A Terrible Death Does Not Make Up For Poor Writing, GAME OF THRONES
Episode 66 “Beyond the Wall”
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Alan Taylor
There is not enough wine and ice cream to get me through last week’s episode of Game of Thrones. Believe me, I tried. From a slow start, that had some chuckle moments, with poor writing and even poorer character play, to sheer heart wrenching agony in a matter of minutes, “Beyond the Wall” caused quite a stir amongst the fans, and not all of it was positive.
First and foremost, there sure was a lot of talking and walking, walking and talking. Is it just me, or was the purpose for the first thirty-plus minutes to do a lot of “Hey, this is how we are connected, I’m either a) going to complain about it’, looking at you Gendry (Joe Dempsie) ‘or b) your father was an honorable man.” Yea yea yea, we already know who and what and how everyone is connected, and the end result was basically, congratulations you’re still alive. This felt like a whole lot of fluff set up for a major character death, but a poorly constructed one as there isn’t much more character development that can be done to make us love or connect to these characters even more. I will say, however, Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) is sheer unfiltered gold. His confession to wanting to have monster babies with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie). AH! YES! GET IT! We all are cheering for that union.
One of the major grievances of this show was the interaction between Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner). While it is understandable that Petyr (Aidan Gillen) would cause a rift between the two sisters, it still didn’t add up. True, they don’t really know each other anymore, but the reaction of Arya threatening to cut off Sansa’s face was far more extreme than any reaction either would dream up in even the most treacherous of circumstances. The whole setup was uncharacteristic, and left us all with a sour taste in our mouths for what is to come between the two.
Honestly, with how everything is coming to a head much faster than we are prepared for, adding in more subplot drama is hindersome rather than helpful.
Finally things start to happen, even with all the talking and walking. Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) gets mauled gruesomely by a dead bear, that would give Leonardo Dicaprio a run for his Oscar. Naturally of course, the bear has to be on fire so The Hound (Rory McCann) does diddly squat to save his fellow traveler. How Thoros managed to survive that attack, even for a day, is beyond impressive. Alcohol does wonders, kids.
I’m just kidding, stay in school, drugs are bad. He died. Anyways, I digress.
The men in Jon Snow’s (Kit Harrington) troupe find what they are looking for: a white walker to take back to Cersei (Lena Headey). I’m sorry, but doesn’t this seem like a terrible idea? Do you really need her anyway? Just have Daenerys and her dragons fire breath on the Night King (Vladimir ‘Furdo’ Furdik) already. Seriously, you don’t need to kill the entirety of the White Walkers, the one who made them will do just nicely.
Here is where we enter the portion of the show where we say, that isn’t possible. I’m talking about the frozen lake, that wasn’t frozen. WHAT? It’s the flipping North, beyond the wall, where the wildlings are, where Winter began, and you’re telling me that the one place that is in constant frozen tundra, has a lake that isn’t frozen? Then the men, without wearing any sort of head or face covering in the below freezing weather are able to spend a night on a rock without getting frostbite? Meanwhile, Gendry has won his medal for marathon runner back to Eastwatch to send Dany (Emilia Clarke) a raven about what all has happened. How that raven got to her in such a short amount of time makes no sense. Maybe it had rocket boosters, either way it made it to her in enough time to don a winter dress (when did her seamstresses have time to make that?) ignore all of Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) advice on falling in love with heroes but not naming a successor, and hopefully make it in time to save the day before someone does something stupid.
Speaking of doing something stupid, thanks to The Hound, the clash between White Walkers and the living starts off a little early. He just had to throw some rocks at them, only for one to land at the feet of a dead guy, signalling the lake had officially frozen over. Thank goodness they all have some dragonglass weapons or they would be torn to pieces in a matter of seconds. Of course a few nameless scouts get eviscerated, for what is a battle without someone dying. For a heart wrenching minute we helplessly watch Tormond get dragged towards a watery death by the dead. As he screams we scream with him. NOT TORMUND! This of course is where The Hound makes up for his lack of help with Thoros, and rescues the ginger wildling.
Just when all hope seems lost and White Walkers surround Jon Snow, we look to the skies with bated breath for Dany to ride in and save the day with fiery vengeance. And we wait, and we wait, and sure enough here she is! How is it that Jon Snow always ends up in moments of sure peril only to be saved at the very last second? It can only happen so many times before it gets predictable. Either way, this isn’t the only time that his death is considered in this episode.
