Need to catch up? Check out the previous Game of Thrones recap here.
Well stick a frozen spear in me and call me a zombie dragon… because that’s pretty much exactly what Game of Thrones does in this week’s episode.
The hour finds Jon and his band of severely cold brothers wildly outnumbered north of The Wall, as multitudes of the Night King’s forces descend upon the raggedy band of fighters. And when Daenerys and her pretties ride to their rescue, the Night King hoists a magical icy projectile of horror and sends it into Viserion’s side like a lawn dart at a 1980s suburban barbecue.
The dragon dies… and that’s when the really terrible thing happens. Read on for the highlights of “Beyond the Wall.” (And make sure you check out a major Thrones star’s reaction to the bonkers reveal.)
HOUSE STARK: FAR, FAR NORTH EDITION | Jon and his men — which include Gendry, Tormund, Jorah, Thoros of Myr, The Hound and Beric Dondarrion — trek through the frozen world beyond The Wall and spend some time working out their issues. “You spent too much time with the free folk. Now you don’t like kneeling,” Tormund notes to Jon, adding that Mance Rayder never bent the knee. “How many of his people died for his pride?” Elsewhere in the pack, Gendry is still mad that the Brotherhood Without Banners sold him to Melisandre, and he goes into detail about the leeches and such until The Hound shuts him down and tells him to stop whining. Then Jon and Jorah talk about their dads — specifically how Ned Stark wanted Jorah killed. “I’m glad he didn’t catch you,” Snow says. “Me, too,” Jorah agrees. Then Jon offers Longclaw (the sword that Jorah’s dad gave him) back to Mormont’s son. “He gave it to you,” Jorah says, handing it back. “I brought shame into my house. I broke my father’s heart. I forfeited the right to claim this sword. It’s yours. May it serve you well, and your children after you.”
While Tormund talks about wanting to make babies with Brienne (hee!), Jon and Beric discuss their shared experience of getting resurrected. “What’s the point of serving a god when none of us knows what he wants?” Jon growls, frustrated. “I think about that all the time,” the other man confesses, adding that he’s fighting for “life. Death is the enemy, the first enemy and the last.” Jon is confused. “But we all die.” Beric’s answer: “The enemy always wins,” but he and Jon can fight so that others will stay safe, and “maybe that’s enough.” Then The Hound recognizes a far-off peak as the “mountain like an arrowhead” that he saw in the fire: “We’re getting close.”
A blizzard comes on, and the men see a bear rushing at them. It is gigantic, it is angry, and it its blue eyes indicate that it is a wight. Thoros and Beric light it aflame with their swords, but it isn’t until Jorah goes in with a blade that the thing finally stops attacking.
HOUSE STARK: SISTERS, SISTERS EDITION | As Arya and Sansa stand on the balcony at Winterfell, Arya recalls Ned watching her taking some unsanctioned target practice with a bow and arrow when she was a girl. “Now he’s dead, killed by the Lannisters, with your help,” she finishes, pulling out the missive she found in Littlefinger’s quarters in the previous episode. You’ll recall that Cersei forced the redhead to write it to Robb, right before Ned was killed, and Sansa says as much. Arya doesn’t care. “I was there, standing in the crowd near the Balor statue,” she says, but Sansa points out that neither of them did anything to stop the execution — nor could they — because they were children.
When Arya won’t let up, Sansa goes on the offensive, saying that her sister should thank her for re-taking Winterfell — after all, Jon lost the Battle of the Bastards. “The knights of the Vale won the battle, and they rode north for me,” she points out. Then they have a peeing contest about who’s had a more terrible existence in the last few years (girls, lemme assure you, it’s a tie), and Arya threatens to tell everyone about the letter.
Sansa runs to Baelish and confides how worried she is that all the men who are loyal to Jon will desert her if they get wind of the years-old letter. He suggests bringing Brienne into the fold, just in case Arya is plotting something mutinous. “If one of you were planning to harm the other in any way, wouldn’t she be honor-bound to intercede?” he asks. “She would,” Sansa says, her wheels turning.
After an invitation arrives from King’s Landing, Sansa informs Brienne that the lady knight will be going in her place. But The Beauty says that Sansa isn’t safe alone at Winterfell when Littlefinger is slinking about. But Sansa won’t hear it, and dismisses Brienne outright.
Later, Sansa snoops in Arya’s room and finds her bag of faces. Arya sneaks up on her and teaches her very freaked-out sister about the Game of Faces. “I don’t want to play,” Sansa says. I can’t blame her for being afraid of Arya here; she’s seriously creepy. “The world doesn’t just let girls decide what they’re going to be. But I can now. With the faces, I get to choose. I can be someone else. Speak in their voice. Live in their skin,” Arya says, picking up her dagger. “I could even become you.” Then she hands the weapon to Sansa and walks out, leaving her sister SO. SCARED.
HOUSE TARGARYEN: BACK AT HOME EDITION | Daenerys and Tyrion drink by the fire while waiting back at Dragonstone, and that’s where Tyrion confirms something Dany already knows: Jon’s got the hots for her. She claims he’s not her type — “he’s too little for me” — but the very fact that she’s considered it is telling, no?
