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Game Of Thrones Recap: Season 7, Episode 6 - Beyond The Wall

Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 7, episode 6

In the sixth episode of season 7, Arya continues her investigation, and Sansa starts to feel the pressure. Tyrion tries to plan for the future, but Daenerys points out that sometimes you need to deal with the present first. Jon and his companions try to complete their mission beyond the Wall, but it will cost them dearly when the Night King himself makes an appearance. Find out what you missed with our recap of "Beyond the Wall."

What happened last time
In the fifth episode of the season, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei (Lena Headey) argued about what to do about Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), but unexpected news convinced Cersei that a temporary truce might be in their best interests: she is pregnant again. Dany went a little "Mad Queen" herself when she burned Randyll (James Faulkner) and Dickon Tarly (Tom Hopper) alive for refusing to bend the knee. Later on Dragonstone, Jon (Kit Harington) made friends with Drogon. Daenerys also had an emotional reunion with the now-cured Jorah (Iain Glen), who returned to her at last.

In Oldtown, Sam (John Bradley-West) decided he had enough of the Maesters' dithering, and commited some petty theft on his way out the door. Meanwhile, Gilly (Hannah Murray) unknowingly discovered some world-changing information about Jon. Up in Winterfell, Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) schemed to drive a wedge between Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner), a scheme which appeared to be working.

Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and the others hatched a mad plan to catch a wight and take it to show Cersei. Davos (Liam Cunningham) smuggled Tyrion into King's Landing, where Tyrion had a tense meeting with his brother while the Onion Knight tracked down Gendry (Joe Dempsie), who decided to go with them. Jon, Jorah, Davos, and Gendry sailed to Eastwatch, where Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) had the Brotherhood Without Banners under lock-and-key. Thoros (Paul Kaye), Beric (Richard Dormer), and the Hound (Rory McCann) agreed to join their mission, and they set off beyond the Wall.

Beyond the Wall
The expedition makes its way through the frozen tundra, and the initial tension within the group starts to fade as they realize they soon may be depend on each other for their survival. We get some great conversations between them along the way. After playfully teasing the somewhat naïve Gendry, Tormund turns serious when discussing Daenerys with Jon. He tells Jon, "Mance Rayder was a great man, a proud man. How many of his people died for his pride?"

Jon and Jorah also have a heart-to-heart, talking about their fathers and how they died. Jon tries to give his sword back to Jorah—the pommel may be different now, but it's still Longclaw, the ancestral Valyrian sword of House Mormont. Although touched by the offer, Jorah refuses. "I brought shame to my house. I forfeited the right to claim this sword. It's yours," he says. "May it serve you well, and your children after you." The look on Jorah's face says it all—he knows Jon and Daenerys are falling for each other, and he approves.  

Sansa and Arya share a moment reminiscing, and Arya recalls a time when their father caught her practicing archery in the yard. Just as we start to think that the sisters might finally be patching up their differences, Arya dashes our hopes. "Now he's dead, killed by the Lannisters—with your help." Sansa reacts with shock as Arya pulls out and reads the letter that Sansa wrote to Robb back in season one. "I didn't betray my entire family for my 'beloved Joffrey.'" Arya declares.

Sansa's had enough. "You should be on your knees thanking me," she tells Arya. "We're standing in Winterfell again because of me. You didn't win it back, Jon didn't win it back. The knights of the Vale won the battle, and they rode north for me. While you were "training," I suffered things you could never imagine. You never would have survived what I survived."

Sansa has every right to be angry, but she gives the upper hand back to Arya when she asks what her sister plans on doing with that letter. Arya won't say for sure, but the threat is clearly implied: what would the northern Lords think of Sansa if they saw it?  

Beyond the Wall
We check in with our heroes, who are still trudging their way across the icy landscape and no doubt wondering why they agreed to go along with this crazy idea. Tormund decides he wants to be friends with the Hound, which goes about as well as you might imagine. Then Tormund brings up his tall, yellow-haired, blue-eyed beauty back at Winterfell, stopping Sandor in his tracks. "You're with Brienne of f***ing Tarth?" he exclaims, incredulous. "Well, I'm not with her yet," Tormund admits. "But I've seen the way she looks at me." The group halts when they sight a mountain in the distance. The Hound remembers it from his vision in the flames. "We're getting close," he tells them.

Tyrion and Daenerys discuss "heroes," and how they all like to do crazy things to prove themselves. She names some examples: Drogo, Jorah, Daario, and Jon Snow. Tyrion points out that all those she just named were men who fell in love with her. Dany reacts with surprise, but you can tell she's pleased at this affirmation of her own feelings.

