“Death is the enemy,” Beric says. “The enemy always wins, but we still need to fight.”Photograph courtesy HBO
On last night’s “Game of Thrones,” a North of the Wall-focussed episodethat we expected khổng lồ be snowy, wighty, & grunty, we got all that, andjust a smidge more: Khaleesi tears, a swinging-lantern surprise, aknapsack full of gross intrigue. Và yet, for some of us, thispenultimate episode of the penultimate season of our show of showsunderwhelmed; I got reports of a bird flipped at a television inMassachusetts. On the other hand, it’s hard not lớn love these crazygoofballs. Shall we?

We open on snow, snow, và more snow: our gang of fur-clad bravehearts,bareheaded except for Gendry, who wears an amusing hood atop whatappears khổng lồ be a shearling coat. “You ever been North before?” Jon Snowasks. “Never seen snow before!” Gendry says, shivering. Tormundmentions the utility of fucking khổng lồ keep warm, then, after making a crudejoke to Gendry that leaves him wide-eyed, worries to Jon Snow thatGendry isn’t smart. How dare you, sir!

The long trudge through the North gives the men lots of time lớn catchup—there won’t be time for exposition, the writers seem to lớn be remindingus, once the wights start skibbling. They talk of the long Queen, andof everybody’s favorite topic: bending the knee. Jon Snow complainsabout it; Tormund reminds him that Mance Rayder was too proud to bởi vì it.“How many of his people died for his pride?” Tormund says. Gendrysquabbles with the Brotherhood guys for selling him toMelisandre—remember the leeches, you bastards? The Hound rolls his eyes.“This one’s been killed six times,” he says, nodding at Beric. “Youdon’t hear him bitching about it.” like real brothers!

Jon and Jorah catch up about Jeor Mormont and Ned Stark: fathers wholived nobly and died unfairly. This is a manly prelude khổng lồ a portentousmoment: the handing back and forth of Longclaw, Jon Snow’sValyrian-steel sword. If you, like me, did a littlewho’s-got-Valyrian-steel refresher before this episode—because Valyriansteel và dragonglass are the only things that can kill WhiteWalkers—you might have been reminded that Jeor gave Jorah’s sword toJon, who was like a son lớn him. “Changed the pommel from a bear to lớn awolf, but it’s still Longclaw,” Jon says, all decency. No, Jon Snow! Youare too noble! You need that thing, for chrissakes. “It’s been in yourfamily for centuries,” Jon says. Aw, shucks, Jorah says—but I broughtshame upon my house. You take it. May it serve youwell. Phew.

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At Winterfell, Arya, somehow effectively tricked by Littlefinger’smachinations of last week, has grown suspicious and scheming. Arya tellsSansa a story about shooting arrows even though it was against therules, and their father clapping for her when she hit the bull’s-eye. “Iknew that what I was doing was against the rules, but he was smiling, soI knew it wasn’t wrong,” she says. “The rules were wrong.” She’s off toa good start; they think of Dad fondly for a second. “Now he’s dead,killed by the Lannisters, with your help,” she says. Oy! No, Arya, no!

Sansa’s eyes widen. “What?!” Arya takes out the scroll she found inLittlefinger’s mattress and reads it melodramatically. It’s the letterthat the Lannisters made Sansa send to lớn Robb—remember Robb?—asking him toswear fealty khổng lồ Joffrey. Standing in front of what appears to lớn be a hugepink slab of meat, they bicker about loyalties và Ned’s execution.Seems lượt thích they should have spent more time catching up beforethis—surely Sansa would have mentioned despising Joffrey at some point?More bickering, hard khổng lồ believe & harder lớn enjoy. (You want to be apretty queen! You should be on your knees thanking me for savingWinterfell! Well, I still hate you! Your suffering sounds like baloney!Etc.) Then Sansa says something sensible: “Do you know how happy Cerseiwould be right now if she saw us fighting?” lớn this I might add, do youknow how happy Littlefinger would be, too? In fact, he’s probablynestled behind a nearby pole, but for once, the camera doesn’t cut tohim doing the old lurk-and-smirk.

