Here is a look at the most shocking moments from ‘Beyond the Wall,’ the sixth episode in Season 7 of ‘Game of Thrones.’
Game of Thrones doesn’t know who some of its characters are anymore.
With only one episode left this season on HBO’s Game of Thrones (Sunday 9 ET/PT) and just six in the upcoming eighth and final season, the pace of the fantasy drama is racing forward. This breakneck speed forces fan-favorite characters, who spent years in far-flung locations, together at long last.
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It’s great to get disparate characters together in a single room, but the effect is dulled by the wild personality swings of several main characters this season. Dany and Arya, especially, ricochet between good, cruel and downright confusing on a weekly basis. And it’s starting to grate.
The obvious answer to this is that most characters on the series, except for Jon Snow on the good end and Ramsay Bolton and Joffrey on the evil end, live in moral gray areas all the time. Which is fair (just ask the Hound), but those gray areas have to make sense, and this season Dany and Arya’s actions have been more confusingly out of character than a thoughtful exploration of morality.
Take a look at Dany. The series has taken great pains to show that the Mother of Dragons has displayed crueler and crueler behavior over the course of the season, culminating in the execution of Randyll and Dickon Tarly. Her advisers fear she is too much like her father, the Mad King. An excessive amount of time has been spent debating what type of leader she should be, and whether she is, in fact, fit to lead.
But then, after a wild and illogical series of events, she flies headfirst into battle and sacrificed her dragon Viserion, in a bid to save Jon Snow and his companions from the White Walkers in the sixth episode. In the course of a single battle, she fully commits to Jon’s cause. So we guess she’s moral again since she knows which war she has to fight.
Does she regret burning the Tarlys? Has she given up on the Iron Throne? Does she care that Jon actually bent the knee? These are all valid questions that, at least in the last episode, the series hasn’t answered.
Arya, if possible, is more muddled. Maisie Williams’ character is a long-time fan favorite who ended last season by triumphantly returning to Westeros’ shores and killing the Thrones’ most despicable villain, Red Wedding architect Walder Frey (David Bradley).
Since then, the series has no idea what to do with her. It presented her at a literal crossroads early in the season, and then sent her to Winterfell to reunite with Sansa (Sophie Turner).
Since she came home, Arya’ has been an aimless mess. In the most recent episode, “Beyond the Wall,” Arya threatens her sister Sansa over a years-old letter that did not, in the end, affect anyone, and eventually backs down. Why? Arya isn’t an idiot. She is capable of understanding what Sansa went through. It’s almost as if the series wants to turn Arya into a villain but is unwillingly to sully a favorite. And if she does turn on her sister, are we meant to applaud her vengeance the way we applauded her murder of Walder Frey?
As we head into Sunday’s season finale, which is likely to be bombastic and focused on spectacle, it’s more important than ever to know who these people really are, and to truly care about what they do and why.
After all, humanity is only worth saving from the White Walkers if we actually care about people.
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