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Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones ahead as the Star recaps Season 7, Episode 6
Faces and bears and ice dragons, oh my!
There’s a lot going on in the penultimate episode of season seven, but first, we’re going walkabout beyond the wall with the magnificent seven.
Jon, Tormund, Gendry, Thoros, Beric Dondarrion, Sandor “the Hound” Clegane and Jorah Mormont (plus several expendables who might as well be wearing red cloaks) are headed beyond the wall to catch a wight to prove the undead army exists.
Gendry endures some gentle teasing. Jon and Jorah recall Jorah’s father and the Valyrian steel sword he gave to Jon. Beric and Jon discuss Ned Stark (“You don’t look like your father,” says Beric, hinting again at Jon’s mysterious parentage) and ponder their purpose in the world.
Tormund and the Hound? They dicker. Mostly over Brienne of Tarth.
“I see the way she looks at me,” Tormund says.
“Like she wants to carve you up and eat your liver?”
“You do know her!”
Tormund’s babies with Brienne will have to wait. Because an undead bear comes out of nowhere to dispatch a random redshirt before snatching Thoros and shaking him like a rag doll. He’s hurt, but alive enough to help fight a group of wights. Jon uses his Valyrian steel to kill their leader and the rest collapse.
Beric guesses the White Walker made the wights. Jon Snow, who still knows nothing, slowly, slooooowly gets it: Kill the Night King, win the war. At least, the one against the undead. Could it be that simple?
Not right this second, because more undead are coming. Jon sends Gendry to run back to Eastwatch to get word to send a raven to Daenerys. Would it be too much to suggest that these dummies should have brought a raven with them?
The rest of our heroes become stuck on a rock in the centre of a partially frozen lake, surrounded by more wights. After a freezing night, they find the cold was too much for Thoros. Beric uses his flaming sword to set his friend’s body on fire.
Let me get this straight, you use your fire sword for a Viking funeral, but not for warmth? C’mon Beric! The Lord of Light helps those who help themselves! And boy do these guys need help because the lake has frozen again. Ruh-roh!
Meanwhile, Arya and Sansa fall back into old patterns at home. Thanks to Littlefinger’s scheming, Arya thinks Sansa betrayed their family. Sansa thinks Arya was off adventuring while she shouldered the responsibility of reclaiming Winterfell. Gotta say, I’m kind of with Sansa. Arya still thinks of her sister as a girl who only wanted to be a queen to have pretty things. She doesn’t see that Sansa now grasps the terrible burden of being a leader.
Littlefinger encourages Sansa to use Brienne against Arya. Sansa considers it, but ultimately, she sends Brienne to King’s Landing as her proxy because she’s been summoned by Cersei. Brienne, honour-bound as always, goes. Interesting. Brienne might be the only person in the seven kingdoms who could convince Jaime to fight for their side.
While snooping through Arya’s room looking for the letter, Sansa finds a bag of faces. Fun! Arya finds her finding them. She grabs a knife and explains all she needs to impersonate Sansa is her face. The tense moment is broken only when Arya flips the knife around and offers it to Sansa, handle first, before leaving.
Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner both did wonderful work here, but Turner in particular is excellent as Sansa tries to process what her sister has told her and how she might use it to her advantage.
At Dragonstone, Daenerys wonders if she can trust Tyrion. He wonders if he can trust her not to become like her father and rule through fear and anger. Um, is this the same guy who waited until his dad was on the toilet, then killed him with a crossbow over a woman?
Tyrion says he’s thinking of the future, but the Mother of Dragons has more pressing concerns. So when a raven arrives with news that she and her large adult dragon sons are needed, Dany ignores his pleas to sit this one out.
She arrives beyond the wall just as things are becoming desperate, a Dracarys Ex Machina to save the day. But not before the Night King uses an ice spear to down Viserion.
Wow. I barely blinked when Thoros kicked it, but watching Viserion die was a punch to the feels! Daenerys watches, helpless as her dragon child disappears beneath the water.
Jon takes the moment to stupidly try to charge the Night King, who’s got another spear with Drogon’s name on it. Not much of a military man, is our Jon Snow? In the skirmish, he’s swept underwater, too, and Dany is forced to leave without him.
Jon manages to struggle out of the water, but he can barely stand. Luckily, a cloaked rider appears and helps him onto the horse before using a flaming weapon to kill wights. It’s Jon’s uncle, Benjen “Coldhands” Stark.
This is a pretty cool image, but I have to question the use of two last-minute rescues in the same episode. For one hot second I thought the show might move on without Jon, just as it moved on without Ned in season one.
Instead, Jon arrives at Eastwatch just in time, and on the voyage home, he and Dany settle some things. She believes him about the dead now and he’s ready to call her his queen. They chastely hold hands, obviously hot for each others bods. Yay! Together there’s nothing they can’t conquer!
Except maybe an ice dragon. Back beyond the wall, a silent Night King works his magic and Viserion’s newly ice-blue eye pops open. Dun-dun-dun! If there’s a showdown in the works for next week, it just got a lot more interesting.
Tanis Fowler is an editor at the Toronto Star. TV columnist Tony Wong will return.