To the snow!
Our band of adventures is trudging its way north. None of the named characters are wearing hats. They’re going to get frostbite on their ears long before they find any White Walkers at this rate.
We immediately begin the theme of the first half of this episode, which is “characters you mostly don’t care about pair up and have conversations.” First, Tormund and Jon! Tormund has an unexpected take on Dany’s whole “bend the knee” thing. You see, Mance Rayder also refused to bend the knee, and “how many people died for his pride?’
Meanwhile, Gendry’s still mad at the Brotherhood Without Banners for selling him to Melisandre, and he’s ready to have a big rant about it. I’m sorry, Gendry, but we haven’t seen you in seasons. Honestly, I wouldn’t have noticed if they never resolved what happened to you. I don’t have the attention span for your angst when other, much bigger stuff is happening.
The Hound shares my feelings. Melisandre didn’t kill Gendry, he says, so it’s fine. Shut up and stop whining. “He’s been killed six times,” he says, gesturing at Beric. “You don’t hear him bitching about it.”
And now Jon and Jorah are talking about the Lord Commander. They trudge through the snow, and they talk, and they trudge some more. Jon decides to give the sword Longclaw to Jorah, since it belonged to his father, which is a very Jon thing to do, but also absolutely idiotic. Do you even have another sword with you, Jon? Preferably one made of Valyrian steel? Honor or no honor, you need something to fight the dead with. But Jorah says he forfeited his right to claim the sword, so Jon gets to be noble AND stay alive for a little bit longer.
Thankfully, we now jump to Winterfell, where Sansa approaches Arya on the walls. “Father used to watch us from up here,” Arya says. “He wouldn’t say much. You probably don’t remember. You were inside knitting all the time.”
I don’t know, Arya, knitting seems like a really useful skill right about now. Think what Jon and his crew could have been achieving if someone made them some nice bobble hats.
Arya remembers picking up a bow that Bran left behind once, and practicing over and over with a single arrow. When she finally hit the bullseye, she heard clapping — her father was standing in this spot on the walls, watching her. “I was doing what I was meant to be doing, and he knew it,” Arya says. “Now he’s dead, killed by the Lannisters. With your help.”
Arya pulls out Sansa’s letter from all those years ago. “That’s your pretty handwriting,” she says. And she begins to read.
“Robb,” she says, “I write to you today with heavy heart. Our good King Robert is dead, killed by wounds he took in a boar hunt.” Sansa tries to interrupt her, but Arya dodges away. “Father has been charged with treason. He conspired with Robert’s brothers against my beloved Joffrey and tried to steal his throne. The Lannisters are treating me well and providing me with every comfort. I beg you, come to King’s Landing, swear fealty to King Joffrey, and prevent any stride between the great houses of Lannisters and Stark. Your faithful sister, Sansa.”
Sansa says the Lannisters forced her to write it, but Arya is skeptical. “Did they?” she asks. “With a knife to your throat?” You’d think if anyone understood lying to stay alive, it’d be Arya. Sansa insists that she was a child, but Arya isn’t having it. She was a child too, and she would have died before she betrayed her family. She tells Sansa that she saw her that day, standing on the steps of Baelor, watching in her pretty dress as they dragged their father to the block.
Except, as Sansa points out, Arya didn’t come running to their father’s rescue or fight off the Lannisters, even though she was there. She might have wanted to, but she didn’t. Just like Sansa.
But Arya won’t let it go. She accuses Sansa of betraying their entire family for “her beloved Joffrey.” And Sansa has had enough. She steps forward, furious, imperious. Arya should be on her knees, thanking her, for all that she went through, and for all that she’s won for them. They’re standing in Winterfell because of her resilience. “You didn’t win it back. Jon didn’t win it back. He lost the Battle of the Bastards. The Knights of the Vale won the battle, and they rode north for me, while you were off, where? Travelling the world?”
“I was training,” Arya says. “Training?” Sansa repeats, full of sarcasm. “Well, while you were training, I suffered things you could never imagine. You never would have survived what I survived.”
I’m not a fan of the dichotomy of Sansa vs Arya, the diplomat vs the fighter, but this is true. If Arya had stayed in the Red Keep, she’d be dead now. If she’s gone through any of Sansa’s plotline, she’d be dead. She’s too reactive and passionate and stubborn to have survived. Just as Sansa wouldn’t have survived if she’d gone down Arya’s path, pretending to be a boy and physically fighting for survival.
