The penultimate episode of the season was …interesting. And by “interesting,” I definitely mean:
As always, if you want to avoid spoilers, now would be the time to click away and watch videos of dogs being silly, learn to make your own free energy lightbulb, listen to some Muzak …I dunno what you’re into, but I’m probably going to judge you pretty hard about the Muzak thing.
The episode opens on the carved map of Westeros at Dragonstone, panning northward toward the Wall and then it cuts to that merry band (okay, well, less “merry” and more “drunk” and “brooding” and “angry”) traipsing north of the Wall to catch themselves a wight. Now, there is no one in this group that I am particularly okay with shuffling off the mortal coil, but someone in that group is definitely going to die—this is Game of Thrones and thems the rules. So, you know, brace yourself for that inevitability—but, in the meantime, definitely take some time to appreciate the banter between this group of dudes who are not overly fond of one another. During their trudge north, Tormund asks Jon about his meeting with Daenerys and, when Jon tells Tormund that she will only fight with them if he bends the knee, Tormund responds by echoing Daenerys (who was—in turn—echoing Jon’s words to Mance Rayder): “how many people died because of his pride?” Later, Jon and Jorah have a heart-to-heart regarding the late Lord Commander Mormont and Longclaw.
Down at Winterfell, tensions are dialing up rapidly between the sisters as Arya confronts Sansa about the scroll she found and pilfered from Baelish. I’m honestly not sure where this is going: however much Sansa and Arya might have not gotten along in the past, there’s something about all of this—particularly on Arya’s end—that seems very forced. Arya’s clearly angry and she has a right to be (kind of like the other surviving Stark children) but, for someone who has learned to play the “game of faces,” the outward exposition of that anger seems contrived. Then again, I have a special place in my heart-parts for Arya, so maybe I’m reaching to justify behavior that seems to show that she’s been expertly played by Baelish. Given Sansa’s reaction, jumping to “do you know how happy Cersei would be…” does make me wonder if this is a ploy cooked up by the sisters to flush out Baelish. Last time Sansa saw Cersei, they had no way of knowing whether or not Arya was even alive—why would Cersei be plotting to turn them against one another? They both know that there is a more likely candidate right there at Winterfell, one that neither of them trust. Also, let’s not forget that Bran is at Winterfell too. And that he’s all Three-Eyed Raven-y now.
Back up north of the Wall, the trudging is ongoing, as is the interesting range of conversations—including a chat between Beric and Jon, wherein Beric mentions that Jon didn’t really take after Ned Stark *ahem*. He also helps ground Jon, who is still reeling from this whole back-from-the-dead-by-the-“grace”-of-a-god-he-doesn’t-understand thing, by basically bringing him back to the oath he took when he joined the Night’s Watch: “I am the shield that guards the realms of men.” Then the Hound he sees the mountain that he saw in the flames and announces that they are getting close.
Down at Dragonstone, Dany and Tyrion are kind of stepping on each other’s toes a bit. They’re both trying to be honest with one another and inadvertently beating up on each other’s pride in the process: Daenerys likes that Tyrion isn’t “a hero;” Tyrion admits that he promised Jaime that he would keep her from doing anything “impulsive;” Tyrion is trying to consider how best to build the world Daenerys wants to create and Dany, wounded by the fact* of her infertility being pointed out to her, takes offense at his planning for a succession after her death when she hasn’t even won the throne yet, wonders if he is so concerned about her death because maybe it was an item discussed with Jaime.
And, then, we’re north of the Wall again. Just a quick aside: why aren’t any of them wearing hats? Or something balaclava-like? Seriously, all of the “main” members of the party, except for Gendry, are just walking around in this permanent shrug, hoping their cloak collars will do the job. That’s a good way to lose your ears and your noses to frostbite. Anyway, as they walk further into the storm, they cross paths with a bear. A large bear. A large, animated corpsecicle bear. That thing is terrifying. Thoros suffers pretty significant wounds, which Beric cauterizes with his flaming sword—Clegane suffers a pretty significant psychological trauma, what with the flaming, undead bear and then the smell of burning flesh. It’s really not a great time.
Down at Winterfell, Sansa has, apparently, approached Baelish about Arya’s possession of that scroll. Baelish, of course, feigns having zero knowledge of how Arya came to have that scroll and then gets back to the business of doing that smarmy, manipulative thing. He also makes a suggestion about involving Brienne. Because, you know, that’s not hinky af.
