Beyond the wall. Fitting. A fitting title because that’s exactly where things popped off in this weeks episode.
The Bastard squad treks up north trying to keep, how Gendry so gracefully put it “their balls from falling off.” Pan to our favorite Wildling who can finally breath again, he mentions to Jon that smart people don’t come up to the north looking for the dead. (Foreshadowing and only 6 minutes in.) Gendry still can’t get over his night with Melisandre but is told to quit whining—‘cause honestly? Who complains about a beautiful dark priestess ready to ride?
The comedic relief ends quickly when KiTN and King of the friendzone Jorah reminisce about Commander Jeor and the significant gift he bestowed upon Jon. Longclaw (which interestingly enough, used to belong to Jorah by birthrite) is the topic of discussion and Jorah assures Jon that he no longer has the right to the sword. That it’s Jon’s and Jon’s alone. Again, GoT does not do anything on accident. This shit right here? A tell tale sign that things are gonna get messy and that sword in Jon’s hand is gonna be the ticket out.
Up at the ice caps we pan to no one Arya and The lady of Winterfell. Reminiscing is a trend in this episode as the youngest Stark thinks of her father and the rest of the family—now long dead. Arya wastes no time using her recollections as a segue to expose what she feels are Sansa’s transgressions against the family. Real “you broke my heart, Fredo” stuff. The letter Sansa wrote under duress [courtesy of the Lannister crew and LF] is the evidence she pulls out. Tell’s Sansa “peep this.” and it only takes a moment before we see the potent panic on Sansa’s face. She knows what Arya is capable of and if little girl really feels that the death of their entire clan is because of her [and let’s face it, they were never close anyway] there could be real problems.
I repeat: Arya, is a problem.
We climb beyond the wall again to our two boys ‘kissed by fire’ getting real chummy. Tormund satiates his curiosity about The Hound baiting him like only he can and curving every insult the Clegane throws at him. It only takes him a moment before the topic/object of his affection comes up in conversation. The Hound discovers Tormund’s lady love is none other than Brienne of Tarth and he would love nothing more than to ‘make great big monster babies with her.’ I laughed out loud at this, a nice gift from the producers considering the intensity of the scene before.
Enter Beric and KitN, Mr. fire-wight gets to the point, indicating to Jon that though he serves a powerful god, he’s not asking any questions. We’re not supposed to. We just do our job. More foreshadowing here as Jon’s relationship with the Lord of Light and other mystical objects is highlighted.
Moving down to Dragonstone, Daenerys and Tyrion politic about philosophical things. The meaning of a hero and why they’re stupid but brave. Speaking of stupid and brave, only a millisecond passes before Jon comes up in conversation and Tyrion points out the potent tension he [and the rest of us] noticed. Dany brushes it off as inconsequential (Mmmmm oh my god!) and tries to take up the topic of her more immediate problem, Cersei. The back and forth is made up of Dany thinking like a conqueror and Tyrion thinking like a logical strategist. He tries to reel in her impulsivity but Dany’s not having it. She accuses Tyrion of still holding a torch for his dead beat family and things end on a tense note between the Hand and Khaleesi. One can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding when two of the tightest characters in the series begin to bump heads.
There’s a chill in the air (pun intended) up in the attic when we see bastard squad take a moment to take in their surroundings. And this is where shit hits the fan. Two tons of undead grizzly rolls through and wastes no time going ham on the crew. I mean, wtf. I wasn’t ready and neither were the random extras that became the unfortunate casualties of the bear’s attack. TBWB come through at the clutch with their fire swords and promptly light up Yogi, but not before Thoros takes an L, and this is where we know things are bad. The wound is fatal and they all know it. Looks like Beric might be on his on his last life now.
LF continues his machinations at the northern capital planting more seeds of doubt in Sansa’s head about Arya. Feeding a flame that needs no fanning. Typical.
Over the mountain and through the icy woods, it’s a an ambush. The squad wants revenge and waste no time jumping the band of white walkers they see doing what looks like a recon mission. Jon and the lieutenant go head to head , Gendry breaks out the war hammer then KitN pays an homage to Hardhome—running Longclaw through the undead captain, promptly bringing all the wights to kneel. And another discovery is made—cut off the head and the rest of the body dies.
