The Place Beyond the Wall

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 7 Episode 6, “Beyond the Wall”

Welcome to SEASON 7 of HBO’s prestige snuff series, GAME OF THRONES. This is a SPOILER-RICH scene-by-scene recap of episode six, “Beyond the Wall.” If you’re looking for a spoiler-free recap, sit back and consider what the word “recap” means.

Ice Road Trackers

Snow, snow and more snow. North of the Wall, Jon leads his Band of Brothers into the Lands of Always Winter. Gendry has never seen snow before, but instead of making snow angels, he just wraps his sexy visage in a hood and complains. Is a friendly snowball fight between these scarred, mutilated, formerly-dead, suicide-missioning goofballs too much to ask?

Tormund loves being back where the air is clean, nobody has to bend the knee, and standing still for more than a minute will freeze your nose off. Maybe the reason none of the Free Folk like to bend the knee is because it’s a good way to lose your shins to frostbite.

In a fun little game of keepaway, Jon tries to give Jorah Longclaw, the Valyrian steel blade that’s been in the Mormont family for centuries.

I couldn’t, insists Jorah. But it’s rightfully yours, counters Jon. No, I don’t deserve it, says Jorah. No, you hang up first, says Jon.

Jon ends up with the Valyrian hot potato, which is the single best weapon for killing White Walkers up here. Of all the rotten luck in the world.

Walking in a Winter Wonder-if-you-betrayed-our-family-land

In Winterfell, Arya is doing what Starks love to do most (besides die): staring into the middle distance with a look of concern on her face. Sansa stops by for a cheerful chat, and Arya tells a story about their dead Dad. It’s really just a lead-in to Arya letting Sansa know that the jig is up; Arya found the note she sent from King’s Landing in season one, begging Robb to bend the knee to Joffrey.

Sansa tearfully tells Arya about the ways the Lannisters manipulated her; about Cersei telling her this letter was the one way to save her entire family; about Joffrey torturing her and keeping her captive; about being married off to Tyrion, then Robin Arryn, then Ramsay Bolton, and tortured in a hundred ways each step of the way. Arya cradles her sister in her arms and tells her it’s all going to be okay.

Just kidding. Instead of clearing everything up with a single conversation — which they have plenty of time to do, with winter coming and all — the sisters spit venom at each other, having a “my life was worse”-off without actually sharing any information.

They hate each other again. It’s just like when they were kids, except now Arya is a murder ninja and Sansa had Ramsay Bolton torn apart by dogs. And neither of them guesses that Petyr Baelish — who is undoubtedly watching from a shadow just off-camera—is behind it all.

Great job, Starks. With two of you fighting in Winterfell, and one of you on a suicide mission north of the Wall, we better hope that Bran isn’t a total space-case when he comes down from his Three-Eyed Raven trip.

Fun by the Ton-dra

Jon’s Merry Men continue marching across the cold and desolate wastelands to the north. It’s like an episode of Planet Earth. In breathless voiceover, David Attenborough describes how these creatures will sometimes walk for days in the wrong direction, just for the chance to do something foolish.

The Hound and Tormund become fast frenemies. Tormund, with hearts in his eyes, tells the Hound how much he’s in love with Brienne of Tarth. The last time the Hound saw Brienne, he was moving away from her at a great speed, since she had just punched him off a cliff. Not his type, I’d wager.

Beric asks Jon if he’s heard the good news about the Lord of Light. Just two dudes who have been brought back from the dead by the Red Clergy, wondering what it all means. If it weren’t so cold I bet they’d be comparing scars.

How to Succeed in Westeros Without Really Dying

Tyrion and Dany are bending elbows, talking about her upcoming meeting with Cersei. The Queen on the Iron Throne is probably setting a trap, which means The Dragon Queen should be setting a counter-trap, which means Cersei is probably thinking about counter-counter traps, and it’s turtles all the way down.

They come back to their old argument: is Dany’s path to the throne better if the people love her, or if they fear her? Tyrion gets back on his “don’t impulsively murder everybody” horse, and starts wondering what they would do if anything happened to Dany. Talking about the line of succession is a bridge too far for her. They leave at odds once again, with Tyrion looking a little bit dumber, and the Queen looking a little bid madder.