Oh just wait, it gets better! As Rhaegal and Viserion scorch lines of the dead, Dany and Drogon land to aid those still alive. Jon and Dany share a tender stare as they reach for each other, but then Jon has to play hero, and start slicing down White Walker after White Walker getting farther and farther away from safety. JON! Now is not a time to be a hero JON! She is already hoping for that 8 inches of Snow, so stop compensating and get on the damn dragon! Of course everyone else gets on, even the damn living dead gift for Cersei, but not Jon.
The Night King is cool as a cucumber of course. Doesn’t even bat an eye as his army is quickly melting in the ice. Instead he enters his Olympic feat for the day with an icy spear toss, straight into Viserion’s neck. Poor Vis screams in pain and anguish as he hurls straight into the icy water. He goes still, his jaw slack, eyes closed, before sliding into oblivion. The whole world seemed to stop breathing at that moment. A dragon was gone. A dragon was dead. Jon glares at the Night King just as a lover would to someone who done wronged his girl. Ooooo mister Ice Man you going to get it now. Before Dany has enough time to mourn over the loss of one of her children, Drogon takes off with Rhaegal to avoid a similar fate, leaving Jon behind as he is dragged into the frozen lake. Once again, Jon reaches the pinnacle of peril, before somehow surviving. That’s twice now?
Oh, how did he survive the below freezing water in full clothing, armour, and animal skins? Good question. He pulled himself out of the water! That’s it! So simple. He should have gotten hypothermia at full submersion. That and the shock of the cold water would have kept him from being able to hold his breath, then there are all the living dead under there clawing at him and dragging him down, and the weight of his clothing should have been heavy enough for him to not reach the top what so ever. But somehow, he resurfaces, and pulls himself out, only to stand and prepare to fight the retiring horde of dead that have just spotted him. They all charge, and in comes Jon’s third saving grace, Uncle Benjen (Joseph Mawle)! What a surprise! We had almost nearly forgotten about the terrible excuse of ‘Cold Hands’. Just like the Titanic, Benjen puts Jon on the horse, telling him there is no time, and sends Jon and the horse off, as he is consumed by the White Walkers.
I’m sorry what? There was plenty of time for Benjen to get on the horse and ride off with Jon. There is no excuse. NO EXCUSE as to why the horse wouldn’t be fast enough to carry both Jon and Benjen away to safety. Whatever. What matters is, Jon hasn’t died. Even more importantly he makes it back to Eastwatch and safely on Dany’s ship. What’s more, he gets to be stripped naked and laid in bed for her to watch over and drink in the sight of his scarred rippled chest. Yum! This moment between the two, is the only saving grace in this episode. The sheer amount of sexual tension caused my T.V. screen to shudder. Or maybe it was me yelling at it that incest was bad, but then again they don’t know and ignorance is bliss right? Plus it runs in the family. AYYY! Anyhoo, Jon swears fealty to Dany, she tells him not to call her Dany, and they don’t kiss, but you know they want to!
Just as the episode is reaching its end, we see the Night King observe over his army as they drag three massive chains from the water. We all know what is happening, but we hate to think about it. Sure enough, Viserion is dragged from the icy depths, and with the touch of a hand from the Night King, a dead blue eye opens. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a White Dragon. Whatever next episode brings, I’m not sure I want it. If it’s anything like the past six episodes, it will be poorly written, and uncharacteristic.
This season has been the definition of predictable writing. For six seasons we have been handed chess board worthy plots, tied in with subplots, with an extra helping of sub-subplot twists. We have all had to go back several times just to remember who said what at what time to whom, and how that one eye quirk at that exact moment meant so and so is now dead, etc etc etc. But now, it’s as if the writers said, “Eh, six seasons of complex storytelling is enough, let’s 2008 writer strike this and cram as much as possible into a shortened season, all while spoon feeding the audience.” I’m sorry, NO! This is not why we all joined Game of Thrones. We want confusing story arcs, that tie into the most minimalistic character! We want convoluted conversations that leave us begging for more, even if we can’t understand it. We want more of our favorite characters to end up in inescapable peril only to die horrendously. That’s why we love this show! It is unpredictable. It is chaotic. It is a mass of plot tangles, but it is our show that we so desperately cling o to, and cherish.
Don’t take all that away from us. Just don’t or we all may just become the next Cersei and Wyldfire that mess.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.