Review: Game of Thrones S7E6 ‘Beyond The Wall’ is a game changer
It doesn’t seem long enough, but the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones season seven has finally aired – and it’s a gamechanger.
We expect big things from the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones. It’s the episode that brought us The Red Wedding and the Battle of the Bastards. We’re not entirely sure what season seven’s wight-hunt-suicide-mission will be known as, but it was certainly another huge moment for the series.
Most of the 71-minute episode was dedicated to the search for a wight beyond the wall, with the intention of bringing it South to prove the existence of White Walkers to Queen Cersei. It’s not the best of plans, and predictably it goes horribly wrong – but that does allow for some spectacular scenes. It’s like something out of a thriller when an undead polar bear attacks the crew in the midst of a blizzard. Later, Jon Snow and his men find themselves isolated and surrounded by the undead army in an epic stand off. This turns into a hopeless battle. All seems lost until Daenerys arrives with Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion. Like ‘The Spoils of War’, the dragons steal every battle scene they’re in. And then there’s the enormous twist. It’s visually fantastic and shocking television.
But ‘Beyond The Wall’ was far from being all action. Characters shared insightful conversation throughout. Jon and Jorah’s first real exchange was honest and powerful. Discussions of The Lord of Light with Beric and Thoros were enlightening. Back in Winterfell, Arya and Sansa tried to suss one another out, but it’s not clear if they worked out who is really pulling the strings. At Dragonstone, Tyrion queries Daenerys’s feelings for Jon Snow and questioned what the world would do if the Mother of Dragons got herself killed.
It was very far from the rushed quality of the previous episode ‘Eastwatch’. The show dedicated time and space to its most interesting characters and let them flourish, without neglecting the show’s penchant for action. The improvement in pacing is partly to do with the increased air time, and partly to do with the focus on fewer characters. As a whole, however, it is another step in what has so far been an extremely uneven season.
‘Beyond The Wall’ is a game-changer in terms of plot and the kind of television that HBO can create. Like ‘The Spoils of War’, ‘Beyond The Wall’ was a visual spectacle. The type of action sequence was very different, but the way music and sound and visuals moulded together to create cinematic wonder was incredible. It’s episodes like this that explain why Game of Thrones is the most-talked-about show in the world.