“The enemy always wins.”
Game of Thrones, from the very first scene of the entire series, has always been about the battle against this enemy, the White Walkers. And in that department, “Beyond the Wall” absolutely delivered, much to the distress of our heroes. But, with the audience knowing, as Dany now does, that the only thing that matters is destroying the White Walkers, the series is struggling to make anything else feel vital in this late hour, though it’s certainly trying its hardest.
Sunday’s episode was a hodgepodge of Thrones‘ favorite elements, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. The series loves to get two soldiers together to reminisce about battle and compare scars, it loves family and political drama, it loves a big battle, but most of all, it loves a big twist.
The episode only really hit on two out of five, so was the epic battle and big twist enough? Thrones has had issues taking care when it comes to the details while it starts to wrap up big story elements this season. And as breathtaking as it was to see the dragons and the walkers do battle, the rest of the episode suffered from poor characterization, increasingly large plot holes and poor writing.
For many loyal fans, maybe this doesn’t matter at this point. Thrones is nothing more than the sum of its parts this season, and that is what many people signed up for. And there’s something to be said for the absolute thrill-ride the series has become now that everyone can travel seemingly at the speed of light and the big moments feel like fan service. After all, this week we got to see the dragons go up against the White Walkers. Fans have waited years for ice and fire to collide. And, much more importantly for the future of the Westerosi human race, we got to see one of those dragons re-animate, blue-eyed and terrifying. But there once was a time when the series could surprise us without an ice dragon involved.
With just one episode left this season and six left in the next, we’ll soon see how far the thrills can sustain us.