Game of Thrones: Season Seven, Episode Six – Beyond The Wall

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Wildcard:

In some ways, this was like two episodes. There was the stuff above The Wall and the stuff below it. One episode was possibly the dumbest one ever made and the other was without doubt the most important.

The baddies have a dragon. The Doc floated this possibility on The Niche Cast last week (yo, listen to The Niche Cast!) and I can’t say it wasn’t an enticing/fearful prospect. And, yeah, true to form The Night’s King hurled a frozen javelin… what, five hundred metres? … and caught a dragon right in the neck. If you were wondering the world record javelin throw is 104.80m and that was set by East Germany’s Uwe Hohn in 1984 so you can assume there’s a fair chance he might have been on drugs. (Please don’t sue). They changed the rules of the sport after that (but not because of that) to make it harder but fairer and this Night King joker just multiplied that by five-for with a standing start.

If you didn’t realise what Jonny boy was up against before you do now.

Stuart Farquhar eat ya heart out.

Stuart Farquhar eat ya heart out.

I’m just gonna say that if the northern territories enter a team in the next Olympics, I hope New Zealand boycotts it. Well, except for swimming, granted. Those suckers clearly don’t know a doggy paddle from stick in the mud. Probably wouldn’t back them as runners either – Gendry demolished that pack in the Frozen Marathon and just like the original marathon he collapsed at the end of it bearing urgent news.

Pats on the back if you had Thoros in the death stakes this week. He lived and he drank and sometimes he brought his made back form the dead. He did his best.

The baddies have a dragon. But we also know how to destroy that dragon now. We know how to destroy the whole army of them: Kill the Boss. Which is standard zombie fare, really. As they said in Shaun of the Dead, you get them by “removing the head or destroying the brain”. Now, these zombies don’t follow most of that logic but if you take it symbolically then the head is the leader and you kill him you take all those he “turned” along with him automatically. Just, erm… a matter of getting to him and all.

All of that was thrilling stuff. The little interactions between these blokes with competing histories but a common cause, the atmospheric cold, the isolation, the terror, all of the above. Then the battle and the salvation and the massive tactical swing and all that too. Is it weird that about five guys were able to fend off so many enemies for so long? Ah, not really. They sure dragged it out but these are the finest soldiers in Westeros up against a bunch of uncoordinated skeletons, pretty much. Unless the White Walkers get involved then the only advantage that lot has is their sheer overwhelming numbers. Eventually that would’ve told but luckily Gendry ran so fast he must have a Kenyan mother or something. Someone check the late king Robert’s bank statements (because let’s be honest we know where all those kids were conceived and it starts with ‘T-’ and ends with ‘-he Whorehouse’).

Still not as unlikely a victory as Leicester City winning the Premier League 

Still not as unlikely a victory as Leicester City winning the Premier League 

Oh believe me though, I could make a big old list about all the things that happened in this episode that made no sense and I’m not even talking about the Sansa/Arya thing – I mean literally no sense. For example:

  • That raven was pretty swift, wasn’t it? Got all the way to Dragonstone in the time the other buggers spent stranded on Dead Man’s Rock.
  • Not to mention Gendry’s marathon run or Dany’s return journey. Granted the return journey was always gonna be the quickest what with dragons and such.
  • How long were they on Dead Man’s Rock for? Guess that’s where you drag the time for continuity reasons – they were there long enough for the ice to freeze over again, after all.
  • It would’ve been way easier if they’d taken some ravens with them in the first place.
  • Tormund got mauled by several ice zombies and he came out of it with one measly scratch.
  • Why were they there again? Oh yeah to kidnap a wight. And they somehow got one despite all the dramas.
  • How much wine did they bring for Thoros? One of the unnamed minions must’ve hauled a brewery on his back because that bloke was never dry.
  • Does the ice dragon still breathe fire? Not an inconsistency so much as a pondering there.
  • Benjen waited all that time before zipping in on his horse and then told Jon there was no time to escape even though Jon really coulda used the navigator. (Did Bran psychically warn him?).
  • Jorah fell off a dragon and Sandor caught him. That’s not impossible but it’s fairly unlikely.
  • Also in the unlikely category is Tyrion standing on the edge of a cliff face while the dragons set off and balancing fine while the dragons taking off up north caused enough breeze to bowl over thousands of dead folks.
Don't mind me - I'm just here to get the writers out of a plot bind

Don't mind me - I'm just here to get the writers out of a plot bind

Etc., etc., but let’s not dwell on that when the stakes are higher now than ever. Dany and Jon more or less made sweet, sweet love with their bare eyes and apologies and the rest is probably just a matter of time… even if he is too short for her… even if it was also hinted that Jon has a particular purpose for being here and that likely isn’t playing stay-at-home hubby to the queen. That whole scene was framed specifically with that scar over his heart in shot all the way. The same scar from the knife in the heart that Dany was so interested in (but Thoros and Beric already knew about it so apparently Dany’s not reading the gossip sections).

