'Game of Thrones' Must-See Moment: Is a Great Northern Battle About to Arrive?

GAME OF THRONES SEASON 7 - EPISODE 5 -Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of HBO

Back on Game of Thrones' season seven premiere, the Hound (Rory McCann) confronted his lifelong fear of fire and experienced something that will likely alter his worldview forever.

The famously skeptical swordsman peered into the flames, on the suggestion of Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye), and saw "ice — a wall of ice. The Wall." He described a castle that very much fits the description of Eastwatch by the Sea, the Night's Watch fortress on the easternmost edge of the enormous Wall that separates the Seven Kingdoms from the uncharted frozen lands beyond, a cold wasteland that makes the North's talk of winter look like a midsummer dream. With such a cynical man having such an emotionally charged reaction to such an undeniable display of magic, the Hound and his fellows' fateful collision with the Army of the Dead suddenly felt more even inevitable and powerful than it did before.

In the same episode, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) made some executive decisions that weren't exactly warmly received by his constituents. Among them: deputizing Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and the Wildlings as veritable members of the Night's Watch, sending them to guard the closest place to the Night King's last known whereabouts — Eastwatch by the Sea, the very same place where the Brotherhood Without Banners are headed.

For several episodes, then, we've been building toward something — hopefully not an overly horrible something, but probably at least moderately horrible — happening at Eastwatch. And it looks like such an event will occur as soon as the upcoming episode, which sports the same name as this fateful destination: "Eastwatch." If last week's focus was the fiery side of the song, "Eastwatch" should be an hour that's heavy on the ice.

The last time Game of Thrones named an episode after a notable Northern location, it was season five's "Hardhome," which featured one of the single most stunning action sequences in the show's storied history. White Walkers poured into the Wildling fortification of Hardhome and utterly annihilated the vast majority of the men, women and children contained within the walls, culminating in Lord Snow helplessly brooding at the Night King's stone-cold stare-down. If "Eastwatch" contains a scene that's even half as chilling, we're in for a very harsh evening.

The good news? Whatever awaits at Eastwatch, it likely won't end with the Hound's death; both Sandor and his undead brother should last long enough to participate in the Clegane Bowl, at the very least. But everyone else involved — Beric, Thoros, Tormund and the Wildlings? Fair game, as far as this writer is concerned. Some advice, then: Wear several layers as you sit down to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones. It's about to get freezing cold in your living room. Winter is here, indeed.

Watch the video below for the Game of Thrones cast's preview of season seven's battles.

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