TV Review: Game of Thrones, Season 7, Episode 6 "Beyond The Wall"

EPISODE 5: Beyond The Wall


After assembling the ultimate A-Team with the aim of going beyond The Wall in order to capture a wight to bring back to Cersei in order to convince her of the bigger threat, Jon Snow, Tormund, Gendry, Thoros of Myr, Beric Dondarion, Jorah Mormount and The Hound set off on what is sure to be an adventure that will dwindle the numbers of some of our longtime favorites. As they traipse through the snow and ice the men bicker a bit, Gendry complaining about the Knights Without Banners selling him to Melisandre a while back, eventually getting set straight by The Hound. There's also a really cool moment where Jon tries to hand over his sacred Valerian steel sword, Longclaw, over to Ser Jorah, the once-rightful heir to it. Given to Jon by Lord Mormount, who met a pretty nasty fate by Knight's Watch betrayers, the sword has already proven useful in battle (one swipe from it killed a wight a few seasons back). Jorah, however, is every bit as honorable as Jon and refuses, knowing that it's in the right hands.

"I brought shame to my house. I broke my father's heart. I forfeited the right to claim this sword. It's yours. May it serve you well. And your children after you."

Back at Winterfell, Arya and Sansa stand, overwatching the castle. Arya recalls growing up, teaching herself to shoot a bow and arrow, something that was forbidden. She remembers her father, Ned Stark, watching her do so and giving his approval. This leads to her pulling out the scroll from last episode, which it turns out was the same scroll she was forced to write when she was under Lannister control, which pleaded with Robb Stark to bend the knee to Joffrey and end his war. However, we all saw how that turned out. Ned Stark was beheaded and both Arya and Sansa were sent on two different roads, both of which challenged them beyond their worst nightmares.

Arya is angry about this discovery and tells Sansa she blames her for their father's death, calling into question her loyalty. After a bit of a pissing match, comparing how hard their lives have been, Arya makes her threat clear; she plans to hold onto that scroll, potentially showing it to the Northern Lords, who she believes would crumble their vision of Sansa. But, what aim could Arya possibly have with doing this?

"You're angry. Sometimes anger makes people do unfortunate things," Sansa says. "Sometimes fear makes them do unfortunate things. I'll go with anger," replies Arya.

Of course, we know that Lord Baelish is putting all of this in motion and, sadly, Arya has taken the bait. Or has she? Could she be clever enough to be working him and potentially tricking Sansa in the process? I'm not quite sure I buy her "anger" just yet. Arya has come to far to be this petty.

Back beyond the wall, the men continue to walk and talk, which feels like a lot of fan-fiction scenes, but in the best possible way. Tormund and The Hound share a comedic moment in which Tormund confesses his love for Brienne of Tarth, who The Hound had one hell of a run in with a while back. "I want to make babies with her. Great big monsters. They'll conquer the world," says Tormund. Perhaps this is the calm before the storm? Yeah, most likely.

Meanwhile, Beric and Jon share some walk-and-talk time with Beric commenting that Jon doesn't have the look of his father (Ned). Of course, we all know why, right? Just ask Drogo! The men also share another common trait; both have been brought back to life by the Lord of Light. Jon expresses his frustration with why he was brought back, questioning why he should follow any God that doesn't reveal his intentions.

"He wants you alive," says Beric. "Why?" Jon asks, understandabley (and almost hopefully). "I don't know," answers Beric, who goes on to talk about how they are both soldiers and their common goal is quite simple; the preservation of life, rather than who warms the Iron Throne. Beric is just full of cool-sounding wisdom, but will it come to mean anything more than simple heroics? Guess we'll see.

"Death is the enemy. The first enemy. And the last. The enemy always wins. And we still need to fight him. That's all I know."

At Dragonstone, Daenerys and Tyrion have a fireside chat (lots of chatting going down in the first half here) where Tyrion implies that Jon Snow may well have his eye on Daenerys in a more-than-friends kind of way. "He's too little for me," she says and they then move on to the topic of Cersei. Tyrion gives Daenerys the lowdown on Cersei and how she thinks, discussing the inevitable takeover of King's Landing. Tyrion brings up that everyone who has sat on the throne since Aegon has ruled with fear and that Daenerys must do better than that if she seeks to hold her rule and inspire the people.

"I believe in you and the world you want to build. But the world you want to build doesn't get built all at once. Probably not in a single lifetime." Tyrion, in a bid to appeal to the longevity of Daenerys rule, is looking for her successor. Who will rule after her (as she cannot have children) and how will she maintan the "broken wheel" she intends to implement? I actually thought that this would be the moment when Tyrion suggests something of a democracy, which feels like the only true way to break the "Game of Thrones" (to a point, anyway), but Daenerys is steadfast, repeating that they will decide on a successor only after she wears the crown. It's a tense moment and you can see that it will take a lot to crack her shell and get her to fully trust Tyrion. She already has reason to doubt him after the blunder of their last battle plan, but he is still full of wisdom and wisdom she desperately needs.

