You can imagine what comes after that. Because what other way is there to start this review? No, really, what other way is there?
It’s not that we loved Viserion – he was named after Dany’s jackass brother, so we should have known if one of them had to fall, it was going to be him – it’s that we didn’t really expect this to happen. Or maybe, we just didn’t want it to?
Though, deep down, after Bran crossed the Wall and nothing happened, we all started preparing for it. The Wall had to come down, after all, and what other way was there?
So, I just basically contradicted myself. Blame the high of the show for that. I’m still not sure what happened or what is happening, but I’m going to write through the shock and see if, together, we can make sense of what was, arguably, one of the most insane episodes Game of Thrones has delivered in a while.
So, let’s talk “Beyond The Wall”
THE BATTLE BEYOND THE WALL
Visually, this was a stunning episode, from the shots of Daenerys and her dragons coming down to help, to the army of the dead, to Viserion being resurrected as an Ice Dragon? What are we calling him these days?
Sentimentally, it was pretty dang good as well, with the excursion beyond the Wall giving us a few awesome conversations, like the one between Jon and Jorah that, sadly, did not involve either man’s feelings about Daenerys, but did involve the Valyrian steel sword Jorah’s father gifted Jon, and that Jon tried to give back to Jorah, only for the other man to insist it belonged to Jon.
And yeah, Jon, don’t try to give back shit that could actually save you minutes before you need it. Think with your head here.
Plus, add to that the very prophetic talk between Beric and Jon about why, exactly, they’re alive. If the Lord of Light brought them back, they state, it was for a purpose. Maybe the Night King is that purpose. It’s sure looking like it is.
There was also the talk between Tormund and The Hound about Brienne, aka literally the first time I wasn’t annoyed at Tormund talking about Brienne. He just seemed so truly in awe of her and I love Brienne so much that, in a way, it’s good to see someone else appreciate it. I’m still not here for the ship, but I guess Tormund isn’t that bad.
Plus – how cool was it that, for The Hound, very little description is needed to get to Brienne, because there just aren’t women like Brienne in the world? Pretty damn cool.
Sadly, there was no Arya talk between Gendry and Jon, because clearly these writers still have no clue what people truly want. (And they haven’t had a female writer in that writers room in so long they’ve actually forgotten what women look and sound like). But they threw enough character moments in there to make us worry about each of these characters individually when the time for the battle actually came.
And then they took Thoros from us, which, honestly, if I had to choose one to lose, it would have been him. Thoros and the Dragon. I’m not going to say the Dragon hurt more, but Thoros …I’m sorry.
THE FALLEN DRAGON
Viserion, we never really knew you, and yet, we are going to miss you.
Mostly because three dragons against none are way better odds than two against one, but also because – well, dragon! We met you when you were a baby, and if anything, you were never an ass like the guy you were named after. You were just a dragon, and thanks to your Mother, we were on the side of the dragons.
Now, however, you’re an Ice Dragon, and we’re not on your side. Sorry, not sorry.
Drogo and Rhaegar were always superior, anyway. Yes, I did go there.
The wall is going to come down – the wall has to come down. We’ve known this for a while. And, after Bran went through it, we figured, well …what other way to bring it down than a dragon?
So, in a way, you were just a casualty of common sense. Like Jaime Lannister could die because of plot armor, you had to die because plot dagger. That’s just the way it is. Even the best fall down sometimes, and we already talked about you vs. the other dragons. It’s not your fault, it’s Viserys’s fault.
Now the real question is – what happens next with you? And I don’t mean next episode, we already know the wall needs to come down. I’m talking next season next. Are you more powerful, somehow? Do you still breathe fire? What are your powers? How will you fare against your brothers? How can your mother ever hope to defeat you?
I don’t have an answer, not right now, but I get the sense I’ll have a long, hard year to think about it.