Hopefully, both of their talents will show their worth by the end.
Sansa asks Arya where she found the letter and what she plans to do with it. And Arya baits her. She’s scared, isn’t she? Of what? Of Jon being angry? No, that can’t be it… she must be scared the Northern Lords will read it. That they’ll see what a traitor she is. And then Arya walks away, before Sansa can reply.
It’s hard for me to parse this scene, because I know something is up with this and Littlefinger and general trickery, but I don’t know what. But Arya is being strangely lawful good for someone who bakes people into pies.
Back North of the Wall, and our friends are still trudging through the snow. Now Tormund and the Hound are talking, or possibly flirting, as he think about Brienne of Tarth. “I want to make babies with her,” Tormund says, and someone, please, save me from this scene.
How many pairings can we get?? Now it’s Beric with Jon. He tells Jon he doesn’t look much like his father. Ooo, it’s a HINT, guys. Cos Jon’s a TARGARYEN. Geddit? Are you ready for that plot twist? They’re really laying it on thick. But at least this is a reminder of some backstory, long, long ago. I’d forgotten that Beric ever met Ned, or that he was sent to find the Mountain, right back at the start.
Jon tells him he doesn’t know what the Lord of Light wants from him, and Beric observes that he wants him alive. Why? He doesn’t know.
“Death is the enemy,” Beric says, and I assume he’s speaking literally, since, you know, they’re fighting literal ice zombies, but he’s not. He’s being metaphorical and poetic, which is far less useful in this current ice-zombie-fighting world.
And just as I’m about to pull out my hair in desperation for something, anything to happen, they reach the mountain that the Hound saw in the flames. They’re getting close.
We jump to Tyrion, staring at the fire in Dragonstone. “Do you know what I like about you?” Dany asks him. “You’re not a hero.”
Sidenote, but this is an absolutely gorgeous shot. Also, bonus, Dany’s hair is half down, which I’ve missed.
“Heroes do stupid things,” she continues, “and they die. Drogo, Jorah, Daario, even this Jon Snow. They all try to outdo each other. Who can do the stupidest, bravest thing.”
Tyrion says that it’s interesting — all these heroes she mentions all fell in love with her. “Jon Snow’s not in love with me,” she says.
“My mistake,” Tyrion replies. “I suppose he stares at you longingly because he’s hoping for a successful military alliance.” I feel like we haven’t had enough scenes between Jon and Dany where she wasn’t being Queen Daenerys to actually see this develop ourselves, but OK. I’ll assume Tyrion has seen what he says he’s seen.
Dany makes a face, like, ‘No, really? Nah, he can’t– does he?’ Then she sits down, eager to talk some strategy instead. “If all goes well,” she says, “I’ll finally get to meet your sister. From everything I’ve heard about her, she’d rather murder me than speak with me.” You can almost hear Emilia Clarke’s pain at delivering such a clunky line.
But the firelight makes everyone look very pretty.
Dany asks Tyrion if they’re laying any traps for Cersei, but Tyrion says he’s not sure deceit and mass murder are the best ways to start a new and better world. Shame about that dragon attack, then, eh, Dany? Fear is all Cersei has, Tyrion says, and “it makes her power brittle.”
But Dany is continuing the apparent 180 degree turn in morals since the start of the season, and notes that Aegon Targaryen got a long way on fear. Dany, it was like three episodes ago that you were talking about wanting to make people love you. Tyrion brings up that Dany once spoke about breaking the wheel, while Aegon built the wheel.
And why are we still belaboring this stupid “break the wheel” metaphor?? It wasn’t good or dramatic when Dany first said it. Can we drop it now? Please?
Also, I’m not a fan of Dany going full Targaryen basically just so Tyrion can stand there and remind her of who she was supposed to be. It’s not a good look.
Tyrion says he promised Jaime he’d stop Dany from doing anything impulsive. “Impulsive?” she repeats, in an I’ll fuck you up sort of tone.
Yes, Dany. Impulsive. Like BURNING EVERYTHING TO THE GROUND.
Tyrion says that Cersei is likely to say something provocative, and Dany has been know to lose her temper from time to time. “When have I lost my temper?” asks Dany, queen of amnesia. “… Burning the Tarlys, for instance,” Tyrion says.
I’m not sure I’d call that a loss of temper, though. That was just cold cruelty.
