[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season 7, Episode 6, “Beyond the Wall.”]
“Game of Thrones” gave the White Walkers a weapon in this week’s episode that helped balance the scales between good and evil. The unfortunate part is that it could have been prevented.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) had swooped in on her dragon to save Jon Snow (Kit Harington), but just as it seemed like they would make their escape unscathed, the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) lobbed a magical ice spear at one of Dany’s other dragons, killing Viserion in midair and causing him to crash down into the freezing lake below. At the end of the episode, the Night King had the creature dragged out of the water and turned into one of his own followers, an undead dragon to do his bidding.
By now, the concept of resurrection on “Game of Thrones” is nothing new, especially to the men who were there to fetch a wight. Not only had they encountered plenty of dead brought back to life, including a polar bear, but two members of the party had also been resurrected courtesy of the Red God, R’hllor. So how on earth was Viserion’s corpse allowed to stay there, ready for the Night King to bring back to life? IndieWire spoke to Richard Dormer, the six-times resurrected Beric Dondarrion, for answers.
“Yes, they know it’s a possibility,” Dormer said. “That’s of course why we burned Thoros, because nothing can be left behind in case it gets reanimated. But [Viserion] does sink pretty deep. We saw him disappear into that lake.”
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The group was a little bit busy trying to flee with their own lives, so perhaps coming back to exhume a dragon wasn’t their top priority. For one, they were also flying on dragonback themselves, and were therefore at risk for another ice spear takedown.
Being able to fly on a dragon, even just through the magic of television, fulfills one of Dormer’s longheld fantasies. “The Millennium Falcon, and a dragon, yep,” he said. “That’s one ticked. Now I’ve just got to do the Millennium Falcon.”
He might not have to dream for long. As Beric Dondarrion, he’s learned to fight in a way that would be handy for any lightsaber-wielding Jedi. “When I started, I was training for three months with the brilliant stunt coordinator C.C. Smiff,” said Dormer. “He choreographed and supervised the fight in Season 3 between me and The Hound. Together we developed a style that is samurai/Obi Wan Kenobi-type fighting, which is kind of fluid, spinning and lethal dance, like tribal.”
Sunday’s ice lake battle was challenging enough, but Dormer had to contend with using only one eye, since Beric had lost an eye during one of his many deaths.
“Whenever I’m playing the character, I basically walk around with my right eye closed the whole time because there’s no depth perception with just one eye,” he said. “If you close one eye and imagine a bright light constantly in front of the other eye, your vision is compromised. You can only see about 30 percent of what you should be able to see.
“That’s pretty scary when you’ve got a sword. But the thing is, we rehearsed so diligently. We were there I think it was three hours a day, five days a week for three weeks before we even shot anything. I was there a lot because I had to know the steps, I wouldn’t be able to see much so it was up to the stunt guy to do a lot of the work [around me]. I was going to hit them at a certain place. They had to make sure that they were at that place and not another place; otherwise they’d get hurt. They made it look effortless, like a dance. It looks ugly, but it was very choreographed, the entire thing.”
When the action moved even higher as the wights surrounded the group, Dormer found himself in an incredibly precarious position for any person, much less one with diminished eyesight.
“My worry was that near the end of the fight we get pushed further and further back,” he said. “If you notice, from the top shot I’m standing right at the edge of a 30-foot drop. That was scary. That was the scariest thing I’ve ever done … I was the one closest to the cliff edge.”
Although no one got hurt, Dormer had one other handicap that the others didn’t: a flaming sword.
“Every time I moved it in front of my face, one, it would blind me, and secondly, it takes away all oxygen because fires eats up [oxygen],” he said. “So my fear was not collapsing. I didn’t want to black out and look like a wuss in front of the other boys. It was scary. We were boiling hot in the skins, but our heads were freezing cold. There wasn’t enough oxygen for me and I couldn’t see anything.”