On the Long Cold Trudge, Tormund and the Hound engage in some sailortalk. At least someone’s got some joie de vivre around here! Tormundsays he wants khổng lồ make babies with Brienne of Tarth. “Great bigmonsters,” he says. “They’d conquer the world.” The Hound, we can see,is more focussed on the time that Brienne nearly killed him, but hedoesn’t get into it. Beric & Jon Snow discuss the Lord of Light,a.k.a. The Great Resurrector, và his mysterious ways. “Death is theenemy,” Beric says. “The enemy always wins, but we still need lớn fight.”You said it, brother. Up ahead of them, the Hound sees the vision he sawin the fire made real: “A mountain lượt thích an arrowhead.” The plot isnearly upon us!

In cozier quarters—the regal caves of Dragonstone—Tyrion is staring intothe fire, talking about boys with Dany. “Do you know why I lượt thích you?”she says. I honestly don’t, he says. “You’re not a hero,” she says. AsTyrion offers evidence about the Mud Gate and his face slash, shecontinues: heroes bởi stupid things và they die. She rattlessome off—all heroic, most not dead. “Drogo, Jorah, Daario. Even this . .. Jon Snow.” They’re all in love with you, he points out. She scoffs atJon Snow’s puniness, then asks about Cersei. If Bran wargs thisconversation & tells Jon about it, I hope he leaves that part out.

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Up in Snowsville, things are really getting cooking: a huge blizzard,panting và trudging, & lo—a creature in the distance! Could it be anice spider? No—before you know what the hell is going on, or why, abear—a bear the kích thước of a woolly mammoth, with the threadbare fur of anold teddy bear & the eerie shuddering moves of a military-graderobotic dog—is upon them,snarling and snorting và chomping, & being whacked with flamingswords.

At Winterfell, just as reasonably, Sansa is confiding in Littlefinger.Her concerns are legit: Now that Arya’s found that scroll and believedthe worst, will the Lords of the North have reason lớn mistrust her asshe leads them into the Long Horrible Winter? Why not talk khổng lồ Bran,all-seeing stiff, or that woeful tree he hangs out with? That thing’snever betrayed you while purring about being in love with you and yourlate mother. Littlefinger acts like he’s being loyal khổng lồ both sisters.“Arya’s not like them,” he says. “She would never betray your family.”He suggests that Brienne help—a legitimately good idea. What is he up to?

Now we’re scaling Mt. Arrowhead. Jon and Tormund see some bad guys downbelow: a white Walker, accompanied by wights. The trắng Walker—tall,with good posture, a balding head, & long white hair và beard—lookslike a metal version of Mr. Rosso from “Freaks andGeeks.” Sadly, he is much less chill. Our ragtag troupe attacks frombehind, and, after a whole bunch of group fighting, Jon whacks the W.W.and he shatters like glass—Goodbye, Mr. Chips!—and the wights, in turn,crumble, too. Well, not all of them.

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,” as the closed captioning says: in thebackground, one precious brown-skulled howler howls on. Our heroes lookat him, a little bit in love. Could you be theone?, they all thinksimultaneously, & begin khổng lồ capture their new friend khổng lồ bring toCersei. They’re in too deep to lớn realize the absurdity of this plan now.(As a friend put it, bringing a wight khổng lồ Cersei would be lượt thích bringingsome melted glacier water to prove climate change to Trump—that is tosay, ineffective. On the other hand, you can’t let glacier water out ofa bag và have it run around the office like a psychopath. I’moptimistic!) As they subdue it và put a bag over its head—?—they hearthe rumblings of a jillion more wights in the distance. Jon tells Gendryto scram. “Run back to lớn Eastwatch! Get a raven khổng lồ Daenerys, tell herwhat’s happened!” he says. I’d be very curious to read that raven’sscroll.