayed too many times.) Not to mention, Tyrion has just returned from having a chat with Jaime, and so she comes right out and asks if perhaps imaginings of her death were part of Tyrion’s discussion with his brother.

Daenerys also mentions here and later in the episode with Jon Snow the fact that she cannot bear children. This is a callback to season one, when Daenerys was pregnant with her and Khal Drogo’s child and Drogo took a wound in battle that got seriously infected. Dany brought in a woman who was a healer (whose entire village had just been massacred and raped by the Dothraki) and asked her to do what she could to heal Drogo. When Dany goes into labour she becomes unconscious, and when she awakes she discovers that Drogo is a vegetable, and her child has been stillborn and misshapen, and the healer smiles as she takes credit for what’s happened. The woman had suffered greatly at the hands of the Dothraki, and tells Daenerys that she’s cast a spell over Dany and Drogo so that neither he nor his son will ever cause any more suffering. And from that point forward Daenerys has assumed she is unable to bear children.

But… what if she’s wrong? Hm…

flaming-bear

And from there it’s back to the north (I feel like cuing the Hamilton soundtrack here all of a sudden and singing, “After the war I went BACK to the north!”) and they find a motherfucking undead bear on the motherfucking wintry tundra. That scene was hellishly freaky, and in it we see what each person’s strength and weakness is. Thoros and Beric’s swords flame on… which is slightly terrifying to the pyrophobic Sandor. Jon and Thormund fly into the battle with their swords, and Jorah doesn’t hesitate going after it (although all of them seem to disappear for long periods of time once the bear has tackled Thoros of Myr, as if they were battling snowflakes in the meantime or something). Thoros isn’t able to get out of the bear’s grip without suffering serious wounds — and it doesn’t help that the flame swords have set the beast on fire, which keeps the Hound at bay. The bear is eventually vanquished, but Thoros “I just got bit by a dead bear” is pretty much done for at that point. Beric kneels before the man who has brought him back from the dead six times and cauterizes his wounds with his flaming sword (ouch).

Meanwhile back at Winterfell Sansa tells the Artful Dodger about the letter with which Arya confronted her, but Baelish plays dumb and says he can’t imagine where her sister might have found that letter. Earlier Arya had accused her sister of being guilty of a crime due to her fear about that letter, but here we find out Sansa’s deepest worry mirrors that of just about every woman who’s ever tried to be in power: it’s that it doesn’t matter how capable she has proven herself to be, she is in control of 20,000 men of the northern Houses who will fight for Jon, but not her. And they’re asking them to join this fight in the midst of the worst winter they’ve ever seen. (And in the case of Sansa, she’s never seen a White Walker so she’s going on faith here.) She reminds Baelish that the lords of the north are about as loyal as a cat who hasn’t been fed: if someone else is holding the can, they’ll forget you in a heartbeat. How can she count on these Houses to back House Stark if they switch sides like windvanes? Just as Bran has become a stranger to her, she tells Baelish that she doesn’t know Arya anymore.

I was surprised that after Sansa declared earlier in the season that she knew exactly what Littlefinger wanted and that you have to keep one eye open with him at all times that she’d just unleash everything here. It’s interesting how Sansa said Cersei would be thrilled to see them fighting, yet she seemed to have missed that Littlefinger would also be thrilled to see them fighting, or notice that he’s the one who orchestrated it (or, as you said Chris, that Arya never told her where she got that piece of paper).

littlefinger

Baelish tells Sansa that Brienne could be the one to help her out. He reminds Sansa that Brienne had sworn to protect both of the sisters, and then asks, “If either of you were going to harm the other, would she intercede?” It’s a cunning question, because Sansa knows that Brienne has been at her side more recently, but that she’s also sworn fealty to Arya. And Brienne also loathes the Lannisters. Is it possible her sister could turn Brienne against her? Brienne was obviously impressed by Arya’s swordfighting skills in the courtyard; could she align herself with Arya and the two women come after Sansa? After all, Arya’s holding a piece of evidence that would make Brienne’s heart turn cold if she thought for one second that Sansa was in cahoots with the Lannisters. Despite all of us knowing that Brienne is one of the rare characters who waits to get all of the information before acting, Sansa believes she would protect Arya, and Sansa would be in danger. Of course my first thought was, “Of course! Brienne could absolutely protect Sansa and make sure that Arya doesn’t hurt her,” but for some reason, as we’ll soon see, Sansa’s brain made the opposite calculation.