“That was not impulsive,” Dany says. “That was necessary.” “Perhaps,” Tyrion says. He tells her she needs to see things the way her enemies see things if she’s going to beat them. He believes in her, he says. But how do they ensure that her vision endures?
And now Dany is pissed. “You want to know who sits on the Iron Throne after I’m dead,” she says. That’s not really what I heard from that, Dany. I got more of a “hey, how do we make people want to continue your vision?” but OK.
“You say you can’t have children,” Tyrion says. “But there are other ways of choosing a successor.” Maybe she should just choose Sansa and we can end all this. Dany says they’ll discuss the succession when she wears a crown. And to be fair, she does have a pretty big problem here. She can’t establish any kind of “people vote” system, since her entire mission is based on birthright.
Tyrion says he saw how many arrows were aimed at her during the last battle. Any of them could have hit. But Dany is still furious. “You’ve been thinking about my death quite a bit, haven’t you?” Why has Dany turned into this person? Paranoid, jealous, defensive? I’m not following it at all. Maybe this is exactly how things will go in the books, and her perspective chapters will carry us along this journey and make it make sense, but right now… I’m not getting it. I’m just not. “Is this one of the items you discussed with your brother in King’s Landing?” she asks.
Tyrion says he’s trying to serve her by planning for the long term. “Perhaps if you’d planned for the short term, we wouldn’t have lost Dorne and Highgarden,” she says, and she storms off.
Back North, there’s a big storm, and luckily the wind is howling too loudly for anyone to have a conversation. They’re still not wearing any hats, but now they look like they really regret it.
One of them spots a huge bear in the distance, and this is when I realize… where the hell is Ghost? Is Ghost DEAD? Shouldn’t Ghost be there, on this incredibly dangerous mission North of the Wall? Maybe if Ghost was there, they would have realized sooner that the bear approaching them is actually a zombie bear. But too late now. It runs up and grabs one of Jon’s redshirts in its maw. Jon runs after him to help, because of course he does, but it’s too late. There’s just blood on the snow. So the group gather in a defensive circle, waiting for it to reappear out of the blizzard.
More red shirts get mauled, and the group set the bear on fire. This does not produce the desired result. Instead of stopping it, they now simply have a to fight a giant zombie bear that’s on fire.
This is not the action scene I was expecting.
The bear starts nomming down on Thoros, and it’s pretty gruesome, until Jorah runs up and stabs it in the eye. Once it’s dead, they all run to Thoros. The Hound looks shellshocked, and Jorah says they have to get Thoros back to Eastwatch. They imply, from this conversation, that it’s a long journey back. It would have to be, wouldn’t it, with all the trudging through the snow they’ve been doing.
This will become important soon.
But Thoros can’t be bothered with all that. Beric closes his wounds with… magic fire? Something like that? I don’t know. But Thoros seems to be fine, so this whole action sequence was pointless.
Back in Winterfell, Sansa is panicking. “Where did she get it?” she asks Littlefinger. He says he doesn’t know. Lying snake.
But here’s what I don’t get. WHY does it help Littlefinger to drive a wedge between Arya and Sansa? WHY would he want Sansa to potentially lose face against the Northern lords? Arya is a loose cannon. Even Littlefinger must know that the only things he can expect from her are for her to be rash and unpredictable. But why? What good does it bring him? Does he just want to re-isolate Sansa from the other Starks? Seriously, what is happening??
Sansa says that many of the men will be happy to find a good reason to go home. Their loyalty is to Jon, she says, but Jon isn’t here. They haven’t heard from him in weeks.
Didn’t the lords say last episode that their loyalty was to Sansa? That’s exactly what Sansa and Arya were fighting about last week. This better be an act for Littlefinger, because otherwise it makes zero sense.
Littlefinger says Sansa is the Lady of Winterfell, and Jon chose her to rule in his absence. The men respect her. But Sansa points out that the men turned their backs on Jon before he took Winterfell, then named him king, and now are ready to turn their backs on him again. It doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Now Littlefinger gets creepily close — even more creepily close than usual. “Arya’s not like them,” he says. “She’s your sister. She would never betray her family.” But Sansa insists that she would, if she thought Sansa was betraying Jon. Littlefinger suggests asking Lady Brienne for help. She’s supposed to protect both of them, after all, so she would be honor bound to intervene if one was going to hurt the other.
And on that note — back to the trudging! This time with 100% less bear.
