They promised us that “Winter Has Come” and it sure did on tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones! This week’s episode “Beyond The Wall” took place primarily beyond the wall as Jon Snow’s “Suicide Squad” went North in the hopes of capturing a live wight in the hopes of convincing Cersei and Daenerys to put their beef on hold so that everyone can form an alliance to fight the Night King and the upcoming army of the dead. No matter what power plays are going on in Game of Thrones, the endgame has always been the Long Night and the terror that may come, who rules is small potatoes. But their quest will not be easy, they will have to face-off against the army of the dead in an unfamiliar territory (for most of them). So how did this week’s episode of Game of Thrones go?
While most of the episode took place north of the wall for our band of merry men on their quest, but a little bit of political action took place in Winterfell. Last week, Littlefinger laid his trap for Arya in the hopes of turning her against Sansa. After all, if he can turn the Stark sisters against each other, he can continue to carry out his Machiavellian schemes and attain more power. He already has a strong grip on Sansa, last week’s note shows he is now sinking his claws into Arya. Arya and Sansa are overlooking the courtyard and talking about simpler times, when Arya drops the bombshell that she knows about the secret letter she wrote to her brother Robb when she was Cersei’s naïve prisoner. Robb understood she was a hostage, but Arya isn’t so easily swayed. She was raised harder and always wanted to be a warrior, so the idea of betraying family for the sake of survival doesn’t sit well with her. In Arya’s world, Sansa should have willingly died instead of doing what she did.
Arya threatening to out Sansa to the rest of the northern lords (especially Lady Mormont) will cause a political problem for Sansa. Right now, she’s just the placeholder for Jon and is doing an effective job for the most part, but if they found out the note, her support would quickly evaporate. Of course, she talks with Littlefinger immediately who feigns ignorance as to how Arya learned about it. Always the slickster. Littlefinger makes the proposal to involve Brianne to flex her muscle. Brianna did have a tie with Arya when they were sparring and could probably be the only person to save Sansa if Arya decided to kill her sister. Brianna is sworn to protect the Stark children no matter the costs, even from each other.
Later on, Sansa receives a letter to come to King’s Landing for the meeting. Sansa remembers her terror from when she was first Tyrion’s wife and then Joffrey’s wife while at King’s Landing and will not set foot there. Instead, she sends Brianne in her place. Brianne doesn’t want to leave Sansa alone with Littlefinger, but she agrees to go either way to represent her interests.
Sansa decides to go into Arya’s quarters to do a little bit of snooping on her own. When she goes through Arya’s luggage, she finds countless faces, which legitimately scares her. As she discovers the faces, Arya enters the room. If you thought their previous confrontation was tense, this one takes the cake. As she asks Arya what the faces are and how she got them, Arya tells her about what she can do when she can do with other people’s faces. Arya then entertains the thought of killing Sansa, and wearing her face and fulfilling the role as Arya. She then walks away doing nothing, but now Sansa’s fear of her sister is real. Not only can she politically hurt her, her crazed assassin sister could probably kill her at a moments whim.
While a bunch of political action was going on in Winterfell, all the actual action was going on north of the wall. Jon, Jorah, Gendry, Tormund, Thoros, Beric, and the Hound start off walking in the frozen land. Tormund refers to Winterfell as “the south,” while also telling Jon that he should swallow his pride and bend the knee to avoid further casualties. Gendry is angry at Beric and Thoros for selling him to Melisandre. The Hound tells him to stop “whinging.” Jon and Beric also bond on the fact that they both were resurrected by the Lord of Light. Jon has no interest in serving anyth9ing but the North, but Beric states that they both serve life and their mission is to defeat death, no matter how much death will win. Jon and Jorah also spend a moment talking about his father who dies serving in the Night’s Watch with Jon. Jon offers to give Jorah his father’s sword Longclaw, which he refuses as he feels he hasn’t earned it as he disrespected his father.
Just as the group is getting along, they face their first trial. As they are walking through a big blizzard, they see a large polar bear in the distance. As Gendry notices that the bear has blue eyes, it means it’s not a normal bear, but a zombie one resurrected by the White Walkers. One of the redshirts walking with them is taken out and then the group goes into action fighting the wight animal. Thoros and Beric light up their swords in the hopes of burning the animal. Of course, this doesn’t have the best effect as The Hound suffers from crippling Pyrophobia. As he is frozen in fear of a burning zombie polar bear about to attack him, Thoros saves him at the last minute, only to then become fatally injured by the animal. They manage to try and patch him up and continue on.
The group then comes across a group of the dead accompanies by a White Walker. Because this group is small compared to what’s really out there, this is their best bet on capturing a wight. They decide to Attack the small group of zombies. The fight proves fruitful as they surprise even the White Walker and Jon takes him out with his sword, which causes most of the zombies to die, showing that if a White Walker dies, all he controls also die. The one remaining wight that stays alive is taken captive by the crew. With a wailing scream from the captive wight, Jon knows more are coming. He orders Gendry to flee so that he can send a raven to Dragonstone for Daenerys to possibly rescue them.
At Dragonstone, Tyrion and Daenerys are talking about their next steps for when (if) Jon comes back with a zombie. Tyrion finally checks her for killing the Tarleys without giving it much consideration, as a means to try to prevent her from becoming the Mad Queen like her father before her. He also discusses her vision of “breaking the wheel” and then the discussion of her successor comes up. She is not interested in this idea until after she becomes queen. They receive a raven telling them that Jon’s in trouble, and Daenerys decided to head to rescue them to Tyrion’s disapproval.
Now Jon and the crew are surrounded by thousands of the dead. They manage to find safety on a rock in the middle of a frozen lake where they try and wait them out. Thoros succumbs to his wounds and they are forced to burn his body so he doesn’t return as one of the dead. Now they play a waiting game with the dead. The Hound, being impatient, starts pegging wights with rocks, which catches the attention of one of them, and now the army of the dead charges towards them. The group fights valiantly but eventually, they are overrun and about to be run over. Within the nick of time, Daenerys shows up riding Drogon with Rhaegal and Viserion as they start laying waste to the wights turning the tide.
Just as they are all mounting Drogon and trying to escape, the Night King grabs a spear and throws it at Viserion. The spear lands fatally on the dragon’s side, killing it as it falls. This is heartbreaking for the group, but especially heartbreaking for Daenerys. Jon is now determined to kill the Night King and starts to walk towards him to put an end to it once and for all. He then notices that the Night King is going for a second spear, this time the spear will be aimed at Drogon and he orders Daenerys to leave as he is overwhelmed by wights and falls into the icy lake below. All but Jon manage to fly away. Jon, later on, emerges from the lake and is about to be overrun by wights. Lucky for him, his uncle Benjen happened to be right there and saves him at the last moment, sacrificing himself.
Jon manages to make it back to the wall almost dead on Benjen’s horse where he awakens later on one of Daenerys’s ships. As he apologizes to her for the loss of her dragon, she tells him that she needed to see it to be real. She now knows what the real danger is and vows that they will defeat the Night King. Jon then tells her that he will bend the knee to her and respects her as his queen. She promises him that she will live up to his promise. Up North, the Night King has the wights bring Viserion out of the frozen lake where he resurrects him as a wight. The White Walkers now have a dragon!