Okay so, we begin north of the Wall with Jon Snow’s zombie-snatching party, where Tormund jokes that he’s going to fuck Gendry and then warns Jon not to be so proud that he ends up dooming the North. It’s a pleasant enough scene, where the disparate party all settle scores and do some catching up as they march to purposefully hang out with the scariest motherfucker on the continent. For some reason, Jon also tries to give Jorah back his family’s Valyrian steel sword before Jorah wisely tells him he doesn’t deserve it.
Back in Winterfell, Arya and Sansa have their inevitable confrontation over Sansa’s old letter to Robb Stark assuring him that the Lannisters were good, and it plays out about how one would expect, with Arya getting in Sansa’s face and calling her a fake Stark for betraying her family. Sansa makes the obvious and true point that she was under duress and that she had to do it to stay alive, which, Arya being Arya, doesn’t sit well with her sister, who insists she’d have died instead of writing the letter. Both sisters have valid points and even after Sansa points out that infighting is exactly what Stark enemies want, Arya is stubborn enough to hold onto her antipathy.
Tyrion and Daenerys hold a debrief after Tyrion’s (still rather baffling) summit with his brother in the Red Keep, during which Tyrion tells Dany that Jon is horny for her. Tyrion and Dany are an odd pair, since she is the all-consuming conqueror with three dragons/children while Tyrion is the intellectual realist who knows the importance of the gritty process of diplomacy. The question of conquering vs. ruling that’s defined Dany’s arc for seasons now hasn’t melted away, and if anything, now that her dragons are explicit bearers of an apocalyptic power, it’s become even more prominent. She can win the war at anytime if she wants, but that won’t be enough. She has to, in her own words, break the wheel and ensure a better future. It will not be easy, especially when pitted against a sadist like Cersei.
When we return north of the Wall, everything is much more ominous, and the party spots a big hulking bear. All of a sudden they realize it’s a zombie bear and HOLY FUCKING SHIT. We’re now basically in a horror movie as this big fucker is biting people in the ass and generally destroying the tiny party of bandits and wildlings. Zombie Bear is more terrifying than Dany’s dragon, and even after Beric sets him on fire, he bites the shit out of Thoros of Myr, who later succumbs to his wounds.
There’s a short Winterfell interlude where Littlefinger reveals his plan, which is to put Brienne in between Arya and Sansa, ideally killing Arya in the process. This matters, but also, the zombie army is a much more pressing matter.
And there they are, a small detachment of ice zombies led by one of the Night King’s blue-eyed lieutenants. They fall into the party’s trap, and as soon as Jon slices open the white walker, all the wights but one immediately crumble into dust. Who knows why this happens, but it is convenient for our band of heroes, who are out to capture one wight. Tormund punches the remaining wight the face and the party captures it, but not before it lets out an ominous shriek, which inevitably means the rest of the army of the dead are coming.
Fleeing, Jon and friends run onto the surface of a frozen lake, and though they immediately try to stop and turn around to keep from breaking through, the ice zombies are now in attack mode, forcing them to make for an island in the center of the lake. Thankfully, the ice cracks, and hordes of undead are swallowed up by the lake. Still, a bunch of zombies remain on the shore, trapping our heroes on the rock.
Gendry, who Jon dispatched immediately to run back to Eastwatch, somehow avoided the ice lake and reaches the Wall after an insane snow marathon. He tells the men there they need to get word to Dany because Jon and his crew will all be dead “unless the Lord of Light sends us a bit of fire.”
And oh, would you look at that, there’s Dany in an extra-cool looking winter version of her battle dress telling Tyrion to shut up so she can fly north. Somehow, Jon and his buddies have survived (Thoros of Myr excepted) on a barren rock in a frozen lake surrounded by an army of thousands of ice zombies long enough for a raven to get from Eastwatch to Dragonstone and for Dany to ride north with all three dragons. Worrying about space and time is pretty much a lost pursuit at this point in the season.
The Hound, bored out of his gourd, starts throwing rocks at the army, which leads one particularly skeletal looking one to learn that it can just walk across the frozen lake, which has now re-frozen during the time that the heroes have been chilling on that rock. Now it’s time to fight again, and they somehow resist the onslaught and seem to be pretty efficient at killing ice zombies, although the scary thing about zombies isn’t that each one is particularly threatening, it’s that there are just so many of them. I don’t know how it’s plausible that this group of maybe a dozen frozen dudes kills as many zombies as they do, but Game of Thrones is more or less a pure action show this season, so I suppose it works.
All of a sudden, IT’S DRAGON TIME! Ice and fire are finally battling and it goddamn rules, even if it is the sort of deus ex machina device that the show staunchly refused until Season 7. Dany melts a ton of zombies and things appear to be working out until the Night King grabs a javelin and hurls that fucker into one of the minor dragons, sending it crashing into the ice. Big Crossbow may not have been enough to stop a dragon, but the Night King just Randy Johnsons that fucker right out of the sky. It’s hard to watch as its eyes close and it slips into the lake, dead as bricks.
Jon thinks about maybe dueling the Night King, but his buddy grabs him another javelin and Jon books it, only to be tackled into the lake by a trio of zombies. Dany and everyone else board Drogon and beat it, presumably leaving the King in the North drowning and soon to be recruited to the army of the dead.
Somehow, Jon pulls himself out of the lake, which is only just a slightly better position to be in since he’s wet, alone, and still surrounded by an undead army. But he’s saved by his uncle, Benjen Stark, who you’ll remember is the Nice Zombie who saved Bran in Season 6. He makes it back to Eastwatch, and somehow no major characters died in that ludicrous battle.
Despite the dragon vs. zombies extravaganza, there are still nine minutes left in the episode, which begin with Sansa sneaking into Arya’s room to find her unsheathed Valyrian steel dagger lying ominously on her table and a bag full of faces of Arya’s dead enemies. Arya, now a swaggering uber-assassin, is scary as shit as she threatens to skin Sansa and forces her to play the game of faces before leaving her with a wink and the dagger.
Daenerys tells Jon that she’s now fully radicalized against the army of the dead after they claimed one of her babies. Jon, whose scars are now exposed, tells Dany that he wants to bend the knee and the viewer is made to believe that they’re about to bone.
They do not bone.
Instead, the episode ends with the Night King’s army corps of engineers dragging the dead dragon (pretty sure it’s Viserion) out of the lake. The Night King gently touches his head and an icy blue eye opens, and that means we got a dang frost dragon on our hands, folks.
Dany now has two dragons and also has to fight against a resurrected ice dragon someday when they inevitably fight the army of the dead. I don’t think Cersei is going to listen when they show her the wight, but at least Dany knows the stakes.