Talk turns to their plans for the meeting at King's Landing, and Daenerys gets chilly when Tyrion asks her not to do anything impulsive—like she did when she burned the Tarlys. He also points out that the changes she wants to make can't be achieved in a single lifetime. As she cannot have children, she needs to think about naming a successor. Bless him, but Tyrion knows exactly how to upset Daenerys. "We will discuss the succession after I wear the crown," she tells him coldly.

Beyond the Wall
The group hasn't turned into popsicles yet, but they're close—a blizzard has made conditions miserable and the visibility is almost nil. Tormund sees a bear in the distance. Then Gendry notices that it has blue eyes, and things start to go downhill fast. Their Wildling scout gets taken out first, and the rest of them form up into a circle. As it attacks again, we see that it is a massive undead polar bear. A swipe from Beric's flaming sword sets its fur on fire, and it charges at the Hound, who is frozen with fear. Thoros steps in to save Clegane, but the bear knocks him to the ground and mauls him badly before Jorah is able to stab the beast with a dragonglass dagger. Beric is able to cauterize Thoros' wounds with his sword, but it's looking bad for the Red Priest.

Sansa speaks with Littlefinger in her chambers, telling him about her encounter with Arya and wondering aloud where she got the letter. "I don't know," he replies. "She seems very resourceful." Sansa confesses her biggest worry to Baelish: if the northern Lords see that letter, then Jon's army will quickly abandon their cause. Littlefinger suggests that perhaps Brienne could help. She is sworn to protect both of Catelyn's girls, so surely she would intervene if one of them was planning to harm the other. "She would," Sansa confirms, deep in thought.  

Beyond the Wall
The blizzard is over, and the group is much closer to the mountain from Sandor's vision. They spot a White Walker leading a small group of undead through a nearby crevasse. They quickly set an ambush, and Jon manages to kill the White Walker. When he does, most of the wights instantly crumple to the ground—all except for one. They quickly subdue it and start to tie it up, but an unnatural storm cloud approaching reveals that the Night King has set his own ambush for them. Jon sends Gendry running back to Eastwatch to send a raven to Daenerys and let her know what's happened.

The rest of them run in the other direction—only to find themselves on the edge of a frozen lake. A horde of undead on their heels, they have no choice but to flee across the chancy ice. They reach a rocky island in the middle, and the wights begin to fall through the ice when they get too close. Although they are safe for now, Jon and the others can only watch as thousands of undead surround them on all sides.

Gendry runs through the night, and for someone who had never seen snow before, he does a mighty fine job of making it back to the Wall in record time. Dawn breaks, and the men are still alive—except for Thoros, who has frozen to death in the night. They burn his body to prevent him from joining the undead. Jorah and Jon conclude that maybe the White Walker Jon killed was the one that had turned most of the undead following it. Kill it, and you kill all of the wights it's linked to. Beric points out that if they can kill the Night King, then maybe all of the others will die, because he created them all.

Sansa receives an invitation to go to King's Landing to attend the meeting Jon and Daenerys are planning with Cersei. She summons Brienne (Gwendolyn Christie) and tells her that she will be going in her place. Brienne objects. She isn't comfortable leaving Sansa alone with Littlefinger. She asks to leave Podrick behind to watch over her, but Sansa puts her foot down. She doesn't need anyone to watch over her. After Brienne leaves, Sansa sits back with a contemplative look on her face. It seems like she has some untold motivations for sending Brienne away. But what are they?

Daenerys has received word of the mission's peril, and prepares to leave with her dragons. Tyrion does his best to stop her, pleading with her not to go. "If you die, we're all lost—everyone, everything," he tells her. It's clear that Dany won't be swayed this time. "You told me to do nothing before and I listened to you," she says. "I'm not doing nothing again." Tyrion has no choice but to watch as she flies off atop of Drogon, with Rhaegal and Viserion following close behind.

Beyond the Wall
Jon and the others' brief respite is over—the lake has refrozen, and the undead army begins to advance on them from all sides. Soon Jon and the others are fighting for their lives as hundreds of wights attack them at once. They have several close calls and lose more unnamed Wildlings who were part of the expedition. Tormund gets swarmed by half a dozen or more wights, and he is nearly pulled down into the lake. Thankfully, the Hound manages to reach Tormund and pull him to safety. Jon drags their captive wight to higher ground and has to watch as another Wildling falls, torn apart by the horde. The men have been pushed nearly back-to-back by the undead attackers and it is clear they won't be able to last much longer. Just when all hope seems lost, Daenerys arrives. All three of her dragons blast the attackers with their fire, blowing thousands of wights to bits.

