I love GOT. That’s hardly a secret. And this week’s episode was no exception. It was epic.
The problem with Beyond the Wall, however, is that it should have been two episodes.
Season 7 is really starting to suffer from the decision to cut the episode count from 10 to 7. Leaving aside for the moment the characters’ newly developed and increasingly ridiculous ability to transport themselves across great distances in the blink of an eye, the character development is suffering, and major themes and developments are being watered down.
There was a theme for this episode, a hugely important, massive theme: children.
The looming presence of the revelation that Cersei is once again pregnant with her brother’s child is still fresh in our mind’s after the end of last week’s episode. Tyrion raises the question we’ve all been wondering for a while: if Dany is barren who will succeed her when she’s gone? Jon and Jorah have a conversation about their own fathers, ending with the thought that Jon will one day have children of his own. Arya and Sansa finally voice their true feelings for each other, and Sansa’s excuse for being a ridiculously weak and very irritating individual for the first few seasons is (shockingly) ‘I was a child’.
Arya was a child too.
Arya is no longer a child, a point that is fiercely driven home for Sansa this episode when her little sister literally threatens to cut her face off. We’re left wondering if this isn’t actually Little Finger’s plan. True, Arya can’t be easily manipulated, but she’s capable of making the kind of cold, logical moves that Little Finger loves, while Sansa still isn’t.
Even Tormund got to talk about his future children, the huge fierce warriors he will some day have with Brienne (by far funniest part of whole episode).
But while all this is going on there are some shockingly important twists and developments, including not one, or two, but three major deaths in the form of Thoros, Benjen Stark, and Viserion, one of Dany’s beloved dragons.
You know, her children.
Add to that an epic battle with the army of the dead, an undead bear (yes, an actual zombie bear!), an intense flirtation between Dany and Jon that seems to have magically developed in the gap between this week’s episode and last week’s (during which time they weren’t actually together), the successful capture of a wight, and a lot of witty banter, and you begin to see why this needed two episodes.
Jon was left for dead and was immediately revealed to be alive.
There was a time that would have merited a cliffhanger, at the very least, if not a whole episode of ‘Is he dead or not?’.
And now for the really obvious problem with all of this.
It takes them ages to find the army of the dead, and yet Gendry somehow manages to run all the way back to the wall, send a raven to Dragonstone, which reaches Dany in time for her to climb on Drogon, fly all three of her dragons north, and somehow find Jon and his merry band of badasses in the middle of nowhere.
All in the time it took them to run to a rock in the middle of a lake, and make it through a single night.
I was actually defending the insanity of timelines this season a few weeks ago, after Jamie somehow magically got from King’s Landing to High Garden in no time at all, while Euron sailed half way to Casterly Rock, back to King’s Landing, and back to Casterly Rock in the same day.
I’ve given up.
There is no more defending it.
Shame on you, Game of Thrones. You’ve taken an utterly epic series of events and some seriously important plot elements and condensed them to the point they are trivial and at times completely meaningless. Worse still, you’re no longer spending time with the characters and they’re edging dangerously close to becoming two dimensional.