Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 6: The King Hit That Changed It All

Adam Mathew 21 August 2017

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A word of warning: This is our spoiler-filled recap and review of Episode 6, "Beyond the Wall".

SPOILER WARNING: Seriously, this is your last chance to turn back.

What's the one thing worse than an episode of Game of Thrones being leaked? Having to consume the broadcasted version with a pirate who's watched it multiple times already. I suffered this indignity recently. It was like Netflix and chilling with my own personal version of Bran Stark: just an all-knowing, pokerface-wearing dude who's forgotten basic social etiquette and loves to mutter enigmatic hints about what's coming up. I threatened to make him a triple-black-eyed raven if he spoiled anything.

Call me a coward, but I don't think I'd join Jon Snow's suicide mission north of the wall to kidnap an undead. Not even if you partnered me with some of Westeros's most kick-arse warriors, like The Hound, Tormund Giantsbane, Ser Jorah 'Friendzone' Mormont, and Gendry (technically unproven, but still a bastard of the legendary Robert Baratheon). Hell, I still wouldn't be interested if you included Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, and also taught me how to do their medieval equivalent of the lightsaber (read: fancy flaming sword trick). There's just no way to sell this errand as anything other than a fool's.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6

On the bright side, there's some choice dialogue on this trudge to almost certain doom. Jon and Tormund enjoy taking the piss out Gendry, an unseasoned southerner who's greener than a Child of the Forest. When the young bastard has had a gut-full of their mockery, he falls back to have a well-deserved whinge at his former kidnappers, Beric and Thoros. Doesn't last so long, though. The Hound cuts through Gendry's crap by pointing out that the Red God took his blood in a fairly sexual ritual with an attractive priestess. Beric, on the other hand, has had to endure death and resurrection six times. (Which, in video game terms, is an abysmal kill-death ratio). Clearly, Clegane argues, Gendry had the more bearable experience.

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On the topic of bearable experiences – surprise, everybody! – the north is home to polar bears that can grow to the size of small trucks and may be reanimated by the Night King. “Red shirt” extras start dropping like flies as the magnificent seven (major characters) put aside their petty squabbles and fight back-to-back. Once again, pyrophobia causes The Hound to seize up at a critical point in the fight, and his inaction results in Thoros getting savaged by a zombear. He shakes that mauling off like a champion, however, thanks to booze and some quick field-cauterisation.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6

Meanwhile, in (slightly) warmer climes, the Stark sisters subplot is heating up, thanks to Little Finger driving a wedge between them. Arya has come into possession of an old raven telegram written by a younger, stupider Sansa. Said Lady of Winterfell tries to explain that she was manipulated into writing the communique, though Arya still questions her resolve and family loyalty.

The distrust between the two siblings reaches a critical point when Sansa later breaks into her little sister's room to discover her creepy collection of face disguises. Arya arrives, pulls out the Catspaw knife and loudly wonders if her collection needs to expand by one. Gingers are so in fashion right now, don't you know? Instead of giving her big sis a (literal) facelift, the young assassin twirls the handle out to Sansa at the last second, and leaves. You could cut the tension here with a kn-...oh, forget it.

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Back to the magnificent seven now, and their hunt has started quite well. A small splinter group of shamblers had been found and engaged. Longclaw bagged its second White Walker, too, an act which reveals some interesting info: killing a Night King lieutenant effectively shuts down any zombies they've created. The group seizes one of the walking dead as a prisoner, but not before it shrieks bloody murder to draw in a nearby host of thousands. Jon wisely sends Gendry off, back in the direction of the Wall and its bountiful supply of message-carrying ravens. The rest of the crew sprints to a barely defensible position on an island girt by frozen water.

The idiotic undead try to assault this last bastion, but their sheer weight results in the ice disintegrating, and many an undead drowning. With a new moat installed, and thousands of walking dead encircling their position, Jon and co. settle in for a long night worthy of The Long Night. The question then becomes: what will kill them first. The cold? The hunger? The recently deceased Thoros becoming reanimated? Or will The Hound just wake up in the morning, decide to antagonise the horde by throwing rocks at them and inadvertently point out that the lake has re-frozen? Yep. It's that last one.

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A fierce brawl ensues that claims the remaining extras, and just when all hope is lost, Dany arrives to melt everything with her three dragons. Everything but the Night King, mind you, a tactical misstep that costs the young Targaryen Queen dearly. Turns out the personification of all evil is possessed of Olympic-level javelin skills. One mighty chuck of an icicle is all it takes to murder Viserion in extremely cold blood. The beast crash lands into the lake as the magnificent seven (plus one undead prisoner) leap onto Drogon for an exfil. Jon heroically keeps the undead at bay, an act that gets him left behind when Dany is forced to bug out, lest she lose another dragon kid.

It's curtains for Jon Snow (yet again), until Uncle 'Cold Hands' Benjen rocks up out of nowhere, hands over his horse and takes one for Team Still Breathing. The episode closes out with Jon in recovery on a ship to Dragonstone. Dany has finally seen his heart scar, and the two soon-to-be-more-than-friends mourn the loss of Viserion. They needn't worry though. He's doing fine. Just as good as new, in fact, as the reanimated zombie ice-dragon mount of the Night King.

VERDICT

Ludicrous fast-travel distances aside, this was a supremely intense episode. Right up there in my top five. Major character friendships were forged in the fire of battle. Crucial White Walker tactics were discovered, and the already impressive Night King threat has somehow managed to become greater. Man, how is the finale going to top this?!

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