Warning: major spoilers ahead for Episode 6 of Game of Thrones Season 7, "Beyond the Wall." If you haven't caught the episode yet, feel free to check out some of our other Game of Thrones articles.
Thanks to all the wars and plots and back-stabbings in the Seven Kingdoms over the past seven seasons, it's easy to forget sometimes that the series began back in the very first episode with the White Walkers murdering men of the Night's Watch beyond the Wall. The Great War on the Seven Kingdoms has been building all along, and "Beyond the Wall" may have just revealed how it will finally get into gear: the Night King got himself a dragon.
Dany flew with her dragons to rescue Jon's crew north of the Wall after they were besieged by White Walkers and a horde of wights. Unfortunately, the Night King managed to kill Viserion with an ice spear that sent him plummeting down into a lake. Unbeknownst to Dany and Co., that wasn't the end of Viserion's story. The Night King's army of wights dragged the corpse out of the freezing lake so that the Night King could reanimate him into an icy dragon with bright blue eyes that would fight on his side, and a reanimated Viserion may make all the difference in escalating the Great War.
The biggest obstacle for the White Walkers and their dead army all along has presumably been the giant ice Wall that is fortified with magic spells to keep dark creatures from passing into the Seven Kingdoms. In fact, the Wall has been what has kept the major players in the Seven Kingdoms from bothering themselves about what may or may not be amassing in the far north. Even the maesters at the Citadel aren't too concerned about any threats beyond the Wall, just because that Wall has stood for thousands of years, and the White Walkers have faded into stories.
Well, the White Walkers never had a dragon before, and we've seen what one of Dany's dragons is able to accomplish. She roasted the majority of the Lannister army without so much as breaking a sweat, and she did some serious damage to the wight army in "Beyond the Wall" until Viserion was killed. The great Wall may be a feat of architecture that has stood for countless generations, but it's also made of ice, and a dragon could definitely bring it down. The death of Viserion may be what finally destroys the Wall and allows the White Walkers to usher their wights into the Seven Kingdoms to spread death, destruction, and the terrible cold.
The people of Westeros will need to mobilize in a hurry if the Wall comes down, and the folks in the North will be in a lot of trouble unless they get some help. There's surely not enough Valyrian steel and dragonglass in Winterfell at this point to hold off a swarm, and the years of civil war in the south have been so destructive that the rest of the Seven Kingdoms could fall if the White Walkers are able to advance out of the North. Could Dany's vision of a frozen and destroyed Red Keep come true in Season 7?
Whether the Night King uses Viserion to take down the Wall or not, he'll certainly pose more of a threat now than he did before Dany flew beyond the Wall to save Jon's crew. At the very least, Dany might have to fight dragon fire with dragon fire if Viserion is directed to go after Drogon and/or Rhaegal. She's down to two dragons, and she might be much more hesitant to use them in battle now that the Night King has proved how easily he can take one down.
That said, Dany does have an advantage insofar as she has two loyal dragons compared to the Night King's one dead Viserion, but the odds might actually be pretty even. Drogon and Rhaegal can be injured or killed, whereas dead Viserion is pretty much unstoppable. The only way to take him out of the sky without Drogon or Rhaegal pitching in would probably be to damage his wings, and even then, he's a giant fire-breathing monster with tough armor and deadly teeth and claws. Even if the good guys do manage to take Viserion down, it might be at the cost of a great many lives and possibly one of the surviving dragons.
The cause for the good guys isn't entirely lost. The death of Viserion has successfully motivated Dany to focus her efforts on the Great War rather than fighting Cersei, so we may see the remaining Unsullied and Dothraki riding North en masse rather than continuing to fight their way south. Throw in some wildlings, and the people have a chance of fighting back against the White Walkers, the wights, and dead Viserion in Season 7. The two sides of the Great War are more even now that Dany doesn't hold all the firepower, and that should raise the stakes in some pretty fantastic ways.
Still, we can't ignore the fact that Dany's armies are accustomed to fighting in warm weather without snow. The Dothraki and Unsullied aren't even dressed for traveling through the North, let alone fighting an icy army. The Dothraki that slaughtered the Lannister army might not have a chance against the White Walkers, and Dany only has so many Unsullied. The Northmen and wildlings are probably the best prepared for a fight against the White Walkers, but there aren't too many of them either.
A lot may depend on whether Jon and Dany can convince Cersei to sign on with their battle against the White Walkers. Thanks to Euron Greyjoy, she has the biggest fleet by far, and her ships could come in quite handy in transporting troops north to the Wall, if it still stands by the time she comes around. Who knows? Maybe Cersei's ships could even come in handy in evacuating some of the non-fighters out of the North. We'll have to wait and see.
The Season 7 finale of Game of Thrones will air on Sunday, August 27 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Take a look at our picks for wild Game of Thrones that just might be true, and don't forget to swing by our fall TV premiere schedule for what you can watch while we head into yet another hiatus between seasons. Given that only one season remains in Game of Thrones, we can bet that the finale will be a pretty huge episode. Hopefully it doesn't leak ahead of time. Check out the trailer now!