This week Game of Thrones has gifted us with one of its longest episodes yet and probably one of its finest, "Beyond The Wall."
Game of Thrones shifts gears towards the high fantasy/horror aspect of the series and opens with Jon Snow’s quest in capturing one of the frozen undead men beyond the wall.
Jon Snow's group, the so-called Westeros Suicide Squad as the fans have dubbed them, are trudging on the ice and we actually get a little insight to Thormund’s sexual preferences. When Gendry asks how the wildlings keep themselves warm in this weather the wildling leader answers that they keep on moving, fighting and f-***ng are the best methods. Jon says that there are no women for miles, Thormund cheekily replies that they make do with what they have.
Jon and Jorah also bond over past history, particularly about their fathers. Jon offers to give Jorah his father’s Valyrian steel sword, but the Dragon Queen’s sworn man answers that he has shamed his father and that it was given to Jon and it will remain with him.
At Winterfell, things are turning sour between the Stark sisters. Arya finally confronts Sansa about the letter that she wrote to Robb after Ned’s incarceration. The younger Stark is vague with what she plans to do with this new piece of information and Sansa is unnerved. But later Sansa turns to the worst person possible about her “letter” problem, Littlefinger. He advises that maybe Brienne could help to protect her.
The Stark sisters seem to be playing to Littlefinger’s plan. Let us hope that their bond as siblings is stronger than any political machinations.
Beyond the Wall, amidst the bromance as Thormund talks with the Hound about making babies with Brienne of Tarth, and Jon and Beric Dondarrion discuss the theological implication of their resurrection. The group finally reaches the mountain shaped like an arrowhead, the same landmark which the Hound saw in his vision, which means they are drawing closer to the army of the dead.
Meanwhile at Dragonstone, Daenerys and Tyrion are discussing heroism. The Dragon Queen complains about how heroes do the stupidest things for heroics, but it seems to be born out of a real concern about Jon. Tyrion notices this, and he teases her.
Tyrion also tries to steer Daenerys away from being too savage when they go to meet with Cersei. He presses her to be a more gentle and just ruler. He also contemplates the future of what will happen if the Queen passes away. But Daenerys rebukes him, and tells him bluntly that they will discuss the succession after she wears the crown.
Back at the far North, the Westeros Suicide Squad finally encounter the undead amidst a snow storm. They are confronted by a Blue-eyed zombie Polar Bear, and despite having a cool magical flaming sword, Thoros of Mir is severely wounded by it. They discuss sending him back to Eastwatch, but he insists that they press on.
Later while on top of a ridge, they spot a squad of the undead being led by a White Walker. The creature spots their camp fire and looks around for them, when they strike to ambush. The fighting is brief, as Jon wielding a Valyrian steel sword is able to bring down the White Walker, and with its demise, most of the other undead crumbles with him-except for one.
They work at tying it and capturing it, but it makes a resounding scream, and something responds.
There is an echo of more undead approaching. Jon tasks Gendry with running to Eastwatch to send a raven to Daenerys, since he is the fastest runner. Thormund takes the young man’s hammer and tells him that he will be faster without it.
The rest of the Suicide Squad then flees in another direction, unknowingly to a frozen lake, as the army of the dead makes an appearance behind them. The thin ice serves to protect them as the weight of so much undead breaks it, and they find refuge in a small rocky islet in the middle of the frozen lake.
Meanwhile as night engulfs the land, Gendry finally arrives exhausted at Eastwatch. Ser Davos goes to fetch him and Gendry tells him that they need to send a Raven.
The next day, The Westeros Suicide Squad are still trapped on the islet with the army of the dead around them. They also discover that Thoros passed away during the night and burn his body using Beric’s magical flaming sword.
Jon and Jorah discuss the death of the White Walker and how the undead crumbled when he fell. They infer that perhaps the life of the undead is tied to the White Walker that turned them. Beric suggests that perhaps they should kill the Night King since he turned them all.