Dany and Tyrion’s fireside chat was frustrating for the same old reasons with Daenerys. Somebody tells her what a great queen she’ll be, she says what a great queen she intends to be and then the subject of impulsive behaviour comes up and she gets all impulsively behaved about it. Dammit woman, you wanna break the wheel how about you start by breaking the plot wheel?

But amidst that was some poignant chatter about the heroes who fell in love with her. All men who would do insane things out of blind courage and idiocy. Jaime did the same damn thing in trying to kill Dany which was what I thought that scene was alluding to until Jon tried to play hero later on. There wasn’t much reason for him missing the dragon bus unless he thought he was going for The Night’s King, as Beric had suggested.

Same as how Beric more or less summed up The Overall Game with some sage words. The enemy always wins in the end but you do your best, right? That’s all anyone can ask and it’s the noblest thing of all. Do the best you can for yourself and, especially, for others.

It sets us up nicely for next week where all the leaders (except Sansa) will meet up and spit some bars about the direction of the kingdom (/queendom). Can’t imagine that going all too well whether Jon has a murder skeleton or not. Mostly just getting everyone in a room together is the big showrunning feat – like a massive version of the Snow Buddies that went marching north. There are eight episodes left of this show and I’d be lying if I said the plot holes weren’t a bit distracting… but then I remember that this is a fantasy telly show and, what, I was expecting intricately designed perfection? Nah, if anything the holes go to show what a brilliant original text they were working on and why George R.R. Martin’s remaining books are still necessary.

As for the ridiculously renewed rivalry between Sansa and Arya? I get that they always had that pettiness between them and I get that Arya has returned a ruthless psychopath but those scenes were like scraping dragon claws over my naked eyeballs. Like, just ask Bran what happened and bingo, problems solved. Jeez that stuff is weak as cat’s piss while all that stuff up north is going on.

Argh, ignore the dumb stuff. Ignore the dumb stuff. The baddies have a dragon now, focus on that…

"In the twilight glow I see them... Blue eyes cryin' in the rain"

"In the twilight glow I see them... Blue eyes cryin' in the rain"


Diggity Doc:

Dany's (we can all call her Dany now) arrival at Westeros required some level of opposition. Mere humans were always going to struggle to defeat her well-drilled army and trio of dragons, although those mere humans did a handy job in out-smarting Dany and her council. There's a slight difference between out-smarting Dany and then still being burned to a crisp vs murking a dragon with a javelin and then raising that dragon from the dead as an ice dragon.

Dany's Flying Crematorium - You Kill 'Em and We Grill 'Em!

Dany's Flying Crematorium - You Kill 'Em and We Grill 'Em!

This isn't just about Dany's path encountering troubles, which has been the case throughout her seemingly destined journey, this is now about Westeros and how Westeros deals with ice dragons, manic polar bears and all sorts of wildlife/wild dead. I guess the positive here is that Dany is now engaged, Dany is now invested in this battle between the living and the dead or fire and ice and how this influences Dany's actions moving forwards will be pretty intriguing. 
Getting lame as Lords to bend the knee just ain't quite as important now, perhaps dealing with Cersei's lunacy isn't quite as important now. Getting revenge on Euron isn't quite as important now - we haven't seen Euron for a while now and he's probably set up shop at the local brothel, enjoying the spoils of war.

From that excursion north on the Wu Tang Wight Hunt, we learned a few things:

  • Kill a White Walker and you kills a few Wights at the same time. This will make fighting such a large army a little bit easier as the living can focus their energy on killing a White Walker, assuming they can fight off the Wights, ice dragons and dead polar bears.
  • There's ice dragons and dead polar bears. For many, this could be where you zone out of GoT because things have got a bit too crazy, bit too mystical or mythical (think Lost). This is based on fantasy novel after all, so check yourself and as we have seen with Dany's journey, GoT does a fine job of balancing things out; advantages can easily become weaknesses.
  • Tormund's a lover, but Brienne's gotta gap.
  • Gendry should be doing at GoT biathlon. The dude rowed a boat like a beast and then ran from the battle scene back to Eastwatch. At this stage of the series, Gendry could be the most athletic character and I hope he gets the adequate nutrition to recover. Coconut water does the trick mate.
  • The Hound's a bit of a DC (you know GC? Good caaaant? Yeah, D is for dumb). That scene though was glorious and was close as GoT will get to a north-of-the-wall siege, then you had Hound's dialogue and again we saw the balance, yin and yang that is so prevalent in GoT; Hound threw a rock to hit a Wight and the Wight's the DC, Hound thinks he's being a smarty pants and throws another rock, falling short of the Wight and hitting concrete-like ice so the Wights knew they could march on. It doesn't take much to go from being a smarty pants to a DC and these stakes are pretty high.
How much does an army of wights weight? Enough to break the ice... G'day, I'm Jon Snow!

How much does an army of wights weight? Enough to break the ice... G'day, I'm Jon Snow!