A snowstorm is in full effect back beyond the Wall and the men come upon a massive bear with "blue eyes" which suddenly attacks. They form a circle to fight off its advance, but it tears into them regardless. The bear takes out a number of men, as Beric swipes it with Lightbringer, his fire sword, setting the bear ablaze. Thoros of Myr is severely injured when he comes to the rescue of The Hound who froze at the sight of the burning bear (of course, because of his fear of fire). The bear is eventually taken down by Ser Jorah, while they tend to Thoros, who is all kinds of tore up, yet still alive. Beric seals Thoros' wound with his sword. "You all right?" asks Beric. "I just got bit by a dead bear!." Meanwhile, Jon and Tormund eye the bear tracks that lead into the storm. 

At Winterfell, Sansa turns to Littlefinger for advice over Arya and her threats over the "discovered" scroll. As always, the conniving son of a bitch seems to appeal to both sides, saying that Arya wouldn't betray her family. This in turn makes Sansa say that she doesn't really know her sister anymore and Lord Baelish makes his move, suggesting that Brienne may be the solution here. "She's sworn to protect both of Catlyn Stark's girls, is she not?" And here we go. "And if one of you were planning to harm the other in any way, wouldn't she be honorbound to intercede?" asks Baelish. "She would," replies Sansa. Again, I have to wonder just how aware Sansa and Arya are to Littlefinger. Is it possible they're both playing him? I'm hoping that's the case, but he's proven to be cunning enough to survive this far (and let's not forget that he's the one who betrayed Ned Stark back in season one).

Meanwhile, the Beyond The Wall A-Team discovers a group of White Walkers on the move. They set up a small fire to bait them into a canyon where they make an attack on some of the wights and a White Walker. They make quick work of the wights, attempting to capture the last one standing (and Jon dispatches the White Walker leader in glorious fashion with Longclaw. The Hound is bit in the hand by the wight they're securing, which could potentially spell trouble later. Suddenly they hear a great rumbling and soon find themselves on the run from a flood of wights across a frozen lake. Jon sends Gendry back to send a raven to Daenerys and let her know what happened. He gets away to do so, but Jon and the rest of the A-Team are surrounded in the middle of the lake on a rock by the Army of the Dead, who seem to be waiting them out. Why don't they attack?

As night begins to fall, Gendry makes it back to the wall and Ser Davos comes out to grab him. Gendry yells "Raven" and you only hope that it can fly like the damn wind. Back to the A-Team as dawn breaks, still surrounded by the Army of the Dead who hold fast, perhaps because of the shakiness of the ice that would break if they rushed. Sadly, they turn to discover that Thoros has died and Jon says that they must burn the body, having seen what happens if they don't. Beric sets Thoros ablaze and gives a Lord of Light prayer, while Jon says that Daenerys is their only chance. "No, there's another," says Beric, who points his sword to The Night King, who sits atop a mountain, watching them. "Kill him. He turned them all." Jon doesn't agree, but Beric continues. "The Lord brought you back and he brought me back. No one else. Just us. Did he do it to watch us freeze to death?" he says to Jon. The Hound brings up that this is Beric's last life, seeing as Thoros is now dead. The only question now is; how in the hell do they get to him?

We then see Sansa receive an invitation to King's Landing, which is obviously a bit of a shocker. No way in hell is Sansa returning to that place seeing as what happened last time, so she enlists Brienne to go in her stead. Brienne fights her on this, due largely to the fact that she doesn't trust Littlefinger. However, Sansa persists and sends her away. Does she know what she's doing? Has she learned nothing? Man, I can only hope that she has a plan in the works, because things could go really bad here and sure feel like they will.

Daenerys, meanwhile, has received Gendry's raven (man, shit is moving FAST these days, eh?) and is suited up in some Targaryan winter chic and ready to do some battle. Tyrion follows, pleading with her. "If you die, we're all lost. Everyone, everything!" he says.  "You told me to do nothing before and I listened to you. I'm not doing nothing again," she says, riding off on Drogo with the other two in tow. She's literally brining the heat beyond The Wall.

Back at the lake, The Hound tosses some stones at the waiting Army of the Dead, egging them on. Unfortunately, it shows that the ice is holding, which inspires some of them to advance. The A-Team arms up and starts cutting down every wight that comes their way. The nameless lackeys of course get cut down and at one point Tormund is almost pulled into the icy water, saved by The Hound. They tretreat to the top of the rock in the middle of the lake in what appears to be thier final stand, but alas the burning flames of three badass dragons swoop in and makes barbecue out of them real quick. it's a fan moment if there ever was one as the dragons vs. The Army of The Dead has been something we've all been waiting for.

