The penultimate episode of any Game of Thrones season is always either action-packed, has jaw-dropping moments, or both.
This trend looks to continue with this Sunday’s episode as Jon Snow & Co. venture beyond the wall to try and capture proof that the enemy is real.
Let’s be honest, this is a terrible plan. It was hastily agreed upon and nobody asked the basic questions that needed asking. This plan relies on a great many assumptions that none of them know to be true.
So let’s put aside the fact that this is insanely dangerous and will be incredibly difficult to even achieve.
This mission will almost certainly result in a smaller team when it’s all said and done. After all, how will you capture just one and avoid getting killed by the other 10,000+?
But, assuming they can capture one of the dead, and that’s a big if, there are still important questions about this plan that need asking.
Will the magic hold?
In the Game of Thrones “Inside the Episode” for “Eastwatch”, Benioff and Weiss address the plan to bring one of the wights south.
They say “in theory you could bring one of these things down and have it still functional by the time it gets to King’s Landing”. This is the assumption Jon & Co. are operating under and it is a good premise, in theory.
But the last time this was tried the hand was no longer moving by the time it got down to King’s Landing.
Does the reanimation magic of the Night King only work within a certain distance? They could capture a wight only to have it power down after they got far enough away from the walkers.
There is also the matter of decomposition. If a wight rots away to a certain point perhaps the magic fails. If this is the case then a newly dead wight would be better than one that is mostly skeleton.
This makes me think that perhaps, because this is Game of Thrones, the answer will be the most tragic one possible.
Meaning that given the difficulty of the mission and the high chance of casualties, the wight they bring back will wind up being one of the group members with a fresh set of ice blue contacts.
This will be the saddest way to succeed in the mission and they will be bringing back someone that people know, just in zombie form. Will Cleganebowl be an all zombie spectacular?
The wall of it all
Then there is the huge question mark of the wall. The wights in season one came back to life on the southern side of it.
We know the wall has magical wards so will bringing a wight through it destroy it or block the magic?
We know that Bran’s astral plane interaction with the Night King removed the magical wards from the three-eyed raven’s lair.
But we still don’t know if this and Bran’s passing through had any effect on the magic in the wall.
Finally there is the fact that they are setting a dangerous precedent bringing one of the dead through the wall. They have no idea what consequences that might have.
Wight or Walker?
I get that this plan is already impossible enough without adding another level of difficulty. But given the questions of decomposition, wouldn’t it be better to capture a white walker than a wight?
Cersei could right off a wight by assuming someone science’d the sh** out of it like Qyburn. But a walker could not be argued with.
Granted it is likely impossible to hold a walker. Although perhaps Gendry could use those blacksmithing skills and whip up some Valyrian steel or Dragonglass handcuffs.
Who will be convinced?
Beyond the impossibility of the mission and beyond the stupidity of trying to capture one wight with an army of 10,000+ nearby.
Beyond all of this is the complete and utter foolishness of using this plan to try and reason with Cersei.
Dany and Jon can be forgiven for underestimating Cersei. Tyrion and Varys cannot.
They have Cersei on the ropes and are giving her the option to regroup and plot new deception and betrayal.
She is more ruthless and reckless than her father and he orchestrated the Red Wedding. Trusting her is the height of stupidity.
Cersei will be hard to convince period. She has seen Qyburn’s zombie mountain and if he is anything like the maesters at the Citadel, he will be highly skeptical.
Their whole goal rests on the idea that Cersei will halt hostilities realizing the greater threat. But that is to completely misunderstand who Cersei is.
To Cersei, the loss of power and death are the same thing. Losing to Dany is just as bad if not worse than the death of everyone and everything at the hands of the Night King.
They might be able to convince the rest of the lords of the realm. They could all unite together and isolate Cersei even more than she already is.
But Cersei made herself clear at the beginning of the series. When you play the game of thrones you win or you die. For Cersei, there is no middle ground.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. Images via HBO.