Every Tuesday this season, a few of us here at The Comeback will gather to reflect on the previous episode of Game of Thrones and predict what might happen next week and beyond.
Last week, we looked back at episode five, “Eastwatch,” and congratulated Cersei and Jaime on their baby. Now it’s time to discuss episode six, “Beyond The Wall.”
On Monday, less than 24 hours after episode six aired Sam Blazer, Alex Putterman, and David Lauterbach all expressed their disappointment in “Beyond The Wall” in greater detail.
Also, a warning: if you did not watch the trailer for episode seven and don’t plan on it, avoid the last two questions of this discussion.
1. First off, the dragon dying is MASSIVE. What was your reaction to that?
David Lauterbach: I kind of saw it coming. For a show that prides itself on killing major characters when you don’t expect them to, I figured there was no way all three of Dany’s dragons would survive the series. When the dragons flew in to save Jon Snow’s crew after only one notable character had died, it kind of just made sense to bid farewell to Viserion.
Andrew Bucholtz: My biggest reaction was in the lead-up, yelling at the screen for Jon to get on the dragon and get out of there. This seemed very avoidable if he wasn’t just screwing around. It also hurt to see Dany lose one of her dragons, after she spent so much time raising them. At least it was the one named for Viserys. And having dragons on both sides could get interesting.
Matt Clapp: I was really sad to see that adorable fella go. It’s seemed likely that at least one of the dragons was dying soon, though.
Taylor Nigrelli: When the dragons swooped in and started frying the wights, I started to question how the final season would even be interesting. It just seemed like such a mismatch. Not anymore. And now they have to play it safe, be stealthy and kill the Night King.
Jeff Snyder: To sum it up, this.
It’s a gamechanger.
2. Let’s get the shaming out of the way second. Last week, we all guessed who was going to die from the group of Jon, Jorah, Tormund, Thoros, The Hound, Gendry, and Beric. Well, Sam won! He guessed correctly for 6/7 but kind of 7/7 (Sam said one of Thoros or Beric would die, but didn’t specify).
Anyway, more importantly, were you surprised only Thoros died in that group?
DL: I was shocked that only Thoros died. The plan itself was so insane and crazy that I thought there was no way at least two or three of the seven would die. Thinking back, I’m surprised more didn’t die considering how close some of them got to dying.
AB: This was surprising, especially given what they were up against. Fighting that kind of undead army, and the only casualties are Thoros and a bunch of expendable redshirts? It doesn’t seem to quite fit. I appreciated at least narrow escapes for Tormund and Jorah, and I could have been fine with the eventual casualty list if they’d spent less time fighting or faced a less overwhelming horde, but it felt like there was too much plot protection here. Especially considering how dumb this “capture a wight” plan was in the first place, and how unrealistic the rescue by Dany was.
MC: No. I did think Tormund was a goner for a second, and I had wondered about him even when he talked about having Brienne waiting back in Winterfell. That kind of dialogue scares you that something bad may be coming.
TN: I am and I’m not. Considering the danger of the mission, you’d think more than one of these guys would have died. On the other hand, the show has gotten much more stingy with important characters dying.
JS: I was extremely torn on who would die. In my mind, either only Thoros would die or everyone but Jon would die. Killing off Thoros early was very smart. It set the stakes and made us worry that, yes, the heroes could die. I was scared for Tormund especially when he was being tugged into the water. That said, there are reasons everyone survived and it makes sense that Thoros was the one who was killed. After all, it makes it so that Beric only has one life left.
3. Staying North, we learned something big about the White Walkers in that when you kill one, all the wights it raised from the dead die as well. Will this drastically change the army of the living’s strategy?
DL: This is huge, but maybe not as big as the little note that the Night King isn’t impacted by dragon fire. Yes, if Drogon blasts the Night King directly it could harm him, but he can walk through the fire. Now that Jon Snow and company know all of this, I think their only goal is to go after the White Walkers.
AB: It has to, and it has to get them to focus on killing the Night King. This is a huge revelation, one that was done well and one that could make a big difference. But it’s not going to be easy to take him down.
MC: It should certainly make them look to specifically target the White Walkers more, yes.
TN: I sure as hell hope so. They don’t have to burn an entire army or win a war. Just get the Night King.
JS: In a sense, it’ll give the army of the living a chance. Before, the strategy was just “get as big an army as possible and pray.” Now, they can try to target the Walkers and hope to eliminate them. That’s much easier said than done, though.
4. At one point, it looked like Jon would get chased down and die, but then Uncle Benjen came through big time. Were you satisfied with this or was it a little bit of a cop out?
DL: This really frustrated me. First off, apparently everyone in Westeros can hold their breath under water well? Second, how was there not enough time for Benjen to get on the horse and ride away with Jon?
AB: I love the idea of this, but hated the execution. First, there was no reason for Jon to be unable to get on Drogon with the rest of them other than his own charge into the wights. Beyond that, Benjen saving the day makes sense, as he’s presumably keeping tabs on the army of the dead and we’ve seen him battle wights and White Walkers before, but I hate that the show wasted him this way. (And only gave him a few seconds of screen time, to boot.) There’s no reason he and Jon couldn’t have ridden off together.
