(Major spoilers ahead for the “Game of Thrones” sSason 7 finale.)
“Game of Thrones” is always about secret plans and evil backstabbers, but it turns out that in Season 7, the Night King was executing the most secret plan of all. A plan which implies that the White Walkers maybe would have never even have been a threat to the world were it not for Daenerys’ rise.
Throughout Season 7, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and the characters loyal to the King in the North have been trying to convince everyone else in Westeros that the White Walkers are a real threat. Jon even made a plan: March beyond the Wall, capture an undead wight from the Night King’s army of the dead, and use it to prove the Walkers actually exist.
Turns out, though, that it wasn’t just Jon with a plan. The Night King also had some gears turning, and managed to use Jon’s actions to his advantage. His master stroke will bring the war south, and teaches us a lot about him in the process.
It turns out, the Night King was baiting a trap during the sixth episode of Season 7. In that episode, “Beyond the Wall,” Jon and his band of warriors flee from the army of the dead after finding the wight they were after, only to be encircled by the dead, trapped on a rock in the middle of a frozen lake. Jon managed to send Gendry (Joe Dempsie) back to Eastwatch so he could send a raven to ask Daenerys for help. Everyone else was trapped, seemingly just waiting for the lake to refreeze so the army of the dead could overtake them.
But killing Jon and his crew was never really the Night King’s goal. In the Season 7 finale, we learned what the Night King was actually doing in “Beyond the Wall.” The ultimate goal wasn’t to stop Jon or the other Westerosi warriors — it was to get one of Daenerys’ dragons.
In the finale, the Night King uses the undead Viserion in his plans. The dragon’s blue flames are enough to destroy the Wall and create a way through, ravaging the only thing standing between the army of the dead and the rest of the world.
Clearly, the Night King used Jon as bait to bring Daenerys and her dragons north, since having an undead dragon was apparently essential for getting his army through the Wall. That suggests a lot about the Night King and his abilities. He had to know that dragons existed, as well as at least some of the ins and outs of Jon and Daenerys’ alliance, and about Jon’s plan to go beyond the Wall.
We’ve seen the Night King interact with Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) while he was doing his magical Three-Eyed Raven thing, but just what that meant about the Night King’s own abilities was unclear. Now having seen his plan come to fruition, we can guess that the Night King has similar capabilities, because he’d need them to get all the information necessary to spring his trap.
The fact that the Night King could so deftly manipulate the situation doesn’t bode well for the living in “Game of Thrones.” Jon, Daenerys and their allies aren’t just at war with a foe that’s bringing an unstoppable army of the dead and his very own zombie dragon — he also seems to be able to gather incredible amounts of intelligence on them. Time for Bran to step up with his Three-Eyed Raven game, or everyone in Westeros is going to have a long winter.
It also suggests, oddly enough, that if Daenerys’ rise had never occurred then the Long Night may have been avoided all together, considering there were no other dragons in the world that we knew of before Dany’s were born at the end of season 1. We already knew that the birth of her dragons had caused a sort of magical resurgence in the world — the Warlocks of Qarth say as much in Season 2, and it may be that the Night King either took that magical vibe as his cue to begin getting ready to invade the south or foresaw the birth of those dragons somehow (don’t count it out).
Or, if we’re feeling really ambitious, we might say that the Night King somehow arranged for Dany to get those dragon eggs to begin with — they were a gift from Illyrio Mopatis, with whom Daenerys and her brother had lived for years before “Game of Thrones” kicked off.
Many other things can probably be implied by the link between the dragons, the return of magic and the Night King’s power, but that’s a rabbit hole we’ll save for another time.