And again, we’re getting those paired up conversations. I just want to scream at the show at this point. I DON’T CARE. This is supposed to be the dramatic penultimate episode. That’s how Game of Thrones works, right? So why are they just walking and talking and walking and talking? If you asked someone which characters from across Westeros they’d love to see all interact on a mission together, I doubt they’d name Thoros, Beric, Ser Jorah and Gendry.
Luckily, the group hear something ahead. It sounds like… mining, almost? They sneak ahead to look. It’s not mining. It’s a very, very slow single file group of the dead, marching through a pass. “Where’s the rest of them?” Jon asks.
The show then gives us a long shot of the mountain, and… I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s supposed to be telling us with this shot. Are the dead visible in it, hiding behind some trees? I can’t tell. I’m mostly just confused.
Anyway, a small part of the army of the dead is here, and they’re looking remarkably agile for creatures who normally move like zombies. They come across the remnants of a fire, and I didn’t peg the zombies as intelligent, but they apparently know enough to understand this means people nearby, and look to attack. But it’s an ambush!
And seriously, how do they plan to catch one of the dead? Do they even have a cage? Are they just going to tie it up and make it walk behind them? Put it on a leash like a zombie puppy?
And then suddenly, Jon kills one of the wights, and all of the rest of them collapse into dust. And I’m super confused again, and remain confused for quite a while longer into this episode, but let’s just sum it up here instead of dragging out the “huh???” that I may have been alone in feeling. I never really thought about the distinction between the White Walkers and the dead. I thought when you get resurrected, your eyes go blue and you become a White Walker, and the Night King is their leader. But this episode seems to suggest that White Walkers are one thing, and the dead are completely another, just a shambling army in a zombie movie. I feel like I missed something massive about this show I’ve seen seven seasons of and this huge book series I’ve read multiple times. The dead are the White Walkers in the books, right? Or have I just been reading everything wrong this entire time?
So anyway, Jon killed a white walker with his Valryian steel, and all of the zombies he brought back to life collapse into dust once he is dead. Except for one. I think he’s a zombie, not a wight, but he’s still alive and not!dust for… reasons. They hold him down, ready to tie him up, and the creature shrieks. The Hound puts a hand over his mouth to shut him up, and the zombie creature’s mouth falls away.
Ew. Although the special effects are pretty damn great.
They hear a rumbling sound in response… an avalanche? It sounds almost like a storm. Or horses. I don’t know, I’m not an expert in the sounds of dead armies. But Jon seems to be. He thinks this is bad news. He tells Gendry to run back to Eastwatch and send a raven to Dany and tell her what happened.
Seriously. How is that going to help? Let’s assume that they’re several days walk from Eastwatch. That’s what was implied, right? There was a lot of trudging through the snow, and the dead aren’t that close to The Wall. Then once Gendry gets to Eastwatch, it’ll take a raven days to fly to Dany. And days is generous. I don’t know how fast ravens fly, but the journey to Dragonstone takes several weeks on foot. Even if Dany has super speedy dragons to fly back with, it’ll take… what? A week to get the message to her, in the most optimistic situation? HOW WILL THAT HELP THEM? HOW?
Tormund takes Gendry’s hammer so he can run faster, because yes, that was the problem here, and he off he runs, while the rest of the group run off in the other direction.
OK. I’ll come to Game of Throne’s defence here. I’m not feeling 100% as I watch this, and I’ve had kind of a bad week. So the fact that I’m not following things, and don’t really have any patience, isn’t necessarily the show’s fault. But that said, I am so not following this. Are Jon and the others running to fight the wights? Do they have the captured one with them? Why don’t they all flee, since that was mission accomplished? WHAT HAVE I MISSED?
The group run until they reach a frozen lake, that for some reason starts to break under their feet. Even though it is frigid in the north, it’s not cold enough to freeze the ice through, apparently.
Now, I’m a Brit. I don’t know a lot about super cold weather. But when I lived in New Jersey, people would skate on the lake when it froze, and New Jersey is not that cold in winter. But now this lake isn’t solid enough to support a group of about 10 people in furs? And this risk is great enough that they pause, with the army of dead coming behind them?
The army of dead is approaching, but they’re not moving in the human way those others were. They’re running like zombies, like beasts. So… the ones before were all wights? And these are zombies?
None of this is adding up.
Jon shouts at the group to run, and they do. But that hesitation has cost them. The zombies start to surround them on the lake. And yup, Jon and his men are doomed.
