The entirety of the seventh season of Game Of Thrones has felt like a sprint. Storylines were dropped without warning, entire kingdoms have been left to languish, and characters teleport from side of the continent to the other. All in the mad dash to finish off the show with the outline HBO was given by George R.R. Martin. But considering how much Martin’s work tends to change from inception to final product, and based on how this season of the series has played out, the showrunners were given a bare bones sketch. One they, quite frankly, aren’t adept enough to flesh out without Martin’s writing as scaffolding.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES BEYOND THIS POINT.
But nothing so far has topped the absolutely absurdity of “Beyond the Wall.” Usually the penultimate episodes of Game of Thrones are where the most climatic moments happen. While this remained accurate, the storytelling was so sloppy that it dulled the effects. A dragon dying should be a big deal, not an annoying fly in the ointment of audiences trying to figure out how Dany managed to get to The Wall in time to save her nephew/boyfriend.
This episode was an affront to geographical distances in a way that would be comical if the series hadn’t set itself up as a serious political drama for six seasons. Before we go any further take a look at this map. I’ve circled the approximate location of Jon’s suicide squad and Dragonstone, where Dany’s seat of power is.
That is a serious amount of distance. In fact, traveling from beyond the Wall to Dragonstone would be about the same distance as going from the top of Washington state to the bottom of California. That’s about 1500 miles. How do I know? Because ASOIAF fans are meticulous. Using distances mentioned in the books, they came up with this map:
A homing pigeon can travel about 50mph, but they are significantly smaller in size than a raven (less than a pound vs upwards of 4.5 lbs). Even saying ravens can travel 40mph, that’s still over 37 hours from Eastwatch to Dragonstone, assuming the raven never stops to eat, sleep, or just do bird stuff. So let’s just put it at an even two days, best case scenario. And that doesn’t include Gendry’s land speed record sprint back to the Wall plus however long it took Dany to find winter clothes, and wrangle her dragons. All told, if everything goes as smooth as possible, we’re talking four days from the moment Jon told Gendry to run to the second Drogon starts roasting wights.
The rules are humans can survive three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Assuming the suicide squad were drinking snow, they’d still have been long dead of exposure before Dany showed up. Then there’s the ice. Setting aside for a moment that the ice in the Lands of Always Winter would be thick as heck, let’s assume for a minute they weren’t. Ice needs to be five inches to safely hold a small snowmobile, or four inches for a human. The ice is obviously thinner than that (somehow), but the suicide squad makes it to temporary safety. How long would it take the water to refreeze? Let’s say the wights need six inches of ice just to be safe. At below-zero degree temperatures, that would take roughly 36-48 hours. Again, the suicide squad would be undead wights before Dany even mounted up.
I know HBO is rushing through to wrap things up with Game of Thrones (for reasons unknown as they have no other AAA title waiting in the wings to take its place), but there’s a difference between speedy and sloppy. After an entire season of sprinting as fast as humanly possible, “Beyond the Wall” is the point where the show trips on its own momentum with a comically slipshod penultimate episode. It’s most likely all downhill from here.