And then we’re back to the north, where Thoros of Myr ain’t doing so well, and our gang discovers a shocking twist in the “how to kill a wight” saga. What did you think of this revelation, Chris?

Jorah_jon

Christopher: Well, it’s certainly convenient—doubly so that when Jon Snow kills the White Walker, there was only a single wight in his group that he apparently did not resurrect. But then, I suppose it makes sense—not unlike the variation on vampire mythology that says killing the eldest will do in all the vamps he sired. Especially considering that the zombification of wights is effected by magic, it makes sense that there is a source of that magic, and that killing it cuts off the lifeline.

Still, the merry band has their captive ice-zombie to parade before Cersei’s skeptical eyes, though not before it’s able to screech out a distress call to the horde not far on its heels. Realizing what’s about to happen, Jon sends Gendry sprinting back to Eastwatch to send a raven to Daenerys—though at first I was baffled by why they didn’t all run back, though I suppose Jon made a split-second decision that they couldn’t outrun them as a group, and so made for defensible ground (a decision he apparently communicated telepathically, as no one seemed confused, or suggested that running might be the better option).

So they find themselves literally on thin ice, something that actually saves them when they’re able to make it to the island in the middle of the frozen lake, but the wights start crashing through the ice. Which brings us to fun fact number two in the How to Kill Your Wight instruction book: apparently, they don’t do water. So instead they line the banks of the frozen lake, patient as stones, as their White Walker herders look on. I guess the Night King has no qualms about letting them die of starvation or the cold. I mean, his planned war on the south has been in the works for centuries, perhaps millennia, so what’s another few days to turn Jon into a Snowsicle?

gendry-running

Meanwhile, Gendry makes it to Eastwatch and, like Pheidippides collapsing before the gates of Athens, crashes to the ground and can’t get up. Fortunately, he has gotten to the Wall, and is revived by Davos. “Raven!” Gendry gasps out, “We need to send a raven!” and sets up the deus ex draconis in what is probably the most explicitly telegraphed rescue in television history. But as we shall see, it’s not the rescue that’s the plot twist …

We return to our besieged heroes the following morning to find that Thoros has died in the night. So: no more resurrections for Jon or Beric, not unless they make nice with Melisandre. But really, that seems like less of a concern than the vast army of the dead surrounding them. Making certain Thoros does not join their ranks, Jon says they need to burn the body. Somehow it seems a fitting tribute that he pours the last of Thoros’ rum on him to act as an accelerant; with the help of Beric’s ZippoSword™, they send Thoros to meet the Lord of Light.

Meanwhile, as they play the waiting game, there’s some time for exposition—in answer to Jorah’s question, Jon’s speculation more or less confirms the fact that when a White Walker is killed, all of the dead it had resurrected also die (again). Which leads Beric to suggest that their best bet is to kill the Night King himself, considering that he is the one responsible for the entire army (and presumably for the creation of other White Walkers—if we think back to season four, episode four, “Oathbreaker,” it ends with our first glimpse of the Night King, taking Craster’s infant son and touching his cheek with a fingernail, at which point the baby’s eyes turn ice-blue—a moment echoed at the end of this episode. Which raises the question: if they kill the Night King, will the other White Walkers die?). Beric argues that he and Jon have been brought back to life for a purpose—perhaps this is that purpose? But Jon isn’t convinced, or at least doesn’t say anything one way or another in response. It does seem a bit of a suicide mission, considering how unlikely it is they’d make it past all those wights, and also considering that it seems only Jon and Jorah have the weapons for the task, Jon with Valyrian steel, and Jorah with his obsidian dagger. See, this is where dragonglass arrowheads would be a great idea—try and pick off the White Walkers from a distance.

jon-snow_staring-at-night-king

We leave Jon staring with loathing at the Night King to find that events in the wider world have not ceased, as Sansa receives a missive inviting her to King’s Landing for the Daenerys-Cersei summit. Your thoughts, Nikki, about Littlefinger sowing a seed of doubt about Brienne seem to bear fruit here: Brienne is to go in Sansa’s stead, even though Brienne is far more clear-eyed about who poses a danger to whom, and about just how insidious Littlefinger’s whispers can be. “I have many guards who would happily imprison him or behead him, whether or not you are here,” Sansa says dismissively. “And you trust their loyalty?” Brienne demands. “You trust he hasn’t been speaking to them all behind your back?”

