“Beyond the Wall”, the sixth episode of Game of Thrones’ penultimate season, had to have been one of the most highly anticipated episodes of the lot. Of course, HBO did accidentally leak the episode early – but that seemed only to fuel the fire as diehard fans held out and avoided spoilers like the black plague. I was one of those fans, and let me tell you, the wait was totally worth it.
Let’s recap, and then throw around some theories for how this episode effects the rest of the show.
As usual, beware: for this post is long and full of spoilers.
(Almost) Everything That Happened in “Beyond the Wall”
First, let’s do a quick run-down of everything notable that happened during this episode:
- The episode begins with Jon and his merry band of misfits trekking through the wilderness North of the Wall in search of a wight they can kidnap. Most of what goes in is some pretty awesome dialogue between all the different members of the team. A couple hours out, Tormund calls for the company to stop. Below them, in a valley, marches an eerie line of wights led by a White Walker. The team stages an ambush. It doesn’t go well.
- Back at Dragonstone, Tyrion and Danaerys are still bickering. Danaerys is stuck on the whole “bend the knee” thing, and Tyrion is trying to convince her to take a lighter hand with her enemies. That doesn’t go so well, either. Tyrion looks like he’s starting to feel disappointed in his new queen.
- At Winterfell, Arya confronts Sansa about that pesky raven scroll Littlefinger left behind for her to find. She scares Sansa, and makes several threats about showing that scroll to the Northern lords. It’s still unclear whether or not Arya is serious, or if this an elaborate plan cooked up by the Stark siblings to fool Littlefinger into thinking he has the upper hand. Either way, Littlefinger seems pleased with this turn of events. He urges Sansa to keep Brienne close and implies that Brienne may need to fight Arya to keep Sansa safe. Sansa responds by sending Brienne far away from conflict as an envoy to King’s Landing (much to Brienne’s chagrin). Sansa asserts that she is safest in Winterfell. Arya gives Sansa Catspaw after a heated series of threats that seem meant for Littlefinger’s ears.
- Jon and the Band manage to capture a wight to take to King’s Landing to show Cersei, but find themselves ambushed by the Night’s King. The fight sequence that ensues is just as good as any fight sequence we’ve seen on Game of Thrones. In the chaos, Jon manages to send Gendry back to the wall to send a raven to Danaerys and ask for help. While Gendry makes a run for it, the rest of the group stay trapped on a circle of ice, surrounded by the Army of the Dead. There seems to be no way out.
- In the nick of time, deus ex machina style, Danaerys and Drogon swoop down on the scene, accompanied by Viserion and Rhaegal. The dragons burn the wights and clear a path for Jon and the band to climb aboard Drogon. Jon, true-to-character, sends everyone to the dragon and stays behind to fend of the wights.
- In the midst of this chaos, the Night’s King takes an enormous ice-javelin (which looks curiously similar to the knife the Children used to create the first White Walkers in the beginning, during the war with the First Men…), and aims it right for Viserion. It flies true and strikes the dragon from the sky.
- As the Night’s King takes up another ice javelin and prepares to kill Drogon, Jon urges Dany and the crew to go without him. Left with a horrible choice (leave Jon, or stay and lose Drogon too), Dany listens to Jon and rides Drogon back to Dragonstone, crew and captured wight in tow.
- Jon is rescued by Benjen Stark, who seems to be a wight himself. Book readers will know him as Coldhands. Back at Dragonstone, Jon recovers from his wounds and agrees to join Danaerys in her fight against Cersei. Danaerys agrees to join Jon in his fight against the Army of the Dead. She swears that they will destroy the Night’s King.
Which brings us to…
THAT Scene…And What It Means
At the very end of the episode, the Army of the Dead dredges Viserion up from the frozen lake. Viserion wakes from death as a blue-eyed wight dragon. This has huge ramifications for the rest of Game of Thrones. Mostly, it has tipped the odds even further in the Dead’s favor. Dany will have to be much more careful bringing her dragons to war if she doesn’t want to loose them all to the Night’s King.
The Long Night has never seemed more sinister.
But how is this going to play out in the future? As I see it, there are three theories I’ve seen floating around the web that hold water:
The Night King Will Ride the Dragon
This is the most likely theory. Viserion is now a wight dragon (possibly an ice dragon. It isn’t exactly clear in the ASIOAF universe as to how they’re made, but they do have a strong connection to winter). He is enthralled to the Night’s King, and the Night’s King will ride him into battle against Danaerys, Jon, and Tyrion in the coming war.
Bran Will Warg the Dragon
This theory builds on the last, but puts the odds in favor of the Living. Bran Stark hasn’t been doing much besides acting creepy and learning all there is to know about the history of Westeros. He does have the ability to warg into animals and even certain humans, though. In his visions of the Three-Eyed-Raven, the Three-Eyed-Raven tells Bran that he will never walk again, but that he will fly. This is usually taken to refer to all of his work warging into ravens and other birds throughout the series…but I think there’s something deeper at work.
The prophecies of the Three-Eyed-Raven usually seem to refer to specific events. Perhaps, in the war to come, Bran will warg into Viserion and turn him against the Night’s King.
Jon Will Ride the Dragon
This may be the least likely theory at this point, but it is my favorite.
If you’ve been paying attention to Game of Thrones, you know by now that Jon is a Targaryen, and that he is one of the three heads of the Azor Ahai, or the Prince that Was Promised, prophecy (the other two are Danaerys and Tyrion). In our predictions of who would ride dragons in the last seasons of Game of Thrones, we thought Viserion would be reserved for Tyrion because of his gold coloring. We might be wrong, though.
Viserion has been turned into a wight dragon, but as Danaerys said, “A dragon is no slave”. It’s possible that he will be more loyal as a wight to his Targaryen bloodline than he is to the Night’s King. We’ve seen this before in characters like Benjen Stark (who now lives as a benevolent, powerful wight named Coldhands), and Lady Stoneheart in the books (Catelyn, resurrected, exacting revenge on the enemies of the Starks). If Viserion does stay loyal to Danaerys, he may be difficult for the Night’s King to control. In the end, Jon could ride him. With his new status as a wight, but his old Targaryen parentage, Viserion mirrors Jon’s Stark-Targaryen bloodline. The two of them together are symbols of the “ice and fire” theme that threads through the story.
How do YOU think this turn of events will effect the show? Let us know in the comments! We want to hear your thoughts. Don’t forget to head over to the Kingsguard Collection to see more cool Game of Thrones tees. We’re adding more every week as we find them.
And, in case you haven’t seen the trailer for the season finale, we’ve got you covered. Watch it below:
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