Meanwhile, in Canada…

Stormy weather kicks up north of the wall. Jon’s party pushes through the blizzard, and they see something in the distance –

A bear! A bear! All blue and cold and covered in hair!

It charges. The wight-bear takes out one of Tormund’s redshirts. And another. And another. Good thing there were so many nameless Free Folk at Eastwatch willing to die for a few minutes on the A Team.

Beric and Thoros light up their flaming swords and set the bear ablaze. He charges the Hound, who is transfixed by the fire, and Thoros takes a few big chomps from Smokey to save Clegane’s life.

Jorah strikes the killing blow. Thoros drinks his pain away, but there isn’t any liquor in the Seven Kingdoms that’s going to put a stop to his internal bleeding.

They follow the wight-bear’s tracks into the storm. If he was part of the Army of the Dead, they figure, the rest of them must be close.

Littlefinger’s Big Plans

Back in Winterfell, Sansa is pissed and kvetching to Petyr “Still Trying to Make This ‘Stache Work” Bealish. Arya is threatening to tell the northern lords about Sansa’s little raven from King’s Landing all those years ago, and if they turn tail, the only army between the Night King and Westeros disappears.

Littlefinger smarms it up, paying Sansa compliments and even defending Arya — whom he is totally setting up for some fall as part of his nefarious plan. “I don’t know her anymore,” says Sansa, in the understatement of the century.

Petyr suggests Brienne could help solve things. Brienne, who has never said a kind word about Littlefinger. Brienne, who actually warned Sansa against trusting Littlefinger.

Sansa nods, trusting Littlefinger.

Shit Goes South Up North

In Santa’s Backyard, Jon’s party is down to nine brave souls. They trudge up the mountain that the Hound saw in a vision in the flames — the mountain that the Army of the Dead is behind.

Tormund hears something. They creep up to a cliff edge, Tusken Raider style, and see a small contingent of the dead marching through a pass. Just a dozen zombies marching through a snowstorm, easy pickings, NO BIG DEAL RIGHT GUYS?

Snow Team Six leaves a fire burning at the mouth of the pass as bait. The White Walker and his wights investigate, and the Westerosi ambush them. It’s a quick fight; Jon chops down the leader, and the wights turn to dust.

Except for a single zombie. Congratulations to the gentleman behind door number one — you’re the lucky winner of a date with Queen Cersei!

The wight is so excited that he screams. Really loudly. Almost in an alarm-type way.

As Jorah and Tormund tie up their prisoner, Jon realizes what’s about to happen. The Army of the Dead is coming, and they are going to be mad. He sends Gendry running back to Eastwatch, to send a raven to Daenerys. Because if she didn’t believe the King in the North about the Army of the Dead, she’ll definitely believe a note from a blacksmith she barely even met.

The eight remaining good guys dash onto a frozen lake with a convenient stone island in the middle of it. One of the expendables slips on the ice before he can join them on safe ground, and when the wights tackle him, the surface of the lake cracks. Whoever had today marked off on the ice-out calendar, report to Castle Black for your prize.

The ice cracks in a big circle around the island, stranding Jon’s team of seven on the rock, and about a bajillion zombies on the shore. They are well and truly fucked.

Cut to: Gendry runs! Run, Gendry, run! He makes it to the Wall in record time. Either he’s an incredibly good runner — maybe his rowed part of the way — or the Army of the Darkness is closer to the realm of men than we thought.

Around the island, the dead wait. They could do this all day.

Gendry runs himself ragged and just barely makes it to the gate. Ser Davos pulls him in from the cold (be still my heart), and Gendry gets it out that they need to send a raven to Dragonstone. And not just any raven — one of those season 7 hyper-ravens that really pushes the action forward as quickly as necessary!

Goooooood Morning, Zombie Island!

As morning breaks over the tundra, it’s still a standoff between the Malodorous Seven and the Army of the Dead; the wights are trapped on the shore, and Jon and Co. are trapped on the island, with thin ice in between.

Thoros of Myr, the man we all loved as soon as we remembered who he was earlier this season, froze to death during the night. Beric reads last rites — the night is dark, and full of callbacks — and they burn the body before it can turn into a wight.