But then the front line of zombies starts crashing through the ice. They’re just mindlessly tumbling in as they continue to run, until Jon and the others are surrounded by a circle of water. I guess the Lord of Light is looking out for them. And also that the wights can’t swim or jump small distances, since this is enough to stop their advance completely.
Meanwhile, Gendry is running. He’s got a long way to go. Hopefully he doesn’t meet another killer bear. Except, nope. Somehow he’s made it back to the Wall. What was that, five minutes? Ten? I can forgive it when characters teleport from one plot thread to another, for expediency’s sake, but seriously?
Gendry trips, and collapses, exhausted, just in front of the gate. It opens, and men come running out, including Davos. “Raven,” Gendry says. “I need a raven.” What you need, Gendry, is a better plan. They’ll literally be sitting there freezing for a WEEK. MINIMUM. And why didn’t anyone think about the usefulness of dragons earlier? What do they expect Dany to do that she wasn’t willing to do before? Do they really think she’ll fly up and help?
Back at the zombie ranch, Thoros has frozen to death. “We’ll all freeze soon,” Jorah comments. “And so will the water.”
YOU’RE STILL NOT WEARING A HAT, JORAH. OR A SCARF. Your ears should have fallen off by this point.
And this is the point where Jorah lays out the lore that had me utterly confused before. When they kill a White Walker, the dead who follow it fell. So maybe, if they want to survive this, they should ignore the dead and focus on killing the White Walkers instead.
But Jon says no. They need their zombie prisoner. Like that’ll help them if they all die. He says Daenerys is their only chance.
“No,” Beric says, like freaking Yoda. “There is another.” He points up at the Night King, behind all the armies. “Kill him. He turned them all.”
So… let me get this straight. The Night King is the leader. He then turned some of the dead into White Walkers, who are intelligent and magical and move like humans. These White Walkers then have the ability to resurrect more dead, but these ones are more The Walking Dead style. There’s a hierarchy of magic, and if you’re a random dude who just dies North of the Wall, you’re gonna become a shambler, not a White Walker. Right? Maybe?
Please tell me that when the books come out, they’ll make more sense that this.
Back to Sansa in Winterfell, and the maester brings her a message. It’s an invitation to King’s Landing. She tells Brienne she wants her to represent her interests at the gathering. Sansa will not set foot in King’s Landing again while Cersei is queen, and she has work to do in Winterfell.
Brienne insists that it’s not safe to leave her with Littlefinger. At the very least, she wants to leave Podrick behind to watch her. But Sansa dismisses this too. “I do not need to be watched over or minded or cared for,” she says. “I”m not a child. I’m the Lady of Winterfell, and I am home. This is the safest place for me.” She coldly dismisses Brinene, telling her that the sooner she leaves, the better. And I’m so confused again. I’m confused by these characterisations. I’m confused by the idea that Sansa is ungrateful or even resentful towards Brienne. Just… what is happening? I’ve totally lost the plot of what the show is trying to do, and without book knowledge to fill in the gaps, it’s all just a big tangled mess.
Meanwhile, on Dragonstone, the three dragons are having a snooze. Dany storms towards them, while Tyrion runs after her. “You can’t,” he says, like Dany is the sort of person who listens to can’t. “The most important person in the world can’t fly off to the most dangerous place in the world.” “Who else can?” she asks, and she is wearing a RAD fur coat and gloves. Where did they come from? Who cares. They’re pretty.
Tyrion wants her to do nothing about the raven. She can’t win the throne if she’s dead, and if she dies, they’re all lost. But he told her to do nothing before, and she listened. She won’t do it again. She’s going, and she’s taking all three dragons with her.
Back in the north, everyone is freezing cold. Everything is quiet. But the Hound still looks pretty alive. He picks up a rock and defiantly throws it at the dead. It whacks one in the mouth and knocks off its jawbone, so the Hound throws another. This one misses. It skids across the ice and stops by their feet, showing the zombies, who apparently had all been asleep or something, that the ice has frozen over again. I mean, that doesn’t prove that the ice is strong enough to walk on. Also, why is the ice they were all standing on immune to breaking? And why am I still thinking about this?
One of the dead starts forward, his sword scraping the ice. He slowly makes his way across, and more gradually follow. Our group of heroes get ready for battle, and it begins.
