‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 6: Seeing Is Believing

a cozy ship’s cabin on Sunday, the two designated world-savers of “Game
of Thrones” shared sexy-time gazes and a pledge to fight together for
the future of humankind.
have to see it to know,” Daenerys Targaryen told Jon Snow, referring to
the zombie apocalypse preparing to descend upon Westeros. “Now I know.”
The thing is, she doesn’t know the half of it.
episode, a mostly thrilling 70 minutes of icy battles and tense
confrontations, was largely about the various players learning the scale
of their adversaries, whether it was Dany meeting the White Walker
army, the Night King beholding the dragons or Sansa finding her sister’s
creepy bag o’ faces.
got an eyeful as well, with a wintry battle of the living and the dead
that figures to foreshadow the culminating clashes of the story. Unlike
previous White Walker confrontations, this was a true song of ice and
fire, complete with frozen wastes, dragon fury, undead hordes, flaming
swords and breathtaking outerwear. (I’m no fashion expert but Dany’s
winter whites were really something.)
also saw what the Dragon Queen didn’t: Confirmation of the
long-rumored, much-feared Zombie Dragon Scenario. In the episode’s final
moments the White Walkers retrieved and reanimated the dragon the Night
King brought down with his ice javelin. (The internet says it was
Viserion.) This means the forces of annihilation have not only a
constantly replenishing army of wights, but also their very own version
of the one thing that seemed to tip the scales in favor of Team
In other words: It. Is. On.
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The episode picked up where we left off last week, with seven heroes and a fungible number of Wildling Redshirts
(Redfurs? Wildshirts?) out to bag a wight to show Cersei. I continue to
think this was a ridiculous plan — a silly device to set up Sunday’s
action and results, and next week’s big meeting
in King’s Landing. As some commenters noted last week, what have we
seen from Cersei that would suggest she’d ever join her rivals in a
fight for the greater good? Perhaps that’s what the pregnancy is for, if
it’s legitimate — to give her as well as Jaime a reason to care about
the future. But isn’t she more likely to let her enemies fight a
two-front war, or perhaps even trick them into doing so, so she can take
advantage of their divided resources and attention?
think Tyrion, who knows her better than almost anyone, would understand
this. But just as implausible, he’s transformed from the cagiest person
in this story, outthinking even Varys and Littlefinger back in Season
2, to one given to almost universally terrible decisions.
whatever odd choices led to the Wight Expedition, I did enjoy it,
because it featured some of the show’s most likable characters
negotiating the dizzying knot of connections between them, which made
for fun conversation.
had Jon Snow and Beric Dondarrion comprising the formerly-dead bloc,
while Gendry and the Hound made up the
formerly-prisoners-of-Beric-and-Thoros one. Gendry thinks his father
(Robert) fought alongside Jon’s (Ned, he thinks), only Robert really
killed Jon’s father (actually Rhaegar Targaryen). Then you had Jorah,
who Ned condemned and whose own dead dad (Jeor, former Lord Commander of
the Night’s Watch) is revered by Jon and hated by Tormund (because Jeor
battled Wildlings), who adores Brienne, who almost killed the Hound.
“How does she look at you?” the Hound asked him. “Like she wants to carve you up and eat your liver?”
“You do know her!”
“We’ve met.”
(Spinoff idea: Tormund and the Hound get an apartment together.)
soon it was time for fighting. The first foe was a tremendous zombie
bear who dispatched the first of who knows how many luckless, nameless
Wildlings. How many good guys are there, exactly? I wondered more than
once. The answer seemed to be “enough to kill off some people for drama
without losing anyone you know.”
Thoros, that is, who got mauled by the bear — maybe lead with the
dragonglass weapons next time, guys — and would eventually die. (“I just
