Why 'Game of Thrones' Fans Hate "Beyond the Wall" (And Why They're Wrong)
In Game of Thrones tradition, the penultimate episode to every season is where shit hits the fan. But “Beyond the Wall,” the sixth episode to the most recent season of the HBO high fantasy, has just been voted one of the worst things about — well, anything in Game of Thrones Season 7. Although the criticism isn’t without merit, it’s also lame as hell.
On Friday, Fansided revealed the results of a Game of Thrones poll in which 25.89% of fans who voted picked “Just ‘Beyond the Wall’ in general” as the worst moment of Game of Thrones Season 7. Other options included:
- “Arya and Sansa are at odds for…some reason” 14.62% (205 votes)
- “Jon, Tyrion and Daenerys think that sending Jon north of the Wall to find a wight is a good idea because…?” 10.27% (144 votes)
- “Highgarden and Casterly Rock don’t quite live up to expectations, spectacle-wise” 4.99% (70 votes)
- “Jon and Sansa need better communication before talking to the Northern lords in the Great Hall” 2.35% (33 votes)
- “First-year maester student Samwell Tarly can cure greyscale?” 2.28% (32 votes)
- “The Dragonstone cave painting scene” 1.07% (15 votes)
One fan poll doesn’t speak for an entire fandom, especially one with a relatively small sampling size (25.89% represents 363 votes). But it is solid indicator of consensus. And consensus has been that “Beyond the Wall” is a bad episode, largely due to the show breaking its own internal rules when it comes to established ideas regarding displacement and time.
To critics, it was too convenient Daenerys showed up in time with Drogon to save Jon and his Suicide Squad. It was too convenient Gendry runs all the way to Eastwatch without dying. And it was too convenient that Benjen comes out of nowhere to save Jon Snow. I get it! “Beyond the Wall” fools too much with suspension of disbelief, which is upsetting, given Game of Thrones was always supposed to be a realistic medieval fantasy. It mattered how far apart its characters were, and the drama of tedium in transport.
But sometimes, when the heat is on, it is fine to chuck logic out the window. So many great moments in film would be lost if logic supplanted drama. Yes, Jack could have survived with Rose on the door in the ocean. Yes, Daniel would have been disqualified kicking Johnny in the face with his Crane Kick. And no, it makes no sense for the t-rex became the hero in Jurassic Park.
In fact, I was reminded of “Beyond the Wall” months later, when the internet was fired up over the Holdo Maneuver in The Last Jedi. (I am extremely pro-Holdo.) Even if Laura Dern’s desperate, destructive play could logically undo pretty much everything established in Star Wars, it’s just not the thing I think about. Instead, I think about how I felt in the theater, in awe of the lights and shadows and deafening silence. It is the art that I cared about, not the math. And “Beyond the Wall” delivered, in lesser measures than The Last Jedi, but with that long-anticipated rush of bringing dragons to a White Walker knife fight.
“Beyond the Wall” is far from the best episode the show has produced, and surely it ruins the built-in rules made by the show over the course of six seasons. But but it also doesn’t deserve to be recognized as the single worst thing about Season 7. (The correct answer, by the way, is Jon Snow’s cave painting. Cave painting is the worst thing about Game of Thrones Season 7.)
Game of Thrones will return to HBO in 2019.