May 2, 2019
The Free Folk resettle their old lands. Sansa makes hard choices.
EXT. GODSWOOD - HEART TREE - DAY
BRAN STARK sits in a warg trance beneath the leaves of the heart tree, as is his wont.
EXT. WHITETREE VILLAGE - WEIRWOOD - DAY
In his vision, Bran stops walking in front of another weirwood. It is larger than Winterfell's heart tree, with a more fearsome face. It stands a silent watch in the center of an abandoned wildling village.
This makes four.
Bran turns to see BENJEN STARK walking toward him with a small party of NW RANGERS, including JAFER FLOWERS and OTHOR. They gaze grimly around at the tumbledown hovels that comprise the deserted village.
The brothers stop in front of the weirwood, oblivious to Bran's presence. Bran gazes at his uncle. This is Season 1 Benjen, still very much alive and un-zombified.
I'd like to take an axe to it, myself.
Watch yourself. This is our First Ranger's god you're speaking of.
Benjen is not in a joking mood.
Let's see what we can learn here.
EXT. WHITETREE VILLAGE - HOVELS - DAY
The rangers carefully spread out through the village, searching the various hovels in groups of two and three, swords at the ready.
Benjen, look at this.
Benjen turns to see Othor standing over the cold remains of a funeral pyre, in an open area between the hovels. Bran follows as Benjen joins Othor and crouches to inspect the blackened skeleton.
Looks like a young woman's bones. Wide hips, full grown, good teeth.
How do you think she died?
Benjen wishes he knew.
If only bones could talk. She could tell us where the other wildlings have gone. And why.
He broods down at the recalcitrant dead.
Jafer appears and approaches Benjen.
They've left nothing behind, that we could find. Just ashes and old bedding straw.
Benjen nods. It's much as he'd expected.
Gone to join this King Beyond the Wall, perhaps?
That's what Mormont thinks.
It's unclear what Benjen himself thinks. There's a dubious, uneasy undertone to his voice.
He looks around at the empty village.
We'll camp here tonight. It's as good a place as any. Bring the horses, and see if that well is still good.
EXT. WHITETREE VILLAGE - WELL - DAY
Jafer draws a bucket of water from the depths of the village well, as Othor walks past leading a horse. Benjen joins Jafer at the well and helps hold the water skins for refilling. Jafer glances toward the old funeral pyre as he pours.
You ever wondered why the wildlings burn their dead?
Jafer turns to draw more water from the well.
You Northerners bury your dead, don't you?
So why do the wildlings burn theirs? You're both descended from the First Men, aren't you?
Benjen frowns in thought. That is a very good question.
His expression shifts as he notices something else odd. Jafer is holding the full bucket in his hands as he waits for Benjen to say something. The surface of the water is freezing over before Benjen's eyes.
Before Benjen can remark on this, a frightened whinny rings out. The two men turn to see a horse galloping past in a panic. The same horse that Othor had been leading a moment ago.
Benjen turns toward Jafer, disquieted. Then a look of sudden alarm flares in his eyes.
Jafer turns, still holding the bucket and is promptly stabbed through the heart with a spear. The bucket falls from his hands, splashing its contents onto the ground.
Gripping the shaft end of the spear, a WIGHT screams in Jafer's shocked face.
Benjen draws his sword and lops off the wight's head. The headless wight yanks its spear free, unfazed by this injury, and charges at Benjen. Jafer falls to the ground as Benjen fights the headless wight.
He parries its blows and sweeps his sword through its midsection, cutting the wight in two. The headless torso drags itself toward him as Benjen backs away in horror. He turns to run and warn his men--
An ice blade punches through Benjen's lower gut.
Benjen stares up into the terrible blue eyes of a WHITE WALKER.
He sinks to his knees, impaled clean through, his hands wrapped reflexively around the shaft of the blade. The cold of it penetrates through his gloves, and frost goes spreading up over his fingers and along his hands.
With a rough yank, the Walker pulls the blade free, jerking Benjen forward.