Then they talk their tactics vs. Cersei’s. Tyrion counsels not laying a trap for his deceitful sisters, because fear makes any ruler’s “power brittle, because everyone beneath them wants to see them dead.” Then he informs her that she needs to view things from her enemies’ viewpoints in order to do the right thing. “The world you want to build doesn’t get built all at once, probably not in a single lifetime… After you break the wheel, how do we make sure it stays broken?” Then he brings up succession on the occasion of her death — “I’m trying to serve you by planning for the long term” — but she isn’t having it. She snipes at him for losing Highgarden, then haughtily informs him, “We’ll discuss succession after I wear the crown.”
HOUSE STARK: S-S-S-O C-C-C-OLD EDITION | Jon and his fighters ambush a White Walker and his small band of wights; when the main guy goes down, almost all of his fighters suddently dissolve into piles of bones. The guys do capture one wight — mission accomplished! — but the sound of approaching hordes make Jon send Gendry (the fastest) running back to Eastwatch to send an SOS raven to khaleesi. No sooner is he gone than there’s a veritable river of undead men coming at Jon’s gang. They lead the zombies onto a frozen lake; though the beasties get one of the nameless good guys, their combined weight eventually cracks the ice so much that many of them fall into the frigid waters. On an island in the middle of the lake, Jon’s group is (for the moment) safe.
Night falls, and the storm doesn’t let up. Gendry arrives at the castle but collapses after sprinting the entire way; a very concerned Davos gets the maester to send the necessary raven. By the morning, Thoros has succumbed to his wounds, having frozen to death overnight. “We have to burn his body,” Jon says, so Beric does the honors with his fiery blade.
The men confer about why most of the wights dropped when the white walker was killed; Jon theorizes that maybe the white walker made all of those undead. Beric gestures to the Night King, watching everything from a nearby hill, and suggests taking him out in order to destroy the entire army.
HOUSE TARGARYEN: ‘YOU CAN’T BREAK THE WHEEL IF YOU’RE DEAD’ EDITION | When Daenerys gets the Eastwatch raven, Tyrion begs her not to go. After all, without her, everyone who follows her is “lost,” he passionately points out. “You told me to do nothing before, and I listened to you,” she says, climbing on one of her winged beasts. “I’m not doing nothing again.” Then the Mother of Dragons and her babies take flight.
And it’s just in time, because as The Hound learns as he hucks rocks at the far-off wights, the lake has re-frozen. So the undead start ambling toward Jon’s crew, and it’s on. From afar, the scene looks like ants swarming on a sugar cube; it rapidly becomes clear that the King in the North’s crew are an eyelash away from becoming zombies themselves. At one point, Tormund is the cinnamon filling in an undead Oreo, but The Hound comes to his rescue just before it’s lights out. AND THEN THE DRAGONS ARE UPON THEM.
Daenerys’ pets rain fire down upon the assembly, torching nearly all of the undead. She lands, and everyone but Jon — including he bound wight — is able to board a beast to safety. But then the Night King lands the fatal blow in Viserion, who spills his magical blood all over the place and then sinks beneath the lake’s surface as he dies. Dany is, understandably, traumatized, looking on in shock. But Jon sees the Night King gearing up for more, so he shouts, “Go!” at khaleesi, who takes off with her men.
The frosty fighter hurls another frozen lance at their retreating back, but the dragon dodges it — nearly losing Jorah in the process — and flies away.
HOUSE STARK: SAY UNCLE EDITION | Jon gets knocked into the water while fighting some other wights, but eventually claws his way out and gasps for air alongside Longclaw. I don’t know how he’s moving at all, given that his blood has to have turned to Slurpee by now, but he stands and faces the army moving toward him, ready to die… until a rider with fiery weapons shows up on horseback. “Uncle Benjen?” a slightly delirious Jon asks. (“Who he again?” you ask? Here’s a quick refresher.) Ned’s kinda-dead-kinda-not brother throws Jon on the horse and sends him away, standing against the masses probably fatally) so his nephew can ride to safety.
Dany & Co. are about to bug out for good from Eastwatch when Jon’s horse approaches, with him half dead on top of it. Davos literally has to crack the King in the North’s frozen garments off him; while he’s shirtless, Danerys looks on in horror at the extent of his bruises and cuts.
When Jon wakes up, Daenerys is sitting by his bed. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” he says, taking her hand. “I wish I could take it back. I wish we’d never gone.” But she tearfully reassures him that if they hadn’t gone, she wouldn’t have seen, and “you need to see it to know. Now I know.” Seems like she’s fully committed to Jon’s fight, given that she vows to destroy the Night King and avenge Viserion’s death. Then he promises her his loyalty, calling her “my queen,” and they hold hands for a good long time. “I hope I deserve it,” she whispers. “You do,” he whispers back. Then there is an even longer look between them, so charged that you could power a small town with it for a week, and she leaves him to rest.
Meanwhile, back beyond Eastwatch, the Night King’s minions pull Viserion’s corpse out of the lake with chains. He approaches, places his hand on the beast’s snout, and then it opens an eye… an icy blue eye.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!