got bit by a dead bear,” he told Beric. “Funny old life.”) Still, not a
bad survival rate overall. I figured Beric and Jorah, at least, would
be goners this week, but their inevitable sacrifices apparently come
episode director Alan Taylor is an old “Thrones” hand, overseeing the
finales for Seasons 1 and 2, among other early installments. He hasn’t
been around for awhile but clearly retained his flair for slick set
pieces, like the bear attack and the wight capture, in which Jon
dispatched a White Walker and saw his skeleton platoon topple like
undead dominoes. It was a kicky sequence that included an important
revelation — killing a White Walker also takes out anything he’d
resurrected — and conveniently left over a wight for bagging and
enough the horde was in pursuit, until the shattering ice stopped their
progress. (It’s unclear how the wights feel about water, exactly. We
all remember them staying shore-bound at Hardhome, but they did do some splashing around there, too.) As Gendry made like Pheidippides
— he’s a better runner than rower — the rest claimed a rocky ledge and
waited for the battle to proceed, which it eventually did along familiar
lines. Zombies staggered then swarmed. Heroes saved one another at the
last second — a chilling moment saw the usually fearless Tormund come
unglued before the Hound stepped in — and the numbers swelled until Jon
staggered around in the sort of woozy, all-is-lost interlude that
generally comes right before the big rescue.
even knowing what was coming — we’d already seen Dany leave Dragonstone
over Tyrion’s objections — her arrival packed the pulse-quickening
visceral wallop of the best “Thrones” action scenes. The sound design,
especially, added power and heft to the scenes of dragon fire
pulverizing the ice (symbolism!) and engulfing the army of the dead. And
after the Night King revealed himself to be the Uwe Hohn
of the Known World, Viserion’s demise was intense and deeply affecting —
his descent as blood streamed like smoke from a downed fighter, his eye
extinguishing as he slowly collapsed into the water. (If they happen to
add an Emmy next year for “Most emotion inspired by a fictional
creature made of lines of code,” that race is already over.)
has been plenty of speculation about who would ride a dragon in “Game
of Thrones.” The answer turned out to be: Nearly everyone except the guy
most people expected. As the survivors joined Dany atop Drogon, Jon did
his patented “heedless thrashing on the battlefield” move, which
eventually landed him first in the freezing water and then abandoned and
surrounded. But much as he did as Bran fled the wights last season, Uncle Benjen swooped in with his flaming flail to help Jon escape.
We last saw Benjen in the Season 6 finale,
dropping off Bran and Meera near the Wall. “I still fight for the
living,” he said then, even though he isn’t among them. You’ll recall
that he is Ned’s zombified younger brother, the former Night’s Watch
ranger who was left for dead by White Walkers and then restored by
forest children via a dragonglass pacemaker.
thing for Jon that they did — Benjen’s hero move called back to Beric
and Jon’s conversation from earlier, as Beric claimed that the Lord of
Light had brought them back for a reason (he wondered if it might be to
take out the Night King).
while the early going on Sunday at times felt a little baggy with
random chitchat (in a good way), the episode was actually pretty tightly
stitched together, in terms of foreshadowing that paid off later. There
was the bear wight that reminded us, before Viserion, that animals can
be resurrected, too. (We’ve previously seen horses.) There was lots of
talk about babies — Dany’s supposed inability to have them, after the
Drogo reanimation fiasco in Season 1, and Jorah telling Jon to keep the
Mormont sword for “your children after you.” By the end Jon and Dany
looked pretty ready to give it a shot. (And they’re hitting this aspect
so hard lately, I’m starting to wonder if the Dragon Queen might end up
pregnant before all is said and done.)


