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Episode 6 - Beyond the Wall

22 August 2017

This was really stupid. How long were they supposed to be stuck on that rock? Gendry had to get back to Eastwatch. A raven had to get to Dragonstone. Dany had to fly to Eastwatch. Then fly to where they were stuck. And she had to take action based on Gendry saying what? That there was a giant army of the dead bearing down on his friends. That's it. He didn't know about the frozen lake. So Dany wouldn't have known where to look for them necessarily. Oh, I can just imagine my own angry voice if I was still podcasting.

I've been very forgiving this season. And I would have forgiven this if it had led to an exciting battle. But this was dull. Once our group were trapped on the rock there was zero tension. There was no way they could escape without the dragons and so the subsequent fighting was pointless. I didn't feel anxious for our heroes. I just thought "serves you right for agreeing to go on such a dumb mission." Why didn't they just invite Dany to come spend a week at Eastwatch. Then surely the dead would have attacked the Wall and she could have said "Oh right, there's the Army of the Dead, you were telling the truth."

Part of what "Hardhome" did so well was convey the relentlessness of the zombies. We saw them moving at inhuman speed and just hacking away at the poor wildlings. Here they seemed much slower. It felt like they should have swamped the rock in minutes instead of being beaten back by a few sword swipes.

Once Dany had saved the day the battle dynamics remained awkward. Jon doesn't jump on Drogon but decides to go wandering off to clear a flight path or something. The Night's King doesn't seem in any hurry despite the danger he's in and the possibility that he could kill all three dragons if he got a move on. Is he the only one who trained for the javelin? Is his lieutenant Walker saying "Sorry boss when I was alive I only did shot put." 

The writers just seemed to be ticking things off like bullet points

  • Dragon attack
  • One dragon dies
  • Jon is going to die!
  • Deus ex Benjen
  • Ice Dragon!

It might sound cool on paper but in execution was pretty flat.

Have we been told before that Dany can't have children? Does she believe that because of the situation around Drogo's death or does she know for sure? That seems like it could change the end of the story dramatically if it's true.

I'm confused by the Hound saying goodbye to Beric? He had a vision instructing him to head north. He saw the Army of the Dead. And now what? He's done? He's off to buy a farm somewhere? 

I still imagine we're heading for a big twist at Winterfell that leads to the end of Baelish. But it doesn't seem like Arya and Sansa are working together. I find Arya's lack of empathy for Sansa a little hard to take. 

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  • :-)

    Posted by The TV Critic, 22/08/2017 4:39am (3 months ago)

  • Well hello old friend!

    I've been following your reviews and finally couldn't help but to comment. While I've been enjoying this season, I also appreciate how you can cut right through the ludicrous writing as well. I laughed out loud a couple of times while reading your review.

    I've long since given up on Game of Thrones making much narrative sense, which helps me enjoy the show a bit more than I might otherwise. The breakneck pace has both helped and hurt this show.

    On the major plus side for this episode, and a point I'm surprised you didn't mention: we got some very rewarding dialogue and character interactions this week as the Magnificent Seven trudged through the snow. To me that was easily the best part of the episode.

    To answer your question on whether or not it has been mentioned that Dany cannot have children - back in Season 1 Mirri Maz Duur told Dany that Drogo would return to his old self, "When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves."

    Well, in the books, there is an additional line (not in the show) that reads, "When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before."

    My guess is Benioff & Weiss forgot they never included that line. Seems like a pretty big plot point to have an "Oops!" on, but it's also Benioff and Weiss we're talkin about here.

    My guess as to why Clegane is headed to King's Landing is to eventually lead to a Hound v. Mountain matchup. Not because it makes sense at all in narrative logic, but because...HYPE!

    I agree that Littlefinger is done for.

    PS Doesn't Bran know all? If he knows what happened to Sansa on her wedding night, then surely he can access other truths in time. Why not just be like, "Uh yeah, so definitely do away with this Baelish fellow."

    Whatever, though. Littlefinger has been reduced to leering from different vantage points in Winterfell each week, so I welcome his exit if that's what is planned.

    Anyway, it's been a joy to read your continued reviews!

    Posted by Brando, 21/08/2017 10:23pm (3 months ago)

  • Excellent points as always, and I agree with all of them. I thought this episode was pretty terrible. Absolutely the worst episode so far.

    Viewer score: 38 / 100

    Posted by Aaronic, 21/08/2017 9:21pm (3 months ago)

  • Forgive me if I comment on this but I have followed your reviews of this show for a couple of years and you are generally more negative on this show on average than most other reviewers I read. And, looking at the grades and reviews I saw from you this season, you have not been very forgiving at all. Now, that is your prerogative but I don't know that it's warranted because I could also make the case of how time and travel logistics never mattered on the show (Cersei goes from King's Landing to Winterfell in a matter of a few minutes in episode 1 season 1) and how getting mad over those sorts of details now misses the thematic point of the show. Who cares how much time it takes for scene A to take place in spot B, as long as it's thematically rewarding or interesting in other ways (visually or acting-wise)? The show's world is way too big and complicated to have everything match up perfectly in time and space and still fit into 10 episodes a season. Now one might say, have more episodes per season then but then the complaint becomes 'oh it takes too long to get to the good stuff, it's just people wandering around endlessly'. Those are big criticisms of books 4 and 5. Plus, the production already works 50 weeks a year to get to 10 episodes so I don't think more episodes are physically possible per season. Now, the writing could definitely take care of those issues of logic that you complain about with Gendry for instance. But a reviewer should review what's on-screen and not offer alternative scenarios to fix what's on the screen.

    As for the battle being dull, that's a matter of taste but generally I think that had more than Thoros and few wildlings died, that would have made a difference but it's interesting that we are meant to think that the human characters are going to die when the episode actually leads to the death of one of the dragons we have grown accustomed to on the show. Whether or not you care about the dragons really depends on the viewer. But both Tormund last episode and Jon in this episode said it was a stupid idea to do any of this.

    Jon remaining on the ground fighting is actually the "stupid hero" thing Tyrion and Dany were talking about earlier in the episode.

    The Night King is actually in no danger: Valyrian steel and dragonglass hurt White Walkers but fire does not have any effect on them. He's in no hurry either because he's got all the time in the world. They are literal embodiments of death and death gets everyone eventually. He took a shot at the flying dragon because that one was destroying his army, and he tried to kill Drogon in the same manner later too.

    The Hound's headed South to King's landing with the wight. Did you miss that? Does that mean that him and Beric won't cross paths again? No it doesn't.

    Dany might think she can't have children after her child with Drogo was a miscarriage because she exchanged his life for Drogo's life. It might just be Dany thinking she can't have children, rather than actually being unable to have children though.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Beric, 21/08/2017 8:36pm (3 months ago)

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