Are You Ready for the White Walkers?

Ah, but it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter waiting for Game of Thrones final season. And if you’re like me, it’s a bit hard to remember what’s going on. After all, the last episode aired on August 27, 2017, almost two years ago. Let’s face it: Remembering last week, let alone the machinations of seven kingdoms, ancient alliances, mystical revelations, and who’s killed (or had sex with) whom, can be difficult.

New to GoT? Stop reading. Spoilers ahead as I review everything from Season 7 related to the Army of the Dead, White Walkers, and their blue-eyed leader, the Night King. When you’ve binged through episodes up to this point, do come back; that way, you’ll be fully prepped for a finale of epic, dragon-laden proportions.

Back in July 2017, I reviewed Seasons 1 through 6 (“Your White Walker Refresh for ‘Game of Thrones'”). That’s a LOT of TV. It’s entirely possible to watch the Season 7’s episodes in one day. I did; it was the perfect activity for a rainy Saturday while I snuggled up with my kids and recovered from monster jet lag.

GoT boils down to two primary story lines: ruling the Seven Kingdoms by claiming the Iron Throne and battling the Night King to remain alive. Will the very human desire for power or humanity’s battle against cruel death resolve first? What a puzzle! Season 8’s episodes are like a prolonged game of roll-your-own poker, and how writers resolve those questions and reveal a satisfying ending will be fascinating.

But before any predications can be made, let’s complete that White Walker review:

GoT Season 7

Night King's eye and snowflakes from Game of Thrones
Winter is Here

E1 “Dragonstone”

Bran, in a trance, sees the Army of the Dead silently marching onward; he and Meera reach the Wall, where he tells Eddison, commander of the Night’s Watch, “You’ve seen the Night King and the army of the undead. He’s coming for us, all of us”; at Winterfell, Jon instructs everyone to prepare for fighting the undead (men, women–gotta love the Lady Mormont and Brianne of Tarth’s enthusiasm–and children); wilding leader Tormund Giantsbane is sent to Eastwatch by the Sea; Jon and Sansa disagree about the inheritance of the first castles to be reached if the wall is breached but Ned Umber and Alice Karstark–children of fathers who’d bent the knee to Ramsey Bolton–swear to be Stark bannermen; Jon and Sansa disagree on which is the most important battle/Cersei to the south (Sansa) or Night King to the north (Jon); at the Citadel, Sam does menial work tending sick, serving food, and shelving books; he longs to access the restricted books behind the locked gate, begging Archmaester Ebrose for permission to search for information on defeating the Night King; at the farmhouse where the Hound and Arya left a man and girl to die, the Hound has a vision–in the fire, he sees “a wall of ice, the wall, where the wall meets the sea, there’s a castle there; there’s a mountain looks like an arrowhead, the dead are marching past, thousands of them”; Sam and Gilly read from the restricted books; Gilly picks up “Legends of the Long Night” and Sam learns Dragonstone (the Targaryens’ first stronghold) is built on top of a mountain of dragon’s glass; Daenerys lands at Dragonstone.

“The man who passes the sentence swings the sword”~Jon Snow quotes Ned Stark, from Season 1 E1 (Stark was executing men who’d fled the wall after seeing the White Walkers; Bran was forced to watch)

E2 “Stormborn”

Melisandre, the Red Woman, comes to Dragonstone and tells  Daenerys she and another–Jon Snow–will fulfill “the prince who was promised” (Azor Ahai) prophecy; Daenerys sends a raven, inviting Jon to Dragonstone to bend the knee; Davos points out dragons breathe fire, which destroys wights; Sam makes the connection between the man with greyscale (Sir Jorah) and Lord Commander Mormont; he defies the archmaester and treats Sir Jorah’s greyscale; Jon announces he’s traveling to Dragonstone to meet Daenerys, mine dragon glass, and gain allies against the Army of the Dead; he names Sansa ruler of the North in his absence; Arya, on her way to Winterfell, has an encounter with a pack of wolves, one of whom she first believes is Nymeria, her long-lost direwolf (“It’s not you,” she mutters as the wolf turns to leave).

