Shelf to Screen

Game of Thrones Episode Six: “Beyond the Wall”

Welcome to our weekly recap of Game of Thrones, the show that makes you scream obscenities at your television. We’re well beyond the books and no one knows what’s going to happen, although as you might imagine, there are as many theories as there are characters in the series—and that’s not a small number. This season promises to be epic—winter has come, the dragon queen has returned home, and the stage seems set for one last, monumental war…

So, you’ll have to pardon me if I scream incoherently for a few minutes about this episode.  Not that it wasn’t good, but oh my GOD, things have just gotten exponentially worse.  And so many characters are being so, so stupid.  I seriously want to reach through the screen and slap them. Fair warning, there may be some cursing in this recap.

Let’s start at Winterfell.  Littlefinger is still slinking around and causing trouble.  Exhibit A: that letter that he planted for Arya to find.  Arya confronts Sansa about it and just won’t listen when Sansa says she was forced to write it.  Sansa plays the “I was just a child” card, Arya points out that Lyanna Mormont is older than she was then, Sansa asks why Arya didn’t rush up to stop Ned’s execution if she’s so set on blaming Sansa for letting Ned die… round and round we go.  I want to slap them both.  They both need to wise up and stop letting Littlefinger jerk their chains.  Arya knows what Littlefinger is like, and yet she still thinks she’s such hot shit that she can outthink him.  No, my dear, he has a couple of decades on you, at least, and he’s honed his sleaziness that whole time.  And Sansa, stand up for yourself, girl!

Littlefinger plays on Sansa’s fears of the Northern lords abandoning Winterfell and suggests that since Brienne is the protector of the Stark girls, perhaps she could help solve the little problem that Arya seems to be presenting.  This leads to Sansa sending Brienne south to King’s Landing for the big powwow coming up next episode.  I hope Brienne didn’t actually go, because I think Sansa is going to need her really soon.

Later, Sansa sneaks into Arya’s room looking for the letter and instead finds a bag full of faces (and was that Walder Frey she pulled out???).  Arya materializes out of thin air to make some vaguely threatening statements to Sansa, hinting that with Sansa’s face, she could swan around as the Lady of Winterfell.  Then she leaves without another word, and no, that’s not creepy at all.

A brief stint at Dragonstone shows Tyrion putting the cart before the horse and thinking about who will rule after Dany.  She rightly calls him on playing the long game instead of working to win the war that’s going on right now.  She’s also right to start taking action with those dragons of hers.  Tyrion may be smart, but he’s completely forgotten that when one person plays by the rules and the other doesn’t, the rule breaker usually wins.  In this case, Dany is showing too much restraint against Cersei, who has no issue blowing up anything and anybody to get what she wants.  No, Dany shouldn’t go in slaughtering like that, but she needs to do something more definitive, and Tyrion’s advice isn’t helping.

Beyond the Wall, the Traveling Therapy Group seems hell bent on working out all their mutual issues while tramping through the snow.  At one point, a wight bear appears out of a blizzard.  (Oh great, animals can be raised too?  This will become relevant later.)  Thoros is the unlucky recipient of a bite to the chest, which Beric helpfully cauterizes with his flaming sword.  Badass points are awarded to Thoros for getting up and soldiering on.

A bit later, the group finds an advance group of wights trailing a White Walker.  Our heroes ambush the group, and when Jon kills the White Walker, all but one of the wights collapse.  The lone survivor is pounced on and tied up in short order, but the noise attracts the entire rest of the wight army.  Jon and company channel their inner Sir Robin and take off running.  Gendry is sent on ahead to Eastwatch to have a raven sent to Dany asking for rescue.  The group ends up on a small island in the middle of a frozen lake, surrounded by the wights who can’t approach without falling through.  Beric realizes that taking out the Night King would stop the army, but there’s no way to get to him.

At Dragonstone, Dany gets the message and Tyrion tries desperately to persuade her not to go.  But Dany is tired of sitting around doing nothing and takes off with all three dragons.

Back up North, Thoros has passed away during the night and Beric burns his body so that he won’t reanimate.  The Hound has gotten bored and starts throwing rocks at the wights.  This gets them moving across the frozen lake in small groups that don’t break through the ice, and now the group (still toting a trussed up wight) have to fight the army as it slowly but steadily starts crossing towards them.  Chaos ensues as the group’s redshirts get nommed on by wights until, overhead, dragons appear!  Dany has arrived and her dragons start blasting wights right and left.  Landing Drogon, Dany starts loading people onto the dragon’s back–all except Jon, who has a stupidity complex to go along with his heroic impulses.  Seriously, do you think wights can gnaw through dragon scales?  Or that Drogon’s tail can’t take out more wights than you?  Honestly, Jon, you really do know nothing.

And his puddlefutzing around on the ground leads to tragedy: the Night King throws a lance of ice at one of the dragons (the internet seems to agree that it was Viseryon) and kills it.  The body slips beneath the ice, and Jon does more stupid heroism and distracts the wights so that Drogon can take off.  He is tackled by wights and falls through the ice.  But at least the dragons escape.  Jon manages to pull himself out of the water and prepares for a last stand (more dumb heroism) when out of nowhere comes Benjen!  He tosses Jon on his horse and sends him on his way.  Jon’s last glimpse of his uncle is of him being overwhelmed by wights.

Jon makes it back to Eastwatch more or less intact, and he is loaded onto a ship with the trussed up wight and the others going to the big powwow down South.  Jon wakes up with Dany sitting next to him, and he swears himself to her.  She, in turn, promises to help him fight the Night King and destroy him.

Meanwhile, the army of the dead has apparently gotten some chains from the Narrative Supply Store north of the Wall (thank you, Scott, for that term) and pulls Viseryon’s body to the surface.  The Night King touches its forehead, and its eye opens–and it’s bright blue.  So, the Night King has a dragon now.  That surely won’t be disastrous for Westeros.

This is it–one more episode to go!  Next week, the major players all finally come together to talk.  Any bets on who makes it out alive?  I’m sure Cersei has something up her sleeve.

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