The White Walker slowly moves forward, passing close to Benjen as our First Ranger crouches weakly on his hands and knees. The ice blade is dark with frozen streaks of Benjen's blood. On the ground, water sits puddled around the dropped bucket -- it freezes solid as the Walker moves past.
Off-screen, the air is full of the sounds of Benjen's men being slaughtered.
Benjen collapses over onto his side as the Walker leaves.
The village falls deathly quiet. In its center, the fearsome weirwood gazes out upon the slaughter with blood-red eyes.
EXT. WHITETREE VILLAGE - WEIRWOOD - PRESENT DAY
The shot seamlessly transitions to the same weirwood and village, but in the present day.
DOLOROUS EDD is sitting next to a campfire, despondently picking the last scraps of meat off a roasted rabbit carcass.
You gotta eat the guts too.
Edd looks up at TORMUND. Then shifts his gaze to the small pile of entrails laying on a flat stone next to the fire.
Tormund takes the rabbit carcass from him and cracks open the skull with a rock. He picks out the brain with his fingers and offers it to Edd.
Edd gazes unenthusiastically at the lump of rabbit brain and reluctantly takes it from him.
It's good eating. And it makes you smart.
Tormund taps his own temple with his finger. Edd deadpans at him.
Is that your secret?
EXT. FOREST, NEAR WHITETREE VILLAGE - TRAP LINE - DAY
Some distance away from the village, a YOUNG WILDLING WOMAN is working her way along a trap line. Snares have been laid in the rabbit runs that tunnel through the dense underbrush.
The young woman is carrying an infant on a board strapped to her back. Mother and child are both heavily bundled up against the cold. The baby coos and babbles to himself as his mother works.
She crouches and extricates a strangled rabbit from the underbrush. She breaks its neck for good measure and disentangles it from the snare. She adds the carcass to a sack slung from one shoulder, then begins resetting the snare.
She carefully positions the loop within the rabbit run, balancing it delicately on twigs. As she works, a creeping frost develops along the twisting branches of the underbrush.
She pulls her furs closer about herself, but is otherwise unperturbed. On her back, her baby starts to fuss. She shushes him, reaching behind her shoulder to stroke his head, without turning around.
POV from behind: the baby is pointing at us and babbling. We push closer. The baby lets out a wail.
Exasperated, the young mother sets down the sack of rabbits. She slings the baby off her back and into her arms. She sings and shushes as she bounces him.
Behind her, out of focus, something moves.
POV from behind: the mother tenses up, and slowly turns toward us. A look of terror comes over her face. She reflexively clutches the baby close to her chest and opens her mouth to scream--
SMASH CUT TO:
EXT. WOLFSWOOD LANDSCAPE - DAY
A wide aerial shot establishes us over the wolfswood, with Winterfell visible in the distance.
EXT. WOLFSWOOD - WIGHTS MOMENT
Down on the ground, WIGHTS are moving through the forest -- monsters in the woods.
EXT. WOLFSWOOD - DOTHRAKI MOMENT
Elsewhere in the forest: DOTHRAKI RIDERS. They ride in search of their yet-invisible quarry. The thudding of their hooves shakes snow loose from the treetops as they pass. The riders scan the shadows with quick, alert eyes.
EXT. WOLFSWOOD - WIGHTS MOMENT
Back among the wights, the rumble of approaching riders becomes audible. The wights growl as they pick up their pace.
EXT. WOLFSWOOD - DOTHRAKI MOMENT
A cry goes up as the riders catch a glimpse of fleeing wights. They brandish their arakhs as they spur their horses forward.
Suddenly, a hidden wight bursts from the near underbrush and wraps itself around a horse's foreleg. The horse screams and crashes to the earth, throwing its rider end over end. More wights fall upon the rider before he has a chance to get up. Blood splatters as they make short work of him.
A chaotic fog of war commences, as other riders rapidly meet the same fate.
One rider dodges away from the grasping wights. He slashes fiercely down at them with his arakh. He doesn't see the wight dropping down on him from the trees above. It lands on his back and tears open his throat.
HADORRO threads his way through the slaughter, going back the way they'd come. It is a one-sided bloodbath -- here in the dense forest, the wights have an overwhelming advantage over the outnumbered, plains-adapted Dothraki.
