The last five minutes of the Game of Thrones season 7 finale, "The Dragon and Wolf," were some of the most harrowing of the show's entire history. Not because it was particularly gruesome, but because we were watching the slow beginning of the end.
Back in season 1, we heard Old Nan's stories about a dragon made of ice, with a breath so cold it froze all in its path. But those were just stories. Last night, we saw that truly come to pass, and it was more terrifying than we could have imagined. Viserion, the dragon named after Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) brother Viserys, who was killed in last week's episode "Beyond The Wall" when the Night King hurled an ice spear at his chest, flew to Eastwatch with a trembling roar.
As the Night's Watch blew three horns, which, in the books, was last heard a thousand years ago because it signifies the sighting of the White Walkers, a chill went up my spine. Undead Viserion then proceeded to blow its horrible ice-wind, which punctured the Wall. The Wall is not just a large glacial wall that protects Westeros from the Army of the Dead, it was also charmed with magic that prevented the White Walkers from crossing it. It seems that magic was no match for Viserion's — the Wall slowly calved apart, then crumbled all at once, with giant bergs plunging into the Shivering Sea.
The Wall, built by the First Men and the Children of the Forest to keep out the dead, was Westeros' only protection against the dead. That protection is gone now, while its inhabitants squabble over a stupid throne.
Watching the Wall come down was a different kind of stomach-churning. Whereas in the past, we've been nauseated by horrific character deaths, sexual violence, and incest, this was unnerving on a different level. It was the realization that Westeros has just lost its only defense against the Army of the Dead. We were watching the beginning of the end for all of the characters we know and love — characters who've been through enormously challenging situations, just to face the ultimate test of their survival. The march of the dead army is inexorable, slow, and creeping, and we can only hope the realm of men will be ready when they come. Winter is totally here.
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