Ok, now we’re coming to the end of the season, it’s time to do a Death Stakes. Who’re we going to be saying goodbye to in the near future? Because we all know that Band of Breathers is going to have their numbers seriously reduced, right?
Here’s how my brain’s working this out:
Jon Snow is in this for the duration. He’s almost undoubtedly the ‘Ice’ in the Song of Ice and Fire. Plus, he’s already been dead once and surely he’s been brought back for some purpose other than eye f**king Dany? So he’ll be around until at least the last couple of episodes of the series.
The Hound will stay alive at least long enough to face off against his brother, which probably won’t be until the final showdown next season, so he’s probably safe for now.
Jorah, like Jon, has just cheated death. Seems a waste, story-wise, to go through all that just to kill him off all of a sudden, so I think he’ll stick around for a bit. He’ll probably die before the end of the series, though.
Gendry: why go through the bother of bringing him back only to kill him off quickly? Besides, he’s still got one leg to go in the Westros Triathalon.
Which leaves…Tormund. I don’t think he’s long for this world. Which is a shame, because he’s fun and pretty formidable and I agree that any kids he had with Brienne would be amazing and UNSTOPPABLE!
Anyway, on to the episode.
Our focus this week is on Winterfell, Dragonstone, and, of course, North of the Wall.
In Winterfell, Arya’s just gotten downright creepy. She confronts Sansa about the letter she found, and when Sansa tries to defend herself by pointing out she was forced to write it, Arya sniffs that there was no forcing because Sansa wasn’t tortured or anything. Apparently Arya doesn’t have any appreciation for psychological torture. Also, Sansa was being physically abused as well as terrorised by Joffrey that whole time, so chill, there, Arya. Yes, I realise you went through some terrible things too, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat, you know? You, of all people, should know that.
Arya intimates she might tell the Northern Lords about the letter, turning them against her sister (for no reason at all! Why is Arya doing this? Does she really think Sansa’s somehow working with the Lannisters or something? Not loyal to Winterfell and the Stark name? Or is this some method of gaining information?) and Sansa angrily points out that she is the only reason they have Winterfell right now, because the Knights of the Vale rode North at her request. Fair point. But she’s scared, so she turns to the only person left whom she feels she can rely on in any way shape or form: Littlefinger. Greeeeaaaaaat.
He, of course, can barely contain his glee that this plan to drive a wedge in between these siblings is bearing fruit.
He pretends to have no idea how Arya got her hands on that letter, and then suggests Sansa find a way to bring Brienne into this whole thing. He points out that Brienne swore to protect both of Catelyn Stark’s daughters, so surely if one of them (Arya) was planning to kill the other, she’d have to act, in some way?
Sansa considers this, and then either puts a plan in action, or the fates act for her by sending a summons from Cersei. Sansa’s not stupid enough to head down to King’s Landing herself, so she sends Brienne instead. Brienne goes, but very reluctantly.
And when Sansa goes rooting around in Arya’s room, looking for…something she finds a leather bag full of faces. Lovely! Arya finds her in there and then basically threatens to take Sansa’s face off while wielding the knife Bran gave her, which is seriously messed up, Arya! Sansa seems to agree with me. This sibling reunion is not going well.
In Dragonstone, Dany has a chat with her Hand during which he tells her this quest the Band of Breathers is on is a fool’s errand. Geez, ya think? It was always one of the stupidest ideas floated on this show, and that is REALLY saying something. Tyrion also starts to approach the idea of what happens after Dany takes the throne. Like, waaaay after, when she dies. She tells him she’ll consider the succession after she takes the throne. He says he’s just trying to plan long-term here, and she snaps back that maybe he should be doing some more short-term thinking, to keep them from screwing up so much. You mean, screwing up like going on a suicide mission? He’s not the only one making stupid short-term plans, here. Maybe it’s Dragonstone. Maybe there’s something about that place that makes its inhabitants make incredibly bad choices. It is the ancestral home of the Targaryens, after all, and they went crazy.
Speaking of crazy: here’s our Band of Breathers, wandering around North of the Wall, shooting the breeze, swapping tips on staying warm, bromancing, reminiscing, and trying to find the arrowhead-shaped mountain the Hound saw in the fire a few weeks back. And they find it! Hurrah! The Night King’s entire army can’t be far! Yay?
