All is not well right now for the good guys. Actually, after this episode, I really can't tell how all this is going to pull through at the end. This weeks 70 minute installment had me thinking "okay that's not good" and it that line of thought never left me as the episode came crashing and burning to a halt, quite literally this time around. I did see a couple things coming, and honestly mightve preferred of they kept a more focused episode this time around, but I can see why we had some cuts where we did, and it opens up room for more of my
typically half and half always 100% correct predictions for the finale and show as a whole. On top of that once again this show put me in a very familiar situation where I find myself squinting really hard at the TV messaging my temples wondering if I'm really seeing what I'm seeing. Bravo to those moments, it was very reminiscent of such episodes as The Door, The Red Wedding, and the like if not for the programs grounded brutality but for its ability to misdirect where my true tension should be focused. Not to mention a sense of dire urgency. Yeah, it's one of THOSE episodes this week.
To open I'll address most of the exposition this time around and then we'll get to all the brutality the Death Squad endured. Sansa and Arya are going at each other in Winterfell and Littlefinger seems to be making his move. I think I'm finally beginning to understand his ploy here thanks to the bits we receive from Brienne, who seems to be the only one who can think like a rational adult besides Littlefinger and to and extent Bran. So by causing strife between the sisters Littlefinger is hoping Arya will become fed up with Sansa's obvious aspirations to acquire the influence and power Jon has over the Northern Kingdom and with the, evidence he dug up, Arya may even expose Sansa in front of them. Doing so will cause the Northern Lords to lose faith in Sansa and allow Littlefinger to assumingly move in quick, as he has indeed been talking to the Northern Lords behind Sansa's back as Brienne suggests. We know this thanks to what we saw when Arya was following him last week. The discord comes to a head when Sansa sends Brienne as her representative to the parley with Cersei and then proceeds to search Arya's room for the letter she wrote to Robb under duress and finds Arya's faces. I think it's pretty metal that Arya carries then around with her, but Sansa seemed pretty freaked out which is understandable I guess. The two argue and that's all we get from Winterfell this week.
So here's what not going to happen in Winterfell. I'm pretty positive the Stark children, really Arya and Bran, are not falling for Littlefinger's game. I would be pretty disappointed if Arya doesn't see through this attempt at power from Littlefinger after all the character development, which seemed to never end, that happened in Braavos. I would be very shocked if Bran doesn't interfere as well and I don't know why the other siblings haven't consulted him either. Sure, he's weird and distant, but he's proven to both siblings that he can see current events as they happen and into the past, so we're talking like one conversation that goes "Hey Bran-" and then Bran interrupts and says "you're going to ask about Littlefinger; yes he has a deal worked out with the Northern Lords, yes he's been leading you both on this whole time, yes he's a traitor no one would be mad if he died". This outcome, I highly suspect, might just happen, but I've been thrown off by Littlefinger in the past. I've also overestimated Sansa many times and I've got to say I just don't like her this season. Thought I might start liking her and she'd stop being stupid but besides being good at resource management for winter, she really isn't smart. She spent so much time around Cersei and the Lannisters and learned nothing of politics or convincing arguing, and furthermore she's super transparent in her motives even if you haven't played the lying game. I'm still a Stark fan, so I'm still holding out hope she wises up, but we'll just have to wait until next week to see.
Tyrion is doing a shit job at being a hand so far, which is unusually uncharacteristic for him. Maybe being so near his family really is throwing him off, but someone who was so vital in overthrowing the slave masters and counseling Daenerys in the last few seasons all of a sudden seems almost useless this time around. I suppose I'm really just fundamentally disagreeing with the way he goes about his reasoning for things, even if I don't disagree with what he's actually getting at. I think Daenerys definitely needs to keep her anger in check, but how on earth did he wrangle the line of succession into his opening argument for that one? I liked where he was going with the point about the Tarlys, but he really overshot and I think he may have realized that at the end. All he's really trying to get through to her is that she needs to not make rash decisions and examine all other possibilities before removing them from play but he's unwilling to compromise on such small pointless things. He can't just say "okay" to holding off about the line of succession and come at her from another angle? It physically gags me to think this but I almost side with Daenerys here, and there's a solid difference between heeding council and just doing whatever your councilors say, which is what Tyrion is failing to grasp. Also, what the hell Tyrion, do nothing about Jon and them in the North? Really? What kind of half-assed line of thought was that? What's the point of the parley with Cersei if everyone's dead and there's no wight? This may be the first time I've been really dissapointed by Tyrion throughout this show, I'm hoping he gets his shit together.
Finally we get around to the Death Squad and how well things go beyond the Wall. Things did not go well beyond the Wall. A moment of silence for all those poor bastards who the show didn't even bother to name, I knew those guys were dead the moment they set foot out the door. So Jon's party has some great moments leading up to the action, with pretty much everyone getting some great banter I with each other. The banter this season, by the way, has been some of the best the show has ever produced. I loved that Jon offered Long Claw back to Jorah and Jorah returned it. I liked the simplicity that Jon and Beric related on. But this week I think best banter clearly goes to Tormund and Sandor Clegane, who gave me the spinoff show material I never knew I wanted. The insults flying back and forth were great. The "I like dick" line was hilarious. The fact that both of them have the same view of Brienne however one hates and one loves her is amazing. It really pulled the scene, where Tormund falling through the ice and Sandor pulls him out later during the tense moments, together very well too. Moving on from the character relationships Jon and the rest first come across an undead polar bear and have a pretty gnarly encounter with it, which was complicated by the fact that it was snowing so hard the field of vision was only a few yards in front of the group. Nameless bastard number one of three goes down here, and poor Thoros is wounded badly covering for Sandor before Jorah can kill the bear with his Dragonglass. They patch Thoros, and continue on only a short distance before they come across a group of wights and a White Walker Luitenant.