And there it is—truth to power, and Brienne is rewarded for her loyalty and honesty by being sent off rather peremptorily. In the Who Kills Littlefinger pool, Brienne’s odds just got shorter. I completely understand why Sansa simply won’t go to King’s Landing while Cersei’s on the throne—I’d completely understand if she refused to go one way or another—but sending Brienne is simply a stupid idea. If she was thinking straight, she’d send Littlefinger, clearing Winterfell of his whispers for several weeks while at the same time giving him an honour he could hardly refuse—speaking on behalf of the Lady of Winterfell. And who knows, perhaps he has an accident while there? Dangerous place, King’s Landing … but alas, Sansa is not thinking straight, which leads her to later invade Arya’s chambers in search of—what? an indication of what she’s thinking? planning?—and finds a more disturbing trove than she could have imagined.

brienne-nothappy

But that scene only comes after the deus ex draconis. Again, completely telegraphed—but I should have known something was up when we see Daenerys—dressed for northern climes in a fabulous long fur-trimmed coat that really only needed one of those fuzzy Russian hats to complete the look—launching her dragons to fly to the rescue. OK, we know the rescue is coming, we know we’ll see dragons encounter the army of the dead for the first time, so I should have been primed for a twist. Silly me.

Of course, Tyrion is dead set against Daenerys putting herself in danger. “I’m not doing nothing again,” she tells him, and in spite of the huge loss she’s about to experience, it’s the right decision, as she sees for herself the scope and scale of the threat against them. It’s also a good decision in terms of being seen at the forefront of the battle, as opposed to cowering in the rear. Tyrion’s thinking is very much a sort of Secret Service mentality, which dictates the safety of the sovereign at all costs.

And because it would be anticlimactic for Daenerys and her dragons to come roaring over the mountaintops while the wights stand motionless on the shore, the Hound feels compelled to goad them into attacking. Was I the only person who, watching the Hound throw rocks at the wights, suddenly flashed to Boromir throwing stones into the black pool at the doors of Moria? Either way, the result is similar … bad things happen. (Though to raise yet another quibble, the wight looks down at the rock that did not break the ice in a moment of comprehension—though from everything we’ve seen, the ice zombies have about the same level of brain function as your average Walking Dead ghoul. Are we to assume some vestigial thought process?). The wight starts across the newly-frozen ice, and then the dam breaks. Chaos. Mayhem. And a protracted battle in which yet more wildling redshirts die while our heroes survive (though for a moment it looked like Tormund’s number was up—my girlfriend and I were screaming “No, not Tormund! He can’t die! He has to make massive babies with Brienne!” That he’s saved by the Hound is a narrative imperative, but it was still a great moment).

And then—dragons! And I will admit, in spite of my quibbles, the scene is pretty awesome, and deeply satisfying to see those pillars of flame gouging canyons through the army of the dead and tearing up the frozen lake. But if you’ll permit me some back-of-the-napkin math before I continue? [pushes glasses up nose]:

The distance from the Wall to Dragonstone, conservatively, is 1500 miles as the dragon flies. Assuming that Daenerys’ departure from Dragonstone took place shortly after dawn, and being generous and assuming she swoops in on Jon et al just before dusk, that means she made the journey in about twelve hours. Which makes for an average speed of 125mph, or about 200kph. I suppose that’s possible, given that dragons are an unknown factor, and that that’s more or less the speed of a WWI biplane. What I don’t buy is that a person could cling to a dragon’s back for twelve hours in the freezing cold with hurricane-force headwinds. Daenerys didn’t even have a hat or aviator goggles (at least she wore gloves). And that isn’t even getting to the fact that the raven sent from Eastwatch would have had to make the same distance, when most bird flight (not counting dives) tops out at 60mph.

