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: Get the parlay started.
And so Season 7 finishes with the typical post-battle episode, but still finds time – thanks to an almost movie-length minute count – to cram a heck of a lot in. In keeping with how this season’s episodes have been formatted, there are reunions of characters who have history, some big tactics talk and then… Well, not a battle so much as a rout by the Army of the Dead. This was effectively Game Of Thrones doing Avengers Assemble, if the Avengers all disagreed. So… Civil War? The risk in putting together so many characters was that some stories would get short shrift, but The Dragon And The Wolf managed to squeeze an awful lot in, and only one or two plots felt less than effective. Cough Theon Cough.
But the parlay in the pit was a well-structured gathering, played out in little moments, glances and stares as much as it was dialogue. There was a real concern it could have devolved into expositional talk about the threat from up north, but given the presence of the wight and the bubbling tensions/rivalries, it had the power it needed. On the road to the meeting, we got several fun exchanges, the highlights being Tyrion and Bronn (though given how the latter helped the former meet Jaime recently, didn’t it seem odd to come across as though they hadn’t seen each other?) and Brienne’s chat with the Hound about Arya. The Hound’s meeting with his zombified brother also impressed us.
Dany, never one to skip a theatrical entrance (was anyone else wondering if the extended runtime was so that she could rattle off her titles then wander the pit asking people to bend the knee?) arrived on a dragon and the look on Cersei’s face was priceless. In fact, there was plenty of that clash of personalities, which is essentially what we would have wanted from an episode such as this. It raised the stakes, and wasn’t simply wrapped up with everyone agreeing to go fight the Night King. No, the scheming and plotting continue apace, even if Cersei’s big plan to ditch everyone feels a little suicidal.
Still, the melding of the various characters allowed for some real fireworks, such as Tyrion’s scene with Cersei and the reveal of her plan to Jaime (letting him go to tell everyone else what she’s doing appears foolish, but you’ve got to think at this point that she’s at least one move ahead). Excellent work all round from the cast this week, even those who had to find their moments in tiny scenes.
Back in Winterfell, there was the slightest whiff of disingenuous plotting as Sansa and Arya set up Littlefinger after weeks of nods to their growing tension. But with the triumphant death of the string-puller, all those concerns were washed away. It was a wonderful moment for Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, and all credit to Aiden Gillen for imbuing the schemer’s last moments with actual panic and pleading. He’ll be missed, in his own way.
Finally, we were back with Bran and the freshly-arrived Sam, spilling the secret that almost everyone and their dragon had already figured out – Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark – and far from being a bastard, he’s actually named Aegon Targaryen, and is the true heir to the Iron Throne. That’s a little awkward given his newly sexual relationship with Dany: will they share power? And oh yes, she’s his aunt. As for Tyrion’s look at the end… Theories abound as to whether he has feelings for the Mother of Dragons (what if he loves Jon?) or whether he’s concerned that their relationship will cloud their judgement. Given how these two usually act, will anyone notice?
An episode with such mammoth revelations (we’re not talking about the Jon and Dany thing, or his parentage) deserved the space it was given to breathe. Themes such as a children and family rubbed shoulders with a weirdly phallic obsession this week (thanks, Bronn), but it all gelled for a finale that had true value. If we have a complaint, it’s that the show occasionally felt like it was suffering from Return Of The King syndrome, as things wrapped up well before cutting to another scene with more resolution. Still, at least they found the perfect final moment, as the Army of the Dead made their way past the now crumbling wall, led by their king on his new ice dragon. If Season 8 is a short as reports say, it’s going to have a lot to cram in. Until then, Winter is actually, truly here now and…
Highlight: The whole dragon pit scene.
Lowlight: Theon. Though we did love his, er, space advantage.
Kill of the week: Bye Littlefinger! You finally got what was long coming to you.
Quote of the week: “We’re fucked.” – Tyrion, summing up the fate of many characters now the Night King has breached the wall.
MVP: A mixture this week. Tyrion for his speeches, Cersei for her bluffs and, of course, Bronn.
Random thought: Can’t wait to see Jon and Dany’s first relationship counselling session once they learn the truth.
Are Tormund and Beric dead in the wall collapse?
It didn’t look good for them, but we didn’t see them die, so that’ll have to wait until next season to see for sure.
Couldn’t Bran have told Jon about his parentage before?
You would think! But he’s so far been about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
Will it take the Army Of The Dead years to reach anyone else?
Have you been watching this season? They’ll be rapping at Winterfell’s door in about three minutes, given how quickly people have been travelling recently. And don’t forget The Artist Formerly Known As Viserion.
Season 7 Episode Review Guide
[Episode 6 – Beyond The Wall
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.