Quickly, one of Jon’s redcoats gets overwhelmed. “Fall back!” Jon yells. Where to, Jon? The point is you’re surrounded. Next, Tormund gets pulled down by the dead. He screams for help as more dead come out of the ice, grabbing for him… and he’s saved by the Hound.
I keep thinking that being injured by a wight will also make you a wight, but they’re not actually zombies. A bite doesn’t make you a zombie, so Tormund is OK. Unlike another redcoat, who falls into a crowd of zombies and gets graphically torn apart, like this really is The Walking Dead. Eww.
And just at the moment when all is lost, a dragon roars, and Dany appears. She almost sets Jon on fire as her dragon dives, breathing down on the wights. That’ll definitely melt the ice. The dragons breath fire all over the place, and THIS IS SUCH A COOL LOOKING SEQUENCE.
Dany lands Drogon and offers Jon a hand. Why do I feel like she’d just leave once she had him? But there are more wights to fight off before Jon can join her.
Meanwhile, the Night King calls for his spear. Jon is still fighting, which seem unnecessary, since DRAGON FIRE. But he’s got to be a hero, I guess.
The Night King slowly approaches, walking through the flames. Everyone else climbs aboard Drogon, but Jon continues to fight. Continues to be the hero.
The Night King pulls back his spear, and I know what’s going to happen, but I really, really don’t want it to. He throws the ice spear at one of the dragons, Viserion, and it pierces it right in the heart. It shrieks as it falls, engulfed n flame, blood pouring out. It crashes onto the ice and then falls through, falling still as its weight drags it down under the water.
Everyone stares in horror, Dany most of all.
And Jon turns around and goes back to the stabbing. JUST GET ON DROGON AND LEAVE, Jon. He’s a goddamn dragon. He can deal with a few zombies himself. Jon makes eye contact with the Night King, and he sees his assistant preparing another ice spear. “Go!” he shouts. “Go now! Leave!” He runs for Drogon, finally, but he’s knocked under the water by more wights. RIP Jon, I guess.
Drogon takes off. The Night King throws another spear… and it misses. Drogon circles, as Dany looks at the chaos below, looking for Jon, before speeding away.
Where’s the third dragon, though? What happened to him?
The Night King leaves. Everyone leaves. Longclaw lies on the ice. And then Jon emerges. Apparently he was under there long enough for everyone to get bored and start calmly leaving, but not long enough to drown or freeze to death. He looks pretty done through, though.
One of the dead turns back and spots Jon trying to stumble away. And Jon is finished. He’s frozen. He can’t fight. He turns to face the dead, forcing himself to raise his sword, as the dead run at him.
And for a second, I think THIS is where the third dragon will come in, flying back to save Targaryen Jon. I mean, that’s gotta be the reason we saw one die, one leave, and one… vanish? Right?
But nope. Someone runs in on horseback, throwing fire. It’s Uncle Benjen! He grabs Jon and shoves him onto the horse, telling him to run.
Now Uncle Benjen faces down the wights and is overwhelmed. I’m sure that’s sad. But when was the last time we saw him? This feels so weak, in terms of narrative structure.
Back at the Wall, they carry the tied up… zombie? Wight? White Walker? to the rowboat. They’ve got to get it all the way to King’s Landing, so, what? Ten minutes rowing?
High above them, Drogon circles. And seriously, where is the third dragon? I know it’s not 100% plot relevant to show him, so maybe they’re saving on special effect, but it also IS relevant, because they made a big show of three dragons leaving and one dragon dying, and I can’t stop thinking about where he’s gone.
Jorah joins Dany up on the Wall and tells her it’s time to go. “A bit longer,” she says. And I don’t know whether she’s waiting for her dragon or for Jon. She stares out at the wilderness, and then, looking heartbroken, turns away.
But then! They hear a horn. She looks out again. A horse is approaching with a collapsed rider on its back.
They get Jon onto the Targaryen ship. His coat is totally frozen. Dany stares at him, looking all sad, as they remove it, and then she sees what I assume are all the scars from that time he got stabbed to death. But she doesn’t seem to have much of a reaction to them now.
Back in Winterfell, Sansa breaks into Arya’s room. She pulls a bag out from under the bed and begins searching inside it. She finds out of Arya’s face. She actually PICKS IT UP and looks at it, like, ‘hmm, realistic.’ Next she pulls out Walder Frey’s face, although I don’t think she ever met him. Still, she looks at it in horror and confusion.
