Photo HBO/Sky Atlantic

Game of Thrones – Beyond the Wall

‘Beyond the Wall’ starts, believe it or not, beyond the Wall, with the Fellowship trekking through some snowy mountains, aiming to catch a wight to show to Cersei as proof of their existence. Before this, we see the Fellowship work through some personal differences as they hike through stunning landscapes, shot on location, in Iceland. The Brotherhood apologise to Gendry, for selling him to Melisandre. Jon and Jorah bond over their experiences with Jorah’s father. Jon tries to return Longclaw to Jorah, as it is a Mormont family sword. But Jorah is having none of it, saying Jon has a right, and a purpose, to wield the Valyrian steel.

Meanwhile at Winterfell, Baelish’s masterplan to divide the sisters commences as Arya confronts Sansa about the letter that she found in Baelish’s room. Sansa protests she was forced to write the letter, that wrongly condemns their father and urges their brother to bend the knee to the Lannisters. Arya says she would have died before betraying her family. Sansa says it was the only way and gets on her high horse. Just like that, Baelish’s plan seems to work flawlessly. Both sisters see each other as if they were still eleven, and thirteen years old. The viewers see that the Stark sisters can never hope to understand what each other has been through in their time apart. Instead, we have to hope that they can trust each other despite this, and see through Baelish’s meddling plans.

Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). Credit: HBO/Sky Atlantic

Back in Iceland, the Fellowship are still trekking through snow. Tormund persistently tries to strike up a friendship with the ever-reluctant grump that is the Hound. Beric and Jon connect over their shared experiences of dying and being brought back to life. Jon is tormented by not understanding why he has been resurrected. Beric tells him it is not their purpose to understand. Their purpose is to fight for life, and defend those who can’t defend themselves (highlighting the selflessness and strife for good that we have all come to so admire in the King of the North). Amidst this banter and bromance, the Fellowship finally stumble across a stray group of wights, led by a lone White Walker. They launch an ambush, and Jon manages to kill the White Walker. Cue an important discovery. As the White Walker vanishes, so too do all the wights, bar one. Jon and co realise that if you kill a White Walker, the wights that they created will also die. This discovery is interrupted by the shrill screams of the remaining, captured wight. Jon, realising that other wights will hear his screams and respond, sends Gendry running back to Eastwatch to send a raven to Dany. Her help is the only way that the Fellowship can get out of this.

As our group of favourites start to run, they reach a frozen lake. Pursued by thousands of wights, they have no choice but to try and cross it. As the wights make it to the ice it starts to crack, leaving many falling into the icy water. This means the Fellowship are stranded in the centre of the lake, surrounded by a ring of wights who cannot cross the water. Nearby, Gendry runs through some snow and stops for breath. No time, Gendry, no time! Night begins to fall and the Fellowship are still stranded. Gendry keeps running. Gendry falls. Gendry makes it to the Wall. Davos sends a raven. Meanwhile the Fellowship’s beautifully crafted facial hair is starting to freeze. Thoros has frozen to death in the time that has passed. Beric burns the body with his flaming sword. Jon and the Night King stare ominously at each other across the army of wights. There is a definite connection here. If the Night King dies, so too would all his army, as he created them. So perhaps it will all come down to a Jon v Night King one-on-one duel.

As the fighting becomes increasingly desperate, we see a slow-mo of Jon surveying the carnage around him, realising only now the futility of this mission

At Dragonstone, Dany debuts a new winter coat for her flight beyond the wall, having received Gendry’s raven. She takes off with all three dragons, leaving Tyrion standing below.

As she is flying, the ice hardens enough for the wights to cross the river towards the Fellowship. Here begins an epic fight sequence as the camera follows individual Fellowship members fighting the wights as they come at them in continuous waves. Aerial shots show the pure scale of difference in numbers. Each member of the Fellowship keeps falling back to protect the captured wight, the whole purpose of this trip beyond the Wall. Tormund nearly horrifically dies, but is saved by new best friend the Hound. As the fighting becomes increasingly desperate, we see a slow-mo of Jon surveying the carnage around him, realising only now the futility of this mission.

