A Binge Guide for Season 7, Episode 6 – “Beyond the Wall”
by Greg Enslen
Episode Number: S07E06
Original Air Date: August 20, 2017
Time: 71 minutes
Synopsis: Jon and his team go beyond the wall to capture a wight. Daenerys has to make a tough decision.
The animated map during the credits shows several important locations: King’s Landing, Dragonstone, Winterfell, the Wall, Eastwatch and far to the south, Oldtown.
North of the Wall
A troupe of men travel across the snow, searching for White Walkers. These men are Jon Snow, the King in the North; Tormund of the Free Folk, Gendry Baratheon, the last living member of House Baratheon; Ser Jorah Mormont; Berric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr of the Brotherhood without Banners, and Sandor “the Hound” Clegane, along with several other men at the rear, presumably members of the Free Folk following Tormund.
Tormund and the Hound discuss Brienne of Tarth—Tormund wants to make babies with her. The Hound sees the mountain from his vision. And Berric Dondarrion explains his philosophy to Jon by saying that they have to fight the enemy, death, and protect those who can’t protect themselves.
Notes: The scene opens with a shot of the table in the map room at Dragonstone. We then see ten—and only ten—men walking through a frozen wasteland. Two of them work together pulling a sled. We see several long shots of the group moving across the snow and ice, and at one point they show thirteen people walking, but it’s clear from several shots of the surrounding landscape that they are not being accompanied by a larger force or a group of “extra” soldiers. And why are none of these guys wearing hats?
Locations: Most of the walking scenes were filmed in Iceland. The mountain from the Hound’s vision, and seen later on their journey, is Kirkjufell, an Icelandic landmark known as “the most photographed mountain in Iceland.” The mountain stands 1520 feet high and is located on the north coast of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula, near the town of Grundarfjörður. Say THOSE three times fast!
Quotes: Tormund Giantsbane: “I have a beauty waiting for me back in Winterfell. If I ever get back there. Yellow hair, blue eyes, the tallest woman you've ever seen. Almost as tall as you.” Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane: “Brienne of Tarth.” Tormund: “You know her?” ‘The Hound’: “You're with Brienne of f*cking Tarth?” Tormund: “Well, not with her yet. But I see the way she looks at me.” ‘The Hound’: “How does she look at you? Like she wants to carve you up and eat your liver?” Tormund: “You do know her.” ‘The Hound’: “We've met.” Tormund: “I want to make babies with her. Think of them - great big monsters. They'd conquer the world. ‘The Hound’: “How did a mad f*cker like you live this long?” Tormund: “I'm good at killing people.”
Back at Winterfell, Lady Sansa Stark and her sister Arya discuss their father Ned and Arya shows her the scroll—she knows Arya helped the Lannisters. Sansa says she was forced to write the scroll to their brother Robb, who was leading an army in open rebellion. Arya reveals that she was at Ned’s execution, seeing Sansa up on the dais in her fancy dress next to Cersei Lannister.
Later, Sansa confides in Petyr Baelish, worried about Arya and how she reacted to the news contained in the scroll. And Maester Wolkan arrives with a scroll-it’s an invitation to King’s Landing. Not wanting to leave, Sansa send Brienne in her place.
Sansa searches Arya’s room and finds her bag of faces, the skinned faces she uses to impersonate other people as a member of the Faceless Men. Arya confronts her and then suggests they play the Game of Faces that she played with the Waif. She says she can speak in other peoples voices and “become them” as a member of the Faceless Men. Arya seems to threaten Sansa with the dagger—but instead she hands it to Sansa and leaves.
Notes: The execution of Ned Stark, as discussed, occurred in episodes S01E09 and S01E10.
Inside the castle at Dragonstone, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister discuss Jon Snow and the plan they have hatched to capture a member of the Army of the Dead. Tyrion suggests she bring a dragon to King’s Landing to ensure Cersei and the others honor the temporary truce. He also broaches the subject of her succession plans, angering Daenerys.
North of the Wall
Struggling though blowing snow, the group of men encounters two zombie polar bears, which attack the lead scout. The twelve remaining men for a circle to defend against the creatures, and another man is killed as Thoros and Berric light their flaming swords and stab at the bear. The Hound is mesmerized by the visage of the burning undead polar bear and nearly attacked himself before Thoros steps in. He’s bitten and drops as the men defeat the polar bear, and then Berric burns the wounds on Thoros’ chest to stop the bleeding.
Resuming their march, Tormund and Jon spot a group of undead away from the larger Army and make a plan to capture one. They surround the group and kill all but one. It calls loudly for help and the group of men grab the zombie and run while Jon sends Gendry back to Eastwatch to send a raven to Daenerys and tell her what’s happened. The group of men run to the center of a frozen lake and are soon surrounded by the Army of the Dead. When the zombies try and cross the lake, the ice breaks and they retreat to shores to wait.
Goofs: Um, I thought there were two bears?
On a Lake
Gendry makes it back to Ser Davos and Eastwatch, and word is sent to Daenerys, who decides to fly north to help Jon. Meanwhile, on the lake, darkness has fallen and the men are freezing. Thoros of Myr has died, and Jon burns the body. As the water freezes solid and the zombies begin their attack, the men are surrounded and pull Tormund into the water before the Hound reaches in and saves him.
