Game Of Thrones Season 7 Review : Beyond The Wall

The Great War has finally started, with a plethora of events around it. Welcome to the review of S7E6, “Beyond The Wall.”
Unlike in the past, the focus of this episode is completely on the battle, almost from the first frame, although the actual fight is delayed. We do open in the board room of Dragonstone but are quickly taken to the icy mountains beyond the wall. I have to admit that I was sold on the cinematography for this episode last week itself, when I saw the teaser. The locations in Iceland where the trek was shot are gorgeous. The actual lake battle was shot in Ireland, but that’s a different thing.

Before we start with the battle, let us get the other two sections of the episode out of our way. First, we had Dany and Tyrion talking, discussing what course of action to take. And Dany blurted out Jon’s name with those of her other suitors, alive and dead. This was a nice, soft nod to the romantic jumble in her mind.

Then there’s the small matter of sisters bickering at Winterfell. Full marks to the way the exchanges were written and acted. But, I simply couldn’t care any less about what the two were fighting for. There’s an impending War, and we have this ego tussle between two persons who have never really liked each other. Both Sansa and Arya have valid arguments. Both have been through hell. But I’d have rather this had transpired earlier, say last season. Because there are only two things that matter now – the Great War and the fight for the Iron Throne. And as much as I’d like Bran intermediating and exposing Littlefinger, I know the show is too smart to do that, even at this stage.

Speaking of which, Jon Snow should never be allowed to make battle decisions. Last season, he disregarded Sansa’s advice and almost lost the battle before the Knights of the Vale bailed him out. This season, he was again cornered, with a similarly depressing, fight-to-the-death slow-mo shot before Dany and her dragons intervened. Jon Snow still knows nothing.

I was amped up for this battle but I have to admit it wasn’t as good as some of the earlier ones on this show. True, the level of technical mastery here was second to none, and the cast and crew must be lauded, with special cheers for the VFX team, but this somehow felt less than the past battles. Also disappointing was the way that almost all major characters, bar Thoros, survived this. The only people to die, besides him, were guys whose faces we didn’t even see. It is par for the course for Thrones to kill off major characters for fun. And here we have a battle between the army of the dead and a motley group and almost everyone survives? Really? Ugh!

I loved the exchanges between the members of the crew. That was fulfilling, especially the ones between Tormund and Clegane and Jon and Beric. Dialogues that were perfect to a word, and delivery that you’d want to imitate every time you recalled them.

The tension around the battle was more nail-biting than the actual battle itself. This is not to say that I didn’t like the fight scenes. But it was essentially nameless and faceless wights against our heroes. So connecting with the enemy became that much harder. I liked the way the wights understood that the lake was frozen. I can’t recall where, but I have seen a similar sequence earlier, where a stone gliding across the surface does the trick. When the wights grabbed Tormund, I was scared. I did have a feeling that someone would die, but I’d have hated him to go out that way. Fortunately, The Hound came to his rescue.

I do feel that the travel time issues looked weird. We know that the show has speeded up, but it still didn’t quite feel right this time. The director used a neat trick of not focussing on dusk and dawn because that north, almost perpetual sunlight would be a reality. That gives the timeframe some leeway. I’m okay with the time the dragons and Gendry took. But the thing is, Game of Thrones prides itself on grounding its fantasy storyline in reality, as far as possible. Now director Alan Taylor has shot down those concerns. So I’d say, this is fiction. Consider the discrepancies to be artistic liberties, and move on.

The big things that happened as a result of the battle? Two theories came to the forefront. The theory about Dany, Jon and Tyrion riding the three dragons has now been speared down by the Night King. The one about NK flying an ice dragon is going to come true. Although it’d be an ice wight, technically. Viserion drowning in the lake made for a sad scene. The whole sequence where he shoots down Viserion was terrific, with the right amount of emotional weight. 

As for Jon managing to get out of that frozen lake, despite the wights and his winter clothes, well, let’s just say he knows how to come back. As Sam said, he always comes back. Benjen Stark aka Coldhands arriving to save him from the wights could only mean one thing though. Bran i.e., the Three-Eyed Raven, knew what was happening. I found Coldhands’ refusal to join Jon weird, not to say stupid. If Jon can go, why can’t he? The showrunners said in this video that he had been waiting for the end for a long time, but there was no need for him to die here. What this did was clear the meaning of a line from the trailer, I suppose. Benjen Stark (the lone wolf) died, but the pack survived. Jon was going to be that lone wolf, but he is too important now.