Ahem.

But yes, still a thrilling scene. And then …

viseryon-flameout

Nikki: And then my world fell apart. I’m not alone in being one of those people who can watch people die in television shows and movies, but you show the death of a family pet or any sort of animal and I am a mess. And we’ve seen these dragons grow from the size of birds to cats to lions to MASSIVE DRAGONS… we’ve watched their first little puffs of smoke… we’ve watched them purr as babies and snap at Mommy as toddlers… despite seeing them constantly in season seven it still takes my breath away to watch them swoop overhead. But as much as I was right there with you and your girlfriend screaming that they cannot kill Tormund, when the Night King turned and took that spear and aimed it, I felt my whole body turn to ice. I couldn’t look away, and said to my husband, “Oh my god… ice kills fire.”

For the record, I don’t remember THAT dichotomy in Rock Paper Scissors. Just sayin’. (My notes simply have NOOOOOOOOO written in increasingly devastated scrawl across the page.)

Now, I’ll admit: picking Drogon out of a lineup is easy because he’s the biggest of the three dragons, and I’m sure there are uberfans out there who can tell the difference between Viserion and Rhaegal, but I honestly didn’t know which one had just dropped to the ground (spewing black blood out of his stomach oh my god it was terrible aaaaahhhhh) but my first instinct was Rhaegal. After all, considering all three dragons were named after men who were killed, Rhaegar was the first namesake to die. But as soon as the dragon went through the ice and the rest of the cast of The Walking Dead: Westeros Edition looked on, I said to my husband, “Oh my god… they’re going to reanimate him.” And then I knew it had to be Viserion — because of course if, in the final battle, Dany is forced to face one of her own children, it would be the one named after her horrible brother.

But let’s focus on that moment of Viserion being hit. In an episode filled with unlikely coincidences (I was laughing out loud reading your bird speed math, Chris, imagining you were right there with me in thinking, “WHAT is the air-speed velocity of a well-laden swallow?” while watching this episode), somehow the Night King managed to throw a javelin unlike anything any of us have ever seen, prompting memes like this one to appear everywhere on the internet that same evening:

javelin

Does he decide to go for the one sitting on the ground while riders climb onto its back? Hell no… might as well go for the one twisting and turning in the air. Even though the one on the ground is also the biggest, and would be the one you’d want to recruit for your army of the undead but whatevs. Daenerys looks like she’s in shock, and she probably is, and sits there in her fancy white coat from the limited Targaryen Winterwear™ collection unable to move, watching one of her children as it plummets to the earth and then slowly sinks under the water. It’s a horrifying moment. Watch how Tormund, Beric, and the Hound — who, incidentally, have never seen dragons until a few moments ago — stare stunned at the hole in the ice where Viserion has just disappeared, but Jorah’s eyes move to his Khaleesi. He was there when the dragons were born, and he has watched them grow; not only that… he’s the one who gifted her the eggs in the first place. If not for Jorah, these dragons wouldn’t even exist, and the pained expression on his face speaks volumes.

But Jon immediately throws himself into action, sees the Night King grab for a second javelin, and screams for Dany to take off NOW before the Night King can take his second Olympic gold medal. Daenerys hesitates until she sees Jon get pulled under the water by two wights, and then she assumes he’s gone the way of Viserion and she takes off. The Night King throws the javelin and Drogon lists to the left, and no doubt all of the first-time riders on his back pee their pants because oh my god could you imagine how terrifying that ride would be? Jorah slips off but doesn’t fall, and it seems like a bit of a cheap moment because of course he wasn’t going to fall — the writers wouldn’t have undercut the death of Viserion or the abandonment of Jon Snow with a second death of a character we’d known since the beginning.

Cut back to the water and… Jon Snow pulls himself back up onto the ice in yet another unlikely scenario. Weighed down with about 100 pounds of wet clothing, with two wights scrambling at him under the water (who don’t have to breathe), he somehow escapes and swims to the top.

jon-freezing

Cool.

