A Post of Ice and Fire: Beyond the Wall

21 Aug

After last week’s promise of a mission beyond the wall with a “Seven Samurai”-like gang of heroes, I began watching “Beyond the Wall” with trepidation. I figured men would die, I figured there would be a death or two, but not that Jon Snow would perish. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the terrifying conclusion of the adventure beyond the wall: an ice dragon created by the Night King.

Just like in last week’s “Eastwatch”, the episode featured banter between the different men joining Jon as he treks further and further into the frozen north. Ever since Game of Thrones has strayed from George R.R. Martin’s books, show creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff have created dialogue that more closely resembles our current time and place than the mythical medieval fantasy world of Westeros. Sometimes it comes across as stilted and off-putting, but in this episode it was rather charming, and added color to some of the show’s saltier characters. Tormund debating the the right word to use for male anatomy with The Hound (“Dick”. “No, cock.”) doesn’t strike me as dialogue that we would have heard in the early seasons of the show. But letting fan favorites like Tormund and The Hound use be modern-day slang- I thought Tormund’s pride in being a ginger was VERY modern- wasn’t jarring. It gave us some great light moments before the thrilling part of the hour began.

And it began with a bear that turned out to be rabid and, well, a zombie. From there, the immensity of the white walker threat became apparent, as the zombies alternately attacked, surrounded, and laid siege to the mortals. The elements alone that the men faced were terrifying, with whipping winds that turned their skin ashen. The clash with the white walkers (I confess: I don’t understand the difference between white walkers and wights) was filmed in a confusing way, so that it was often hard to tell who was being attacked, and who was being helped. The men’s weapons- Beric Dondarrion’s flaming sword, Gendry’s hammer- helped to distinguish them. And it was The Hound’s act of foolishness (or bravado), throwing rocks at the zombies as they faced off across a chasm of ice, that led to the final clash. Defying the laws of time and raven travel, Gendry raced to Eastwatch, sent a raven to Daenerys for help, and Dany, in her most resplendent white winter coat, flew all three of her dragons north to help out. Though she did help and managed to bring all the men back, including the coveted white walker, she lost one crucial tool in this trade: her dragon Viserion, who slipped under the icy water and was reanimated by the Night King in the final moment of the episode.

Back at Winterfell, Arya and Sansa continue to verbally spar with one another. Find it all a bit unbelievable? So do I. Sansa has become wise to the manipulations of others, especially Littlefinger, so I find it hard to believe that she would all of a sudden confide in him- even listening to his advice about Brienne. Poor Brienne of Tarth, caught in the middle of a sisterly conflict and object of Tormund’s intense affections. Sadly, I think things don’t augur well for the owner of Oathkeeper. But back to the Stark girls: both girls are suspicious of each other. Arya is deeply wary of Sansa’s loyalties; Sansa seems to fear her newly fierce sister. And yet neither suspects that Petyr Baelish is behind it all.

The Atlantic has good criticism of the show that echoes my own recent observations. Is Game of Thrones like Lost, lurching towards a final season that tries to please everyone and ends up pleasing no one, not tying up loose ends, moving too fast, having beloved characters do uncharacteristic things, having every conflict resolved with a deus ex machina, for example? The latter is a trend I have noticed recently: battles don’t resolve themselves, but rather are won by the arrival of the Knights of the Vale, or Jaime is saved from a fiery death by Bronn at the last minute, or, as in the case of “Beyond the Wall”, Uncle Benjen rides in to save Jon Snow from certain death (the man has more lives than Beric Dondarrion). Overall, there have been some flaws emerging in the show, such as leaps in time (the speedy ravens, Varys darting across the continent), and logic, as well as the near certainty that heroic characters, such as Jon Snow, won’t be killed off. It wasn’t always this way (see: the Red Wedding). As it enters its last season, Game of Thrones will certainly enter the pantheon of all-time great television shows. But it has to get the ending right.

One Response to “A Post of Ice and Fire: Beyond the Wall”


  1. A Post of Ice and Fire: The Dragon and the Wolf | The Lebanexican - August 28, 2017

    […] I had my complaints about last week’s episode, “Beyond the Wall”, I was completely satisfied with the season 7 finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf”. The […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: