Penultimate Game of Thrones is the best Game of Thrones

Season 7 Episode 6: ‘Beyond the Wall’ wastes no time on a shortened schedule.

I don’t think there will ever be something as big as Game of Thrones for quite a while. Blockbuster tv shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men or The Walking Dead usually compromise scope in favour of craft or performance but it is so joyous in this golden age of television that a show manages to be a blockbuster while achieving those things. The Penultimate (read: second to last) episodes of Game of Thrones are usually the show’s pinnacle offering the best of the best, and ‘Beyond the Wall’ delivers on that, although one wonders why the makers of the show felt it was necessary to only have seven episodes this season.

We get some great character interactions this episode. Tormund and The Hound sharing their thoughts on Brienne of Tarth, Beric and Jon talking about the philosophy of death, Thoros of Myr not going out in such a predictable way but very peaceful, and I liked the way the last thing he said was to Jorah  about events that took place just before the show started, referring to his bold drunkenness. It explains his presence here as a choice better rather than just following Beric on his last life around. The plot armor of Jon Snow, the most inexplicably tactically poor person alive on the show gets a workout here. Though since Benjen Stark (Ned’s brother) has had just enough time on the show and has always been beyond the wall it makes sense he would look after his own nephew and feels a few steps below an ex machina.

Returning to the Thrones fold after directing a middling Thor sequel and a bad Terminator movie starring Daenerys, Alan Taylor affirms he’s capable of directing action but as bad as Jon Snow with character logistics. Arya and Sansa’s interactions are saved thanks to the developed history of the characters and there’s a nice scene between Jon and Dany that tries at the same time to remind and forget how alike they are, but the plan of capturing a wight beyond the wall and The Hound tossing rocks beyond the ice for some reason only to start an impossible battle up again feels too machine-like in plot movements. Further the ease to which the Night King takes down the dragon Viserion although raises the stakes feels way too ridiculous. Who knew he was an Olympic strength Javelin thrower, and with more force and greater effectiveness than Bronn had using a freaking Ballista (though to be fair that was against the bigger Drogon).

I can’t believe there’s only one episode left. Though at 70 minutes this was the longest episode in the series so far* I don’t see why the producers felt this season should be shortened. At times like this it feels premature and rushed, though like last season with more pieces moved into place and an 81 minute feature length running time hopefully it’ll be as satisfying as the last Game of Thrones finale.

  • Only 7 episodes of the series left: Who will win the Game of Thrones? Jon and Dany? Gendry? Sansa?
  • Major reunions left: The Clegane Bowl (The Hound vs. The Mountain), Jamie and Brienne reunion, Cersei, Dany, Tyrion meeting, House Stark reunited, House Mormont reunited, lineage revealed, White Walker destroyed, Jon rides a dragon, Dragon battle of Ice and Fire.
  • Where are they now? Dario, Salladhor Saan, Euron Greyjoy
  • Possible Future deaths: Everyone but Dany and Jon (at least until after the main threat is eliminated), they won’t kill another major female unless its Cersei.
  • “Sometimes nothing is the hardest thing to do.” – Tyrion the Wise

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