The White Walkers and the army of the dead are a seemingly unbeatable threat on Game of Thrones. The penultimate episode of Season 7, however, reveals game-changing information that dragonglass and Valyrian Steel aren’t Jon Snow’s only ace cards to play.
Spoilers below for Game of Thrones Season 7 episode 6, “Beyond The Wall.”
In “Beyond the Wall,” Jon and his Magnificent Seven team make a potentially game-changing discovery. When Jon uses Longclaw to shatter one of the tall blue White Walkers, a bunch of decaying dead wights around him fall too. Later, as Jon and his men are stranded in the middle of a frozen lake surrounded by the army of the dead, they discuss this development.
“When you killed the White Walker, almost all the dead that followed it fell. Why?” asks Jorah. Jon theorizes that the White Walker was the one who turned them. The one surviving wight, presumably, had been turned by another White Walker.
Beric Dondarrion, Jon’s resurrection buddy, then points to the Night King. “Kill him. He turned them all,” he says.
The mythology of White Walkers and wights has always been mysterious on Game of Thrones. White Walkers aren’t just ice zombies. There’s an ancient, powerful magic that turns and animates them. As fans learned during Season 6, the Children of the Forest created the Night King by ritually driving a Dragonglass blade into a human’s chest. This builds on Season 4’s revelation that the White Walkers use magic to turn Craster’s rejected baby sons into more of their own kind.
But wights — which make up the bulk of the army of the dead — are simply their minions. They’re dead bodies that have been reanimated. As “Beyond the Wall” reveals, the daunting task of beating the army might not be as difficult as it seems. All Jon and his team need to do is to target the White Walkers lieutenants, because each is linked to their separate regiments. If they take out the Night King and his lieutenants, the rest of the army will fall.
Of course this is easier said than done. The Night King is a formidable warrior who can take a fucking dragon out of the sky with a well-timed throw. Good thing Drogon seems to like Jon. He’ll need to have him in peak form.
Game of Thrones is currently airing Sunday nights on HBO.