Beware! The night is dark and full of terrors, and this review will have spoilers. Which could be a scarier prospect.
If you have any burning questions about this episode or others from this Season that need answering, go here .
This week: Jon and the gang are on thin ice beyond the wall.
Look, no one ever expected the mission to capture a wight to go well. And, if we’re all honest, it was a crazy plan to begin with. But it’s to the show’s credit that Beyond The Wall worked as well as it did, mixing real tension, a few lucky escapes and some true tragedy together into a compelling whole. And it was all wrapped up with some of the most gorgeous location work the show has put on screen in a long time.
Credit partly goes to series creators David Benioff and DB Weiss for getting us to this point, and to Alan Taylor for marshaling the action. Kudos also to the stunt and effects team – the sight of Jon and the rest struggling to survive on an ice island were the sort of zombie-stuffed visuals that The Walking Dead can only dream about.
With a little extra breathing room, the scenes in the snow were ripe with bonding moments between the men on the mission. Putting the likes of Tormund, the Hound, Thoros and Jorah together were some inspired combinations, and the banter flowed naturally, along with the typically salty dialogue from Clegane and co. Yes, it kept to the basics of the wartime mission movie, where you know we’re getting moments because not everyone will make it out alive, but it worked.
When it came time for the chatting to stop and the fighting to start, the creators didn’t disappoint and the cast threw themselves into it – occasionally literally. Sure, there were some lucky escapes (thankfully the show chose to telegraph Dany’s arrival) and one or two eyebrow-raising moments where known characters looked like they might end up zombified, only to escape, but the stakes felt high enough. Plus: Coldhands! Yes, he might be a bit of a Benjen Ex Machina, but it was tough not to be happy when he rode in to help Jon. Even the Night King got another iconic moment, taking out a spear and downing a dragon. He’s a mean one, that frosty grinch.
And though the majority of the show was given up to the climactic ice battle, there was still room for the story to showcase other scenes. Keeping to the format of this season, we had quiet discussions of the future and tactics offsetting the huge scrap. Tyrion’s talk with Dany about how she wants to rule (and who might follow her) did seem to be a distraction when her mind should have been on other things, but it was filled with the sort of quiet wisdom that he (and Peter Dinklage) does so well.
Elsewhere, the Stark sisters squared off, with the creepy reveal of Arya’s faces in her travelling bag and some true tension between the pair. Sansa’s decision to send Brienne away in her stead to the big meeting between Cersei and everyone else might not turn out to be her smartest decision, but it’s a fascinating dynamic between the women. Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, clearly delighted to be in each other’s presence again, acted the hell out of their handful of scenes, as well. Even with a horde of undead wights threatening heroes elsewhere, their interactions were never less than watchable.
A super-sized episode that never came across as underfed, Beyond The Wall delivered on some of the iconic moments that we’ve all been waiting for since the series’ inception. Fire properly met ice and the narrative really moved along. Do we need Dany and Jon making moony eyes at each other? Maybe not, but at least there is some chemistry there. We’re not quite ready to see an undead dragon breathing flaming ice, but that eye opening blue certainly won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Highlight: The ice lake battle.
Lowlight: THEY KILLED A DRAGON! YOU BASTARDS!
Kill of the week: Poor old Thoros didn’t make it out.
Quote of the week: “Dany….” Jon Snow gladdens a hundred shippers’ hearts.
MVP: RIP Viserion. You flew high, you fell far and now you’ll be back as an ice zombie dragon. We’re still not over it.
Random thought: Did Gendry run back to Eastwatch in five minutes flat?
Is everyone in Westeros screwed?
The Night King has a dragon of his own. Could be.
Is Jon Snow the luckiest man alive?
Aside from the small matter of dying once, it seems that way…
Will Arya straight up murder her sister?
We doubt it. But we’d put good money on Littlefinger feeling her blade at some point.
Got more questions about this Season? Read our full list of answers .
Season 7 Episode Review Guide
Game Of Thrones airs Sunday evenings on HBO in the States, with a simulcast on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the early hours of Monday and a repeat Monday evenings at 9pm.