Just as all hope seems lost, enter soaring music and some soaring, fire-breathing dragons, devastating the wights below. The Fellowship stand in awe amidst a wreckage of bodies as they watch Dany glide in, burning the perimeter of wights surrounding them in her new coat. She lands Drogon next to them and reaches out for Jon, who lets the rest of the Fellowship climb on to the dragon first, staying behind to fight off the remaining wights. Dany and Jorah shout for Jon to hurry and join them.

The Night King takes aim. Credit: HBO/Sky Atlantic

But as the rescue mission is taking place, the Night King calmly walks through the fire, carrying an ice spear and heading towards the dragons. Unhurried, he aims and throws, hitting Viserion, and bringing him straight down to hit the ice. Dany watches in horror as her child dies, sliding below the surface of the ice. Drogon and Rhaegal cry out for their brother. Everything seems to stop for a moment, before Jon faces the Night King, who has just been handed another ice spear. Jon shouts for Dany to go, knowing what will happen, but Dany does not want to leave Jon behind. Yet as the Night King takes aim, Dany reluctantly takes off, and Drogon just manages to miss the spear as he soars to safety.

This leaves Jon alone to face down thousands of wights. In a scene echoing his one man stand against the hundreds of horsemen in the Battle of the Bastards, Jon raises his sword and prepares himself for his fate. But before the wights descend, another figure comes into the midst. Coldhands, his half-dead uncle, Benjen Stark, rides through the wights, burning them as he goes. He meets Jon, pushes him onto his horse and sends him away. Coldhands stays behind, dying amongst the wights, saving Jon. We see him complete his purpose, having saved his two nephews across the last two seasons. First Bran, now Jon.

Jon reunites just in time with the Fellowship back at Eastwatch, and they ship off back to Dragonstone, with the captured wight in tow. On the ship, Dany watches over Jon as he recovers from his injuries. They share a fair few loving gazes and a couple of hand holds. He apologises for their mission leading to the death of Viserion. She shows him she is vulnerable. Dany vows to join Jon and defeat the Night King. In return, he bends the knee to her and declares her his queen. This leaves us with a pretty picture and a new alliance. The final episode, entitled ‘The Dragon and The Wolf,’ could be referring to this. To Dany, the dragon, and to Jon, the wolf. Equally, it could be a reference to only Jon, who is both wolf and dragon, although he does not know it yet..

Best lines:

‘This one’s been killed six times, you don’t hear him b**ching about it.’ – The Hound puts Gendry in his place.

‘I have a beauty waiting for me back at Winterfell…yellow hair, blue eyes, tallest woman you’ve ever seen…I see the way she looks at me…I want to make babies with her.’ – Tormund provided much of the comic relief in this episode of high running emotions.

Jon Snow’s not in love with me.’ ‘Oh, my mistake, I suppose he’s staring at you longingly because he’s hopeful for a successful military alliance.’ – Tyrion knows

Most random plot line/character appearance:

Jump-scare flaming zombie polar bear. The writers have apparently been wanting a zombie polar bear for a few seasons, but the budget had never allowed for it. Until now.

Easiest moment to overlook:

Sansa pompously sending Brienne south on her behalf, away from Winterfell, to the Catch-A-Wight Proof Gathering. This was following an ominous conversation with Baelish, who suggested that the only thing stopping Sansa and Arya from harming one another is Brienne, honour-bound to protect them both. Now that she is out of the way…

Biggest WTF:

The Night King creates a weapon of mass destruction in the very last scene of the episode. We watch as an army of wights pull out a dead Viserion from under the ice, using some very long chains purchased from everyone’s favourite hardware store beyond the Wall. As the Night King places his hand on Viserion to turn him, we see confirmation of our worst zombie dragon fears, when Viserion opens one ice-blue eye. Yet if the Night King does not speak, how can he order the dragon, ‘dracarys’?!

Based on Next Week’s Trailer (FINALE):

Grey Worm heads the Unsullied; some ships hover in a harbour; the Dothraki charge; Bronn and Jamie look concerned; Sansa has a new cloak; all major characters gather in King’s Landing; the Catch-A-Wight Proof Gathering commences.

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