Now, I’ve seen several people sharing an article with a headline saying that the eyeballs on the direwolf on Longclaw suddenly open in this scene, which I just don’t buy. There’s a fan theory that Bran can warg into anything, throwing out the logic that he can warg into living things, and that the eyes are white and suddenly black when he comes out… The eyes are crystals, and before Jon rises to the surface all that was reflecting off them was the sky, and when he moved into view a cameraperson no doubt stepped to the side and the crystal reflected the dark figure and looked black. I truly don’t believe he wargs into the damn sword, but maybe I’m wrong (and if I’m wrong, I’ll be really disappointed in this twist…)

Meanwhile the wights (who, I agree, Chris, seem to have a sentience that is NOT ALLOWED in zombie lore!) realize there’s a live being among them and charge again… and along comes good old Uncle Benjen, whom we last saw with Bran in season six. When Bran headed towards the Wall, Benjen couldn’t accompany him because he said there was magic in the Wall that he couldn’t get through. His last words to Bran were, “The great war is coming and I still fight for the living. I’ll do what I can . . . as long as I can.” And once again he does exactly that, fighting for Jon, giving him his horse, and taking out a few wights with his lantern before being consumed by them.

coldhands-fire

Now, I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but here’s the thing: I gave up on The Walking Dead because I found the storylines tiring, repetitive, and frankly the gore was beyond escapism and was just painful to watch. And I watched it for many, many years. Instead, I watch Game of Thrones, with its superior storytelling, its political machinations, the long epic quality of the storyline, the division of power, the role of religion, the character development… I just don’t want a zombie storyline to dominate this show. I want the final showdown to be between the various political Houses, and the thought that the very final episode of the entire series could come down to man vs. zombie is so deflating to me. I think one of the reasons why this episode didn’t fly for me is because I’m simply over the whole Night King thing. I care about the people on this and how they hurt one another. Do they really think the viewers find the Night King vs. Jon Snow tension worse than the Sansa vs. Arya tension? Because they don’t. But anyway, that’s all I’ll say about that. I’m just happy to get back to the actual series for next week’s finale and be rid of this TWD knock-off.

Back at the Wall, the Hound loads the wight onto the boat as Beric tells him they’ll meet again someday. “Fuckin’ hope not,” Sandor snarls. All I could think of was… will Daenerys be super pissed when she discovers that she just sacrificed a dragon to catch a wight to prove to Cersei that the dead can be reanimated… only to be met at the castle door by the reanimated corpse of The Mountain? Meanwhile, Daenerys stands at the top of the Wall staring into the frozen tundra that is now a graveyard for her child as Drogon circles overhead.
(Did… anyone else notice that Rhaegal seemed to have disappeared partway through the battle scene? As soon as Viserion went down you never see a third dragon after that, and only a single dragon is flying around in the sky at the Wall. I had assumed maybe she only brought the two with her, but watching the battle scene again you clearly see all three of them at one point. It could be a very simple explanation, like the CGI for two dragons at the end is double the cost, and we have the same effectiveness to just have one, but it seemed odd that he was just gone.)

And just as Dany’s about to give up waiting, Jon Snow’s horse comes limping through the trees and into the clearing, and you hear screams of “Open the gate!!” The scene cuts to Jon on the ship with Davos and Gendry tending to his wounds, which are rather severe (though, given this is Jon Snow, every fan went, “Meh, I’ve seen worse on the guy”). There are what appear to be sword slices, or perhaps claw marks, on his chest, as well as his body being a faint shade of blue from probable hypothermia from being underwater and then having his clothing turn to solid ice on horseback. Daenerys looks on, concerned.

Now, blog tradition has it that Christopher and I do three passes each to finish up the episode, but given that this episode was almost 20 minutes longer than normal (and next week’s episode will be 80), I’m going to pass it back to you, Chris, for the final pass, especially since I’ve already spent a ton of time talking about Sansa and Arya and you can discuss the final scene between the two of them, where, even I’ll admit, I wanted to pop Arya. (And for anyone still reading, bravo!!)

jon-ship

Christopher: Bravo indeed. Welcome to the Ulysses version of the Chris & Nikki co-blog (“Yes I said yes not Dany I said yes my Queen”). But if you’re still with us, let’s soldier on into the “Why do you have faces in your satchel?” part of the episode.