Shout out to Tormund showing nothin’ but muscle as he right hooks a wight gone mad, but the kudos end when he hear the stampede about to come. Jon sends Gendry [Hammerless] on a sprint back to Eastwatch (and I can’t help but wonder if we’ll ever see our other favorite bastard again.) Cue the avalanche of undead that arrive on sight, it’s nothing but calamity. True to form they can’t help but attack blindly, and it sends the squad running for their lives. Luckily, the wights are dumb, reckless and bad swimmers to boot. The men get a momentary break as the wights can’t cross the lake for threat of drowning.
Night falls and Gendry makes it to Eastwatch, Daddy Davos sends for a Raven before morning quickly arises (the rushing omg) and we see the Bastard squad wide awake still surrounded by ice zombies. It’s a sad start to the morning when Thoros is pronounced dead. He’d succumbed to his wound from the bear and the only way to let him pass honorably is to burn his body lest he become part of the Night King’s army. Speak of the devil to two minutes later, the champ himself stands above the crew ominously.
Dany has a change of wardrobe but a consistency in temperament as she stomps toward her babies, despite Tyrion’s petitions that she stay. It seems nothing can keep her away from Jon, not even the advice of her hand.
One can’t help but feel grateful for her brashness when we see the Hound bring hell to the crews door, antagonizing the wights just enough for them to smarten up. Turns out the ice is stable enough to cross and it’s the devil to pay. It’s nothing but hands. Flaming swords stabbing wildly, full torque on every swing. Tormund is almost overcome before The Hound comes through at the clutch and pulls him from the white walkers’ grasp.
Jon yells fall back! [while I scream it at the screen] and the men desperately try to fend off the dead. I’ll just say this, the cinematography as well as the scoring is spectacular here, you can see every drop of blood, hear every mourn from the violin, see every flake of snow and every glint of flame as Balerion the Black dread’s reincarnation DROGON shows up in sight!!! I forgive every stupid thing Dany’s ever done for showing up right on time. Very reminiscent of Sansa and the Vale during BotB. She holds her hand out to Jon but the fight’s not over. Jon can’t help but be a hero and the Night King can’t help but take a perfect opportunity in the midst of all the chaos. He’s Steph Curry with the shot boy, shooting a javelin straight at Viserion and it’s lights out for the baby brother of the three.
I lost my mind.
Surprisingly I was able to notice [through my tears] that Dany had a peculiar stoicism considering the loss she just experienced. Maybe it’s just me but I expected a bit more emotion. Jon plays the martyr and tells the others to go on without him. I don’t allow panic to set in because at this point there’s no way they’re going to off him at this point in the series. He’s too pivotal, though it does look like it might be the end for a less optimistic individual. And true to form, someone always looks out for our beloved bastard— this time it’s none other than lost Ranger of the Night’s Watch, Uncle Benjen. We have no time to hear of where he’s been or how he found them, as he has just enough time to throw Jon on his horse and sacrifice himself for the cause.
Back at Eastwatch, the dragons and their mama are in mourning. It feels incomplete. The potent air of loss permeates the scene as we deal with the reality of Viserion’s death and the imminent threat that Jon has met the same fate. This fear of course is quickly quelled when a horse slowly trots up to the fortress, Jon slack and unconscious atop it.
Things are all bad back at Winterfell when Sansa does some snooping, coming across a few dead faces of her own. She discovers Arya’s face stash and more threats of psychotic behavior hit the audience. I don’t really care for the empty threats of Arya against Sansa. one thing I know is that the North is loyal and they remember. I’m in denial at my fullest but I do approve of Sansa being forced to appreciate how formidable her little sister really is.
On the sea, Jon awakens to Dany’s anguished expression and he begins to vomit apologies. Wishing he’d never gone and that he could take it all back. Dany refutes him and tells him it’s better she went because she appreciates the threat of the dead now. Jon is overcome with emotion no doubt because he throws out a pet name “Dany” and the foreshadowing, yet again could not be more obvious to a potential if not probable romance. She collects herself and promptly pulls away. Bringing the moment to and end before the worst thing I’ve ever seen falls before my eyes.
Cue to the ice caps again, it’s chain gang nation as we see the army of the dead heave-hoeing Viserion’s frozen corpse from depths of the lake. Papa Night King bears another son as Viserion’s eyes shoot open, Going from fiery yellow to ice blue.
And it’s official. Winter is here.
This episode pulled out all the stops, leaving nothing to the imagination in terms of action and shock value. I’ve gotten used to the speed at this point and approved of it here considering it’s the penultimate episode. I can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding fore what’s coming next. Things cannot be good if the good guys are one dragon down and the dead are one deadly reptile up.