MC: It was a tad cheesy (and predictable), but fine.
TN: Oooo, that was a huge cop out. They could have just had Jon leave with anyone else, and not worried about the Benjin storyline that no one outside the writer’s room cares about.
JS: Jon was never going to die, and this gives closure to Uncle Benjen. It was a bit deus ex machina, but you have to allow for it in some cases.
5. While Dany did lose a dragon, the army of the living did manage to smuggle away a wight to bring to King’s Landing. Will Cersei and Jaime believe what they see or will some tension come out of the meeting?
DL: While they are going to believe what they see, what matters more is if Cersei and Jaime decide to willingly pause the war for the Iron Throne in order to fight the war between the living and he dead. This will most certainly result in some tension coming out of the meeting when Cersei likely doesn’t jump at the chance to help out up North.
AB: It seems pretty unlikely to me that Cersei’s going to join up just because of a wight. Even if she believes, the dead are much more of a threat to all of her enemies north of her than to her, at least for a long while. Hell, she’d probably ally with the Night King if she could. Jaime might be easier to convince, but I think this is Cersei laying a trap, and I expect it to end with violence.
MC: There will absolutely be tension, but I’m not sure if Cersei will care enough about the wight even if she believes it. My guess is Jaime very much believes it, and has also witnessed what Dany’s dragons can do, so he advises Cersei to listen… but she probably won’t. She only cares about her own power.
TN: Well, there will be some tension. But, damn, I have no idea what’s coming. This seems like such a bad idea. Just kill Cersei and Jaime, man.
JS: I think Jaime will believe it and be horrified. Cersei will believe it, but see this as an opportunity to win the war. Calling it now. This will be what splits the twins.
6. Heading back up North, Arya and Sansa had some great scenes in this episode together. Will Sansa take advantage of what Arya can do or will she be too scared to unleash her sister? Also, where is Bran?
DL: Bran not being around bothers me. Yes, we saw him last week, but after all Bran has shown us he can do, why isn’t he playing a bigger role right now? If Bran is able to see the Night King, don’t you think Jon would want to go to Winterfell and see if Bran can help them out beyond the wall? Will Sansa take advantage of Arya’s powers? Yes, she will and it will result in the death of a major character.
AB: Bran’s absence here is bizarre. If he knows everything and sees everything, he should be there mediating between his sisters, and pointing out that Sansa was forced to write that letter and that she’s been through a lot too. I think we’ll eventually see the sisters back on the same side (I liked Arya’s eventual offer of the dagger to Sansa, even if she was being unnecessarily creepy and threatening before that), and I think Bran will have a role to play there, perhaps uniting them against Littlefinger.
MC: I think the finale is when Sansa will finally start coming around to seeing things correctly with Arya and Littlefinger. Bran is probably sitting under a tree somewhere.
TN: Arya and Sansa are gonna get along eventually. Sansa has been surprising us for a couple seasons now and I think she unleashes Arya. The question is: on whom? Look, Bran needed some time away from everything. If you had access to everything that ever happened in the history of the world, would you try to mediate a fight between your sisters? Nah.
JS: We’re building up to Littlefinger’s death now. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of how Arya seems to be creating problems. I get she doesn’t really trust Sansa, but a lot of the conspiracy that Arya sees is in her own head. I have a feeling Bran will settle this in the next episode.
7. Episode MVP?
DL: It has to be the Night King. He killed AND resurrected Viserion.
AB: For me, it’s Beric Dondarrion. I loved his conversation with Jon about the Lord of Light’s plans and death being the enemy. That whole walking montage was great, feeling straight out of Lord of the Rings, but providing plenty of awesome discussions between these various characters and recaps of their history together. (Tormund gets runner-up for his conversation about Brienne with The Hound, but Beric and the Brotherhood talking with Gendry about selling him off was great, as was Jon and Jorah’s conversation about the sword.) And I also appreciated Beric cauterizing Thoros’ wounds, and the way he fought. The flaming sword is pretty awesome, too.
MC: The Night King for acquiring a dragon. Game-changer.
TN: The Night King got himself a dragon, so, him.
JS: The Hound? Yeah, let’s go with The Hound. He actually had a mini-character arc this episode. He didn’t like Tormund at first, then he doesn’t save Thoros because of the fire, then he saves Tormund. It’s a nice, neat arc that I expect to see played off more in the future.
8. Where does this episode rank in the series as a whole?
DL: If we are talking the spectacle and special effects only, it’s in the top 10. If we are talking about the plot and writing, it’s in the bottom half. If we are combining the two? Somewhere around the middle, but nowhere near the top at all.