Jon and Dany finally accepted their feelings for each other. While they both did respect one another earlier too, love is finally in the open. Jorah has again been friendzoned, this time for good it seems. Emilia Clarke’s acting in that boat scene was wonderful, her expressions changing ever so subtly. Dany now also knows that Jon literally took a knife to his heart. We should get some discussion around that in the coming episode. The troubling thing is, from what we know about Jon’s parentage, their relationship is incestuos. We all remember how we felt when we first learnt of Jaime and Cersei’s affair. Just because Jon and Dany are the good guys, are we going to respect their liaison? Maybe we can, specially if we consider that the Targaryens have practised purity of blood for ages. I personally feel the show won’t give us a normal union of these two, despite what GRRM intended.

Warging time :

  1.  This week’s episode has two awards for the Winter Olympics. One for the Night King in Javelin throw (obviously). The other for Gendry in the marathon category. It did help that neither of them had any competitors.
  2.  Next week’s episode should feature the much-awaited CleganeBowl, if that split-second shot from the trailer is anything to go by. Hopefully, the Hound would find a way around his pyrophobia now.
  3.  The NK having chains running into kilometers at his disposal felt jarring, despite Hardhome being a port, from what I hear.
  4.  How much darker can Sansa go now?
  5.  That letter from King’s Landing, did it actually arrive or was it another of Littlefinger’s schemes? The latter, I’d bet.
  6.  Thoros should have lived. It should have been Clegane dying from wounds. And then, after he was brought back (thanks to the Lord Of Light), he should have gone to fight the Mountain, which he will, anyway. Uh oh!
  7. Calling Dany “Dany” is not a good idea. Maybe I’d keep that in mind next time.
  8.  Who is the Lord of Light? I increasingly feel the show is going to give us a face or name for this shady dude. He just feels off, this R’hllor.
  9.  Regards the Longclaw eye-opener, if you see the sequence where Jon hands over the sword to Jorah, its eyes are open. I’d take the director’s words for the time being, but it does look intriguing, the whole thing.
  10. Rhaegar Targaryen is going to feature in the next episode.

    As always, kindly share your thoughts about this episode, the review and the series in general. I love hearing from you.

    “The Dragon and The Wolf” teaser :

    https://youtu.be/-5xdTlgaaaw

    All images courtesy : HBO.

    Thanks for reading.