Meanwhile, beyond the Wall, the group stumbles across a small scouting party of wights, with one White Walker leading. So, they ambush the scouting party and, in the course of action, they discover that if you kill a White Walker, you also kill all of the wights that Walker turned. And, very conveniently—well, for a minute—, one of those wights survives, so they have the one animated dead soldier they need. This is where it gets decidedly less convenient: that wight screams bloody murder and, just as they manage to halfway subdue him, the footfalls of thousands of wights rumble through the air. Jon tells Gendry to run back to Eastwatch—Jon claims that Gendry’s the fastest of all of them, but I’m thinking he maybe doesn’t know about the whole rowing thing—and make sure a raven is sent to Dragonstone to ask for help. Meanwhile, the group—captive wight in tow—make a break for it. Except they run right onto a frozen lake and, though it’s cracking underneath them, they’re forced to keep going by the tidal wave of corpsecicles coming after them.
They find safety on a rocky crag jutting out of the middle of the frozen lake; meanwhile, the ice cannot handle the weight of the onslaught of wights and begins breaking. The wights circle the lake and just decide to wait them out, I mean, the corpsecicles aren’t going to freeze to death, you know? So, it is rapidly turning to night and, while Gendry is doing his best Forrest Gump impression, somehow neither Beric or Thoros decide to light up their swords for some kind of heat source? Okay; seems legit.
Gendry doesn’t quite make it to Eastwatch, but—eh—close enough. Davos is among the men that run out to retrieve him and Gendry manages to squeak out that they need to send a raven. Back at the lake, it appears to be something resembling morning. And everyone is alive—oh, wait. No. Not everyone. Thoros didn’t make it through the night. The one person in the group capable of resurrecting other folks from the dead. That sucks. After setting Thoros’ body to burn, everyone chimes in about how to proceed before they freeze to death and/or the lake refreezes. And Jon has an intense staring contest with the Night’s King.
Sansa receives a raven inviting her to King’s Landing for the parley. She, rather sternly, orders Brienne to go in her stead. Aside from the fact that Sansa has no desire to be anywhere near Cersei Lannister certainly plays a part, sending Brienne—who, as Baelish pointed out, is honor-bound to intervene if one Stark daughter was to threaten the other—away seems pretty odd. And definitely bolsters my faith that something else is going on here.
Against Tyrion’s counsel, after receiving what must be the most super enhanced raven in Westeros, Daenerys hops on Drogon and heads beyond the Wall with Viserion and Rhaegal following behind. Which is a damn good thing, because Clegane, in his frustration, starts throwing rocks and manages to accidentally prove to the wights that the lake has frozen back over and instead of charging all at once, now, the ice zombies stagger their approaches to avoid breaking the ice again. So, the frozen dead/undead proverbial shit hits the fan and just when things look bleakest, here come Drogon roaring fire.
Holy shit. Noooooo.]
This is so not good, y’all.
Jon insists that Dany get the hell out of dodge with her two remaining children and the rest of the wight hunting party; Jon is then overwhelmed by the wights and ends up falling through the ice. When the Night’s King grabs another ice javelin, she realizes she cannot wait for him to resurface and she takes off. He does manage to resurface and climb back on top of the ice, just in time for another wave of wights to come at him. But then Uncle Benjen, with his flaming flail, comes riding in like a bat out of hell and cuts through the wights making their way for Jon. He puts Jon on his horse and tells him to ride out, while he stays behind to give Jon as much of a head start as he can.
Sansa sneaks into Arya’s quarters and is, presumably, look for that scroll and, instead, finds Arya’s faces. So, this exchange happens:
Okay, real talk? I have no idea what’s going on anymore.
Jon arrives—more or less dead—at Eastwatch just as Jorah was trying to convince Daenerys that it was time to leave. In the course of his being treated for probably the worst hypothermia in the history of foreverness, Dany sees where he has been stabbed and knows that he really did take a knife to the heart. As he begins to come to, he apologizes to Daenerys and, though she is angry and hurt and in mourning, she acknowledges that it was necessary for her to fly up there to him; that she needed to see. Then she promises that she will commit to fighting against the White Walkers and the army of the dead. And then Jon swears fealty to Daenerys. And there are some warm fuzzies and maybe some feeeeelings.
And because the corpsecicle bear was not enough, we go north of the Wall again to see the army of the dead pulling Viserion out of the frozen lake. And then…
SHIT. Things are about to get even fuckier, y’all. This is not okay.
Well, since this episode did a pretty good job of reminding us that all men die, I will leave you with Valar dohaeris. I’ll see you next week.