Leaving aside the wisdom or lack thereof of Sansa’s intrusion, and her perfectly reasonable reaction to Arya’s bag of faces, I think it’s worth actually just jumping to Arya’s little monologue:

We both wanted to be other people when we were younger. You wanted to be a queen, to sit next to a handsome young king on the Iron Throne. I wanted to be a knight, to pick up a sword and go off to battle. Neither of us got to be that other person, did we? The world doesn’t just let girls decide what they want to be. But I can now. With the faces, I can choose … I can become someone else. Speak in their voice. Live in their skin. I can even become you.

At which point she picks up her Valyrian steel dagger and seems as though she’s threatening Sansa—only to reverse the blade and hand the hilt to her, and then walk out of the room … leaving Sansa right freaked.

arya_dagger

A question: in hindsight, how precisely did Arya manage to simply walk away from the Faceless Men? Granted, Jaqen let her go, but isn’t it in the interests of an ancient and deeply ethical (by their own rules) society of assassins to not allow for rogues? Arya’s acting rather erratic at this point, and whether or not her threat to Sansa is sincere, don’t the powers that be in the House of Black and White have an interest in curtailing the proliferation of their skill set? Or are they waiting for Arya to actually do something egregious? (Imagined conversation back at Faceless HQ: “She killed ALL the Freys!” Shrug. “Yeah. But they were assholes.”)

One way or another—bet Sansa’s rethinking sending Brienne away.

And then we’re at sea, with Daenerys sitting at Jon Snow’s bedside. He wakes and says the words that have the Tenth Doctor’s lawyers coming at him for copyright infringement: “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” But though Jon wishes they had never gone, Daenerys rejects that thought: “If we hadn’t gone I wouldn’t have seen. You have to see it to know. Now I know.” Which is a net good for the battle between light and dark, but doesn’t bode well for their ultimate plan to convince the Lannisters with a captive wight—not quite the same thing as seeing the army of the dead and watching one of your dragons killed by an ice javelin. What odds Cersei sees the skeletal thing and has her conversion on the road to Tarsus? I don’t hold out good odds.

But still: Daenerys is on board, though we don’t get to that point without more discussion of her dragon children and inability to create human ones. The show is starting to hit this point rather a lot—and the fact that Daenerys makes it to a nearly-naked Jon Snow starts to raise questions, as you point out, Nikki; did the witch-woman who cursed Daenerys’ womb count on Stark-Targaryen uber-sperm? (yes, I just wrote that sentence. For those who’ve read this far, you’re welcome).

But the upshot is that she is now committed to destroying the Night King, and to doing it with Jon. “Thank you Dany,” says Jon, which is not quite welcomed by Daenerys. The last person to call her that was Viserys, who is not “the company you want to keep.” To which Jon responds, “All right. Not Dany. How about my Queen?” Jon’s ready now to bend the knee, though he’s not in the proper physical condition to do so; “They’ll see you as I do,” he says when Daenerys asks about his lords.

I must say: the show has done a good job with these two—considering the time they’ve had and the weight of fan expectation, they’ve played it out well. Even here, at a moment when they might have been forgiven for going in for the kiss, the show shows some restraint, with Daenerys visibly getting her senses back and departing. “You should get some rest,” she says, somewhat abruptly.

wights_chain-gang

Which would be as good a time as any for the credits to roll, but NO! I have no idea where the Night King got such massive iron chains, but we see the army of the dead toiling away—bringing the dead Viseryon up from the depths of the frozen lake.

Considering that the moment that most gutted me in this episode wasn’t Viseryon getting struck with the ice javelin, or his pained flameout, but rather his slow slide back into the water, seeing him brought back above the ice was so very sad.

And then … ZOMBIE DRAGON

dragon_blue_eye

R’Hllor save us all.

 

And that’s it for us this week, friends—thanks for sticking with this INCREDIBLY LONG POST, and meet us here next week for the final episode of season seven. Yes: the FINAL episode. In the meantime, be good, work hard, and make sure you have a healthy supply of dragonglass arrowheads.

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