Game of Thrones Review by John Keegan

Game of Thrones 7.06: Beyond the Wall

Game of Thrones 7.06: Beyond the Wall

Written By:
David Benioff and D. B. Weiss
Directed By:
Alan Taylor

This is an episode that earns most of its goodwill from the sheer amount of consequences that these events will precipitate; the surviving characters in Westeros are literally past the point of no return.  Certainly this is a thrilling installment that manages to have solid character beats along with its massive action sequences.  As long as one doesn’t think too hard about how much depends on a questionable “heist” mission or events playing out exactly as they do, this is one of the best episodes of the series since the end of the sixth season.

 


 

The Worst Plan Ever: The mission to capture and deliver a wight to Cersei depends entirely on the premise that Cersei would only be convinced of the dangers of the Night King and his army if she saw that one of the dead had risen.  Well, what they don’t realize (and really should) is that Cersei is absolutely out of her mind.  Oh, and a little bit of investigation would reveal that she already knows that the dead can be resurrected, since her protector is essentially undead himself.  Maybe they should have considered the pros and cons a little more closely?

 

The only real caveat is that everyone involved is acting out of a sense of desperation, and everyone watching is used to Jon Snow coming up with ill-advised strategies that just happen to pan out.  He should have lost horribly in the Battle of Bastards, he could have easily been killed by Daenerys if she hadn’t been generous, he was killed already by the Night’s Watch because he was terminally naive, and he really ought to have died during this mission.  His main ability seems to be convincing others to pull his ass out of the fire on a regular basis.

 


 

Say Goodbye to the Red Shirts: One minor nitpick (and one that doesn’t really detract too much in the end) is how the only ones to die on Jon’s A-Team are conveniently minor or unnamed characters.  There is a major loss with major implications before all is said and done, but it became a little hilarious that every time someone else fell, it wasn’t a major player.  As I’ve said before, the easiest way to determine who George R.R. Martin (or these writers) will take off the board is thinking about their purpose in the larger story; once that purpose is fulfilled, they become cannon fodder.  (Even Ned Stark fits this pattern, even if it wasn’t immediately obvious at the time.)  Conversely, it wasn’t at all surprising who survived the mission; all of them have unresolved plot points attached to them.

 

There’s This Thing Called Recon:  Probably the biggest issue is that Jon’s plan doesn’t include basic military strategy.  Why wouldn’t he have a small team scout ahead for the safest way to grab a wight?  Instead, they stumble into the situation.  For that matter, why not have Bran give as much specific information about the size, location, and speed of the army of the dead?  So much of what happens could have been avoided with more intel and an exit strategy that didn’t amount to “run as fast as possible towards the Wall”.

 


 

Maybe Ask for Backup: Also, it seems like a plan that Daenerys signed off on would have also included her as backup.  Perhaps she would have been reluctant to station herself and her dragons near Eastwatch, but wouldn’t that have made the most sense?  For that matter, why not send a dragon to grab a wight or two and be done with it?  The wights are vulnerable to fire, after all, and a dragon or two can get in and out before a counterattack if they want to (more on that in a second).  But it’s just more of the same: Jon doesn’t really consider all of his potential resources and allies, none of them speak up to revise his plan in more effective terms, and so things go sideways rather quickly.

 

This Will Not End Well: The situation on the lake is definitely thrilling in and of itself, and Dany’s arrival is perfectly timed.  And who didn’t want to see the sheer spectacle of dragons wiping out wights en masse?  But it also comes at a huge price, as the Night King not only takes down one of the dragons rather easily, but also turns that dragon to his service.  It’s pretty obvious that this is how the Wall will fall in the finale, which means Jon’s plan made things dramatically worse.  (And one must then wonder how the Night King was planning to get past the Wall in the first place!)

 


 

Family Matters:  Part One: Jon and Dany are getting a lot closer, and while there is still an odd lack of chemistry between them on-screen, it is nothing that the entire audience hasn’t seen coming for several seasons now.  It doesn’t change the fact that their family ties make it a bit awkward, even if they don’t know themselves.  I suspect they will fall into each other’s arms (and into a bed) before the finale is over, and probably moments before Sam, Gilly, and probably Bran put the pieces together and reveal the truth about Jon’s parentage to the handful of viewers who hadn’t already working it out.

 

Family Matters: Part Two: The scenes in Winterfell suggest a major rift between Sansa and Arya, but I suspect something else entirely.  Sansa has been repeating again and again how she needs Littlefinger to command the loyalty of the Vale, and this entire spat between sisters seems engineered to reveal Arya’s abilities to Sansa in overly dramatic fashion.  The solution to everyone’s problems is obvious: Sansa and Arya both get what they want if Arya kills and replaces Littlefinger!   I fully expect this to be one of the shocking twists in the season finale.




Our Grade:
A-
The Good:
  • Everything about the action and battle at the lake
  • Arya is the perfect Wednesday Addams of Westeros!
The Bad:
  • Don’t think too hard about the amount of coincidence and stupidity required for all this to happen

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Game of Thrones by - 8/21/2017 7:06 AM53 views

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