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Warning: Spoilers ahead if you have not yet watched Season 7, Episode 6.
With only one more episode of Game of Thrones left in the season, we knew this penultimate episode would be epic. This chapter went back and forth between Dragonstone, Winterfell, and The Wall, so we only saw a few key players, but it was more than enough. Read below for our recap and favorite quote from “Beyond the Wall.”
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The episode starts out with Jon (Kit Harington) and crew trekking beyond The Wall. Gendry (Joe Dempsie) says he’s never seen snow before, and for a show where winter is always coming but rarely ever here, we guess we’re not really all that surprised.
There’s a lot of dialogue in these scenes between characters, because what else is there to do while walking through the snowy wilderness? Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) asks Jon about Khaleesi, so he brings up her whole “bend the knee” requirement, to which Tormund has some sound advice. "You’ve spent too much time with the free folk,” he says. “Now you don't like kneeling." He basically tells Jon that he’s got to let go of his pride, referencing Mance Rayder, who died because he refused to kneel before another ruler. “How many of his people died for his pride?” he posits.
Thoros asks Gendry if he’s still mad that they gave him to Melisandre. "This ones been killed six times and you don't hear him bitching about it," says the Hound of Beric Dondarrion, basically telling Gendry to get over it. We love Hound's no-nonsense attitude.
Over in Winterfell, Arya (Maisie Williams) remembers the times Ned used to watch all the Stark children from up on the courtyard balcony. She brings out the note we saw in last week’s episode and gets mad at Sansa (Sophie Turner) for not standing up to the Lannisters when they killed their father. Sansa tries to tell her she had no choice, but she won't believe it. We’re going to have to take Sansa’s side for this one, because we would’ve done the same thing. Arya is being way too harsh, and it’s not really fair.
Back beyond The Wall, we get a little bit more funny dialogue between the men. Tormund approaches the Hound to tell him he’s heard of him before, but Houndy doesn’t feel much like chatting. “Were you born mean or do you just hate Wildlings?” asks Tormund. The Hound says he doesn’t care about Wildlings, but that he hates “gingers,” and we couldn’t help but giggle at Tormund’s reply. "Gingers are beautiful,” he says. “We are kissed by the fire." He also points out that the Hound has been “kissed by the fire,” referencing the burns on his head and face, which really pisses him off.
Then, in one of our favorite exchanges of the night, the conversation turns to Tormund’s love for Brienne, and he says he has a beauty waiting for him in Winterfell (we’re not sure Brienne knows that she’s waiting there for him). "I want to make babies with her," he says, and we hope he has the chance to after this treacherous journey.
Jon and Beric discuss what exactly it is that they're fighting for, and why they were both brought back from the dead. Beric doesn’t know their purpose, but he says they're both fighting for life. "Death is the enemy,” he says. “The first enemy, and the last." “But we all die,” says Jon, to which Beric replies, “The enemy always wins, and we still need to fight him.”
The men then come upon the mountain that looks like an arrowhead, which is exactly what the Hound visualized in the fire a couple of episodes ago, so we know something is about to go down.
Since we don’t get any Cersei this episode, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Dany (Emilia Clarke) take over the wine-drinking duties, sipping by the fire and talking about their game plan. She tells Tyrion that she likes that he’s not the hero type. "Heroes do stupid things and they die," she says. “Drogo, Jorah, Daario, even this Jon Snow,” she explains. At that, Tyrion makes a great point in saying that all of these men fell in love with her. She says Jon is too little for her, and then immediately feels bad for saying that to Tyrion of all people.
The two continue talking strategy—about Cersei and about taking over the Iron Throne. Tyrion sees this as an opportunity to address her temper (Varys would be pleased, wherever he is), and he tells her she's been too impulsive from time to time (cough cough: the Tarly barbecue last episode). "You need to take your enemy’s side if you’re going to see things the way they do, and you need to see things the way they do if you’re going to anticipate their actions, respond effectively, and beat them."
Back to Jon and his crew. They’re trudging through a snowstorm when they see something in the distance. It’s a bear—an undead bear, to be exact. It comes at them and they fight it off, lighting it on fire, but it continues to attack. The Hound is frozen in fear at the flames, and Thoros jumps in to save him from the bear, but gets mauled as a result.
Back in Winterfell, Sansa asks Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) where Arya could’ve gotten the note from, and he obviously plays dumb. He’s so sneaky! She's worried that all of Jon’s bannermen will leave if they find out about the letter. Littlefinger sees this as his opportunity to further pit Sansa against her sister, and suggests that she enlist Brienne to protect her in case Arya goes crazy and hurts her. He’s planting one little seed at a time, and they’re sprouting just the way he wants them to.
Beyond The Wall, we find out that Thoros is still alive—for now. The group hears something in the distance and realizes there’s a White Walker and group of wights down below them. It’s only a few of them, so they ambush the undead and Jon kills one with his Valyrian steel sword, and they all shatter except one. They tackle the remaining wight to take as evidence back to King’s Landing, but the dude is not happy and makes a very creepy, very high-pitched call for help. Realizing what’s about to happen, Jon tells Gendry to run back to Eastwatch and get a raven out to Dany.
