Movies and television shows present us with a condensed version of events; there is an art to what we see and what we don’t see. Those decisions can reinforce, or obscure, how much time has passed between scenes. In other cases a director or editor can conveniently skip over moments in the narrative that would be very silly to portray visually.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season seven.]
The fact that the White Walkers were able to reclaim the body of the fallen dragon Viserion from the depths of the water only to bring it back as an undead creature under their control ... that was badass. No one is arguing that. But that scene left a few very important details out.
Such as: Who among them had to swim down to the bottom of the lake to attach the chains to the dragon? Is there some kind of psychic link between the Night King and the other White Walkers or the wights that allows him to say “OK, I need some poor soul to go get me that dragon because I have a thing I can do.”
They had to go get the chains, and then a group of White Walkers had to head down to Viserion’s lifeless corpse and connect the chains in such a way that they could drag him back up to the surface without just ripping his wings off.
I mean, is dragon physiology this well known? Could they see well enough underwater that they were able to figure out which parts of the dead dragon were, in fact, load bearing structures? Does an internal explosion due to ice spear impact change anything about their de-laking plans?
Was there an underwater White Walker who was like, “Well, the side of this damned thing is all blown out, so I have to try a different approach,” before sighing and finding someplace else to attach the chain? Did the Night King get annoyed this was taking so long?
And where did the chains even come from? Were they forged from ice, or from some other form of magic controlled by the White Walkers? Was there an argument at Hardhome about whether they should bring those chains they found in that warehouse in a scene I assume was never filmed nor thought about until there had to be a justification for dragon-strength chains?
“I told you they would come in handy,” one of the White Walkers probably thought smugly, watching the dragon fall. “No one is laughing at the chains now, are they? Seems pretty smart on my end to grab them now, doesn’t it? Damn straight. Now we have a dragon.”
There has been some speculation that the chains were reclaimed from a wrecked ship or even the dock you see near the dragon’s body at the end of the episode, but I prefer the “big chain store” theory. Or maybe the Night King just plans for a bunch of stuff and he always feels pretty good about himself when that planning pays off with an undead dragon. He did have dragon-killing spears ready to go, after all.
But then we have to wonder why he aimed at Viserion and not Drogon, who was just hanging out with Dany on his back without being a moving target. And on that note, Drogon could have just turned his head, burnt the Night King to a crisp and ended the whole thing right there.
“Beyond the Wall” is going to mark a line in the sand for many fans, and it’s not just an issue of the chains. Either you want a fun fantasy show where it takes a long time to hike somewhere but only a few hours to run back and you get cool battle scenes, or you demand some level of realism and internal logic. Game of Thrones has been moving in the latter direction for some time, and the unexplained chains are just one symptom of a larger disease. The disease of choosing what’s badass over what’s logical.
At least the only people who died were characters we didn’t care about, so that’s good news and not just a convenient thing that also dismantles the sense of dread the show has been cultivating since its first season!