(Spoilers ahead for the Aug. 20 episode of “Game of Thrones.”)
“Game of Thrones” just dealt another devastating blow to the war effort of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in Season 7’s sixth episode, “Beyond the Wall.”
At the end of the episode, Daenerys managed to save Jon and his expedition beyond the Wall from a hopeless situation. With some of the best warriors in Westeros in tow, Jon went north to capture an undead wight, one of the soldiers in the White Walkers’ army. The plan was to use the dead creature to convince the lords of Westeros to unite against a much scarier threat.
But when Daenerys showed up with her dragons to save the day, the Night King was ready. With an expertly thrown ice javelin, the leader of the White Walkers slayed one of her dragons, knocking Viserion straight out of the air and into the frozen lake below. And at the end of the episode, the Night King claimed his prize, turning Viserion into one of the undead.
Fans have been speculating (and discussing rumored leaks) about the possibility of the Night King snagging one of Daenerys’ dragons for the whole of Season 7. In fact, those theories have suggested that Viserion won’t be a regular dragon, but its apparent opposite: an ice dragon.
With the events of “Beyond the Wall,” does that mean ice dragon confirmed? It’s tough to know the answer, but right now, it seems like: probably not.
Dragons are a mysterious element of “Game of Thrones” and the “Song of Ice and Fire” source novels, with the species having died off more than two hundred years before the start of the show. We really have no idea how the show will treat an undead dragon, since in “Game of Thrones” lore, dragons are creatures with a strong connection to magic. But what evidence there suggests Viserion is just a regular wight dragon, instead of an ice dragon.
The concept of “ice dragons” actually comes up a few times in the book series. People colloquially discuss the creatures, but details are thin. They’re huge creatures with intensely cold breath, instead of fire breath like regular dragons. They’re also potentially mythical in the books’ lore.
The only place ice dragons are really discussed in depth is in the series companion book, “A World Of Ice And Fire,” which acts as a sort of encyclopedia to author George R.R. Martin’s books. They’re described as being larger than Valyrian dragons, made of living ice, and native to the Shivering Sea north of Essos and east of the north end of Weesteros. They also have blue translucent wings.
Ice dragons are mostly legendary creatures, though, seemingly without a lot of empirical evidence to eyewitness accounts to really back up the stories about them. In any event, ice dragons in “A Song of Ice and Fire” are an established creature, not undead versions of Valyrian dragons like Viserion is.
There are a few good reasons to think we could have an undead ice dragon on our hands, though. For one things, dragons breathe fire like crazy, but wights have been established to be extremely flammable. In fact, the reason dragons are so useful in this war against the dead is that fire represents one of the primary ways to beat wights, which can take hits from regular conventional weaponry and keep coming. You even see wight body parts continuing to live after being detached from the main body.
So an undead dragon seems like it might easily be its own worst enemy. Then again, regular dragons aren’t bothered by fire — so maybe an undead dragon would still maintain that capability. That would make the wight version of Viserion an even more deadly addition to the Night King’s army, since that would mean only a dragonglass or Valyrian steel weapon could bring it down.
There’s also the possibility that the mysterious ice dragons of yonder year were actually undead products of the White Walkers from the previous time they came south during the Long Night. But this is part of the fun of the purposely obtuse lore of “a Song of Ice and Fire”: you never really know anything until you see it for yourself.
We’ll have to wait and see how “Game of Thrones” actually chooses to deal with the wight version of Viserion, but regardless of the answer this is definitely a major game-changer for the battle against the Night King. Daenerys is down to two dragons and the Night King gained one. The few advantages the side of the living was holding onto are dwindling. The Night King doesn’t need his dragon to be chilly for it to be an extremely lethal and potentially devastating addition to his forces.
Scroll down for more fascinating “Game of Thrones” fan theories for Season 7 and beyond.