Game Of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 'Beyond The Wall': Review

The Night King just took s**t to a whole new level in Game of Thrones

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If you don't want to look into the cold, dead eyes of several spoilers turn away now...

After last week's rushed and at times awful 'Eastwatch', 'Beyond The Wall' was a reassuring return to form for Game Of Thrones as the action narrowed to Jon and the gang's extremely stupid mission to capture one of the Night King's army north of the wall.

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You can get a bit spoiled as a GoT fan, but it's worth pointing out there was more breathtaking action, enjoyable dialogue and laugh out loud moments crammed into this hour than most show manage in a season.

Yes, much of the nuance and character development that used to make the show so great has vanished, with season seven proving very much the 'stadium rock' phase of the show's history. But it's just too entertaining to resist. For that reason, I'm giving 'Beyond The Wall' an icy cool:

4 1

The talking points.

Men: It's Good To Talk

After deciding to band together in roughly thirty seconds at the end of 'Eastwatch' in what I've come to call the 'Avengers Assemble scene', Jon, Tormund, The Hound, Gendry, moisturising miracle Jorah Mormont and the Gingers without Banners finally had some time to get to know each other while traversing the tundra beyond the Wall. (There were a couple of unnamed foot soldiers on the trip too, but they were only there to die first, so there wasn't much point hearing from them).

Tormund talked about his feelings for Brienne with the Hound, Gendry resolved his anger issues with Banner Gingers (get over it, they told him, being sold to an evil witch is all part of growing up), Jorah opened up about his father who was ashamed of him and Jon had one of those insightful 'why are we ever here' chats, usually overheard at student house parties around 4am, with Beric Dondarrion, who absolutely loves that shit.

It was a nice corrective to the Avengers Assemble scene - the nadir of season 7 so far - to see some of the most troubled men in the seven kingdoms talking about their feelings for a change. Is the issue of toxic masculinity finally being addressed in Westeros?

Perhaps, but talking is a luxury when a giant undead ice bear is running at you - then it's quickly back to the swords and axes. Between them, the Avengers managed to put down this ominous harbinger but not before the Drunk Ginger without Banners got gorged for a bit, causing him to die in his sleep a little later on. "Not a bad way to go," coughed the Hound, who could have done more to help save him but backed off because the giant undead ice bear also caught fire. Can't remember how.

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Let's play another round of 'Just How Fucked Up Is Arya Really?'

Meanwhile, in what Tormund calls 'the South', the Stark sisters have got past the awkwardness of not seeing each other for years and rediscovered their flair for bickering - only now the stakes are somewhat higher. After the raven scroll she found last week, Arya now believes Sansa sold out her family when she was captive with the Lannisters. For her part, Sansa discovered every family member's worst nightmare while rifling through Arya's things (you worry about it, with kids these days, don't you? If it's not porn or drugs hidden in their bedrooms it's a pile of human faces they wear like masks when murdering people).

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Anyway – it's all Littlefinger's fault of course, playing the girls against each other and now managing to convince Sansa to send Brienne to King's Landing, meaning she is well and truly vulnerable and possibly not quite as mature or smart as we were led to believe. Winterfell is finally shaping up into a nice little subplot, but you do have to wonder where brother Bran – who can see everything at all times and could therefore probably help clear a few things up – is in all of this. (Probable answer: smoking a bong in his bedroom and Googling gap year projects in Meereen).

The Night King literally raises the stakes

But enough with these minor asides: as Jon Snow likes to keep telling us, the only thing that really matters is the Night King and his band of geriatric ice zombies wobbling their way towards the wall. After capturing one of them as 'evidence' and tying a bag around its head, the Avengers soon found themselves being chased by the entire Army of the Undead across a frozen lake which, thankfully, gave way at just the right time to leave them safely stranded on an island but surrounded at all sides. Their only hope? Wait it out and hope Gendry can get a raven to Dany in time to fly up and save them (spoiler: he could).

The chat died down a bit on the island, perhaps because of the looming threat of a million undead soldiers, perhaps because it was getting a bit cold (why didn't Beric turn his flame sword on?). Then the Hound got bored and starting throwing rocks, calling one zombie a 'dumb cunt' seconds before realising he was the dumbest cunt of them all - the second rock landed a few feet onto the ice and showed everyone it was now strong enough to walk on. Suddenly Avengers vs the Ice Zombies was on, and no one so much as tutted in the Hound's direction. Must have been all that sharing earlier on.

So the lads are off, cutting down zombies left right and centre, totally outnumbered, occasionally helping each other, ocassionally swapping WTF glances, waiting for the dragons to come. Tormund got dragged, Night of the Living Dead-style, down into the clutches of two zombies trying to take him underwater. For a moment it looked like he was going to die - finally, a meaningful death! - but he didn't. He probably should have. People need to start dying soon.

Then Dany showed up in this season's hottest arctic wear (she must have a Dotharki set up with a sewing machine somewhere) to do pretty much what she did in 'The Spoils of War', burning up the undead like an anteater scoffing up it breakfast. It was spectacular, of course, and somewhat surprising given 'dragon vs ice zombies' was kind of meant to be the final episode.

But then the twist. One throw of the Night King's ice spear managed to do what Qyburn's pissy little crossbow couldn't and kill one of Dany's dragons outright. It fell, fatally wounded, into the icy depths in what was the biggest death in the show's history since Wun Wun the giant, and the most peculiarly moving since the Stark Direwolves were slaughtered by Lannisters.

Despite this the Avengers escaped on the back of one of Dany's remaining dragons - except Jon who stayed back to do some more hero stuff (probably because Dany was watching) and almost died before being saved, somewhat randomly, by Uncle Benjamin, who sacrificed himself to put Jon on his horse and send him safely back to the wall. Cheers Uncle Benj – you always did come in handy. RIP, etc.

Oh... s**t...

The Night King raises the stakes (again)

Last week we described the prospect of an ice dragon as 'comfortably the most bonkers fan theory yet'. For that we'd like to apologise to our readers, the makers of the show and most of all the good people of Reddit whom we will trust without exception forever more – because the ice dragon is very much real.

The final scene of 'Beyond The Wall' saw the felled beast dragged out the icy depths so that the Night King could resurrect it as one of his own, complete with scary blue Night King eyes. You can imagine HBO reading the script at this point and saying 'what – you mean we have to fork out for dragons fighting each other now?', but yeah, they do, and yeah, you, me and millions of other grown ass adults will sit down eagerly and watch. God bless this silly show.

Some other points

  • Genuine question: is Dany and Jon's 'chemistry' so unconvincing and icky because they know on some level they're related? Or is just that Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke have no chemistry? In other words: is it very subtle acting or just plain bad acting? In any case, they are very much on the same team now and Jon has promised to bend his knee once his glistening six pack has healed and he can stand up again.
  • Dany's ongoing suspicion about Tyrion is entertaining, but it does feel a little uneven. Why would she keep a Hand who she doesn't fully trust? Or is he just there as a punching bag for her more erratic moods? She did heed his most recent advice - 'sometimes you have to do nothing' - at a crucial moment during the battle though by leaving Jon behind, which is a good sign for the man with the best eyebrows in Westeros.
  • The Hound appears to be heading off on his own again. Wonder if that's the last we'll see of him (surely not), or who he'll end up begrudgingly hanging out with next. I vote for Bronn: more dialogue between those two would be a hoot.
  • Looking at the trailer for next week's finale, it's all going to be about tense diplomacy rather than swords and dragons, so enjoy your fix for now...