Characteristics of Azor Ahai: born when “the red star bleeds and darkness gathers,” has dragon’s blood, awakened dragons from stone, and wields some form of Lightbringer (forged by being plunged into his wife, Nissa Nissa’s, heart)

E3 “The Queen’s Justice”

Jon lands at Dragonstone while Melisandre, watching from the cliffs, talks with Lord Varys (“I’ve brought ice and fire together”); Daenerys and Jon meet, and Davos hints at Jon’s rebirth (“he took a knife in the heart for his people”); Tyrion asks Daenerys to allow Jon to collect dragon glass; Daenerys tells Jon she named two of the dragons for her brothers, Rhaegar and Viserion (she rides Drogon, named after her dead husband Khal Drogo); Bran arrives at Winterfell and tells Sansa that he is the Three-Eyed Raven while they sit by the weirwood tree (“I can see everything that’s ever happened . . . when the Long Night comes again, I need to be ready”); Sam has cured Sir Jorah, who’s released to return to Daenerys (“I owe her and you my life . . . I’m sure our paths will cross again”).

“I ask you not to judge a daughter by the sins of her father”~Daenerys to Jon Snow (who essentially said the same thing in E1)

E4 “The Spoils of War”

Littlefinger gives Bran the knife used to attack him and Bran asks, “Do you know who this belongs to?” Littlefinger says no, but it started the war and “made you what you are today.” When Bran replies, saying “chaos is a ladder,” Littlefinger is taken aback; Meera announces she’s returning home to be with her family when the Army of the Dead comes; when Bran’s response is wooden, Meera says, “You died in that cave”; Arya finally returns to Winterfell and she and Sansa meet at their father’s statue in the Stark crypt; Arya, Sansa, and Bran have a reunion at the weirwood tree where he reveals Cersei is on Arya’s list of names and gives her the dagger, which she recognizes as Valyrian steel; Jon shows Daenerys the Children of the Forest’s cave drawings depicting their alliance with First Men to fight the blue-eyed wights (spiral patterns in the drawings are reminiscent of the body parts arranged in the snow in Season 1); Missandei questions Jon about “Snow” and he tells her he’s a bastard; Daenerys takes the dragons to the battle near Blackwater Rush (a river) and fries the enemy; while she attempts to pull an arrow from Drogon, Jaime Lannister charges her with a spear and is knocked into the lake as Bronn saves his life.

Winter is Here

E5 “Eastwatch”

When Dickon and his father, Lord Randall Tarley, do not bend the knee to Daenerys, she commands her dragon to burn them to death; when she and the dragon return, Jon places his bare hand on the beast’s face and gently calms him, amazing Daenerys; asked about the “knife to the heart statement” Davos made, Jon implies it isn’t true; Jorah returns to Daenerys and Jon says he served with his father; taking the form of many ravens, Bran flies beyond the wall and above the vast Army of the Dead marching to Eastwatch but the vision is broken when the Night King makes eye contact; Bran sends a Raven to the Citadel, where the maesters mock the note but Sam overhears, shares his experiences beyond the Wall, and suggests they listen to what Bran has to say; Tyrion suggests Jon capture one of the undead and bring it to Ceresi, proving the Night King is real; Jorah and Jon decide to lead an expedition while Davos takes Tyrion to Westeros; Bronn takes Jaimie to a secret meeting with Tyrion, who begs him to believe the greater danger is coming from the North; Davos collects Gendry, Robert Baratheon’s illegitimate son, from the Street of Steel; Jorah, Jon, Gendry, and Davos set off to find the wight; Gilly reads aloud to Sam from High Sector Manord’s journal about “Rhaegar’s annulment and married him to someone else in a secret ceremony in Dorne”; Sam breaks into the restricted library, steals books, and takes Gilly and Little Sam away from the Citadel”; at Eastwatch, Tormund shows Jon and the others to the cells, where the Hound and the men of the Brotherhood, Beric Bondarrian and Thoros, who sold Gendry to Stannis (Season 3) are held; Jon releases the men and they all leave Eastwatch to search beyond the Wall.

