WHAT AN EPISODE!!! MY GUTS ARE SO WRENCHED NOW!!!
(There are way more exclamations and CAPS in this post than usual, but I think you’ll agree that this episode deserves it! So forgive me for sounding over-excited, because I was while watching it.)
We open with the Dragonstone map table panning slowly beyond the Wall, and then an actual view of the merry band of Wight-hunters making their way through the snowy wasteland to find the dead. (Many reviewers called them the Avengers of Westeros in their recap of the last episode, but they’re more like the Fellowship of the Wight-hunters, cause they’re on a quest. The Avengers were never on a quest.)
Tormund talks to Gendry and Jon. He doesn’t think much of Gendry’s intelligence, or Jon’s, since smart people don’t go beyond the Wall looking for the dead. They also discuss Dany’s condition for helping Jon, and Tormund seems to criticise Mance Rayder, former King-Beyond-the-Wall, for being too proud to kneel to anyone, and causing his people to die for his pride. Perhaps Tormund thinks kneeling isn’t all that bad, and Jon should consider it?
Gendry has out his beef with Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood for selling him to Melisandre who tried to kill him, but the Hound tells him to stop whinging, because he survived the experience. Gendry looks disgruntled at being dismissed just like that.
Ser Jorah and Jon talk about their fathers and how though they were honourable, they died horrible deaths. Jon tries to return Longclaw, the sword of the Mormonts, to Jorah, but Jorah refuses nobly as he feels he doesn’t deserve it.
At Winterfell, Arya reminisces shooting arrows in the courtyard and their father watching her from the balcony they’re on. It’s a recollection that brings a tear to my eye for the happier days of their childhood — until Arya suddenly blames Sansa for helping the Lannisters to kill their father, and reads her damning letter written under duress. Sansa gets mad at Arya blaming her for something she was powerless to stop, and both sisters start quarrelling. Arya then holds the threat of showing the letter to the Northern Lords over Sansa.
Tormund comes and needles the Hound about his facial burns. He then talks about Brienne and how he wants to make “great, big monster” babies with her. The Hound, rightfully, marvels “How did a mad forker like you live this long”. Tormund says he’s good at killing people. Great for him!
Beric Dondarrion says Ned sent him hunting for the Mountain when he was Hand. I don’t remember that happening! I only remember Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood Without Banners appearing from Season 3 onwards. Also, what did the Mountain do to warrant being hunted? Wasn’t he always at King’s Landing in Season 1? (After googling it, I still don’t remember. It’s too long ago and they recast Beric in Season 3, which is partly why.)
One day, long after the series has ended, I’ll rewatch the entire thing from start to finish. If I’m lucky, I won’t have forgotten the front again by the time I get to the back.
Beric commiserates being brought back from the dead with Jon. Tells him that they are soldiers fighting against Death as the enemy, so that others may live. Jon looks convinced by that.
The Hound recognises a mountain that he saw in the fire vision. They’re close to the White Walkers.
Dragonstone. Dany tells Tyrion she doesn’t want him to be a hero cause heroes do stupid things and they die. Tyrion notices that the stupid heroes she names all fell in love with her. Dany says Jon isn’t in love with her. Tyrion’s witty rejoinder:
“I suppose he stares at you longingly because he’s hopeful for a successful military alliance.”
Dany says he’s too “little” (?) for her, before realising that she’s insulting Tyrion, but Tyrion lets it go. They discuss Cersei and whether to set any traps for her when they go to King’s Landing, since Cersei is surely doing that for them. Tyrion tells Dany not to rely on fear and not to be impulsive, which Dany gets offended about, and from there on they argue about whether she should have burnt the Tarlys, and then move on rapidly to the succession problem, which I didn’t know was a problem until this second. Dany is utterly convinced that she can’t have children, so I googled it and remembered that a witch apparently cursed her to be barren when she was trying to save Khal Drogo in Season 1, only to find out it was a trick. (Some internet commenters think it was a prophecy rather than a curse, and like all prophecies, can mean different things from what people think. Dunno. We’ll see.)
Back to snowy wasteland, where we can barely see ahead in a storm. The Fellowship sees something in the distance. A bear comes and attacks them, and kills some of the insignificant members of their company! Thoros and Beric light the bear on fire with their flaming swords, but the bear isn’t hindered and attacks Thoros, while the Hound is frozen in fear. (Which this reviewer has reminded me is probably because of his fear of fire since being burnt by his brother when he was young!) Amazingly, Thoros doesn’t die, and Beric cauterises his wound with his sword. They move on.
Sansa goes to Littlefinger for help against Arya. Littlefinger tells her to ask Brienne for help, as Brienne is sworn to protect both Stark girls, and will be honour-bound to step in if Arya makes moves against Sansa. What is Littlefinger’s game???
Ser Jorah talks to Thoros about him charging through the breach in the siege of Pyke. What is this siege of Pyke? Has the show ever talked about it before? (Yup, it did. Even though I barely remember those conversations.) Thoros says he was just drunk and can’t even remember doing it.
Tormund hears something. They spy the underpass, where a White Walker and some wights are passing through. But where are the rest? The company ambushes the wights, and Jon kills the White Walker, which causes all but one of the wights to collapse. Suddenly, rumbling noises in the distance. A horde of dead charges towards them! They have to hurry! Jon tasks Gendry to run back to Eastwatch and send a raven to Dany for help, and the rest bundle up the snarling zombie and start running for their lives. But they’re on a lake of brittle ice! Unfortunately, there is nowhere else to go, so they run forward, but are soon surrounded by the dead. One of their company falls behind and is jumped on by the dead, which causes the ice to break and halts their advance. Jon and company are now surrounded on an island of ice by the dead.