The Night King watches it all from his perch high in the mountains. Based on their new “kill a white walker, his wights all die” knowledge, Beric deduces that if they kill the Night King, the army will all fall.

“You don’t understand,” says Jon. Me either.

Brienne Awhile

In Winterfell, the maester brings a note to Sansa. She’s been invited to King’s Landing for the big season finale party with Dany and Cersei. And there’s nothing Sansa loves more than a fancy court party… right?

Instead, Sansa decides to send Brienne in her place. Sansa has been a prisoner of Cersei Lannister too many times to go skipping back to the Red Keep. But Brienne makes the very good point that if she’s in King’s Landing, there’s nobody here to protect Sansa from Littlefinger.

“Let me at least leave Podrick behind to watch over you,” Brienne pleads — and that’s one step too far for Sansa. Like Dany, she doesn’t appreciate people watching over her and protecting her, or giving her advice she doesn’t want to hear.

She dismisses Brienne, sending her on her not-so-merry way down the Kingsroad. How this helps Brienne keep the other half of promise to Catelyn—to protect Arya — I don’t know. Something to think about on the trip, I guess.

Last Boarding Call for Dragon Air

On Dragonstone, Daenerys is ready to head north and save Jon. We know this because she’s wearing her sweet white velvet War Parka.

Tyrion implores her not to go, because if she dies north of the wall, this has all been for naught. But she’s done sitting around on Dragonstone. Aegon had conquered the whole continent by this point, for gods sakes.

Tyrion tells her that without her, they’ll all be lost. That’s why she’s not fucking around. She’s taking all three dragons.

Cinderella Story, Out of Nowhere, Former First Man…

North of the Wall, it is the coldest, most boring part of the U2 360 Tour. Jon, Beric, The Hound, Jorah, Tormund and Some Guy stand alone, surrounded by thousands on unamused zombies on all sides.

The Hound starts pitching rocks at the wights — because hey, what’s the worst that could happen? He takes out a wight’s jaw with the first rock. With the second, he hits the ice, revealing that it has re-frozen.

A wight heads across the ice. Then another. And another. It’s go time.

Jon’s men fight for their lives. Jorah gets in a good save on Jon. Beric lights a bunch of Others on fire. The Hound goes all smashy-smashy. But it’s the same old story from the late second act of any zombie movie — there’s just too many of them.

“Fall back!” Jon shouts.

“To where?” Nobody asks, because that sort of thing isn’t important right now.

A bunch of wights dogpile onto Tormund and almost drag him into the lake, but the Hound single-Houndedly saves him. Jon and his compatriots drag their lifeless prisoner up to the cliffs on the tip of the island, and the last redshirt finally eats it, in dramatic “torn to pieces by zombies” fashion.

So long, hooded parka guy. We barely knew ye.

Trapped, surrounded, out of options. Things go into slow motion to prove how serious things are. Looks like this is how it ends for Jon Snow. It was a good run, Kit Harrington.

And then the dragons show up.

Dany arrives with dragons and theme music to save the day. Her three lizard bombs start frying the zombies like so many Tarlys. Bodies go flying into the air, sinking into the lake, breaking into pieces. Except for Jorah, none of Jon’s men have ever seen dragons in action, and they’re dumbstruck.

Drogon sticks the landing on Zombie Island, and Dany motions for them all to climb on! Jon starts covering their escape from the surviving wights! We did it, guys! It’s all gonna be okay!

Except it’s not, because this is still Game of Thrones. On the cliff, the Night King’s hype man hands him the world’s coldest javelin. Aw, man, we realize, This guy did track and field in high school!

The Night King hauls back and hucks his spear at Viserion. Unlike Bronn, he’s able to make contact with his first shot. The spear takes the dragon full in the side, and fire starts to pour out of his lungs.

Viserion crashes to the lake, dead. Jon — who maybe got a little overzealous in covering their escape and wandered off on a murder spree — feels guilty immediately.

Before Jon can get back to the dragon, he sees Night King’s buddy handing him another spear—which they totally could have used on Jon and his friends last night, come to think of it. But this one has Drogon’s name on it.

Jon shouts for Dany to take off, and as he’s running back to join her, some wights tackle him into the water, Bronn-and-Jaime-style. So, he’s probably dead. It was a good run, Kit Harrington.