AB: This one gets a C for me. It had cool moments, but the ridiculousness of the geography (presuming that Gendry could run all the way back to Eastwatch, get a raven to Dragonstone, and then Dany could somehow get there in time before they all froze to death) drew me out of it. This show (and the books) made their mark by offering a highly realistic take on a fantasy world, complete with travel times and nitty-gritty moments, but the show seems to be abandoning that more and more in a rush to get things done this season. There was careful, realistic plotting early on, and now that’s all just abandoned.
TN: This was not a great episode. The mission was stupid and the end goal is even more dumb. The battle was cool, but it was not the result of a long payoff. The Arya/Sansa stuff got weird. Gendry was the latest character to essentially time travel. It was a fine episode, but there are some high standards here.
JS: This episode sits firmly in the upper 15-20% of episodes. This speaks more to the high standard that we expect out of Game of Thrones. There was a lot to like in this episode, but enough of it fell flat to keep it from the heights of Hardhome or the Battle of the Wall.
9. Prediction for character who could die next week.
AB: I think we might finally see the end of Cersei. I expect her to try and spring a trap, and that could carry some casualties for the other side (Grey Worm’s chances still don’t seem great), but I don’t see her completely succeeding either. And I doubt she’d ever serve Dany, so death may be ahead.
MC: Littlefinger, Grey Worm, and The Mountain.
TN: PETYR BAELISH.
JS: Can I say Cersei’s unborn baby, if it’s even real? I don’t know, I just feel like it’s either a lie or major change that’s too late in the game to be significant. This next episode strikes me as a heavy talking and politicking episode, though, so I don’t think we’ll see many heads roll.
10. What will the final shot of the season be?
DL: The wall coming down in some way shape or form. It makes too much sense and I can’t think of anything else that would be big enough plot-wise to have as the final season-ending cliffhanger of the series.
AB: The final episode seems likely to be King’s Landing-focused to me, and to resolve events there in a way that clears the way for the real war against the Night King and the army of the dead. So I expect the final shot to be the Night King and his army massing outside the Wall, setting things up for that final-season battle.
MC: Jon and Dany kissing, as Bran awkwardly looks on.
TN: The Night King does… something.
JS: The Night King riding Viserion atop the Wall.
SEMI-SPOILER WARNING: The final two questions discuss the trailer for episode 7. Do not read them if you don’t want to be “spoiled.”
11. Okay so we definitely know the meeting between all the big characters will happen in the finale, what will that be like? Will Cersei and Jaime try to kill Dany and Jon?
DL: I think it’ll be interesting because if anything, it’s the first time we see Jon, Jaime, Cersei, Dany, and Tyrion all in the same place and that is HUGE. Cersei will definitely try to kill Dany and Jon, but I don’t think Jaime will be part of that plan. At the end of the day, I think it’ll be compelling to say the least.
AB: I think Cersei has something up her sleeve here. She’s proven to be utterly ruthless, and I don’t think she’ll just agree to join Dany, wight or no wight. It won’t be easy for her, as they’ll be expecting something somewhat sneaky, but I see this ending in bloodshed.
MC: It will feature plenty of arguing and Cersei being stubborn. I don’t think they will attempt to kill Dany and Jon though. At least yet.
TN: It’s certainly going to be uncomfortable. I can’t imagine Jaime and Cersei are just going to stand by and let Dany waltz in. But I don’t feel there’s gonna be anything too drastic happening right away.
JS: Cersei will want to, but Jaime will stop her. He wants to meet in good faith and see what they have to say. He still loves Tyrion, so he’ll trust his brother to keep Dany from trying anything, too. It’s going to be incredibly tense, regardless. Pretty much everyone in that meeting will want to kill each other, most with good reason.
12. Based on what we saw in the trailer, what are you hoping happens next week? This can be either related to the King’s Landing scenes, Winterfell, beyond the wall, whatever you’d like.
DL: I hope we see the Night King and his army approach or take down the wall in some way shape or form. As for King’s Landing, I’d like to see Cersei attempt something stupid and it backfiring. Oh, and also… CLEGANEBOWL PLEASE!
AB: I hope Dany and company find a way to diffuse Cersei’s plot (if there is one) and take her out themselves. The show’s gotten a lot of mileage out of the Lannisters as villains, but in my mind, it’s time to end that and focus on the real fight of living against dead. I don’t see Cersei joining that fight, but I’m hopeful that Dany and her allies can avoid whatever trap Cersei is laying and best her at her own game.
MC: Littlefinger dies and Cleganebowl.
TN: Ideally, Dany just burns the castle, the Lannisters die, she sits on the Iron Throne, they kill the Night King and everything’s fine. But what I want wouldn’t make a good show. Just kill someone I wasn’t expecting to die and I’ll be happy.
JS: We’re going to see a lot of maneuvering, people trying to get one up on each other, and yelling. This’ll be true in both King’s Landing and Winterfell. Ultimately, we’ll see a “truce,” though I have no faith in Cersei to keep it, and Littlefinger’s demise. Also, the Wall’s coming down. You don’t give the White Walkers a dragon and keep that thing standing. Winter’s here.
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