Back at Winterfell, Sansa receives an invite to King’s Landing. Obviously, she has no wish to go, but she wants to send Brienne as her representative. The Lady Knight is worried about leaving Sansa with Littlefinger. Sansa though admonishes her and commands her to go.
At Dragonstone, it appears that Daenerys has received the raven from Eastwatch that was sent the night before. She marches off to ride her dragon, but Tyrion protests saying that she will be putting herself in mortal danger. But Daenerys is adamant about going. She rides Drogo, and Viserion and Rhaegal follow as a worried Tyrion watches.
At the frozen lake, things are taking a dire turn. At a moment of boredom, The Hound throws a rock at one of the undead. The stone hits the frozen surface but does not break it. The undead take notice, and they start marching in one by one fully confident that the ice will now hold their weight.
The Westeros Suicide Squad proceeds to try and fend them off, but they are outnumbered. Thormund is nearly pulled away, but the Hound is able to rescue him.
They retreat to the top of the islet and keep on fighting as the surge of the undead continue. When all hope seemed lost, Daenerys and her dragons finally arrive. Drogo lands near the group, and the Queen reaches out her hand for Jon. But the King in the North chooses to keep fighting as he waits for the others to board with their captured undead first.
However the Night King has a countermove and a White Walker underling hands him an ice javelin. He aims for one of the dragons, Viserion, and his strike is true. The creature drops from the sky and sinks into the frozen lake.
Jon eyes the Night King as another javelin is given to the White Walker leader. Jon screams that Daenerys should go, he runs to join the others but is dragged down the frozen lake by the undead.
The group flies out as the Night King makes his shot, and Drogo manages to evade the javelin. He doesn’t know how to fly in a zig zag pattern, but he does perform a mean barrel roll.
Jon then emerges from the lake, alone in facing the undead. However, he is rescued by a lone rider wielding flames. It is his Uncle Benjen, who we last saw leaving Bran Stark near Castle Black. He sacrifices himself, and lets Jon takes his horse.
Later at Eastwatch, the group finally boards the undead to a ship, but Daenerys stands by waiting by the wall. Jorah tells her that they have to leave, but the Queen wishes to wait a bit more, she then turns her back on Jorah. But soon there is a signal of a new arrival, and Jon emerges from the woods beyond the wall on horseback.
He is brought aboard the ship, and is stripped down and placed into bed. Daenerys sees him undressed, and spots the knife wounds that he had endured, including the one that struck his heart. It seems that seeing this has struck her heart as well-or maybe it is just seeing Jon’s abs, or a mix of both.
At Winterfell, Sansa sneaks around in Arya’s room, presumably looking for the letter. However, she finds her sister’s bag full of faces. Arya catches her and explains what those faces are and what she is actually capable of.
Arya explains that if she had wanted, she could wear Sansa’s face and be her. She then grabs the Valyrian steel dagger that Bran gave her and wonders out loud what it would feel like to be Sansa. She then gives the dagger to her frightened sister, turns around and walks away. Now that is how you make a threat.
On Daenerys’ ship, Jon wakes up to find the Queen sitting by his bedside. He apologizes to her and, but Daenerys says that it is important for her to have seen the army of the dead. She promises him that they will destroy the Night King and they will do it together.
He says thank you, Dany, calling her by her childhood name that no one has used in a long time. He then pledges his allegiance to her as his Queen. She then holds his hand and there is a moment of tenderness, and she pulls away and tells him to get some rest. Then she walks away from the room.
Back at the frozen lake, the army of the dead pulls Viserion's body using large chains. The Night King approaches the dead dragon and lays his hands on its snout. When Viserion wakes up, his eyes are now ice-cold blue!
I guess another fan theory comes true, but will he breathe fire? Or will it be ice?
The odds seem more even now between Westeros and the White Walkers. Let us hope Cersei comes on board, they may need those giant crossbows, preferably armed with dragon glass javelins.