Dany’s out of time, so she beats a hasty retreat with Drogon. The Night King fires off another spear, but Drogon does a barrel roll out of the way. Jorah loses his grip and almost falls to his death. And the peanuts come in such small packages! Air travel, am I right?

The Army of the Dead starts to wander off, leaving Longclaw lying on the ice next to a big open hole. Almost like it’s waiting for something…

Jon “Too Hot to Freeze” Snow bursts out of the water, of course. Having fought off the three wights who dragged him into the water like Sean Connery in Thunderball, he pulls himself onto the ice.

He made it! Now all he has to do is not freeze to death and fight off the entire Army of the Dead himself.

Jon strikes a noble pose, and it really looks like he’s going to go for it. A final stand against improbable odds. No way he’s making it out of this one. It was a good run, Kit Harrington.

Then, through the crowd, a ranger in black plows down zombies, swinging a lantern into their faces. It’s Jon’s uncle Benjen Stark, the man who was going north of the Wall before it was cool! There’s barely time for Jon to remind us who he is before he puts the King in the North on his horse, sends him back to the Wall, and faces the zombies alone.

He lasts about two seconds, and Jon sees him die. But, hey, the whole reason he wanted to go north of the Wall way back when was to find Benjen, and now he’s done it. Everything’s turning up Stark!

Who Sails Sea Sails By the Sea Shore?

The Hound loads their captured wight on a boat to race Brienne to King’s Landing. Travel times have been so insane this season it’s impossible to know who’ll get there first. He may actually travel back in time and see Gendry rowing from Dragonstone to Westeros.

Dany stands on top of the Wall, looking north. Jorah tells her it’s time to go, but luckily she chooses to wait seven seconds, giving Jon just enough time to ride out of the forest and back into her heart.

On Dany’s ship, Ser Davos starts stripping all Jon’s clothes off. I missed him too, man.

Arya’s Discount Halloween Shop

Sansa snoops around Arya’s room and finds a bag of faces. Somehow a messenger bag filled with human faceskin doesn’t send her screaming from the room. I’d hate to think being married to Ramsay Bolton made her totally unphased by flayed flesh.

Arya appears behind her like Michael Myers in a Halloween movie (Halloween 11: Medieval Times) and starts speaking cryptically about her time in Braavos with the Faceless Men. She slowly walks towards Sansa, brandishing a knife, musing about carving her face off.

For the whole series, Arya has been one of the characters we’re supposed to like, but in this scene she goes full “put the lotion in the basket” batshit. It’s hard to believe she and Sansa could hate each other so much, so quickly, when they could probably solve their problems over a mug of ale. I was totally down with Arya murdering the Freys, but it’s hard to throw in your lot with a character who’s threatening to cut off her sister’s face and wear her pretty dresses.

Here’s hoping she’s two or five steps ahead of Littlefinger, and this is all a ruse. For all her problems, Sansa doesn’t deserve to be the only Stark who dies of Face in Bag Disease.

Tender Targaryen Moments™

Jon wakes up from a no-big-deal case of hypothermia to see Dany watching over him. The first thing he does is apologize for the death of Viserion, which is a smart move. She doesn’t hold a grudge. Now that she’s seen the threat to the north, she’s totally ready to help fight the Night King.

In return for her sacrifice, Jon pledges his sword to Dany, and she finally gets some of that knee-bending action she’s been jonesing for all season. She’s down one dragon, one Unsullied Army, one Dornish Army, one Reach Army, and your less-murdery Greyjoys, but she’s still got two dragons, the Dothraki and the North. Maybe a wash.

Gone Fishin’

The wights are surprisingly well coordinated for an army that’s missing several major body parts. Working with chains, the Army of the Dead pulls a Fitzcarraldo and drags Viserion’s dead dragon body out of the lake.

The Night King strolls up to the dragon, cool as you please, and touches his scaly forehead. Nü-Viserion’s eyes pop open, icy blue, and the White Walkers have their first White Flyer.

The war in the south is paused. The major players are headed to King’s Landing. The Night King is making for the Wall (which is seemingly only a short run away) with an army and an Ice Dragon. In a shadow somewhere, Littlefinger is smirking.

Season finale time!

NEXT WEEK: Next week!


All images: HBO