Hadorro careens from one close call to another -- ducking, dodging, slashing, and fleeing. He is straining every fiber of his horsemanship and fighting prowess, weaving between the trees and enemies, never more than a half-step ahead of death.
He finally breaks clear of the fighting. QHONO -- bringing up the rest of the KHALASAR -- reins his horse to a halt as Hadorro gallops toward them, covered in blood, his mount wild-eyed and lathered beneath him.
Qhono's alarmed eyes move from Hadorro, to the murky gloom of the trees behind him. The woods are echoing with the unseen sounds of wights snarling and riders dying.
Hadorro reins up in front of Qhono, and his face tells the Dothraki lieutenant everything he needs to know.
INT. WINTERFELL GREAT HALL - DAY
Qhono is debriefing in the Great Hall. MISSANDEI translates for him as SANSA STARK listens. Also in attendance: GREY WORM, BRAN STARK, ARYA STARK, DAVOS SEAWORTH, and MAESTER WOLKAN.
(translating for Qhono)
The Dothraki vanguard was ambushed by wights and suffered heavy losses. The rest retreated out of the forest.
Sansa takes that in. Qhono continues speaking -- there's a frustrated, aggressive undertone in his voice. Missandei translates:
Qhono insists that the Dothraki have no match on an open plain. Your forested lands are foreign to them. Qhono believes they should ride out to hunt wights over the open moors.
And what do you think?
Missandei hesitates, considering.
Our queen would urge whatever course saves the most lives. As for what course that is, you know this land better than we do.
Sansa holds Missandei's gaze a moment, then looks down at the map spread out upon the high table. She is silent as she weighs grave tradeoffs in her head.
She sighs. Time for some hard choices.
There are crofters living in that forest, but it would be too costly to send more men to save them. They will need to fend for themselves as best they can.
Sansa hates that she is abandoning part of her populace to near-certain death. But she knows she must.
Qhono is right. The Dothraki should keep to open ground, where they are strongest. But they shouldn't engage the dead. They should ride out ahead of them and focus on moving the common people to the safety of their nearest castles.
Missandei absorbs that and translates for Qhono. She continues translating as Sansa continues.
The Night King will be looking for easy victories. His biggest prize is to the south -- it doesn't benefit him to attack in the North except where he can gain more soldiers than he loses. He's not likely to attack castles or prepared field armies. The Unsullied--
She meets Grey Worm's eyes.
--should march out and reinforce any castle garrisons that are undermanned.
Above all, we must avoid losing more fighters. If my brother and the queen fail to hold the South--
Arya looks up at that.
--we will need all the strength we have to hold the Neck against the returning army.
Maester Wolkan, you'll send word to the other castles? Tell them to expect refugees and reinforcements.
Maester Wolkan bows his head in assent.
I will prepare Unsullied for marching.
Sansa nods, adjourning the meeting. Everyone begins filtering out. Arya takes hold of Bran's chair and begins pushing him toward the door.
Arya, could I speak with you alone?
Arya looks back at her. Davos glances between the two sisters and comes to quietly take over Bran's chair. Arya lets him, with just a hint of sullenness.
The two Stark women gaze at each other while they wait for the room to clear.
When they're finally alone:
You've been very quiet.
I don't have anything to say.
You're upset that Jon has gone.
At least one of us is.
That stings. Sansa is hurt, and annoyed.
Do you think this is easy for me?
Arya is stubbornly silent.
Arya, I swear. For all you've been through, sometimes you still act like such a child.
Did you even try to convince him to stay?
Sansa meets Arya's challenging gaze without flinching or looking away.
No. Because I understand that sometimes there are no better choices available.
And because he named you Wardeness of the North.
Sansa is really fed up with Arya now.
Why are you doing this? The world is ending around us, Jon and I are doing everything we can to stop it, and what are you doing? All you've done is torture us.
You're being cruel and stupid and selfish. Jon thinks so too, he was just too kind to tell you so.
She gathers up the map from the table and departs without another word, leaving Arya alone with that thought.