“Here we all are, at the edge of the world, at the same moment, heading the same direction, for the same reason . . . it doesn’t matter what we think our reasons are; there’s a greater purpose at work, and we serve it together, whether we know it or not”~Beric Bondarrian   

E6 “Beyond the Wall”

Jon’s men walk across the snowy tundra, sharing stories and getting to know each other; Sir Jorah tells Jon that Ned Stark wanted to execute him; Jon tries to give Longclaw, Lord Mormont’s sword, back to Sir Jorah, who refuses it because of the shame he brought on their house (“let it serve you well, and your children after you”); Beric has been brought back to life six times and says he and Jon serve the same master; the Hound sees the mountain from his vision in the fire; in the thickening snowstorm, a wight bear attacks, killing several of the men and wounding Thoros, one of the Brotherhood, who stepped in to save the Hound; dragging the wounded man, they press on and find a small band of undead, which the group attacks; when Jon kills the leader, many crumble and fall but they catch one; when it gives a high-pitched scream, hordes of undead appear; Jon dispatches Gendry, the fastest, to run back to Eastwatch and send a raven to Daenerys; the Army of the Dead pursues the men, who run onto a frozen lake; the undead stop when the ice breaks (though they stay “alive,” wights can’t swim), resulting in a standoff; Gendry makes it back to Eastwatch and Davos sends a raven for help; Thoros dies and, when Jon says Daenerys is their only hope, Beric says there is another way– Jon kills the Night King so all the Army of the Dead will die; when a rock tossed by the Hound bounces, the surrounding Army of the Dead realize the ice has frozen; they attack, and the men retreat to a rocky crag; all seems lost until Daenerys appears with her dragons, attacking the undead with fire; Daenerys lands and the men, with the wight, climb aboard, except Jon, who is fighting off undead; while they are occupied, the Night King grabs his javelin, walks through the fire, and throws, killing one of the dragons, Viserion, who falls into the lake and submerges; Jon and the Night King face off, when Jon yells to Daenerys to go as he is overpowered by wights and sinks beneath the water; as they fly away, the Night King narrowly misses Daenerys’s dragon; against all odds, Jon emerges from the freezing lake, grabs Longclaw, and prepares to face the remaining wights when a man on horseback appears, swinging a lit lantern; it’s Uncle Benjen, who puts him on the horse, sending him to Eastwatch; Jon’s last sight is Benjen being completely overrun by undead; Daenerys waits at the wall when the horn signals Jon’s return; he’s tended to and she sees the scars on his chest; “I wish I could take it back; I wish we’d never gone,” he tells her, but Daenerys is glad she saw for herself and pledges to destroy the Night King; Jon calls her “Dani” before “my queen” and bending the knee; using massive chains, the wights pull the dead dragon from the lake and the Night King reanimates him.

“I’m not fighting for some man or woman I barely know so they can sit on a throne made of swords [I’m fighting] for life. Death is the enemy, the first enemy and the last…the enemy always lives, and we must still fight him.”~Beric Bondarrian

E7 “The Dragon and the Wolf”