Before they find it, though, they get attacked by a massive zombie bear which wounds Thoros pretty badly before the guys manage to kill it. Beric cauterises the wound and they’re all on their way. Soon, they come upon a White Walker scouting party and are finally able to capture their Wight, after killing the others (and conveniently discovering that if they kill a Wight, all the Wights it created will die too. Handy!)
Unfortunately, the Wight’s screaming alerts the rest of the Night King’s army, which descends on the BoB and their new captive. Jon tells Gendry to run back to Eastwatch (which is pretty far away at this point, no?) while the rest of them run for it, taking refuge on a giant rock in the middle of a frozen lake (??). Despite the fact that everyone keeps talking about how cold it is and how bad the winter is already, apparently it’s not cold enough to freeze this lake solid enough to be safely walked over, because the BoB starts cracking the ice, and then the Wights start falling into the water. After what appears to be at least a hundred of them blindly run into the water, the rest finally clue into the fact that they should hang back for a bit. So, they do.
Gendry runs and runs and runs and finally makes it back to Eastwatch, where Davos immediately dispatches a raven to Dragonstone, asking for help. Either Dragonstone is quite close to Eastwatch or the ravens are, essentially, Twitter because Dany gets that message and prepares to leave within hours, if not faster. Tyrion protests against her going herself, but we all know what the deal is here: she’s hot for Jon. Poor Jorah finds himself frozen in the friendzone yet again.
Back on the rock, the BoB starts looking really cold. And they discover that Thoros has either frozen or succumbed to his wounds. I’d say I’ll miss him, but honestly I kept forgetting about both him and Beric in all the craziness of plot in this show. So long, Thoros!
The Hound gets bored and starts throwing rocks at the Wights, which is so not going to end in their favour. All that does is alert them to the fact that the lake has re-frozen, and this time, magically, it’s solid enough for the Night King’s army to walk across. That makes no sense, but then, neither does anything else about this whole plan, which is so stupidly contrived I kind of feel like this the whole time:
So, the Wights attack, watched by the Night King (and Beric makes the good point that killing him is probably key, since he’s the one who created all the Wights). The BoB puts up a great fight, considering there’s only a handful of them and, what, thousands of Wights? Somehow, by some miracle, only the redshirts in the BoB manage to die. All the characters with names survive, swinging their swords and various weapons.
But, just when it seems hopeless, here comes Dany to rescue them with three dragons! Hurrah! Drogon takes out a bunch of Wights before landing, so she can offer Jon a lift (she doesn’t seem to fussed about the others, tbh). But the Night King isn’t taking this one lying down. He grabs a spear (hey, that reminds me–why didn’t Jon bring some dragonglass weapons with him on this suicide mission? Wouldn’t that have been somewhat sensible?) and hurls it at Viserion, who goes down hard, dies, and is swallowed up by the lake.
Jon does that stupid noble thing that stupid, noble heroes do where he tells the others to just go.
And…they do. And he gets dragged under the water by some Wights while Dany and the others fly away on Drogon, who just narrowly manages to miss being hit by another spear from the Night King.
Jon apparently has the same escaping-impossible-underwater-situations superpower as Jaime, because he somehow manages to free himself, drag himself back onto the ice, grab his sword, and try to get out of there. The Wights are coming, but then who should come galloping out of nowhere, swinging a ball of fire but ZomBenjen! Sure, why not?
ZomBenjen gets Jon on his horse and then goes to sacrifice himself to the White Walkers so Jon can get away. Jon rides back to Eastwatch and is loaded onto a ship bound for Dragonstone. Dany watches from the doorway of the cabin as Davos strips Jon and tends to his many injuries.
When Jon comes around, Dany’s there, clearly relieved beyond measure that he’s apparently going to be all right. He tells her how sorry he is about Viserion being lost and she cries a little and talks again about how the dragons are her children and she won’t have any other kids. Someone else has pointed out that this has been brought up so often now (twice in this episode alone!) that surely Jon’s resurrected sperm is going to magically impregnate her somehow, right?
Jon, acting on advice Tormund gave him earlier, offers to bend the knee and accept her as queen. She’s cool with that. Also, she agrees that they’re going to go ahead and fight the Night King, because he seems pretty dangerous.
Meanwhile, back north, the Wights drag dead Viserion out of the lake. The Night King goes and lays a hand on the dragon’s face, and after a few moments, Viserion wakes, with ice-blue eyes. Zombie Dragon! Fun times!