[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the fifth episode of Game of Thrones' seventh season, "Eastwatch."]
For much of season seven, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) has tried to figure out exactly how to defeat the Night King when his army inevitably marches on Westeros. This past week's episode offered the start of an answer: head North beyond the Wall, kidnap a wight, bring it back to King's Landing, and convince all of the skeptics — Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) alike — to hit pause on their war and focus instead on the looming march of the dead.
In their weekly Inside the Episode feature on HBO, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss break down where the idea came from to send Jon and a ragtag group of warriors into the great wight north — namely, that it stems from the very first season of the show.
"When the first wights got through [Castle Black] in season one, they sent Alliser Thorne down with a hand that was [still twitching], to prove to everybody that this was going on," says Weiss. "By the time this hand got down there, it had rotted away to nothing and stopped [twitching]. There was the idea that bringing one of these things down south had been put out there before in a way that didn't work, but, in theory, you could bring one of these things down and have it still be functional by the time it gets to King's Landing. That seemed like that would, on a story level, do the trick."
In order to execute the mission, Jon is traveling into the unknown alongside a motley crew of fighters, including Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), Gendry of Flea Bottom (Joe Dempsie), Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye), Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and the Hound (Rory McCann). Their lives depend on one another, which is a tricky prospect, considering the simmering tensions between so many of these characters: Gendry mistrusts the Brotherhood for selling him to Melisandre (Carice van Houten), there's no love lost between Tormund and Jorah since the Bear Islander's father was the late Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, the Hound doesn't like anybody — you get the picture.
"The end of [episode] five, where you get the whole team together, within two minutes you realize that everybody has a good reason to hate everybody else," says Weiss. "It's a real quick enmity ping-pong match between them, and you realize that all of these guys are going to walk out into the wilds of the North together and try to do something extremely dangerous."
Given how little these warriors trust each other, perhaps it would have been a better idea to let one of them indulge their hatred for one of the others, have that person die a few feet beyond the Eastwatch side of the Wall, put the corpse on lockdown, wait for it to reanimate, and bring it down to King's Landing without any further risk. Seems like the safest and fastest way to prove the point to Cersei, right? But certainly not as epic (and not as humane, but … desperate times!) as whatever's coming up in next week's episode, "Death Is the Enemy."
Watch the video below for more of Benioff and Weiss' thoughts on "Eastwatch," including Gendry's return, the brewing feuds in Winterfell, Dany's decision to roast the Tarlys alive, and more. Sadly, no word on Gilly's bombshell about Jon Snow's lineage, but one assumes (or at least fervently hopes) further thoughts on the matter are on their way.
Watch the video below for the Game of Thrones cast's preview of season seven's battles.
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