Dany and Drogon land, and she holds an outstretched hand to Jon. He insists on the others climbing up first, while he holds off more attacks. As Jon fights, the Night King takes a spear of ice and takes aim at Viserion. He launches the spear like a missile, and it strikes home, piercing the dragon's neck. Viserion comes crashing down, blood spraying in gouts across the ice. As the screams of Drogon and Rhaegal echo across the valley, Daenerys and the others can only look on in horror as the dragon's body sinks beneath the lake. Jon realizes that the Night King has taken out another spear, and he shouts for Daenerys to take off. Two wights smash into Jon, knocking him into the water. Daenerys hesitates, but is forced to take off before the Night King can kill another one of her dragons. This time, his shot misses—barely. She and the others manage to get away safely, but the cost of this mission was high, very high.

After they're gone, Jon emerges from the water—proving that his plot armor game is just as strong as Jaime's. He staggers across the ice, drawing the attention of the remaining undead. They come charging towards him and Jon prepares to die—only to be saved by Benjen with his fiery ball and chain. They don't get a chance to have much of a reunion, unfortunately—Benjen puts Jon on his horse and sends it running back to Eastwatch, sacrificing himself in order to keep the wights from chasing Jon.

Back at the Wall, the Hound loads the captive wight onto a boat. Daenerys stands atop the Wall and stares numbly out into the distance. Jorah tells her they need to go, but understands when she asks to stay a bit longer. Just as she turns to leave, a horn sounds—a rider is approaching the Wall. It's Jon, and he is in bad shape. They take him to the boat and Dany stares in shock when they strip his frozen furs away, revealing his puckered scars.

Sansa goes snooping in Arya's room for the letter, but finds much more than she bargained for when she pulls a bag out from under the bed. It's filled with faces, including that of Walder Frey. Arya enters the room, catching Sansa in the act. Clearly unnerved, Sansa demands to know what the faces are. Arya explains a little about her time in Braavos, and then proceeds to scare her sister (and us) by suggesting she might like to remove Sansa's face—see what it's like to wear all those pretty dresses and be the Lady of Winterfell. As she advances on her sister with Littlefinger's dagger in hand, it looks like this might be curtains for Sansa. In the end, however, Arya flips the dagger around and hands it to her sister, before turning and leaving the room.     

On a boat
Jon finally wakes up, and sees Daenerys sitting at his bedside. It's clear she has been there for hours. He takes her hand and tells her how sorry he is for what happened to Viserion, and she begins to cry. "I wish we'd never had gone," he tells her. "I don't," she replies. "You had to see it to know, and now I know." Daenerys also promises that she will help him destroy the Night King and his army. Jon thanks her, calling her 'Dany'—a nickname she hasn't heard since her brother Viserys died. "Not Dany, then," he says. "What about 'My Queen?'" Daenerys begins to tear up again as Jon pledges to follow her. She tells him, "I hope I deserve it." "You do," he reassures her. After a long gaze full of the tension these two have shown together all season, she finally lets go of his hand and leaves him to get some rest.

Beyond the Wall
Hundreds of wights drag heavy chains behind them—chains leading into the lake. From the depths, Viserion's body rises up and is pulled onto the shore. The Night King approaches the fallen dragon, and lays a hand upon his head. After a moment, the dragon's eye opens again—but this time it is a pure, icy blue. The Night King has a new mount.

Final thoughts
This probably wasn't the best episode of the season, although there were definitely some stand-out moments. Although the multiple Deus ex Machina moments were a little much, the conversations between the men on the expedition beyond the Wall were well-written. In particular, Tormund and the Hound had some great lines this episode. It was also great to see Jon and Jorah bond and Jorah's acceptance and implied blessing of the relationship between Jon and Dany. Speaking of that relationship, Daenerys' inability to have children came up no less than three times this episode—which seems to point towards her getting pregnant again. No doubt, Jon will be happy to help her with that. That final scene of theirs was terrific, and it was great seeing the shifting emotions on Dany's face as Jon consoles her. Finally, seeing the Night King reanimate Viserion as his mount was terrifying—but it makes you wonder where he got all those chains from. It seems likely this whole attack was planned as an ambush for Daenerys and her dragons from the beginning.

The Arya and Sansa plot continues to be maddening. So many things about their conflict just don't make sense. How can Arya be on such a high horse when she was Tywin Lannister's servant for most of a season? How can she think Sansa loved Joffrey when Sansa told Arya in the crypts that she wishes she'd been the one to kill him? Why can't these two just sit down and talk? Some people have been theorizing that this is all some elaborate ploy to trap Littlefinger and the girls are only pretending to be mad. Their final scene from this episode disproves that, however—Littlefinger wasn't around to spy on them, and Sansa was clearly in Arya's room to look for the letter. We're still holding out hope that Arya has been leading everyone by the nose in some crazy scheme, but in season 6, Arya got stabbed in the stomach and jumped into a canal full of sewage—so bad writing could also be the answer. Thankfully, this thread appears to be wrapping up, so hopefully we will only have to deal with it for one more episode!