The Night King, however, is no pushover. He grabs an icy spear from his horse and chucks it at one of the dragons, Viserion, hitting it in the chest. Viserion gushes blood, showering it everywhere as it crashes into the icy water, slowly sinking in. I knew we'd lose at least one of these dragons at some point, but its impact is no less strong and even though not necessarily a "main" character, Viserion is still a tremendous loss (also, where in the hell is Ghost? Are they really just ignoring him or did I miss something?) Daenerys is obviously shocked as she waits for The A-Team (what's left of them) to load up on the back of Drogon, while Jon continues to cut away at the dead, facing off (again) with The Night King in another staredown as he prepares to throw another ice spear. Jon yells at Daenerys to go as he is tackled into the water by two wights. Daenerys reluctantly takes his advice and flies away, narrowly missing another spear.

Jon, however, is the John McClane of this series and emerges from the ice, his hand grabbing for Longclaw. He stumbles off the ice, but not before the wights take notice and start moving toward him. Every the soldier, Jon stands ready to fight, but not before a rider with a flame weapon rides out of nowhere and saves him. It's Benjan Stark, who offers up his horse and tells Jon to ride, while he stays and dies under the Army of the Dead's advance. Another sad loss in the series, but perhaps it was Benjan's ultimate fate to sacrifice himself for Jon.

Back at The Wall, we see The Hound loading up on a boat with their captured wight, as Beric tells him "We'll meet again, Clegane." The Hound smiles. "Fucking hope not." I'm actually kind of sad to see The A-Team Beyond The Wall break up, but all good things must come to an end, no? Atop The Wall, Daenerys stands, watching the treeline as Drogon patrols the sky. Ser Jorah pleads that they must go, but she waits, desperately, hoping that Jon will appear. And, in Jon Snow fashion, he does. Davos is then seen loading Jon onto Daenery's boat to warm him up and Daenerys stands by like a worried lover, seeing for the first time the scars upon his chest that he accrued when he was murdered. Yet another side of him is now revealed, which is sure to drive both Daenery's curiosity and admiration.

At Winterfell, Sansa enters Arya's room and starts going through her stuff, eventually finding a satchel that houses a number of "masks". Obviously, this is a crazy thing to find, but luckily (or unluckily) Arya shows up to explain what they are, delving into her past at Bravos and her journey to becoming a "faceless man". Arya decides to play the "Game of Faces" with Sansa, asking her a question that could mean life or death, eventually suggesting that with the faces she now has she can be anyone she wants; even Sansa. Arya approaches her with a blade, menacingly, but ultimately hands it over. She's still toying with Sansa, it seems, but I'm not quite sure why. Does she really question Sansa's loyalty that much? I guess the time and distance between them could easily make that a reality, but I'm not quite sure I'm onboard with this conflict just yet.

On Daenerys' ship, Jon awakes with the Queen herself sitting watch over him. He immediately apologizes for the loss of her dragon and while she's heartbroken about it, she is also thankful that she was able to see what The Army of the Dead is for herself. "The dragons are my children. They're the only children I'll ever have. Do you understand? We're going to destroy The Night King and his army and we're going to do it together," she says, now committed to the cause he brought to her. Jon then calls her his "Queen", finally swearing allegiance to her. "They'll come to see you for what you are," Jon suggests about the North as she grabs his hand, emotional. "I hope I deserve it," she says, tearfully. "You do," he says. It's a game-changing moment for both characters, one that suggests not only their loyalty to one another, but possibly much more.

Back at the lake beyond the wall, we see The Army of the Dead pull the dead dragon from the water and I said "oh shit" under my breath quite a few times. I should've seen it right away, but man. The Night King approaches the dead beast, putting his hand on it. After a beat, the eye opens, glowing blue. And just like that, The Army of the Dead has a goddamn dragon!

What an episode! Some bro-time with The A-Team with some strong bonding amongst fan favorites, while also the loss of a few. A step forward in many relationships (Jon and Daenerys) and a step back for others (Sansa and Arya) and another major player finally seeing what a massive threat The Army of the Dead really is. While things move a little too fast this season (ravens must now have wi-fi) and travel time is cut down to a single scene transition it's still a damn good time and still the best show on television (in my book, anyway). While some of it feels like fan service, you have to wonder if there's any way to avoid that. I mean, just because certain things may (or may not) work out in a "cool" way doesn't necessarily mean it isn't genuine. Still, there are some stumbles, namely the drama at Winterfell with Sansa-Arya-Littlefinger-Brienne. However, I'm willing to hold my judgment to see the final act come to light, which has proven to be either shocking, satisfying or both in the past. With the finale a week away, there's sure to be plenty of that.

SEX/NUDITY: Shirtless and scarred Jon Snow is the best we can do with this one, folks.

VIOLENCE: A brutal "dead bear" attack, a massive battle against The Army of the Dead, the death of Thoros, Benjan Stark, and Viserion (who gushes blood like a crop dusting plane). Not anything massively brutal per se, but plenty of death to go around.

BEST SCENE: You can't go wrong with the first meeting of Ice and Fire beyond The Wall and seeing the dragons turn the Army of the Dead to dust was pretty damn great. The death of Viserion was also a hell of a thing to witness and one of the bigger losses in the show, even if just a creature. I'm also gonna cheat a bit and mention Viserion's resurrection at the very end. Damn. The stakes keep rising.



Source: JoBlo.com



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