by Graham Pierrepoint
Warning – if you haven’t yet seen the episode ‘Beyond The Wall’ of Game of Thrones – which aired over the weekend on HBO and elsewhere – please stop reading if you wish to keep yourself free from spoilers!
The second-to-last episode of season seven of Game of Thrones has aired – and many viewers are calling the latest outing for the denizens of George RR Martin’s brutal fantasy world one of the most harrowing yet. The episode saw a host of well-loved characters head beyond the fabled Wall – where they met with the sinister figure of the Night King and his undead army – and as we were left with three casualties, two of which many were not expecting.
Thoros of Myr – portrayed in several episodes by veteran comedian and actor Paul Kaye – finally bowed out despite having handed out healing to his friend and fellow Wall pilgrim Beric Dondarrion over the years – but as events go, his passing was the most expected. We saw the return of fan favorite Benjen Stark – who had been missing since season one until a run of episodes last year – who bowed out saving the life of his nephew Jon Snow (who it turns out isn’t related to him at all).
These deaths were nothing in comparison to the central departure of the episode – as one of Daenerys Targaryen’s mythical dragons found themselves harpooned by the vicious Night King – with the episode ending with the reveal that the dragon, Viserion, had been revived as a ‘Wight’ – an undead, frozen beast – indicating that the Night King and his armies would now have a dragon in their ranks.
This now poses many questions – will Viserion now be an ice dragon to face off against his brothers under Daenerys? Will the Night King and the Wight Walkers now be able travel beyond the Wall to breach Kings' Landing? Further to this – with only a relative handful of big characters having departed this year – who will survive what many are assuming will be a torturous and brutal final episode? With only a handful of stories left on the slate – it will remain to be seen just what direction the journeys of the main characters left in the game will take. With rumors circulating that one such star has already confirmed filming times for the final season, it may be clear that one fan favorite will make the last few episodes – but as for everyone else, it really is anyone’s game.