A scene from Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones.”


Finally, there was Tormund validating everyone who pointed out Jon’s parallels with Mance Rayder in refusing to bend the knee for Daenerys.
“Mance Rayder was a great man, a proud man,” Tormund said. “How many of his people died for his pride?”
episode’s end, Jon, having seen for himself what the Dragon Queen could
do, was ready to bend whatever he could to pledge his allegiance. The
next question, of course, is how this will go over at Winterfell, which
is already a pretty prickly place these days.
other major subplot on Sunday intensified the ongoing conflict between
the Stark girls, and also grounded an episode that was capital-F fantasy
north of Wall. (As thrilling as it was, I suspect a bunch of bearded
dudes riding a dragon with an ethereal queen is pretty close what your
“Thrones”-averse friends think the entire show is.)
The letter Littlefinger left for Arya to find last week
had its desired effect, deepening the divide as Arya threatened to sell
Sansa out to the weather-vane bannermen. I’m firmly in Sansa’s camp in
this spat, and she is correct that for all of the horrors Arya has
endured, she can’t grasp the sort of cruelties that have been inflicted
upon her older sister.
was as bemused as most of us would be by Arya’s faces (I think I
spotted Walder Frey). At the same time, Arya moved from snide
insinuations to openly messing with Sansa, questioning her loyalty,
talking about living in other people’s skin and teasing her with
Littlefinger’s dagger. It was a tense and somewhat bewildering scene —
Arya’s a little nutty these days. But there were also a couple signs of
hope for the Starks’ future.
was that after Littlefinger suggested that Brienne could be an asset in
the conflict, Sansa sent her away to King’s Landing instead, as if to
remove that piece from Littlefinger’s chess board. The other was that
after her “Game of Faces” monologue, Arya handed the dagger over as if
to signal that, for now at least, she’s still willing to serve the lady
of the house.


Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams in “Game of Thrones.”

Helen Sloan/HBO

dagger perhaps carried another promise, or at least a potential reason
for optimism, related to its previous owner. Because if Three-eyed Bran
ever gets around to sorting out the many ways Littlefinger has betrayed
the Starks, it could be just the thing to get the sisters more firmly
back on the same side again.

A Few Thoughts While We Wait (and Wait) for the Reveal

“You don’t look much like him … your father,” Beric told Jon,
delivering the obligatory weekly nod at Jon’s true paternity. Will Bran
clue him in before he heals up enough to romance Aunt Dany? Bran may
have yet to discover the Targaryen connection himself, I guess — all
we’ve seen him learn was that Lyanna was Jon’s mother.

Beric and Jon also sorted out the meaning of life during their wintry
march, the upshot being that death always wins but the fight is always
worth it, especially for those you protect along the way. “You and I
won’t find much joy while we’re here, but we can keep others alive,”
Beric said, which could hint that despite Jon’s clear hero status, his
ending might not be as happy as you’d think. (In case it wasn’t clear,
Jon’s response — “I am the shield that guards the realms of men” — comes
from the Night’s Watch oath.)

Speaking of ultimate sacrifices, Benjen seemed to make one in order to
save Jon. But can you kill a zombie? What is dead may never die, and all
that. (Removing the dragonglass from his chest might do it.)

There could be some big reunions coming in King’s Landing next week.
Brienne and Jaime. Cersei and Tyrion. The Hound and the Mountain — could
the much-desired Cleganebowl actually happen?

“We had no time to discuss the possibilities before you ended their
possibilities,” Tyrion told Daenerys, referring to the Tarly torching.
While he made some decent points about Dany’s occasional impulsivity,
his credibility is flagging, she reminded him, and his talk of
succession plans brought the chat to a quick end.
• That was a nice moment when Jorah tried to give Thoros a little boost as he circled the drain, reminiscing about the Siege of Pyke. “I thought you were the bravest man I ever saw,” he told him. “Just the drunkest,” Thoros replied.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s been plenty of talk about who will be
the other two dragon riders. While the Night King apparently claimed one
of the seats for himself on Sunday, the battle also suggested that
pilots weren’t necessarily needed to guide the creatures in the battle
(though maybe one would’ve helped Viserion).
• Might Bran have a role to play with zombie Viserion? You’ll recall that the old Three-eyed raven told him
he’d never walk again, but he would fly. Could that mean that he could
warg into Viserion and turn him against his master? Or does it give more
credence to the theory that Bran somehow is or becomes the Night King
himself? (Although the “you’ll never walk again” part seems to
contradict that possibility.)
• What does an ice dragon shoot out of its mouth, anyway?

Your turn. Did Viserion’s death break your heart? Are you excited or
disgusted by the prospect of Jon and Daenerys getting together? What do
you want to see in next week’s finale? Please share your thoughts in the


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