NORTH OF THE WALL
The episode opens with the team including Jon, The Hound, Jorah, Tormund, Gendry, Beric, and Thoros heading North of the Wall. Jon tells Tormund about Daenerys’ request to bend the knee, and Tormund reminds him that Mance Rayder never bent the knee and many people died as a result. Jon and Jorah talk about Jeor Mormont, and Jon offers Jorah ‘Longclaw’, the sword that Jeor gifted him, but Jorah refuses it.
Tormund and The Hound discuss Brienne and Tormund’s crush her. Meanwhile Beric and Jon discuss their resurrections by The Lord of Light. The reason that they have been back to defend the realms of men, even if they do not understand The Lord of Light’s ultimate purpose. The spot a mountain that The Hound says he saw in the fire, meaning they’re getting close.
The group sees an undead bear that kills several of their men, and gravely injures Thoros, before Jorah can kill it. The Hound freezes during the battle after the bear is set of fire, leading to Thoros’ wound.
As they march on Tormund spots a few undead soldiers and they engage them in battle, which ends when Jon kills the White Walker with them. As they are tying up the remaining dead soldier they find the rest of the dead coming. Jon sends Gendry back to Eastwatch to send a raven to Daenerys. During their escape they run onto a frozen lake. They make it to high ground in the centre as some of the lake gives way, leaving them surrounded. Gendry makes it to the wall as night falls, and is brought inside by Davos.
As morning breaks the remaining men are still huddled on the rock surrounded by the dead, with Thoros having died from his wounds in the night. They burn his body to prevent him being brought back. Jorah notices that the dead who were turned by the Walkers fell once that Walker died. Jon says their only hope is Daenerys, but Beric argues that killing the Night King is their best hope. Beric reasons that he and Jon were brought back for this task.
Once the lake has once again frozen over some of the dead begin to advance and charge the group. They fight off the first attackers, but more begin to poor forward. As they are swamped by the dead Jon tells them to fall back to the highest point and The Hound saves from Tormund near death. As all seems hopeless Daenerys arrives and burns a lots of the lake. She offers Jon a chance to escape, but he continues to fight. The Night King advances walking through the dragon fire, before hitting Viserion the dragon with an ice spear killing it. As he prepares another Jon orders Daenerys to leave, and finds himself tackled into the lake. This time Drogon avoids the spear. As the Night King leaves with the army of the dead Jon emerges from the lake. Jon is saved from the remaining dead by Benjen, who sends Jon off on his horse but is himself killed.
At Eastwatch The Hound places the warrior of the dead in a boat, whilst Daenerys mourns the loss of Viserion. They see Jon arriving on horseback, and Davos tends to him. Daenerys see the wound where Jon took the knife through his heart. As they sail back to Dragonstone Jon apologises to Daenerys, but she’s says she doesn’t regret it as she now knows what they’re up against. She says that her and Jon will destroy the Night King. Jon says he’ll bend the knee and calls her “my queen”.
The dead pull the Viserion from the lake, and the Night King resurrects it, adding a dragon to his army.
At Winterfell Arya reminisces about their father to Sansa, saying that she it felt right that she broke the rules. She then reveals that she finds the note that Sansa had been forced to write to Robb when was held in King’s Landing and accuses her of betraying their family. Sansa angrily tells Arya that she should be thanking her for winning back Winterfell, and restoring their family. However, Arya reasons that Sansa wants the note hidden from the Northern Lords, and hints that she may show it to them.
Sansa asks Littlefinger how Arya got the note, but Littlefinger is more concerned about what they should do about Arya. He suggests that Brienne would interfere if one sister were to attempt to injure the other, as she swore to serve both sisters. The Maester of Winterfell brings Sansa an invitation to King’s Landing, and Sansa uses this as an opportunity to send Brienne. Brienne protests that it isn’t safe to leave her with Littlefinger, but reluctantly accepts the assignment.
Sansa returns to her room to find Arya’s dagger on her table, along with some of the faces that Arya has taken. Then Arya appears behind her; eventually threatening Sansa says she could even take her place.
Daenerys tells Tyrion that she likes him because he doesn’t attempt to do brave and stupid things to be heroic, like many of the men she knows. Tyrion notices that all of those she mentions, Jon included, have fallen in love with her. They discuss the potential meeting with Cersei, where Cersei will undoubtedly set a trap. Tyrion advises that they shouldn’t set their own, as Daenerys doesn’t want to be the same kind of ruler that has ruled Westeros for years. Tyrion tells her not to be impulsive, as she was when she burnt the Tarley’s alive. He talks her about long term plans, including a potential succession, but she angrily refuses to discuss it until after she is Queen.
Having received the raven from Gendry Daenerys prepares to fly North of the Wall with all three dragons. Tyrion tells her to do nothing, but she won’t listen to him.
The majority of Beyond The Wall was all about building up to the big climatic moment where the group beyond the wall faced down the army of the dead. And when it came, boy did it leave you feeling a touch underwhelmed. An episode like this should have run the gamut of emotions, and left us feeling despaired as numerous of our favourite characters died in this attempt to capture a warrior of the dead. Instead the only real casualties were Thoros of Myr and Viserion, who is one of the more forgotten about dragons. There was even a moment where Tormund looked as though he was about to die, but was saved at the last moment, which essentially took the emotional resonance out of the entire scene. As for the death of Viserion, it was easily the highlight of the episode visually, it looked truly epic, but no work has been done up until now to make us care about either of the two dragons that are not Drogon. Even the actual scale of the action couldn’t come close to the wagon train attack earlier this season. It’s such a shame because the build up was very effective, and the actual ending didn’t live up to it, which rather makes the build up feel wasted. As for the Winterfell drama, it’s beginning to feel almost like a horror or thriller there, which is not at all in keeping with the general tone or atmosphere of Game of Thrones, and is jarring. It’s clear that the show has now fully embraced its fantasy side, rather than being the medieval esq. political drama with fantasy elements that we saw in the first few seasons. And that’s not something that’s going to change any time soon, we’re only going to go further into the fantasy elements, but hopefully a little less predictably than this.