While “Beyond the Wall,” the penultimate episode of this season of Game of Thrones was an action-packed fantasy bonanza that saw fire and ice finally do battle in the form of dragons vs. White Walkers, it was a pretty messy episode overall with a timeline that saw characters seemingly teleport to locations separated by hundreds, if not thousands of miles.
In the episode’s middle act, Jon Snow sends Gendry running back to The Wall to send a raven to Dragonstone telling Daenerys to fly her dragons north and save him and his group of men from White Walkers. It’s a pretty reasonable thing to do given the circumstances but it’s important to remember that the distance between the Wall and Dragonstone is roughly 1500 miles. Somehow, that trip is made twice — first by a raven and then by dragons — in less time than it takes for Jon’s suicide squad to a) die from exposure or b) become exhausted from holding off an entire army of the undead.
Basically, nothing about this timeline adds up, as it would take, at minimum, three to four days from the time Gendry starts running to Dany’s arrival (not a day and night as the episode seems to imply) but that’s okay because Alan Taylor — the director behind “Beyond the Wall” — is aware of these inconsistencies and frankly, isn’t really bothered by it. As he tells Variety:
“We were aware that timing was getting a little hazy. We’ve got Gendry running back, ravens flying a certain distance, dragons having to fly back a certain distance…In terms of the emotional experience, [Jon and company] sort of spent one dark night on the island in terms of storytelling moments. We tried to hedge it a little bit with the eternal twilight up there north of The Wall. I think there was some effort to fudge the timeline a little bit by not declaring exactly how long we were there. I think that worked for some people, for other people it didn’t. They seemed to be very concerned about how fast a raven can fly but there’s a thing called plausible impossibilities, which is what you try to achieve, rather than impossible plausibilities. So I think we were straining plausibility a little bit, but I hope the story’s momentum carries over some of that stuff.”
In other words, Taylor seems to think that the narrative weight of the sequence — Dany swooping in on her dragons and rescuing Jon’s suicide squad from certain doom — excuses the timeline’s inconsistency. To be fair, pretty well every episode this season has been playing fast and loose with concepts like time and distance, with characters able to make journeys that would have taken an entire season’s worth of time in Game of Thrones’ early run, but “Beyond the Wall” feels like the straw that broke the camel’s back, as it were.
That being said, Taylor views the intense scrutiny his episode has been receiving as a positive thing because it means that fans are passionate about what they are watching.
“It’s cool that the show is so important to so many people that it’s being scrutinized so thoroughly. If the show was struggling, I’d be worried about those concerns, but the show seems to be doing pretty well so it’s OK to have people with those concerns.”
So if the show weren’t popular, it would actually make sense? Good to know, good to know …