Spoiler alert! The following contains spoilers from Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6, “Beyond the Wall.”
Westeros is a dangerous place. Even for a dragon.
In Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones, fans were shocked when, in a fiery and icy battle beyond the wall, one of Dany's trusted dragons was killed by the Night King. Fans were even more surprised when the dragon (we believe it was Viserion) was dredged from the bottom of a frozen lake and reanimated by the Night King's touch.
Although we've seen the White Walkers reanimate animals before (they've ridden dead horses and we saw what they did to a polar bear up close this episode), a dragon is a very different beast. Here's what you should know about the White Walkers' new weapon.
This is not the first time an "ice dragon" has come up in Thrones lore
References to an "ice dragon" are peppered throughout the books, sometimes referring to a constellation and sometimes to the mythical creatures that Old Nan told the Stark children about in her tales (the same ones where she mentioned those totally theoretical White Walkers). Outside of the Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin wrote a children's book in 1980 called The Ice Dragon, which follows a young girl and the good ice dragon who protects her against the evil fire-breathing dragons. The ice dragon breaths cold, not fire
However, Martin wrote specifically about ice dragons in his A World of Ice and Fire encyclopedia, noting they are "living ice," with translucent wings, and are much bigger than the fire-breathing dragons of Valyria. Viserion is a Valyrian dragon reanimated by the White Walkers, not a pure ice dragon as Martin described.
This leaves open both the possibilities that Viserion is not as powerful as a true ice dragon, and that there might be some real ones hanging out somewhere, ready to take up the good side of the fight.
Viserion's death kills a popular fan-theory about Tyrion
Fans have posited for years that Tyrion might secretly be a Targaryen, after the books mentioned the Mad King's affection for his mother and the series saw him get up close and personal with the dragons and not lose his hand. When Aegon Targaryen conquered Westeros back in the day, he and his sisters rode three dragons to do so. It would have made sense for Dany to be flanked by male relations Jon and Tyrion on her three dragons.
However, without a dragon to ride (and without any other evidence suggesting he is a Targaryen) we think this theory has run its course.
The White Walkers have a huge advantage in the war now
If you thought that all Jon needed was Dany to pop over the wall and "Dracarys" away all those pesky White Walkers, Sunday's episode proved that it wouldn't be that easy. Even without their own wight dragon, the White Walkers are formidable opponents to the dragons with their awesome ice javelins. Drogon and Rhaegal won't take them down on their own.
Will it be two men against the Night King, as Beric suggested he and Jon attempt? Will it be all of Westeros, finally uniting in one common cause? Or something else we haven't even theorized about yet?
We probably won't find out in next week's Season 7 finale, but it's worth keeping in the back of your mind then and in Season 8.