Daenerys arrives on Drogon, with her other dragons accompanying her, and begins burning the zombies, saving the men. The Night King uses a massive ice javelin and throws it at Viserion, cutting open the dragon and sending it plummeting to the ground. Daenerys lands nearby and the men load the zombie onto the back of the dragon before climbing on board. Jon falls through the ice and is lost as Daenerys’ dragon takes wing, flying everyone to safety. Later, Jon climbs from the ice and is chased before being saved by his uncle Benjen, who sacrifices himself to get Jon to safety. Jon awakes on a ship, being treated for his exposure to the cold. Daenerys sees the huge, unhealed scars on his chest. He wakes and tells her that he’s sorry she lost one of her dragons. He pledges his faith to her and calls her his “queen.”
And, after affixing chains to the body of the beast, the Night King orders the dragon’s corpse pulled from the water—and uses his power to reanimate it.
Notes: When Thoros of Myr is burned, the Hound has to look away from the flames. Jon Snow hasn’t seen or spoken to his Uncle Benjen since the elder Stark set out from Castle Black to travel north of the Wall in S01E03. Daenerys mentions that her brother Viserys called her “Dany,” which he did in the scene in S01E06 where he begs her to stop Khal Drogo from executing him.
Locations: The scenes on the frozen lake were filmed in a rock quarry in Belfast, Ireland.
Quotes: Jon Snow: “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I wish I could take it back. I wish we'd never gone.” Daenerys Targaryen: “I don't. If we hadn't gone, I wouldn't have seen. You have to see it to know. Now I know. The dragons are my children. They're the only children I'll ever have. Don't you understand? We are going to destroy the Night King and his army. And we'll do it together. You have my word.” Jon: “Thank you, Dany.” Daenerys: “‘Dany’? Who was the last person who called me that? I'm not sure. Was it my brother? Mm, not the company you want to keep.” Jon: “All right. Not ‘Dany’. How about ‘my queen’? I'd, uh, bend the knee, but...” Daenerys: “What about those who swore allegiance to you?” Jon: “They'll all come to see you for what you are.” Daenerys: “I hope I deserve it.” Jon: “You do.”
Again, lots of stuff happening very quickly, so let’s get to it.
Jon and his “merry band of travelers on the dumbest quest ever” struggle through the snow and catch up, giving the audience lots of little fun moments as these characters interact. I still think this whole thing is silly, but if they are going to venture north to capture a zombie, shouldn’t they take more men? It’s the seven of them and six others, not nearly enough people in my book to assault anything.
The “arguments” between Sansa and Arya seem manufactured to me, as if the writers of the show needed some drama up in Winterfell now that all the Starks have returned home and everyone is happy. And their enmity towards each other is a large shift from S07E04, when Arya returned home to Sansa with not one but TWO hugs in the crypts beneath Winterfell. This seems like a problem in search of a story, or manufactured drama—and I can’t believe the Stark women are allowing themselves to by played by Petyr.
Also? Plot armor and teleporting characters. Plot armor is what they call it when a character—like Jaime Lannister—is too important to die, so they survive incredible odds, like nearly drowning in a deep river wearing 30 pounds of metal armor, or Gendry returning from the land of the lost, or Unnamed fodder or random characters like Benjen can be sacrificed like Red Shirts to show the situation is perilous, but never a big character. As Lili Loofbourow wrote in The Week during her review of this episode, the show has ultimately grown to “timid” to kill off any major characters without telegraphing it well in advance. Is this the same show that executed Ned in the first episode, taking perhaps the main character off the board and making it seem like NO ONE was safe on the show?
As for characters “teleporting” around Westeros, I understand that it’s important for characters to move around the “board” in this Game of Thrones, but they still need to travel at normal speeds. Is it believable that Gendry could sprint all the way back to Eastwatch and a raven (or network of ravens) could fly to Dragonstone with a message asking for assistance and Daenerys could fly all the way to north of the Wall in time to swoop down and save Jon and the others? I don’t know anything about raven networks or dragon speeds but the whole thing seems impossible. And, without a better explanation, the viewers are asked to simply take it on faith. Sometimes I feel like the writers need certain characters in certain places to do certain important plot things and the logic of it and the realism go right out the window.
The ending, of course, was awesome—Jon Snow pledges his loyalty to Daenerys, which makes her happy and then a little nervous. She is holding his hand to comfort him and them mentions that she can’t have children anymore. Awkward. And THEN they pull the dragon’s dead body out of the lake and the Night King reanimates him. Amazing. Now each side has a dragon. Will this one spit fire or ice? I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.
The title refers to the journey Jon Snow and his team are taking “beyond the wall” to capture a member of the undead army. No scenes are set in King’s Landing in this episode, which concentrates on activities north of the Wall, and Samwell Tarly isn’t shown either.
Nudity and Violence:
The Lake—the fighting on the frozen lake is very violent but there is no blood as they are fighting undead zombies. That being said, when Viserys is shot down, a huge amount of blood bursts forth (55:20) when it’s pierced by the ice javelin.
Notes: All sites accessed November 27, 2017.
HBO Game of Thrones episode synopsis. https://www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones/season-07/6-beyond-the-wall/synopsis
Game of Thrones Wiki, several pages. http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Game_of_Thrones_Wiki
Review of Beyond the Wall episode, Lili Loofbourow. http://theweek.com/articles/719732/game-thrones-become-terrible-show
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