If you thought Jon Snow’s returning from the dead would be Game of Thrones’ greatest resurrection scene, Sunday’s “Beyond the Wall” blew that out of the water with Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) dragon Viserion dying and then being reanimated as a wight by the Night King.
Sunday’s episode featured Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and the rest of the Magnificent Seven go beyond the Wall to try and catch a wight, bring it back to the Seven Kingdoms, and prove that the threat of the undead is real. Well, they managed to get hold of a wight—but lost a dragon in the process. In the words of President Trump: Sad.
Elsewhere in Episode 6: Sansa Stark’s (Sophie Turner) creepy sibling problem continued. After Bran (Isaac Hampstead Wright) returned to Winterfell as the Three-Eyed Raven and has been doing his best to freak everyone out, now Sansa has to contend with Arya’s (Maisie Williams) thinly veiled death threats. Daenerys went against Tyrion Lannister’s (Peter Dinkage) advice—again—and went beyond the Wall after receiving a raven from Jon for help as the White Walkers, wights and the Night King surrounded them on a frozen lake. And in the perilous journey beyond the Wall there were a couple of casualties: Thoros of Myr and Jon’s uncle Benjen.
But here’s what you might have missed in “Beyond the Wall”:
Break the wheel
In the exchange between Dany and Tyrion at Dragonstone, the Hand of the Queen reminded the Khaleesi that she once told him she wanted to “break the wheel.” That is, she wants to rule the Seven Kingdoms in a completely different way to her predecessors—including her family members.
Dany said that Aegon I, the first ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, fared well by ruling through fear. Tyrion reminded her of her earlier comments about doing things differently in Season 5:
“Lannister… Tyrell… they’re all just spokes on a wheel. This one on top, then that one on top, and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground,” Dany said.
Tyrion replied: “It’s a beautiful dream—stopping the wheel…”
Daenerys said: “I’m not going to stop the wheel. I’m going to break the wheel.”
Tyrion reminding Dany of her earlier promise is significant, because he’s holding her to account over what she said when taking the Iron Throne was just a plan. Now they’re in Westeros and the war is on, Dany has begun to lose her way by not following Tyrion’s advice in recent episodes. For example, Tyrion told her it wasn’t wise to kill the Tarlys in Episode 5, and yet she did.
The implication seems to be that Dany, for all her vows, is not the right person to sit on the Iron Throne and shows some of the impetuousness of her father, the Mad King Aerys, and her brother Viserys. There has been foreshadowing in Season 7 that when the war is won, it might not be Dany as queen, because of her own temerity. Will it instead be Jon Snow—if he ever finds out his true Targaryen heritage?
When Jon came out of the freezing lake, his sword, Longclaw, was seen lying on the ice. As he got out, the direwolf pommel on the sword appeared to open its eye. Could Jon’s resurrection using magic—courtesy of Melisandre—have endowed him with more abilities than he and the viewers are currently aware of? Possibly.
But it’s also possible this was just a water droplet landing on the pommel, or a shadow cast on the white ornament. But it’s still a pretty cool moment to keep an eye out for.
Who suffered most?
Arya and Sansa’s game of one-upmanship over what they’ve endured in the last six seasons had some interesting parallels.
Sansa told Arya she couldn’t have possibly survived what she went through—from being toyed with by the sadistic King Joffrey, to being forced to marry Tyrion, to ending up with Littlefinger, to being forced to marry Ramsay Bolton and then raped and held captive.
Sansa’s growth in the last six seasons has been about her inner strength, while Arya’s strength has been outwardly displayed in her capabilities as a fighter and physical survival instinct.
It’s fair to say that neither could have survived what the other went through. But in the present, they are both stronger for their experiences and closer to what they wanted to be in Season 1. For Sansa, that was nobility and, for Arya, that was to be a fighter.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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