    8 Comments

    1. Excellent post! And super long response here… 🙂
      I was so disappointed by this episode and had a lot of problems with it, mainly because it felt like they had finally decided to stop caring about how long it takes to get from point A to point B after spending the first few seasons establishing how long things take in the world of Westeros. It felt so silly – like, really? Gendry is going to be able to run the whole way? Does he even know how to get back to the wall? And then the raven can fly immediately to Dany? And Dany’s dragons can just fly straight to where Jon and Co are? It was just flat out ridiculous. There was no attempt at reality here and it was exceedingly frustrating.
      Plus – a side note: since Gendry was able to run so quickly, then the NK & Co are a days march or less from the wall which means they should be at the wall in the next episode. If they are not, then again the show is playing with time to suit what stories they WANT to tell rather than the stories coming forth in an organic way, which is how it was when the show was going off the books.
      Where did the NK get the chains? My husband stated when we watched this (and we watched the episode twice) that each link in those chains would be exceedingly heavy – so suddenly those wights have superhuman strength? And they can supposedly swim down and tie the chain around the dragons neck, but they can’t swim across the lake to attack Jon & Co ? Again – stories being told in a contrived, forceful way rather than making any logical sense.
      Jon rising from the water didn’t bother me – yes, it’s convenient, but he’s the hero of the story, and I keep thinking of that wonderful quote from Lord of the Rings (the book) that says something along the lines of “it isn’t their fate to die” or something (talking about Aragorn and Eomer as they battle in the big battle at the end). I was really hoping either the dragon that fell would come out of the water with Jon riding him, or the other dragon would swoop down and rescue him – which, if Jon’s a Targ, and Rhaegal is the dragon whom he rides, Rhaegal should be showing some connection to Jon by this point, and we haven’t seen that. Just Drogon’s connection to him.
      I agree that the battle was a bit lackluster. There wasn’t any real weight to the battle I thought, and it was silly to have just the random people die and none of the main characters. Now that Thoros is gone, they’ve lost the priest, so I’m not sure how Rh’llor fits into this anymore, as now Beric can’t be resurrected again, and the only other red priest the show has established is Melisandre. And I felt zero sadness for Dany’s dragon – it just felt like a contrived way to get the NK a dragon – it was so obvious that was going to happen.
      The Sansa v Arya plot is so silly. They’ve ruined Arya’s character this season. I’m still hoping they are playing Littlefinger, or that maybe Arya is playing him, but I just don’t understand what she expects to happen. Unless Arya is hoping Sansa kills him, after all, she did give Sansa the dagger! And Sansa did send Brienne away, saving her from interfering in their “fight”. Plus – I’m sorry, but Arya is supposed to be this clever assassin and yet her hiding place for her faces is under her bed?? Uh. Yeah. First place people look… I did love Sansa’s reaction to the faces though. Actually Sansa’s not bothering me – her reaction to Arya is good I think, and she’s speaking her mind and not letting Arya bully her.
      Interesting about Bran & Benjen. That thought never occurred to me – I just figured the showrunners needed some reason to have Jon escape. If that really was the case, then wouldn’t the show have shown that? It would’ve made more sense than to have Benjen just randomly appear in the middle of nowhere…and yeah, he could’ve gotten on that horse.
      My questions:
      – Will the ice dragon/wight breath fire or ice? Also – if dragonfire can kill the wights & the walkers, then this doesn’t make any sense for the dragon to be able to become a wight. Cause he’d breathe fire and kill himself. And now the NK can just fly over or around the wall, so the wall won’t hold them for long. My guess is that it falls in the season finale.
      – And now the show has established that the NK is logical and leading the wights in a logical way. But what is his plan? WHY is he doing any of this at all? Now the show needs to establish him as more than just a “bad guy” and give him some kind of motive. He doesn’t seem to speak, so how is he communicating with his followers? And if you kill the NK do all the bad guys die? And why didn’t the NK try to spear Drogon, who was right there and carrying a rider…. instead he tries to go after a flying dragon who was far away from him. Uh, yeah. Again, showrunners doing something in a contrived and forceful way. Guess they really wanted to show off the NK’s javelin skills… (hee hee – the memes on the internet about this are hilarious)
      – and Uh Oh about Dany. Heavy, heavy foreshadowing of her death this episode. My brother has a theory that she’ll die in the season finale at the hands of Cersei (I don’t think this is going to happen – at least not this season).
      – Will Cersei believe them when they bring the wight to her? Looking forward to seeing how this season ends. Wish they had more time to flesh out all the story lines. This season feels so uneven compared to other seasons since they are rushing through everything. Feels like they are just checking things off the list.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the appreciation and the response. The longer it is, the better. 😁😁
        I felt the same when I watched it the first time. Because, as you say, the earlier seasons were very firm on the point that one can’t just go from here to there as fast as one likes. The only defence here is the fact that, as I mention in the post, there is no nightfall shown. And I did find director Taylor’s explanation and condescension weird. But hey, we’re still watching the show like crazy, so why would they care?
        I guess you do have a point there. At this rate, it’d take them only a day or so to arrive at Eastwatch. I think if that has to happen this season, they’ll only show it at the very end of the finale, just to hype things up even more for the final season.
        The chains struck my mind at the very moment I saw the scene. The theory doing the rounds is that the NK and co got them at Hardhome. I haven’t read the books so I’d defer to your understanding here. The one thing I’d say is that they didn’t necessarily get those chains there the same day Jon ran off. Remember they were content, and leaving back, when Jon went under and Dany and co flew off. So I’d say, Viserion would have been brought back up after a few days, at least, even though that sort of thing supposedly doesn’t matter now. Maybe the free folk had a bustling iron ore industry up there. As for the wights going down and tying the chain around the dragon’s neck, I wouldn’t out it past them. Remember that the wights came back up from the lake when Tormund was caught. Then again, their strength goes unexplained.
        I think Viserion’s death has finally confirmed that only Dany would ride the dragons, that too Viserion only. I expect Rhaegal to die fighting Ice Viserion next season. That would clear up any and every doubt. A friend of mine said it was so convenient that he came back up from that lake, despite everything. And didn’t even freeze to death. The pack even survived staying there overnight (2 nights? 3 nights?) without so much as a bonfire. What furs are they wearing?