They run because they know what's coming, and before we know it, they’re surrounded by wights. The group manages to get out onto a frozen lake, taking position on a rock formation in the middle. As the wights try to follow them out, their weight breaks the ice, so they surround Jon and crew at the water’s edge, waiting.
Night falls and they’re completely surrounded, and the wights are not backing down. They’re dead—they have all the time in the world to wait around. We see Gendry make it back to Eastwatch (barely) and he collapses right outside the gates. Ser Davos runs out, and Gendry manages to tell him to get a raven out.
In the morning, Thoros is dead. Beric performs a ritual asking the Lord of Light to help them, and they burn his body. Beric points out that they have to kill the Night King since technically he turned them all—if they can kill him, the rest will drop dead. He knows that since Thoros has died, he won’t be coming back to life again, and he wants to just go for it.
Back in Winterfell, Sansa has received an invitation to King’s Landing, but going back there is the last thing that she’ll do. She's sending Brienne in her place, but Brienne is not thrilled. She tells Sansa that it’s not safe, and she doesn't mean for herself. She means that leaving Sansa alone isn’t safe, but Sansa won't hear it, so Brienne agrees to go.
Over on Dragonstone, Dany's got her winter coat on and is revving up the dragons to go save Jon, so the raven clearly made it to her in record time. Tyrion doesn't want her to go, but, per usual, she won't listen to him.
Clearly the guys are bored, because the Hound starts throwing rocks across the lake at the wights. The first rock makes contact, and he knocks out one of the wights’ teeth. He throws another rock, but it doesn’t make it far enough and lands on the ice—without breaking it.
One of the wights figures out that the ice must not be as thin as they thought and ventures out across the lake. When he doesn’t fall through, the others follow suit, and before we know it, they’ve descended upon the group. Way to go, Hound.
The group puts up a good fight, but the wights are closing in and it’s not looking good. There’s only so much they can do with just a few of them and hundreds of wights, and they’re losing ground. Just as it looks like they’re going to be taken over, Dany swoops in to save the day, her dragons raining fire upon the wights.
After several rounds of torching everything in sight, the Night King has had enough. He whips out a very lethal looking spear and, with impeccable aim, we must say (seriously, the U.S. Olympic Team tweeted about needing his contact info so they can recruit him for javelin), he strikes Viserion, one of the dragons.
We really weren’t prepared for this. The beast falls from the sky, landing on the frozen lake and sinking to its depths. We are heartbroken, and so is Dany. The group makes it onto Drogon’s back, but Jon is held back as more and more wights close in on him. As the Night King prepares another spear, Dany makes the executive decision to take off, leaving Jon behind, just as he falls through the ice while being attacked.
But of course Jon’s not dead. He surfaces in the lake and pulls himself out, just as the undead army is retreating. When they notice him, they turn back to finish him off, and that’s when a hooded figure rides in on a horse, swinging a metal chain and ball of fire. It’s Uncle Benjen to the rescue! He puts Jon on his horse and forces him to ride off, although Jon tries to resist. We see Benjen get swarmed by wights, and we have a moment of silence for his sacrifice.
Back at Eastwatch, Dany looks out beyond the wall, mourning Viserion and waiting… and then, we hear a horn sound off and realize that it’s Jon! They get him inside and strip him of his frozen clothing, and Dany sees his scars, realizing he really did get stabbed in the heart.
Over in Winterfell, we find Sansa snooping in Arya’s room. Instead of finding that incriminating note, she finds her masks, just as Arya appears in the doorway. “What are these?” Sansa asks, startled. “My faces,” responds Arya, and Sansa is clearly creeped out and confused.
She vaguely tells Sansa how she got the masks, while somewhat threatening her sister. She seems to take pleasure in scaring Sansa, and it’s a little bit cruel. We’re not sure we like this side of Arya.
Jon awakens on a ship with Dany standing over him (this would be creepy in any other situation). He tells her he's sorry—really, really sorry—and she grabs his hand. We get butterflies. “The dragons are my children. They're the only children I'll ever have," she says tearily, and we tear up, too.
“We are going to destroy the Night King and his army,” she says. “And we’ll do it together. You have my word.” After seeing the undead army with her own eyes, she's willing to fight with Jon, unbent knee and all.
“Thank you, Dany,” says Jon, and she laughs because no one has called her that since her brother. He then calls her his queen (swoon) and says he’ll bend the knee—finally! Look at these two both compromising! The way they looked at each other during this whole exchange had us feeling some type of way (we’re choosing to forget she’s likely his aunt).
In the final scene of the episode, we see the wights pulling Viserion out of the lake, and the last thing we see is the Night King turn him into one of them. So yeah, our worst nightmare just came true. We can’t wait until next week’s season finale, when we see major players brought together in King’s Landing. Hopefully we'll also find out how the Night King plans on using his new undead dragon.