[Warning: this story contains spoilers for the sixth episode of Game of Thrones‘ seventh season, “Beyond the Wall.”]
The dragon has three heads — and now, one of those heads is dead.
In “Beyond the Wall,” the riveting penultimate installment of Game of Thrones season seven, we lost one of the longest-running characters in the series: Viserion, one of Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) three dragons, named after her late brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd). By all accounts, Viserion was far better and much more helpful than his namesake, providing both his mother and Thrones fans alike with countless reasons to celebrate over the seasons. Moving forward, Viserion will most certainly continue to leave viewers with unforgettable moments…just not too many moments that are worthy of celebration, given what’s next for his mortal form.
Here’s how everything played out not just for Viserion, but for the other casualties and developments seen throughout “Beyond the Wall.”
1. Dire Times in Winterfell
Let’s begin with the worst news, at least as far as it pertains to disappointing plot developments. In Winterfell, Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) brought their simmering feud dangerously close to a full-on boil. Arya confronted Sansa about her role in getting their father killed back in season one, and later threatened to remove Sansa’s face and wear it around as her own. Definitely not creepy at all. Why is Thrones so adamant about driving a wedge between the Stark sisters? Is it as simple as the fact that for Arya Stark, there’s no such place as home anymore — that she truly has become No One, even if she doesn’t want to admit it? Is it possible that Sansa is really as power-hungry as Arya suggests? It’s not a great look for either Stark sister, nor is it a great look for Thrones, as the show continues spinning its wheels in Winterfell even with the end game so firmly in sight.
2. Best Friends Forever
In happier news (happier before all the sadness commenced, anyway), it was an absolute delight to watch Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and the Eastwatch Elite interact with one another. Whether it was Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and the Brotherhood taking turns mocking the well-intentioned but somewhat dim-witted Gendry (Joe Dempsie), or Tormund and the Hound (Rory McCann) taking a moment to talk about the liver-hungry Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), “Beyond the Wall” was loaded with joyful moments between this glorious group of strangers — before one of them met the Stranger, that is.
3. The Key to Victory
Despite the major blows to humanity’s cause, “Beyond the Wall” opened the door for how Jon and his allies can beat the White Walkers in the end. In one scene, Jon shattered a White Walker with a swift swing of his Valyrian sword, an echo of his last time fighting one of these monsters in “Hardhome.” Instantly, the White Walker’s minions dropped to the ground, no longer a threat. Later in the episode, Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) suggests that killing the Night King could result in an even wider version of that same phenomenon. In other words, the stage is now set for a direct one-on-one battle between the Night King and one of our heroes (almost certainly Jon, but let’s leave the door open for another warrior to take his place), with the White Walker ruler’s death paving the way for the Army of the Dead’s final destruction.
4. The Final Drink
Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) wasn’t the bravest soldier Game of Thrones has ever seen — just the drunkest. The red priest who resurrected Beric on more than one occasion was the only main character from the Eastwatch Elite to lose his life, mauled by a bear and later succumbing to a combination of his wounds and the bitter freezing cold. It’s a tragically ironic ending for the man, who spent so much of his life shrouded in fire, only to flame out in the midst of winter. Rest in peace, Thoros. You were truly “top-knotch.” (Too soon?)
5. Cry Uncle
Another main character casualty: Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle), Jon’s undead uncle who went missing back in season one, when he disappeared during a range north of the Wall. Benjen first returned to the action in season six, saving Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) from certain death at the hands of the dead. It was a short-lived return to form, but somehow not as short as his season-seven swan song, in which Benjen saved Jon at the expense of his own life — all in a matter of about 30 seconds. At least the King in the North no longer has to wonder what happened to his long-missing loved one.
6. The King Who Knelt
Speaking of the King in the North and loved ones, Jon might not be able to hang onto that title for much longer, given that he ends the episode swearing allegiance to a new queen: Daenerys Targaryen. Just as Dany is now prepared to join her cause against the White Walkers, Jon, too, is prepared to finally bend the knee to the Dragon Queen — at least, he would bend the knee, if he wasn’t presently bed-ridden. Who knows how the news will go over with his subjects, and who knows if Jon will stay true to his word if and when he finds out that he’s a legitimate Targaryen. For now, at least, it’s one less royal obstacle in Dany’s path toward the Iron Throne.
7. The Dragon Is Dead…
…long live the dragon. In the final scene of “Beyond the Wall,” the Night King resurrects Viserion, a horrifying development in the war between the living and the dead. While the White Walkers are now poised to cause even more destruction than previously imagined whenever they arrive in Westeros, it’s not all grim news: Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is a warg, after all, and it’s very likely that his magical destiny involves possessing the deceased dragon’s husk and evening out the odds against the Night King. Either that, or the Night King is going to fly all over the Seven Kingdoms and destroy everything in sight. Let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.