The penultimate episode of the penultimate season of Game of Thrones has officially come and gone, and what a doozy it was. Like all the second-to-last episodes so far ("Baelor," "Battle of the Bastards," etc) so many major things went down — some of them literally falling from the sky in a ball of fire and black smoke — getting us geared up for the even more monumental finale to come. There's no need to waste time going over the obvious stuff (you can get a full recap here). Instead, let's dive right in to the nitty gritty details, Easter Eggs, references and other things you might have missed in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 "Beyond the Wall." Obviously, spoilers ahead.
If you haven't read about the Easter Eggs for Season 7 Episode 5 "Eastwatch," check them out now!
1. The Balance Between Tyrion And Dany Is In Flux
Earlier this season, we published an article on how the relationship between Daenerys and Tyrion has always been that of equals, and that is reflected in the cinematograpy and blocking. In episodes 4 and 5, however, as Daenerys scolded Tyrion for his spectacular military snafus, we saw that power dynamic shift. She towered over him, and the camera accentuated the stark difference in their statures. Now, in "Beyond the Wall," we get the strongest example yet of the strain their relationship is undergoing. In their first scene alone, we get the sense that Daenerys has finally forgiven Tyrion, sitting to talk to him face to face. Even when she rises to look at the fire, she still meets his gaze from the side, rather than the more dominant looking down. But then, when Tyrion insists on bringing up the issue of the succession, Daenerys makes it clear that she won't be challenged — not just with her words, but with her body language. She faces him full on, looking straight down at him. The camera mirrors this positioning, tilting slightly up at Emilia Clarke and slightly down at Peter Dinklage. Later in the episode, as he pleads with her not to fly North and she ignores him, the camera is almost directly above Dinklage, illustrating just how far out of his reach Daenerys has flown.
2. 'I Will Choose A Successor When I Wear The Crown'
It's understandable that Daenerys isn't in a hurry to name a successor when she's got White Walkers and the siege of Westeros to worry about. But Tyrion has a point. If she's going to be off risking her life on the reg, she needs to name a successor ASAP. While it almost seemed that Tyrion was insinuating that he would be a good choice (he would, wouldn't he?), the irony is that there already is a true-born successor to the Targaryen line: Jon Snow.
While watching Daenerys ascend the Iron Throne would be the ultimate satisfaction for fans of the Mother of Dragons, we know that we can't always get what we want, especially in Westeros. In this world, we know that when characters insist that something is the case, it will probably never come to pass (Ned Stark: "We'll talk about your mother next time"). The fact that she's insisting so strongly on her ascension to the Iron Throne as a certainty seems like a smidgen of foreshadowing that things won't quite pan out that way. Similarly, she seems awfully convinced that she'll never have any human children, and has decided to remind us of that so often it seems downright suspicious. With love clearly in the wintry air and an incestuous union almost a certainty, is it possible that Daenerys and Jon could solve the problem of the succession AND wrap up the prophecy of ice and fire by producing one more Targaryen tot?
3. 'I Haven't Heard From Him In Weeks'
Thank you, Sansa! While Arya is busy making bizarre threats about sororicide, Sansa actually gave us the only useful piece of information we've learned at Winterfell recently: Jon hasn't sent a raven to his sister in weeks (the last form of communication we saw between the two of them was when Sansa wrote to inform him that Arya had returned home). Since the passage of time has become something of a shrug in Season 7, it's nice to get a tiny indication of how long this stuff is actually taking. Assuming Jon did NOT tell Sansa about his batshit plan to go North and capture a wight (why would he do that? It would only upset her and the Northern Lords), we can assume that he would have responded to her letter about Arya, and then left for the Wall shortly thereafter. They left Dragonstone by ship, which is the second fastest way to travel (after dragon ride, of course), and likely reached East Watch in about two weeks — Three weeks? Something like that? — then a day or two or three to prep for the mission; then we can assume they spent at least one night or two out there fighting the undead. So all in all, this whole episode probably spanned the duration of three weeks to a month. However, this is just speculation, so feel free to keep believing in the existence of jetpacks in Westeros, if you'd prefer.
4. Oh Hey, Walder Frey
Who would have guessed that Faceless Assassins kept their faces in a satchel hidden in the most surreptitious hiding place of all: under the bed? As Sansa finds Arya's stash, she wastes no time in pulling out what appear to be the kind of rubber Halloween masks used by bandits in the movies. But rather than pulling out the face of Richard Nixon or Scooby Doo, we see two former Westeros terrors: Walder Frey and the Waif. While Sansa would have no idea who the Waif was, it's possible that she might recognize Walder Frey, the former sworn lord to mother's family, House Tully. Of course, Sansa has know idea who the Waif is, and probably couldn't recognize Walder Frey either. Still, it's a fun Easter Egg from earlier in the show.
5. Heroes Of The Other Side
After Beric Dondarrion makes the pivotal conclusion that killing the Night King would kill the entire undead army, we see Jon Snow once again play the hero as the rest of the gang clamors onto Drogon's back. As Jon Snow fights off a handful of wights, we watch him lock eyes with the Night King in a moment that parallels Jaime Lannister's dash of stupid heroism toward Dany and Drogon from "The Spoils of War." For a split second, we think that he might actually try to take him down then and there, and when he doesn't, it seems almost certain that it'll happen at some point down the line. Just as Jaime wanted to take out Daenerys to end the carnage, Jon Snow wanted to take out the Night King. Even Robert Baratheon told the tale of a foolish boy that tried to end Robert's Rebellion killing him with a stroke of his sword.
George R.R. Martin has long been an advocate of stirring up empathy for the parties on both sides of the battlefield, as he did with the loot train attack and the story about that doomed, heroic boy in Robert's Rebellion. While we haven't ever felt much empathy for the Night King, the parallels between these types of stories seem too strong to ignore. In an interview with Collider, Martin gave us the following cryptic quote to contemplate:
"Nobody is a villain in their own story. We’re all the heroes of our own stories. So, when I am inside the head of a character who would otherwise be considered a villain, I have a great deal of affection for that character and I’m trying to see the world and the events through their eyes."
We already know that the White Walkers have a mysterious and complicated history. As we'll surely start to see more and more of the Night King in Season 8 — and some fans have already started theorizing that he might be a very familiar character indeed — it might be time to start entertaining the notion that they're not the mindless killing automatons we've always suspected them to be.
6. Lady In Blue
With Stark threatening Stark, miraculous Uncle Savior appearing for the final time and a dead dragon being infused with the icy breath of pure evil, no one could blame you for failing to notice a little detail like a bluish filter on a fair face. This episode saw Daenerys stand tall on the top of the Wall, the first time she's ever been in the North. Back in Episode 2, when Jon Snow went South, we saw Kit Harington's face for the first time without the perpetual blue-gray filter of the North. Now, for the first time since the House of the Undying, we see the dragon queen — wearing the fiercest gown Westeros has seen since Cersei's coronation — through the icy lens once reserved for Jon and the other Northerners. Now that she and her new subject, the King in the North, are on a boat back to Dragonstone and we know that the Night King is heading South, it may very well be the last time we ever get to see Daenerys in this light.
If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out the trailer for the season finale of Game of Thrones, which airs this Sunday on HBO.