No, you did not see an episode of the Walking Dead. What you saw was the best episode of season seven and the reprocrusions will be felt through the rest of the Game of Thrones series. Spoiler ahead, folks.
Dragons, White Walkers, and people cheating death have been as much apart of Game of Thrones as the actual game for the Iron Throne. Even with the swords and sorcery elements firmly established there has always been a semblance of reality in the series. How many times have we read articles and watched interviews with George R.R. Martin telling us that certain houses in the series have real world counterparts in Middle Age’s Europe? We all got it by the 100th article. After “Beyond the Wall” we can throw the “realistic” story out the window (Sorry, Bran). Game of Thrones has finally fully embraced its Dugeons and Dragons roots. And it was glorious!
“Beyond the Wall” finds Jon, Jorah, Tormund, and the rest of the Inglorious Bastards trekking past the Wall. Tormund summed things up when he says to Jon, “Smart people don’t go looking for the dead.” He was talking about Gendry Waters, but he could have been talking about the entire group. It didn’t take long afterwards for them to find out exactly why smart people leave the dead alone.
We knew whatever was going to occur during “Beyond the Wall” was going to be interesting. First, the dynamic and histories of the characters was examined. Jon offers to return Jorah Longclaw, the sword Jeor Mormont gave him. Jorah declines telling Jon he disgraced his father and doesn’t deserve the sword back. Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr discuss their past slights against Gendry Waters. The Hound, as always, cuts to the chase and teaches us all a new word, “whinging.” If it was ever in doubt before “Beyond the Walls” made it quite clear- Tormund has a a mad crush on Brienne. And it also seems Tormund and the Hound bonded a little.
As lighthearted as the beginning of the episode was the rest of the events will be felt through the rest of the series. A zombie bear starts the madness off. Beric and Thoros using their flaming swords set the zombie bear on fire. We’ve known from past episodes the Hound has a fear of fire. Except this time the fires stopped him in his tracks. Keen eyes will also notice Jorah notices the Hound’s fear. It may be nothing, but very few things in Game of Thrones amount to nothing.
“Beyond the Wall” sent what seemed to be every wight against the Inglorious Bastards. Luckily, the group found a large rock formation in the middle of an ice lake to take refuge from the armies of the dead. The dead in Game of Thrones seem a little smarter than the dead in another series on television. They also seem to be connected together in more ways than one. When one attacks they all attack, but as we learned the White Walkers and Night King may control them in a collective hive mind manner.
“Beyond the Wall” was a predictable episode. There was no court intrigue, no plots against anyone, and no backs were stabbed. Who didn’t think for a moment Gendry wouldn’t make it back to Eastwatch in time to send a raven to Daenerys? Who didn’t think Daenerys would save the day? And did we really think Jon was going to drown? Yes, we knew what was going to happen and it didn’t matter. “Beyond the Wall” was the funnest Game of Thrones episode ever.
However, all that fun came with a price. Thoros is gone which means if things ever go side ways Beric won’t be brought back from the grave. Uncle Benjen appeared out of nowhere to save Jon. This time Benjen won’t be coming back to save anyone. Worst of all, the Night King dropped Viserion with an ice spear. Who needs Cersei’s giant crossbow when an ice spear will even the odds? Now there’s a fire-breathing zombie dragon to contend with in season eight.
Daenerys, who seemed to have shed some of her cold exterior after the loss of her “child,” saw the dead up close. There’s only one other person to convince the threat of the dead is real, Cersei Lannister. Cersei is a difficult character to get a read on in the series. Writers have written her as irrational, vindictive, and someone who doesn’t listen to other people.
If, and that’s a big if, Cersei forms a truce with Jon and Daenerys to fight the Night King will the series we know as Game of Thrones come to an end? No, I don’t mean end as in the series, but an end to the very nature of the series? For six and a half seasons we’ve enjoyed watching the manipulations, the back stabbing, and the back deals. We’ve been shocked when whole wedding parties were executed. We loved how the pieces were moving on the board and enjoyed guessing who would end up sitting on the Iron Throne. If Jon, Cersei, and Daenerys fight the dead the game surely comes to a halt. If not, as Jon said in episode five, whoever sits on the throne will rule over a graveyard.