It’s funny how a flawed episode can be so mindblowingly thrilling. Those final 20 minutes alone make this hour one of Game of Thrones‘ finest episodes ever.
Of course I am referring to the bone-chilling sequence that featured Viserion’s heartbreaking death. Everything about this scene is astounding: the raging chaos, the way the Night King slowly grabs the ice spear and approaches his mysterious target, and that spine-tingling moment with Viserion coming into view and getting shot out of the sky. The visual of Dany watching her baby crash like a 747 and slide below the ice is the kind you never forget. In fact, its horrifying beauty is rivaled only by the image that bookends the episode: Viserion’s eye opening to reveal a menacing blue as The Night King adds the poor dragon to his undead army. It’s a gamechanging development, and one that elevates the hour to one of the show’s greatest hits.
If you’re still not on board with Dany and Jon’s incestual relationship, it’s time to come to terms because the show evolved that dynamic quite a bit this week. Not only did Dany defy common sense to rescue Jon, but their scene on the boat as the episode came to a close was bursting with sexual tension. Despite the relationship feeling rushed, I’m starting to root for the sparks between the two Targaryens (as creepy as that sounds). Plus how great was it to see Dany refusing to leave The Wall and holding on until Jon arrived?
Unfortunately, the rest of Beyond The Wall had a couple of stumbles. Ignoring the fact that the episode is completely illogical when it comes to time and distance (Gendry manages to run to Eastwatch and send a raven to Daenerys who flies all the way beyond the wall and saves the gang in the nick of time), the Arya-Sansa subplot is kind of a big ol’ mess. I don’t buy that the two sisters are so antagonistic with one another. Sure Arya has changed a great deal over the course of her training, but she’s not that bloodthirsty and heartless (otherwise she would not have defied Jaqen). Here’s hoping this is all part of some elaborate plot to trick Littlefinger, because I simply can’t get on board with this bizarre storyline (the scene in which Arya threatens Sansa with the dagger and the bag of faces was particularly unbelievable). Groan.
Finally, how rushed were Jon’s escapades? After Dany escapes, he finds himself underwater, only to climb up, get attacked again, and finally get saved by Uncle Benjen who makes a grand return and sacrifices himself for his nephew. All these developments occur within the span of two minutes, which doesn’t give them much space to land, or for us to register their enormous impact.
Bits & Beheadings
– Jon tries to give Longclaw to Jorah but the elder refuses. Good man.
– I think the moment that Arya refers to (with her dad watching her with that bow & arrow) was in the pilot.
– Tormund and The Hound are absolutely hilarious together. Spinoff please?
– The Hound references the vision he had in the season premiere.
– Tyrion tells Dany she needs to assign an heir since she can’t have children. This infertility is of course due to the Dothraki priestess and her ritual.
– Insane sequence with the undead polar bear.
– Really idiotic coincidence: the fact that only one Wight conveniently remains alive after all the rest die (since they’re connected to the Walker).
– So many beautiful visuals this week, particularly with the Wights surrounding our heroes and crashing through the ice. The battle itself is a marvel from a technical standpoint; I am always so enormously impressed by this show’s production crew. Watch this video and bask in the awesomeness.
– Clegane kicking the captive Wight made me laugh. But his throwing a rock at the Wight (and setting off the battle) was frickin’ priceless.
– Thoros is dead. No one cares.
– So killing the Night King kills all the wights? That’s what Beric seems to think.
– Sansa is invited to King’s Landing and decides to send Brienne instead. Can’t wait for her to see Jaime!
– Tyrion references Dany’s wheel twice this week. It’s a bit jarring after last week’s reference. #Overkill.
– Thank the lords that Tormund survived. He’s one of my favorite characters (and the show needs his special brand of comic relief).
– I know I always say this but I love the musical score whenever Dany and her dragons come to the rescue.
– Notice that panning shot of everybody’s shocked faces culminating with the camera settling on Dany’s traumatized face.
– Drogon’s scream when Viserion got hit was just gut-wrenching.
– I’m not sure if I bought Jon choosing to fight instead of climbing Drogon. I did however love him realizing that Drogon was next and ordering Dany to flee.
– It’s a small detail but it’s terrific: just as Dany gets ready to fly, Drogon flaps his wings and a bunch of Wights are sent flying from the force.
– Notice that when Sansa finds Arya’s bag of faces, one of them is Walder Frey’s! I certainly don’t miss that sleazeball.
– Jon finally bends the knee. Well not literally. Not that the memes will stop…
– The final shot with the chains and the gorgeous blue eyes – unforgettable. Wow!Notice that Viserion is the dragon who got turned. He was named after Viserys, Dany’s abusive brother. It’s kind of poetic isn’t it?
Kings & Quips
Gendry: How do you live up here? How d’you keep your balls from freezing off?
Tormund: You’ve got to keep moving, that’s the secret. Walking’s good, fighting’s better, fucking’s best.
Tormund: (about Gendry) This one is maybe not so smart.
Jon: Davos says he’s a strong fighter.
Tormund: Good. That’s more important than being smart. Smart people don’t come here looking for the dead.
Gendry: You know what she did to me? She struck me down on the bed, she stripped me naked-
Thoros: Sounds alright so far.
Gendry: And put leeches on me!
Tormund: You’re the one they call the dog.
The Hound: Fuck off.
Tormund: They told me you were mean.Were your born mean or you just hate wildlings?
The Hound: I could not give two shits about wildlings. Gingers I hate.
Tormund: Gingers are beautiful. We are kissed by fire. Just like you.
The Hound: Don’t point your fucking finger at me.
Tormund: Did you trip into the fire when you were a baby?
The Hound: I didn’t trip, I was pushed.
Tormund: Ever since, you’ve been mean.
The Hound: Fuck off.
Tormund: I don’t think you’re truly mean. You have sad eyes.
The Hound: You want to suck my dick, is that it?
The Hound: Cock.
Tormund: Ah, dick. I like it.
The Hound: Bet you do.
Tormund: Nope, it’s pussy for me. I have a beauty waiting for me back in Winterfell. If I ever get back there. Yellow hair, blue eyes. Tallest woman you’ve ever seen. Almost as tall as you.
The Hound: Brienne of Tarth?
Tormund: You know her?
The Hound: Yours is Brienne of fucking Tarth?
Tormund: Well, not with her yet. But I see the way she looks at me.
The Hound: How does she look at you? Like she wants to carve you up and eat your liver?
Tormund: You do know her.
The Hound: We’ve met.
Tormund: I want to make babies with her. Think of them. Great big monsters. They conquer the world.
The Hound: How did a mad fucker like you live this long?
Tormund: I’m good at killing people.
Beric: Death is the enemy. The first enemy. And the last. But we all die. The enemy always wins. But we still need to fight him.
Daenerys: Do you know what I like about you?
Tyrion: I honestly don’t.
Daenerys: You’re not a hero.
Tyrion: (to Dany) We had no time to discuss the possibilities before you ended their possibilities.
Daenerys: (to Tyrion) You told me to do nothing before and I listened to you. I’m not doing nothing again.
Some narrative missteps aren’t enough to diminish Beyond The Wall’s brutal emotional impact. This is one heart-stopping hour of television.