        Yes, the battle was light on emotion. Very. But I still feel the whole shroud of mystery around Rh’llor needs explaining. What is His endgame?
        As for the death of the dragon, it made more sense for the NK to kill Drogon, rather than the other two. Because if he had done that, the war would have finished then and there. Long live the long night, it’d have been. Guess we’ll have to take that as it is now, a plot oddity. I did, however, like the smart way he saw an opportunity and seized it. He’s an Olympic gold medallist after all, isn’t he?😂😂😂
        It makes a whole lot of sense for Arya to be playing both Littlefinger and Sansa. And it is possible that Sansa is in on the ruse. The sisters are going to kill Baelish, and that dagger would come in very handy. His death at the hands of Sansa would also make poetic sense, like that of Ramsay. Arya killing him wouldn’t be as much a vindication. Post that, Arya can get his face and trick the Knights of the Vale (and the rest of those unscrupulous Northern Lords) to keep supporting the Starks. That’d settle the issue.
        Maybe the show would show the Bran and Benjen thing this coming episode. I would bet this episode is going to go heavy on Bran’s warging. That’s why I mentioned the appearance of Rhaegar Targaryen in this episode. Read somewhere that an actor has been cast to portray him this season. There’s only one episode left now, so that’d make a lot of sense, also clearing up Jon’s parentage once and for all. We might get a scene or two with Rhaegar and Lyanna.
        The wight dragon would breathe ice, or flowing ice. Not fire, no. Because that’d be paradoxical, as you say. Yes, the wall could fall in this finale.
        The show wouldn’t explain it all this season, I guess. But as and when it does, it’d come from Bran. He is the one person best suited to explain and clarify everything. And let’s just hope he isn’t the Night King. Uh!
        Dany won’t die, she can’t die. At least not this season. I did say that I don’t feel we’ll have a happy DanJon union. But even if that were to happen, consider it happening in the 5th episode next season. What foreshadowing though? I seem to have missed it.
        Cersei might or mightn’t believe them. At the moment, I don’t think even Jaime can guess what Cersei would do. So we poor people don’t stand a chance there. It looks more likely that she won’t, though.
        I too would have liked a longer season. Even if they had to stretch a few things out a bit, it’d have been better than the absolute mad rush they’re in now. The show still hasn’t gone down to the levels of poor shows, but its own high standards certainly haven’t been met this season, at least in the storytelling department.
        By the way, did you notice that the NK had a different look in season 4 (when he creates a WW out of that baby), looked something else at Hardhome, and a different look here? Different actors playing him or what?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, that explanation of the time was dismissive to fans and also to the world building of the show. It was very much that they wanted to do this, for whatever reason, and didn’t care how it came across. This is my biggest frustration with their changes from the novel. They don’t make any sense, but feel forced and contrived. I miss the slower pace of the earlier seasons as characters and plots were allowed to develop rather than a mad-dash to the end. But oh well. They really do have a lot to cover, but it does feel disrespectful to the story and to the fans.
          Well, to the theory that the NK got the chains at Hardhome and carried them all the way…I think that is stretching it too far. I think the showrunners needed some way to get the dragon out of the water and conjured up chains out of thin air. It just doesn’t make any sense otherwise. They can’t have things take a long time, because Cersei didn’t look like she was obviously pregnant in the promos for the season finale. Unless they want us to believe she’s already had the baby…
          And those wights came back from the lake – yes – which doesn’t make sense why they couldn’t just swim across the lake to get to Jon & Co on the rock. If they are smart enough to dive down and tie chains around the neck of a dragon, they can swim a short distance to kill Jon & Co. Inconsistencies!
          Interesting thought about Dany being the only rider. I’d like to think Jon rides a dragon, and that Bran is able to skin-change the Ice Dragon, but we shall see!
          I wonder if they’ll even explain Rh’llor on the show or just leave it alone. I kind of think that the show is moving away from anything too complex because they’ve written themselves into holes in regards to certain characters and plots. Mel’s been nonexistent this season – why? Do they just not know what to do with her character? Seems like they got what they needed from her (Jon’s resurrection) and now she’s no longer needed.
          I like it – a “plot oddity” as you say! Excellent!
          I just don’t know about that Arya / Sansa plotline. It’s very manipulative I think. Like if they are working together, the showrunners aren’t letting us know because they want some forced dramatic moment. I just don’t know. Arya feels wrong to me this season – like the writers don’t know what to do with her or Sansa so they are just passing time by giving them this false tension.
          I agree that we’ll probably get Jon’s parentage story in the upcoming finale. Makes sense, especially since the episode is titled The Dragon and the Wolf.
          If the dragon doesn’t breathe fire – how does the wall fall? The wall is magically sealed and the NK & the wights cannot cross it. Or perhaps the wall doesn’t fall, but the NK flies everyone over on the dragon. (That is just silly if that’s the case – or maybe he rigs up those magic chains and makes a big platform that the dragon carries through the air…carrying all the wights & walkers past the wall). I dunno. I think the wall will fall in this upcoming episode, but I’m confused as to how the show will have that happen as they’ve skipped over lots about the magic and the history.
          The foreshadowing re Dany’s death has been that she’s been treated as virtually indestructible up until this season. Drogon was hit with the Scorpion in that earlier episode. Tyrion comes out of nowhere asking her who is next in line for the throne. She loses a dragon. Now perhaps this is just added tension to make us think she’s not going to survive, but I dunno. She doesn’t even wear a helmet or armor when she’s on the back of Drogon. Maybe now she will.
          Ha ha! I haven’t noticed the changes in the NK. Maybe the original NK is hanging out with original Daario.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, disrespectful is the word. But they are like, we can do this and we will.
            The chains from Hardhome is what I’d call another desperate attempt to explain what is happening on the show. Makes a little sense if you believe it. Otherwise, it’s all bull.
            Cersei already had the baby? Oh God! That’d be funny. 😂😂😂😂
            Yes, it’d be simpler for them wights to swim across and kill Jon and co. Maybe they were afraid of catching cold until the NK bullied them to go down and tie those chains?😂😂
            It is so outlandish, it feels funny.
            Bran skin-changing the ice dragon? What’d that be? I too feel Rh’llor won’t be explained or explored. But I’d want them to. Maybe the books will have an answer to that.
            There was a video on YouTube, in the voice of Jaqen H’ghar, where he explains that all the various gods and deities across the show’s world are one and the same.
            Here’s the link :