Remember how Jon Snow shared an intimate moment with a dragon last week? The similarities between that scene and the scene where the Night's King raised a dragon, touching it on the nose, followed by a close up on its eye, were creepy. 

When Jon touched Drogon, we got a close up on Drogon's eye and an emotional (??) blink and we already know that we see the eye go blue when the Night's King touches your soul so there's nothing crazy in that, only it came in the episode after we got a very similar moment with Jon and Drogon. That leads us down a rabbit-hole regarding Jon Snow x Night's King and there's enough craziness going down, so I'll get back to that at some stage.

I'd bend the knee but I'm lying down. I'd give you my heart but it's already been repeatedly stabbed by my own men. Sorry 'bout the dragon, wot.

I'd bend the knee but I'm lying down. I'd give you my heart but it's already been repeatedly stabbed by my own men. Sorry 'bout the dragon, wot.

A rabbit-hole that is of greater immediate concern is what an ice dragon means for Westeros. Dany flew over the Wall and while it was beautiful to see dragons flying above Dragonstone with Dany lurking in her regal Targaryen gears, seeing a dragon (I only saw one, which opens up another rabbit-hole) flying above the wall and Dany perched in her white gears - winter gears - overlooking north-of-the-wall, was stunning.

One would then assume that an ice dragon could fly over the Wall, burn/freeze Westeros and game over. Maybe, however there's plenty of magic in what the Wall and unfortunately or fortunately, this is why Uncle Benjen was stuck north and why he was there to save the day once again. Mystery surrounds the Wall's magic, so it's hard to pin-point what exactly the Wall is capable of - other than being a really big wall - but we can rather safely believe that there's anti-dead magic in the wall that would stop the Night's King from steam-rolling Westeros.

Many believe that when the Night's King grabbed Bran's arm, that this could have an impact on the Wall's magic. So further interaction between these two, in Bran's time-shifting travels could perhaps lead to the Wall's magic being weakened; Bran's can save everyone with his visions, or mess it up as he continues to learn.

I'm hoping that we get to learn a bit more about this in the next episode as it kinda needs to be established, now that there is an ice dragon who could just fly over the wall. There's all sorts of possibilities and now that we know what muppets the Maesters in Old Town are, it may be Sam's time to shine. Sam may not just share information about Valryian steel and Dragon glass, he might be able to offer a how-to about the Wall.

I stole your silly note, nya-nya-ne-nya-na!

I stole your silly note, nya-nya-ne-nya-na!

Right, so I'm all-in on hating on Arya. 

And it sucks.

She was so cool, now she's threatening Sansa and just being a general annoyance.

You don't think Littlefinger's loving that?

Littlefinger may have planted a note for Arya to find, he's not getting inside Sansa's head as much as Arya is though.

Does Arya want Sansa's face, so she can then become Sansa and go on her killing spree. It would be a lot easier to kill Littlefinger and Cersei if you've got Sansa's face on.

Arya seemed to tell Sansa to kill herself by handing her the knife, or what?

Is Arya playing a bigger game and trolling Sansa to see what she's made of and how that may influence what Arya does with Littlefinger? 

Nothing that I've seen from Sansa suggests that she has selfish motives and I actually think she is doing a great job in Jon's absence. The idea of Sansa being selfish has been planted by Arya and Arya has this crazy ability to make you (Sansa) question yourself, even when you're doing all good. 

This season started with some face-less shenanigans and now that we've seen the Night's King raise a dragon, we could be about to see some face-less shenanigans as the climax (what's a climax in a GoT season though?). Here's hoping it doesn't involve Sansa's face.


GoT S07E06 Character Rankings:

  1. The Night’s King – The javelin master and the dragon tamer. Always gets a nice seat on the hillside with that horse when the battles rage too.
  2. Tormund – He now knows what ‘dick’ means.
  3. Daenerys Targaryen – Consider that knee hypothetically bent. She lost a dragon but she gained a new bachelor (don’t tell anyone he’s her nephew).
  4. Jon Snow – See above.
  5. Gendry – He can row, he can run, he can swing a hammer… ladies, please form an orderly queue.
  6. Jorah Mormont – The man from Bear Island killed the zombie bear, how poetic.
  7. Thoros of Myr – Doesn’t matter how drunk you are, if you can cauterise a zombie bear gashing with a flaming sword and then stand up and walk off then you’re a badass. It killed him soon enough but maaate!
  8. Brienne of Tarth – Did anyone else think she gave Sansa some seriously good advice there only to get ruthlessly ignored? Those bleeding Starks, honestly.
  9. Beric Dondarrion – Another one who gave great advice. He’s onto his seventh and final life but The Lord of Light has kept him around for a reason.
  10. The Hound – Net gain for doing the hard yards with the captured wight but shouldn’t have thrown that rock, bro.

Ya know how the Night's King threw that ice-spear into Dany's dragon? Yeah well hit an ad with the same power and accuracy to make a donation to the Niche Cache and show your support. Or head over to Patreon and become a Niche Cache Patron, which is far less dangerous.