Jon Snow’s plan to bring the undead beyond The Wall is risky, but it isn’t first time someone’s tried that tactic.
Last week’s episode of Game Of Thrones, Eastwatch, ended with us seeing Jon Snow and company venture beyond The Wall to bring back proof that the White Walkers and the Night’s King exist – because let’s been honest unless you’ve seen them, you wouldn’t believe they existed.
As a viewer you may be thinking why they didn’t try this from the start, this could’ve saved everyone a lot of time – and lives. Well unless you’ve been paying close attention, the Night’s Watch actually tried it before.
All the way back in season one (seems like a life time ago right?) the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch Joer Mormont was attacked in his quarters by an undead member of the Watch. It was thanks to the timely intervention of his steward Jon Snow and his Dire Wolf, Ghost (where has he been this season BTW?), that they stopped him from being Wight fodder.
During the attack, Ghost was able to rip off the hand of the undead assailant.
At the time The Watch was in desperate need of men, and they knew that there wouldn’t be enough of The Black Brothers to defend The Wall from whatever was coming for them. So Mormont sent Ser Alliser Thorne with the severed zombie hand to show petulant boy King, Joffrey
Lannister Baratheon, as proof that they exist and they need more people to man The Wall. Also he probably sent him off so he could keep him and Jon apart.
The thing is, none of this happened on the TV show – anyone who’s read the books will know that the show has taken a few liberties with the original content. So we have to assume those events transpired off-show, however we do get an account in Tyrion’s chapters in the second book of the A Song Of Ice And Fire series, A Clash Of Kings.
Turns out when Ser Alliser arrived at King’s Landing, Tyrion was serving as The Hand, in place of his father, Tywin. Everyone’s favourite Lannister had visited The Wall prior to that, and Ser Alliser proved to be a frosty host – maybe it was the weather, maybe Ser Alliser is just unpleasant to everyone. Tyrion, who’s not one to forget any slights, made Ser Alliser wait.
An extract from Tyrion’s chapter, which is told through his point-of-view, reads:
Come to think on it, I don’t believe I care to see Ser Alliser just now. Find him a snug cell where no one has changed the rushes in a year, and let his hand rot a little more.
By that time the severed hand had withered away and Ser Alliser could show no proof that the White Walkers and their undead army exist. Co-Showrunner David Benioff confirms these events are cannon to the show, when discussing the King in the North’s ballsy strategy.
He explains that:
When the first whites got through in Season 1 they sent Alliser Thorne down with a hand – that was still alive – to prove to everyone that the undead are real. By the time this hand had got there, it had rotted away to nothing and stopped moving.
There was the idea that bringing one of these things down south had been put out there before, but didn’t work. In theory, you could bring one of these things down and still have it functioning when it reaches King’s Landing.
That seemed like it would do the trick on a story level.
So will Jon and the gang be successful in their attempt, or does this have ‘suicide mission’ written all over it?
Even if they are successful, with everything that’s happening in Westeros will it be enough for everyone to come together to take on the army of the dead. Guess we’ll find out next week.