The group of the undead appears to be either scouts or a recruitment party separated from the main host. Whatever the case, Jon's party sets up an ambush and defeat the small group and capture a wight. Unfortunately, the main host is like, right there, and a chase ensues however Gendry is chosen to become a runner and sprint back to Eastwatch to send a raven to Daenerys to come save them somehow. The Party is pushed back to a frozen lake and nameless bastard number two of three goes down in a murder horde however this breaks the ice and separated the party from the undead host as they find an island in the middle of the lake. Content to wait out for help from Daenerys the party settles in overnight and praise the lord of light that Gendry never skipped leg day or cut corners on his cardiovascular schedule as he makes his way to the Wall and sends a raven. Poor Thoros does not survive the night due to blood loss from the polar bear wound mixed with the freezing cold, which Sandor takes harshly. Sandor then provokes, admittedly accidentally, the undead host into resuming the attack now that the ice is stable. A violent fight ensues and nameless bastard number three of three goes down in a murder horde that Jon realizes is flanking them hard. Right as the end is nigh, the dragons come in with Daenerys riding and proceed to barbecue much of the host. Unfortunately and most unexpectedly, the Night King had an answer for this and is able to throw an ice javelin capable of bringing down Viserion. As the party escapes and watches the slain dragon in horror, Jon is separated only to be rescued by Benjen later, however Benjen sacrifices himself to make good Jon's escape. Jon later wakes up healed in a boat headed for the parley, wight in tow, party members properly dispatched back to their respective posts, and declares that he will bend the knee to Daenerys as she tells him she will stop at nothing to defeat the Night King. Unbeknownst to everyone, the Night King raises the dead dragon and turns him into an undead servant as the episode cuts to credits.
That was a mouthful. So, I was wondering who was going to be on the chopping block front he Death Squad and poor Thoros was the guy. The party learns a valuable lesson pointed out by Sandor about PROTECTING YOUR HEALER IN THE RAID. Sandor seemed to take it pretty harsh as he was the one Thoros was covering and I would've liked to see a little more on this but the situation understandable didn't allow for the lull in pace. This is something I enjoyed as a fan of militaristic fantasy as well, because very often in intense battles there is no time to properly mourn for the close fallen friends, and I felt it adds even more layers to Sandors characterization as we see him grieve momentarily then be forced to replace that sadness with cold anger. So there was a theory that one of the dragons was going to be turned into an undead thanks to a poster I'll link below that shows a blue dragon on the side of the White Walkers and very faintly you can make out a rider on it's back. Also due to the placing of characters on the poster I can't help but wonder at Cersei potentially murdering one, leaving only Drogon and Viserion, but I won't make solid assumptions off of promo material. Yet. Here's another thought; I always thought it was going to be that weird connection with Bran the Night King has that allows him to cross the Wall but now I'm wondering how well that ice barrier fares against dragon fire. Some people are praising Emilia Clark this episode but I have to disagree, I felt her most sincere moment was not when Viserion died but when Jon told her he would bend the knee, all memes aside, and honestly it kind of short sold her pain and speech about her children. I thought Kit Harrington had the best acting this week with the close ups of seeing the Host charge, the slow motion shot of the flank, and pretty much all of his non verbal expressions seemed on point. One thing that really bugged me was Daenerys seeing the scars on Jon's body on the ship but out of everything they talked about that somehow didn't come up, especially when she straight up asked him last week if he had died and he said it was a figure of speech. Hopefully this comes up in the finale. Sandor going south can only mean one thing; Clegane bowl is coming. That's all I have to say about that.
The only real parting thought I had this week was the episode, while being full of action, was kind of predictable in its writing, and a little confusing in others. For example the first thing I thought of when I saw Viserion go down was "great now the Night King has a dragon" and it really lost the typically dramatic end credits effect the show normally has on me. Another thing was Benjen showing up at the last minute, it was pretty cool, and I can even justify a reason for him being there in the first place, but then he was like "there's no time [to come with you]"and I'm like... Really man you can't just hop on the back of the horse? It's, like, right there. I hope his plot hasn't ended or the show is pulling a fast one. Speaking of the wights I feel that the biggest discovery, almost worth a dragon in my opinion, is that if you kill the head White Walker his turned will immediately die. That's a game changer. That means the Night King is target numerous uno in the wars to come. Take him out and surely a vast chuck of the army is gone if not all. Finally, I really understand why they are having not as many episodes this season because of budget constraints and the CG, but damn a few of these could've been drawn out. Personally, I would've liked to see an entire episode centered around raid and no cuts to anywhere south of the Wall. It could be really been a The Grey journey that challenged the protagonists in more ways than just the undead horde, however that's not to say this weeks episode was bad. It wasn't. In fact I'm pretty pumped for the finale next week and the shaky alliance that's to come from all this work we've got this season, and the only reason I'm upset at shorter episode numbers is because the show is that good. Next week can't get here soon enough.