It feels like the fantasy genre’s version of The A-Team: Jon Snow, Gendry Baratheon, Tormund Giantsbane, the Hound, Thoros of Myr, Beric Dondarrion and Jorah Mormont are heading north of the Wall. Game of Thrones doesn’t typically succumb to the clichés of most fantasy epics, but this is very much a prototypical quest — much like Frodo and Sam’s journey in The Lord of the Rings. And like Frodo, Jon has a pretty daunting task ahead of him. But it’s also completely avoidable and his plan makes no sense.
Let’s examine Jon’s reasoning for this trip beyond the Wall, as outlined in Sunday’s episode of Thrones. He’s traveling out there to face the White Walkers head on, accompanied by a very small group of allies; remember how quickly an entire Wildling village was decimated in the season five episode “Hardhome”? (In case you don’t: It was pretty quickly.) The real goal of this new journey is to capture a wight — basically, one of the Night’s King’s ice zombie soldiers — and present it to Cersei Lannister as proof that the Army of the Dead is a very real threat to Westeros. Then, presumably, Cersei and Daenerys Targaryen will put aside their squabbling over who gets to sit on the Iron Throne, and humanity (with the help of a few dragons) will make a stand against the ultimate evil.
OK, so where do we begin? The Night’s King has amassed a huge army of wights; trying to capture one of them probably means dealing with an entire faction, if not the whole army. Actually capturing a wight is another issue altogether: When they snare it, will it be caged or bound together by ropes? Who’s going to lug it across the icy tundra back to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea? Wouldn’t anyone tasked with dragging a wight across the snow get caught by other wights, which have proven to be exceptionally quick in the heat of battle?
That Jon even consider this plan is pretty ridiculous. Unless the man who came back to life has a death wish — or is somehow aware he’s the main character of a TV show, so he’s got impenetrable plot armor — then traveling north, especially now that winter’s arrived, is a suicide mission. Unfortunately, this effort might end up spelling doom for all of the characters who’ve joined up with Jon.
We must also consider the Cersei factor. Assuming that Jon, inexplicably, makes it to King’s Landing with a wight in tow, it’s far from a guarantee that Cersei would be willing to set aside the fight of the Iron Throne and join forces. Make no mistake: When Cersei considers a collaboration with Dany, after Jaime meets with Tyrion, she doesn’t have good intentions in mind. She tells Jaime she’s thinking about what their father, Tywin, might do in this situation. He orchestrated the Red Wedding.
It would also be shockingly convenient for all of the lead characters to suddenly forsake all of their previous quarrels and bad blood for the good of the realm. If anything, Thrones’ mantra has been the antithesis of a development like that. The real issue for years was that none of the characters with power or influence, aside from Jon, care enough to worry about the White Walkers as a tangible threat.
That said, I can’t deny that I’m pumped for next week’s White Walker battle. If last week’s horribly named “Loot Train Attack” (why, HBO?) was any indication, Thrones is outdoing itself when it comes to big-budget showdowns. Just don’t expect Jon and any other survivors to come away from the fight thinking, “Yes, that mission was worth it and made complete sense.” Because it’s not, and it really doesn’t.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.
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