            I guess as far as Mel is concerned, we’ll see her again next season. She said she has to die, remember? She and Varys both. At this moment, the show is concerned with the endgame only, character development be darned. That has resulted in quite a few people only having guest appearances, completely in contrast to how things had gone earlier, say, with the High Sparrow.
            Forced, maybe. But I do think your prophesy about Lord Baelish is going to come true this weekend.
            Yes, the title hints towards Jon’s parentage, not Jon and Dany as people are speculating. There’s even rumours about a sex scene between the two because the episode guide has “nudity” word in it. Oh, these fecund imaginations!
            Now that you mention, it does seem odd as to how an ice dragon will bring down the wall. Those rigs would be super silly. 😂😂😂
            Dany dying would be premature at this point, if at all it does happen. But yes, I can see where you’re coming from. GRRM did say the show and the books both are about Jon and Dany’s journeys. Maybe we need to see them travel a bit more before something fatal happens. They still have to destroy the NK’s army, remember?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Cool video! Interesting theory – wonder what will happen. I kind of just think that it’s just different gods that different groups of people worship, but who knows! I do kind of like this theory that it’s all the same god.
              I think it’s called skin changing when you control the mind of any animal – but a warg is specific to a wolf/dog. Here’s a link to the Westeros wiki about it: http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Skinchanger I have to admit I’m not particular about the use of the terms, but I know that some people are!
              I agree with you that Dany dying right now would be premature. Maybe towards the end of next season? But I’d like her to survive. Looking forward to tonight’s episode and seeing what new things we’ll have to discuss 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

    2. Omg wow I’m only just discovering all your GOT posts, you’ve got my subscription for sure! Definitely going to return kal to read all of these at length, I’ve had so many thoughts about this season aaahh

      Liked by 1 person

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s