Game of Thrones "S7E6: Beyond the Wall" - Review: Season 7 Just Keeps Getting Better!
“Rogue One, may the force be with you” I’ve lost count of my Rogue One viewings but that still force grips me in the feels every time. It’s difficult not to feel for people giving everything for something that seems so insignificant but ultimately means everything. Be that Death Star plans, the One Ring or protecting the chosen one. On this week’s venture to Westeros, an all-star line up is risking everything in the hope of proving the White Walkers exist to those disbelieving southern fairies. The results will leave you breathless.
Beyond the Wall – When Jon and his companions seek to capture evidence of the White Walkers, they find more than they bargained for, leading to a desperate last stand. In Winterfell, Sansa grows increasingly wary of Arya.
So this is a big one..... and no, that’s not what she said. The previous episode brought Jon, Jorah, Tormund, the Hound, Thoros, Beric and daddy’s boy Gendry together for this mission we all knew would be someone special. Well, Arya can cut my disappointed face off because I won’t be needing it anymore. The early journey based scenes of the group utilise the different character exchanges and histories well for top draw banter. What’s more, as some of these are first time encounters they have plenty of originality too. Tormund telling The Hound about Brienne is a firm comedic highlight, “How did a mad ****er like you live this long?..... I’m good at killing people”. Yet there’s good meaningful content too as the group discuss the nature of fighting for Gods and men, finding their underlying values align even if over different names. The Long Claw scene was a nice touch in establishing a bond between Jon and Jorah. You could certainly read between the lines concerning something else that once looked like it would be Jorah’s.
Okay, let’s talk about the action sequences of this episode. If you didn’t get at least 5 to 6 gasps of shock and awe, you should have gone to Specsavers. Ever since characters started heading towards Eastwatch, it’s looked like a Hardhome sequel would be on the cards for another epic encounter with the army of the dead and this did not disappoint. I really liked the Fellowship of the Ring vibe with combat focusing on the half dozen key characters (plus a few red shirts that really should have skipped ahead in the script) against overwhelming masses of enemies. You could even liken things to a large scale version of Balin’s tomb. When things really got going, it was Lesner Vs Goldberg: nothing but big moment after big moment. The close quarter’s camerawork kept us, as an audience, right in the thick of it while the wider shots pressed home the desperation of the situation. You have to love it when a show like Game of Thrones genuinely has you going about the fate of a popular character. I suspect I wasn’t the only one doing, “Don’t you dare kill Daryl!” levels of screaming at the TV over a particular extended sequence. The bigger visual effects moments of the later developments were nothing short of spectacular. I wasn’t crazy about one instance of blatant deus ex machina but make no mistake, this was a huge payoff. This was a kind of set piece that those critical of the show were moaning about years over, “when will we get <blah blah blah>”.... and my Gods, it was worth the wait.
Now anything south of the wall was little more than a side show to allow that main story to progress. That said, the Winterfell scenes had plenty of good content to them as the tensions rise between Sansa and Arya. What I really liked about this was the comparables to their younger selves. At the core of it all, this was two little girls teasing each other with the cunning and intelligence or adults. Sansa, the elder sister, looks to keep herself as the commanding presence over her younger upstart well Arya takes every chance she gets to upstage and drag her down. Littlefinger used well sparingly do imply he’s still pulling some strings while keeping the focus between the two sisters. It places both in a deadly stand-off by establishing that either could have the other killed (Sansa with the men at her command, Arya with her skill as an assassin) and whether or not they will pull the trigger. Yet underneath it all, there’s still the sense that their family bonds remain. Like the two little teasing, they might want to hurt the other but never kill. The key factor becomes fear if either becomes afraid enough of the other that they blink and make a fatal move on the other. Right now, I’d still bet on both lady Starks making it beyond this season but there will definitely be some fallout in Winterfell.
Those final moments may have been predictable but do we really care when those are the results? This penultimate episode goes breathtakingly big and epic as the war for the dawn gets another key skirmish. What’s more it’s a spectacle that achieves story purpose by setting up the next episode’s Cersei/Daenerys face to face and upping threat of the Night’s King. This has already been a powerhouse of a season, now let’s see them end it in style.