With the ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 finale upon us, it’s time to bone up (pun not intended) on the show’s undead villains, the White Walkers. Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY
Throughout the run of Game of Thrones, we’ve been reminded that the wars over the Iron Throne are children’s games compared to the impending war with the most stone-cold villains the show has to offer: The White Walkers.
How much have we learned about the White Walkers in the past seven seasons?
We know what they are, how they were created, how they reproduce, how to kill them, the destruction they wreaked the last time they came south in winter and that they’re waiting for the right moment to do it again. (If you missed that intel or need a refresher, you can learn everything you need to know in the video above.)
Game of Thrones‘ writers must now walk a fine line, deciding just how much more information to parcel out in the Season 7 finale and the six episodes that will comprise the eighth and final season.
They need to tell us enough to keep us interested and justify hyping the stakes of the war with the dead for so long, but if they tell us too much of the White Walkers’ back story or spend too much time attempting to make them accessible, they take away a bit of their ability to scare us.
Remember how terrifying we used to find the Borg, the cybernetic Star Trek villains when they were first introduced on The Next Generation? They menaced humanity with their monotone threats about how Earth culture would be assimilated and not to bother putting up a fight because resistance is futile. They scared Picard’s crew badly enough that the captain swallowed his pride and begged Q, who arranged the encounter, to make it stop.
Let’s see: Ancient race, monolithic, ruled by a mysterious monarch, hell-bent on assimilation, not much in the way of individual thought, decidedly non-verbal. Remind you of anybody on Game of Thrones?
The Borg continued to incite fear and dread in the Next Generation crew until the humans learned how the cyborgs’ hive-mind consciousness worked.
First, they rescued Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) after the Borg kidnapped and assimilated him in an attempt to make him their mouthpiece (Locutus, a sort of Borghdad Bob) in two of that series’ best episodes, “The Best of Both Worlds.” With a little hint from what was left of Picard (“Sleep, Data, sleep”), they hacked their way into the Borg network and effectively put them down for a nap. They also learned that they could blow up their entire ship by putting them into regeneration mode.
We rarely heard an individual Borg speak until Season 5’s “I, Borg,” when Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) and chief engineer Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) rescued a lost, injured Borg (Jonathan Del Arco) and nursed him back to health, patiently explaining why humans didn’t want to be assimilated. They humanized him, taught him first-person pronouns, named him Hugh and sent him back to the Borg collective, infecting it with the most pernicious virus of all: the notion of individuality.
“I, Borg” gave viewers a firsthand understanding of what it’s like to be one. It was fascinating on one level, but it was also the moment the Borg tipped from terrifying to a bit touchy-feely.
The Borg’s move from the demilitarized zone to the friend zone continued on Voyager, which featured a Borg crew member — a hot female one. Seven of Nine was a human who was assimilated (and assimilated others), whose only visible trace of her former Borg-ness was a metallic patch over her eye.
I know resistance to the idea of some Targaryen aunt-on-nephew action during “The Dragon and the Wolf” is probably futile. All I ask is that Jon Snow and the Expendables don’t turn that wight they captured into a pet on their way to King’s Landing.
I guess that’s one upside of travel happening so fast this season. They probably won’t have time to give it a cute name.
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