Gendry runs and runs! Will he make it? Yes, he sees the Wall!
Night has fallen. Everyone faces outward in a circle, watching the dead warily.
Gendry is exhausted, and he collapses. Luckily, he does it right outside the Eastwatch gate, where Ser Davos runs out to meet him and receives his message.
Morning comes. The company is dozing in the circle. When they wake, they find that Thoros has died in the night, frozen to death. They burn his body. (Beric Dondarrion better not die anymore, since his resurrector is dead!)
Ser Jorah and Jon discuss why the wights collapsed when Jon killed the White Walker, and conclude that maybe the White Walker turned those undead. Then Beric points out the Night King on top of a hill and says they have to kill him, cause he is the source. And posits maybe that’s why the Lord of Light brought him and Jon back from the dead, so they can fulfill that task.
Sansa receives an invitation to King’s Landing. She’s not stepping foot in King’s Landing again while Cersei Lannister is there, thank you very much, and wants Brienne to go in her stead, but Brienne is worried about leaving her with Littlefinger. Sansa is annoyed at being mollycoddled and insists on her going, leaving Brienne with no choice. So apparently, she isn’t going to Brienne for help with her Arya problem after all?
At Dragonstone, Tyrion tries to persuade Dany (in a gorgeous, spiffy new winter costume) not to fly beyond the Wall herself as she’s their only hope, but Dany is tired of doing nothing and flies all her three dragons away.
The Hound gets bored and starts throwing rocks at the dead. Who decide that it’s safe to cross over when one of the rocks hit the ice and it doesn’t break. And then the fight begins in earnest. Some insignificant members of the company die. Tormund really, REALLY looks like he will die too, but the Hound saves him! The Fellowship is in dire straits. Jon slow-mo looks around, and is about to charge forward again when suddenly, dragon fire bursts out from behind and sets the dead on fire!
The Night King then joins the action. Strolls calmly behind Dany’s dragon steed, Drogon, where the company is clambering on to — except Jon, who decides to play the hero and fight off more undead — and throws an ice spear at Viserion, who is flying around breathing fire on the dead, downing him! The company watches, in shock and awe, as the dragon flails in its dying throes, spilling out gallons of blood (SO MUCH BLOOD!) before crashing into the ice and sinking. Dany watches in silent grief. Jon glares at the Night King and is about to charge towards him, but he sees the Night King grab another ice spear and his expression turns to panic. He yells at Dany to leave without him, and Dany has no choice but to do so, and turns around just to see Jon set upon by some undead and crashing through the ice! (Drogon has an unusually large belly. If I didn’t know he was male, I would swear he was pregnant.)
The Night King throws a second spear but Drogon manages to swerve and avoid it. Ser Jorah nearly falls off but the Hound catches him. The dead begin moving away from the carnage.
Suddenly, Jon emerges from the hole in the ice he fell through, miraculously alive and not frozen to death! The dead senses it and turns around, and they see Jon stumbling to the shore. They charge towards him, and Jon looks done for, when SUDDENLY, someone on a horse rides towards him swinging a fiery mace at the dead! He reveals himself to be UNCLE BENJEN!!! Where did he pop up from??? Jon asks him to escape with him, but for strange reasons, he decides to stay behind and fight the dead!!! WHY????!!!! WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S NOT TIME!!!! WHAT STUPID EXCUSE IS THAT!!!! THIS IS THE MOST UNNECESSARY DEATH EVER!!!!! (IF he is killed, which seems likely, no matter how undead he is!)
Back at Eastwatch, the Hound throws the snarling zombie into a boat. Tormund nods at him in tacit gratitude for him saving his life. Beric bids him goodbye and says they’ll meet again, but the Hound, ever so direct, says he forking hopes not.
On top of the Wall, Dany stares at the forest beyond the gate, hoping that Jon would have survived somehow. Ser Jorah tells her they have to go, and she turns to leave, when Jon does appear! (Ser Jorah, cockblocked again!) On the ship, the men strip Jon’s top off in his bed, and Dany sees his multiple stab wounds.
Sansa sneaks into Arya’s room to look for the letter, but finds the faceless men’s masks, to her horror. Arya is there of course, and chillingly asks to play the game of faces with her. Sansa is shocked at what Arya has become. It almost looks like Arya is going to kill Sansa, but at the last moment, she gives the Valyrian steel dagger to Sansa and walks out calmly. Oh dear Arya, what have you become?! What will Sansa do now??
Jon wakes up and Dany is there. He apologises for the loss of her dragon and for having the stupid idea of going to get a wight in the first place, but she says she doesn’t regret them going, as she wouldn’t have understood the threat of the White Walkers if she hadn’t seen them for herself. She vows to destroy the Night King and his army, and no longer expects Jon to bend the knee, but Jon surprises her and acknowledges her as his Queen anyway! (Also, for the first time in a long time, someone calls Dany “Dany”!) I thought he was proposing to her at first, but the subsequent lines make it clear that he isn’t. :S They stare at each other longingly and hold each other’s hand, until Dany suddenly becomes aware of what they’re doing and becomes uncomfortable.
Back at the scene of the battle, the Night King’s army pulls Viserion’s body out of the ice. Then the Night King revives him! OH NO! The army of the dead has acquired a dragon! (Will he breathe fire, or will he breathe ice?) Before this series ends, Dany will surely lose another dragon. :'( I cannot think of any other being — that isn’t a White Walker with an ice spear — who can kill a dragon wight.