If you would like to read my review of the last week’s episode, click here.
Synopsis: Jon and his team go beyond the wall to capture a wight. Daenerys has to make a tough decision. (IMDB)
Writers: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Director: Alan Taylor
Running Time: 70mins
Well that’s going to be a game changer but before that happens, this episode is titled before the wall since the previous episode ended with Jon and his merry gang set out beyond the wall to capture a living White Walker as evidence of the oncoming threat. Now most of the episode was devoted to this mission and that turned out to be the right decision .
The shots of beyond the wall were beautiful to watch with the cinematography rivaling many theatrical films. It makes sense that the filming of the season was delayed so they can shoot in colder conditions because the weather was crazy here. While it added to the experience, it did occasionally make it difficult to see what was happening.
The journey itself garnered some great exchanges between the character such as Jon and Jorah talking about their experiences with their fathers followed by Jon returing Longclaw to Jorah who refused, Gendry airing his grievances with Berric and Thoros, a hilarious conversation between Tormund and the Hound, and Berric and Jon about what they had in common and their true purposes.
It obviously wasn’t going to be easy for them, weather aside, as they faced many challenges along the way, including wight bears and many White Walkers, more on that later. While the threat of death is always a possibility during this show, most of the deaths were just random, nameless wildlings and Thoros. When encountering White Walkers, they learned that killing one will also kill all the others Walkers turned by them. They also managed to get one but getting it back would be easier said than done.
Now this mission wasn’t the only thing that happened in this episode. The previous episode foreshadowed a future meeting between Daenerys and the Lannisters so Tyrion wanted to prepare her for this. Daenerys didn’t quite like where it was going but Tyrion believed that they must think like Lannisters in order to be prepared for whatever they may throw at them. He also wanted to reign in her impulsive behavior which she has shown on multiple occasions.
The previous episode also found Arya finding a letter that Sansa wrote to Robb under duress from the Lannisters. Of course, Arya didn’t know this but she confronted Sansa nonetheless. Arya believed that Sansa played a part in the killing of their father and betrayed their house despite Sansa’s claims otherwise. Arya didn’t know what she was going to with the letter, however, that didn’t make Sansa any less scared.
She sought counsel from Littlefinger who had no idea what was going on and suggested that she bring Brienne into this. Sansa later got an invitation to Kings Landing and decided to send Brienne in her place (maybe it’s just a ploy to get Brienne out of the way?). As retaliation, Sansa searched Arya’s room and found her faces. Arya found her and threatened her.
Back to the mission. After sending Gendry off to send a raven to Daenerys, the gang found themselves surrounded by an army of White Walkers with their only protection being ice that the White Walkers were hesitant to cross. This didn’t last long and the battle was on. This battle sequence may not have been on the same scale as the other big battle sequences this season but its level of intimacy made it more exciting. Seeing these characters fighting in the trenches in their own ways was very fun to watch.
Things may have looked bleak but this was never going to be the end for these characters since luckily, Daenerys arrived just in time with all three of her dragons who disposed of most of the White Walkers easily. One of her dragons faced a close call in their previous battle but they were not as lucky this time around with the Night King throwing a spear that hit one of the dragons and sent it crashing down through the ice. So that the others could leave, Jon stayed behind to hold off the remaining White Walkers.
Jon was sent through the ice but on his way out, he was saved by Benjen who then sacrificed himself so Jon could escape. Once back on a ship home, Jon was greeted by Daenerys who after losing a dragon vowed to help Jon destroy the Night King. As a result, Jon called her his Queen.
The last shot of the episode was of the White Walkers pulling the dragon out of the water and the Night King turning it into a wight so now they have a dragon.
Overall, this was another great episode. The trek beyond the wall was beautiful to watch while also exciting from beginning to end, aided by the cinematography and the visual effects. With the focus on the trek, some of the episode’s subplots may feel rushed and the writing a tad contrived because of the shorter season but that is more of a minor complaint. I can’t believe we’re already at the end of the season.
If you’re into previews, here’s a preview of next week’s season finale.