The allies arrive at Westeros to meet with Cersei; Daenerys arrives at the dragon pit from the sky, riding Drogon; Jon tries to tell Cersei and crew about the Army of the Dead and the Night King; the captured wight is dumped out of its box and it rushes at Cersei, snapping at the end of its chain until the Hound cuts it to bits; Jon explains “we can destroy them by burning them and we can destroy them with dragon glass; if we don’t win this fight, that is the fate of every person in the world. There is only one war that matters; it is the Great War, and that is the one that matters”; Cersei accepts the truce until the dead are defeated and asks “Ned Stark’s son,” the King of the North, to bend the knee but Jon won’t (“I cannot serve two queens, and I have already pledged myself to Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen”); after a talk with Tyrion, Cersei emerges to tell the allies that she will march North to fight alongside them; Sansa receives a raven that Jon has pledged to serve the Dragon Queen and Littlefinger suggests there’s a romantic alliance in the works; Littlefinger says the Faceless Men “worship the God of Death” and suggests playing a little game, assuming the worst, to understand other Arya’s motives for returning to Winterfell; Sir Jorah suggests Danaerys takes a dragon but Jon says she should sail to the North with him; Sansa, Bran, and Arya charge and find Littlefinger guilty of murder and treason, so Arya slits his throat; when Jaimie discovers that Cersei is plotting to betray the allies, that Yuron Greyjoy is bringing the Golden Army to Westeros, Jaimie upholds his promise to ride North; as he leaves Westeros, the sky darkens and snow begins to fall; Sam, Gilly, and Baby Sam arrive at Winterfell and Bran receives Sam; Sam tells Bran that Jon is the one to lead the fight against the dead and offer his help; Bran reveals that Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and Sam corrects Bran–Rhaegar and Lyanna were married properly, so Jon isn’t a bastard; Bran goes into the past to witness their marriage; “Robert’s rebellion was built on a lie” because Rhaegar and Lyanna loved each other, and their baby, the heir to the Iron Throne, is really named is Aegon Targaryen; Jon and Danaerys consummate their feelings for each other onboard ship; Sansa and Arya stand on the ramparts, discussing Littlefinger’s execution (“I was the executioner; you passed the sentence,” says Arya) and remember their father; Sansa quotes Ned Stark: “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives”; Bran sits under the weirwood tree, eyes rolled back in a vision; inhabiting a flock of ravens, he sees Eastwatch by the Sea; the Army of the Dead approaches the Wall; the Night King rides undead Viserion, who breathes a destructive blue flame; the Wall gives way, crumbling in avalanches, and the undead pour through the breach as the Night King flies overhead.

“The monsters are real. The White Walkers, the dragons, the Dothraki screamers, all the frightening stories we heard when we were young: they’re all real. Let the monsters kill each other.”~Cersei

A Few GoT Season 8 Predictions

Night King's eye and snowflakes from Game of Thrones
Winter is Here
  • Did Littlefinger die so Arya and Sansa can fool Cersei? Arya worked her faceless magic on the Freys. Sansa got her revenge on Ramsey Bolton with his own dogs. Those Stark girls can be harsh. Imagine “Littlefinger” bearing his prisoner, Sansa, to Cersei. This could fulfill the prophecy that’s frightened Cersei all her life–no living children and being overthrown by a “more beautiful queen.” Sansa will defeat Cersei, with Arya’s help.
  • Theon will rescue Yara and then willingly give his life to save Bran, thus making some amends for all the sorrow he brought to House Stark.
  • In an epic battle (E3), the Mountain will kill the Hound and Arya will avenge his death.
  • Tyrion and Jon will each ride a dragon in battle. Why not Danaerys? Because she’s pregnant. She will survive the war and give birth to their baby, though the Iron Throne no longer exists.
  • The remaining living direwolves return: Namyria and Ghost. Remember how important the wolf pack is to the Starks.
  • Bran enters the Night King’s body, which is key to defeating him (yep, I think the Night King gets defeated . . . but it may cost the Stark’s Bran). They’re two sides of the same coin, each with one foot in the world and the other in the great beyond.
  • Jaimie and Brienne of Tarth–they die, swinging swords side by side, valiantly holding Winterfell for the living. (Earlier, when Podrick complimented her on bringing the Stark sisters home safely, Brienne says, “I did next to nothing.”)
  • We’ll see Ned Stark again.

“In the Citadel, we lead different lives. We are this world’s memories–without us, men would be little better than dogs . . . when Robert’s rebellion was raging, people thought the end was near. At the end of the Targaryen dynasty, how will we survive? When Aegon Targaryen turned his eye westward and flew his dragon to Blackwater Rush, people thought the end was near; how will we survive? Thousands of years before, during the Long Night, we can forgive them for thinking the end was near but it wasn’t; it never was. The wall has stood through it all, and every winter that ever came has ended.”~Archmaester Ebrose

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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