SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers from the Season 7, Episode 6 of Game of Thrones, “Beyond The Wall”. Proceed at your own risk.
Last week, fans saw the return of Gendry — the bastard son of Robert Baratheon. Gendry joined fellow bastard Jon Snow north of The Wall to find a wight to bring back as proof of the Night King’s existence.
The week saw another character return and aid Jon — his uncle Benjen Stark.
The last time Benjen and Jon saw each other was back in Season 1. Benjen departed north of The Wall to go ranging, but never returned (only his horse returned to Castle Black).
In Season 6, it was revealed Benjen was indeed alive (or some form of living). He saved Bran Stark and Meera from an army of wights in the guise of Coldhands, swinging a flaming chain. Benjen revealed he was attacked by White Walkers, who stabbed him with one of their ice swords. He was left for dead, but the Children of the Forest saved him by plunging a piece of Dragonglass into his chest (the same process they used to create the Night King). He was unable to travel further south with them because he is undead and the wards in place prevent the undead from crossing.
On Sunday, Benjen and Jon were reunited once more. Jon sacrificed himself so Daenerys and the others could escape on the back of Drogon, and was overwhelmed by wights. Somehow, Jon survived being thrown into the icy waters, but clearly suffering from exhaustion and the cold.
As more wights approach, Benjen appears, swinging a flaming chain and clearing them out. He put Jon on his horse and sends him back to Eastwatch. Benjen then sacrifices himself to the wights to ensure Jon makes it back safely.
“He’s been trapped in this kind of purgatory state between life and death for quite some time,” producer David Benioff explained of Benjen/Coldhands. “Like so many of the characters in the show waiting to find out what his purpose is — why is he still alive when he should be dead — for him it seems like he’s found his purpose in these last two seasons by saving, first Bran, and now Jon.”
As Game of Thrones heads towards its season finale (and with only one season remaining), it’s nice to see the producers bringing back old characters, even if they are killed off in the same episode.
What do you think of Benjen Stark’s return? Did he meet a fitting end?