THE CLIMB IS ALL THERE IS
Here’s the entire quote from Littlefinger that Bran called him out on a few episodes ago: “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, are given a chance to climb. They refuse, they cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”
It seems more appropriate than ever now, because, for the first time, it seems clear that, for Littlefinger, this is all there is. He’s climbed and climbed and climbed, and taken advantage of chaos for so long, but in the end, in the Stark sisters – in the Stark siblings, he’s finally met his match.
You might not see it clearly now, but I do. The season finale will be the end of Littlefinger. It’s always darkest before the dawn, they say. And boy, does it look dark now with Arya basically threatening the sister she doesn’t understand and Sansa on the brink of thinking her sister is long gone and a monster is left in her place.
“The world doesn’t just let girls decide what they want to be,” Arya tells Sansa in this episode, and that’s mostly true. Women don’t get to decide what they want to be, not in Game of Thrones, and in many cases, not even in real life, but women do get to decide things, especially in the last season and a half of Game of Thrones. (Season 5 is the Dark Ages). Littlefinger has been pulling the strings for too long; it’s time for someone to take control back for him.
How? Well, as I said last review, by asking the one person who supposedly knows everything and getting the proof they need to get rid of him for good and still maintain the loyalty of the Nights of the Vale. That means we need to go back, Bran needs to go back, to the beginning, even, to poisoning Jon Arryn. That’s what Littlefinger deserves.
I remain convinced he’s going to get his due next episode. So many people underestimate Sansa Stark because she doesn’t go against the standards of femininity, because she doesn’t choose to break stereotypes to be strong. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t strong, that doesn’t mean she’s in control, and that doesn’t mean she can’t win this battle, oh no. Underestimate her at your peril. Sansa Stark hasn’t been a victim for a long time.
An aside, though – I tried to defend this writing choice last week, and I still find it mostly understandable that the show would try to amp up the Arya/Sansa rivalry to this point, they, after all, needed some kind of drama to distract from what’s happening beyond the Wall. I can, however, understand why they did it and at the same time, find it shortsighted.
No, Game of Thrones, women are not naturally distrustful of each other. We really wouldn’t find it easier to confide in the long-lost-brother we never really liked than in our long-lost-sister. Having a sister is a bond you can’t understand unless you have one, I get that, but I’m going to assume that since you haven’t allowed a woman in your writers room in about four years, you could at least ask one for their opinion on this. Just a question. That was truly all I asked for.
Either way, Littlefinger is getting his due and this detour will only led to the Starks sisters being finally united, at last, like they should have been from the beginning. And, you know, like they would have been, if someone had bothered to do research on how sisters work. But hey, at least the drama only took three episodes?
A LITERAL SHIP FOR THIS OTP
Look, chances are I’m probably never going to ship this like I’ve shipped other things. It’s been many a year since I first read these books and like most book readers, I figured this was coming. I’ve heard the pros and the cons. Nothing you can throw at me is new, so I’m just left with my opinions on the subject, and they are as follows:
They’re related. And yes, I know, Game of Thrones is a fantasy world where that isn’t as frowned upon as it would be in real life and in the present. And yes, I can immerse myself in the world and play by its rules, I can.
Or, at least, I always figured I could. That had never been put to the test before, of course, as these two characters have yet to meet in the books.
Some people say they see no chemistry – I beg to differ. I see a lot of the right kind of chemistry between Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington. I think they’re believable as two people growing to respect each other, two people wary of what the other person represents, and yet two people who discover they have a lot in common. I see it and I believe it and these are two pretty people making eyes at each other on screen and it makes all the sense in the world and it’s not making me want to puke like Jaime and Cersei are.
And yet – I get more excited at the thought that Jaime and Brienne might breathe the same air next week, or that Gendry might mention the name Arya. I’m not exactly sure if that’s because those are the only two ships in Game of Thrones that consist of people who are not related to each other, but that’s the way it is.
(Maybe it has to do with something else, though, maybe it’s related to the fact that we’ve gotten from point A to B in exactly three episodes. Which begs the question – did this season really need to be only 7 episodes long? Some more development, and time, might have helped this ship feel like more of a journey and less than like inevitability.)