“Not what you’re looking for?” Arya stands in the doorway. Sansa is immediately on alert. “I have hundreds of men here at Winterfell,” she says, “all loyal to me.”
“They’re not here now,” Arya says. She’s SO CREEPY.
Sansa asks what the faces are, and Arya both tells her and doesn’t tell her. They’re her faces, she says. She got them in Bravos, while training to be a Faceless Man. Obviously, Sansa doesn’t know what that means.
Arya approaches her slowly. In Braavos, she says, they used to play The Game of Faces. “It’s simple. I ask you a question about yourself, and you try make lies sound like the truth. If you fool me, you win. If I catch a lie, you lose. Let’s play.” Sansa says she doesn’t want to play, but Arya ignores her. “How do you feel about Jon being king? Is there someone else you think should rule the North instead of him?”
But Sansa’s not playing. “Those faces,” she says again. “What are they?”
“We both wanted to be other people when we were young,” Arya says. “You wanted to be a queen, to sit next to a handsome young king on the Iron Throne. I wanted to be a knight. Neither of us got to be that other person, did we? The world doesn’t just let girls decide what they’re going to be. But now, I can.” Arya picks up the dagger. “I could even become you.”
Sansa just stares down at her, tears of fear in her eyes, as Arya considers her. “I wonder what it would be like to wear those pretty dresses. To be the Lady of Winterfell. All I’d need to find out is your face.”
Arya stalks even closer. Then she spins the dagger so that the handle faces Sansa instead. Sansa takes the hilt, and Arya walks away without another word.
What was that? Sansa looks as confused as I feel.
Back on the ship in the ocean — because transport is a thing now! — Jon wakes up. Dany is sitting over him. They stare at each other for a long moment. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m so sorry.” She shakes her head, doing that said I’m going to cry smile, and Jon takes her hand.
“I wish I could take it back,” he says. “I wish we’d never gone.” But Dany shakes her head. If they hadn’t gone, she would never have seen the wights for themselves. “You have to see them to know. Well, now I know.” She’s full of emotion, and I’m getting whiplash at this point, because this is the Dany I love again. This is “one of my favorite characters” Dany, and not “break the wheel, bend the knee, burn them all” Dany.
“The dragons are my children,” she says. “They’re the only children I’ll ever have. We are going to destroy the Night King and his army. And we’ll do it together. You have my word.” She’s trembling, tears in her eyes.
“Thank you, Dany,” Jon says, and HEY, nickname! When was the last time someone called her Dany on the show? I call her Dany constantly because after reading like 5000 pages of the books, where she is constantly called Dany from her own perspective, it’s hard to call her anything else, but the show hasn’t really done that. I guess it’s not queenly enough.
“Dany?” she repeats. “Who was the last person who called me that? I’m not sure. Was it my brother? Not the company you want to keep.”
“Alright,” Jon says. “Not Dany.”
Why do you do this to me, show?
On the one hand, this makes things easier. This isn’t Dany, this is Daenerys. She’s different from the book character. But also, I feel personally targeted because I never call her anything else.
Anyway, Jon pauses for a second, and then adds: “How about My Queen?” That’s a really weird segue, using a friendly nickname into pledging allegiance. It’s opposite ends of the friendliness scale. “I’d bend the knee, but…”
“Even though I swore allegiance to you?” she asks. She takes his hand again, crying slightly, and they both squeeze. “I hope I deserve it,” she says.
“You do,” he says. IDK, Jon. You didn’t see that battlefield. As I said, I can totally get behind this version of Dany, the one on this ship right now, but her characterisation is so inconsistent.
Basically, I just want my books now, please.
Jon doesn’t want to let go of Dany’s hand. Slowly, she pulls away and tells him to get some rest. He nods and obediently closes his eyes. She looks totally overwhelmed as she leaves.
Back North of the Wall, all the zombies are working on pulling something out of the ice with chains. It’s Viserion. The Night King approaches him, and puts his hand on Viserion’s head. Viserion’s eyes snap open, deathly blue.
And that’s the end of the episode!!
I think this was probably the weakest of all the episodes so far this season, in terms of characterisation and generally making sense. But the Stark sisters absolutely knocked it out of the park, acting-wise, and the special effects were AWESOME.
Still, I hope the last episode brings both the great character moments and a progressing plot that you don’t have to switch your brain off to enjoy. One more to go!