I will admit, however, that my traitorous heart felt something at that scene near the end, the one on the boat. I felt something at Dany’s anguish. I did. I’m just not ready to sail in this ship yet. It’s been one episode. Maybe next episode will be enough for me, maybe not.
Either way, if you’re a fan of Jonerys, or if you’re just a fan of symmetry and things making sense, this was a good week for you. The ship has sailed, and boy, does it have a strong wind at its back.
Other things to note:
- Gendry + snow was probably the funniest thing in this episode, and it’s nice that they remembered continuity in this regard. Everyone else was like, yeah, a tad cold and he was freezing.
- I feel you, Gendry. I feel you.
- Tormund: Smart people don’t come here, looking for the dead. Me: PREACH.
- Jon saying “My father was the most honorable man I ever met. He was good, all the way through” gave me unexpected FEELS. Ned Stark would be so proud of his nephew, so proud.
- Tormund telling The Hound he has “sad eyes” is the height of romance in Game of Thrones, let’s be honest. We’ve shipped many couples with less.
- “Heroes do stupid things, and they die.” THAT’S IT. THAT’S THE SHOW.
- Sorry Gendry, but Jon is right, you are the fastest person not named Jon Snow in that group. Or, at least you look like you are. It’s not like anyone knows shit and it’s not like this season cares about common sense.
- Also – you can make another hammer, right? RIGHT?
- Flaming swords make no sense, so I’m not even gonna think about how they work, or about the fact that the rules about how they work seem to have changed.
- That scene of the group surrounded by the wights is scary AF, I ain’t gonna lie.
- I love you Tyrion, I do, but you had to know she wasn’t going to listen. I wouldn’t have listened either. Hell, I’m not sure you would have listened to yourself had you been on the other side of it.
- On the flip side of this, I love you Jon, but there’s bravery and there’s stupidity and you’re straddling the line buddy.
- The pace of this show has never been something I’ve had a problem with, till season 6. Ravens used to take episodes before, now they take minutes, or seconds. We never see anyone traveling anymore. Hell, Gendry got to Eastwatch, sent a Raven and Daenerys flew North of the Wall SO QUICKLY that it’s almost like she teleported.
- This, again, would have been fine if this had been a constant since Season 1, but we all know that’s not the case.
- I said it before, and I’ll say it again – did we really need only 7 episodes in Season 7? I’m pretty sure they could have told better, more cohesive stories, in 10.
- I’M GETTING A JAIME AND BRIENNE REUNION AND EVERYTHING IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD.
- Women all over the world rolled their eyes at The Hound ruining everything with that stone. I swear to God, only a man ….only a man.
- Also, if I were Jon and I was going on this stupid suicide mission of sorts, I’D GO HOME BEFORE SO I COULD SEE MY FAMILY.
- Benjen Stark is literally the most useful character in Game of Thrones history. Every time he shows up he saves someone.
- The whole thing with the faces seems very unhygienic.
- Look, there’s a line, there’s shit that you shouldn’t be doing, there’s a space and THEN there’s Arya this episode.
- Fuck this writing. Fuck it.
- Also, Bran, you literally should have warned everyone about how LITTLEFINGER WAS TO BLAME FOR ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING AND COULD NOT BE TRUSTED.
- Dude, be useful, for once.
- I think #1 plan should be kill the Night King. That means all his army dies, or at least that’s what I got from this episode.
- Where did the Night King get those chains?
- Also, why not go for Drogon, you know, THE ONE CARRYING THE PEOPLE? No, let’s go for the dragon that’s far away, that makes me look like more of a badass.
- So – the Night King touched Viserion – that means he’s basically the equivalent of a white walker, not a wight, and can be killed with valyrian steel and dragonglass, right?
- I thought the dead could not pass while the Wall stood. So how were they able to take the wight South of the wall?
- Finally, let’s talk Jon’s sword. Did everyone else see the eyes turn blue just as Jon came out of the ice? WHAT WAS THAT?
NEXT, ON GAME OF THRONES
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.