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Zombonies On Zomponies: All About White Walkers

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So what do we know about them so far?

1. They regularly take in foundlings and raise them as their own.

2. They have a great interest in the arts.

3. The spiral pattern on their artwork indicates a keen interest in math.

4. Their lifestyle indicates they are able to produce their own vitamin-D instead of depending on the sun.

5. Birds don't much care for them.

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6. They react poorly to dragonglass

 

7. They appear to have a leadership caste***

 

The walker who "baptised" Craster's son was in the center of a group of Walkers when we first saw it.  It also had a number of thorns on its head, thereby evoking a crown.  The word thorn is very close to throne, and I guess it's just a coincidence that the Acting Commander of the Night's Watch is named Thorn or Thorne.

 

***Which was disappointing.  First the Brotherhood Without Banners turns out to be nothing more than a bunch of self-satisifed bandits, and now the Walkers are just another hierarchy.

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8. They prefer (and apparently generate) cooler climes.

 

9. Some of them, don't use moisturiser EVER.

 

10. They have a seemingly inbuilt mistrust of spray tan.

 

11. They are massive Frank Sinatra fans. (ol' blue eyes).

 

12. Presumably they take ice in their drinks.

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13. The name "White Walker" appears to confuse people because in

      a. The Walking Dead, zombies are called Walkers, but in

      b. The Game of thrones, zombies are called Wights, dead people or animals that are re-animated by (White) Walkers.

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A White Walker walks like them. As soon as someone starts exiling really bad jesters to The Wall, one of them will point out how a black walker walks.

Edited by CletusMusashi

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Here's what Old Nan had to say about them:
Fear is for the winter, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides for years, and children are born and live and die all in darkness. That is the time for fear, my little lord, when the White Walkers move through the woods... Thousands of years ago, there came a night that lasted a generation. Kings froze to death in their castles, same as the shepherds in their huts, and women smothered their babies rather than see them starve, and wept, and felt their tears freeze on their cheeks .... In that darkness, the white walkers came for the first time. They swept through cities and kingdoms, riding their dead horses, hunting with their packs of pale spiders big as hounds...(Then Robb rudely interrupts and we never get to here the rest of Old Nan's useful info.)
 
Later, Osha tells Maester Luwin that that the white walkers didn't die out, they were only sleeping under the ice, but they're not sleeping anymore. This would seem to indicate that while Craster may have helped their resurgence, not all the white walkers are his sons, unless he is immortal.
 
I thought it might be useful to review what we've seen of the white walkers and their army, to clear up confusion on how to tell everyone apart.
 
From the pilot, here's the littlest wight
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Here's our glimpse of the white walkers in poor lighting
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This dude's severed head is then thrown at the future deserter, but the white walkers make no move to kill him and basically let him go like Sam does in the s2 finale.
 
This is Jafer Flowers, formerly of Benjen's lost ranging party, whose hand was taken by Ghost. The two corpses are frozen, so at first, it is thought they've been dead awhile. But Sam points they haven't started to rot and have no odor at all. There is a general muttering to burn them, but Mormont decides to bring them back to Castle Black for further examination. Big mistake.
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This is undead Othor, the other former ranger, who tries to kill Mormont and is burned by Jon Snow, after failed attempts with sword and dagger. Jon was warned by Ghost.
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As the wights are both burning, Sam says they must have been touched by the white walkers, that's why their eyes turned blue. He says he also read that the white walkers can sleep under the ice for thousands of years, confirming what Osha said in the previous episode.
 
Onto s2, this is the white walker Jon Snow witnesses taking in Craster's infant son. Again with the bad lighting.
3InOxjO.jpg

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Here's where the better SFX come in, these are the first wights seen heading for the Fist of the First Men.
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Here is the white walker who spares Sam
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This is the wide view of the horde, with another mounted white walker who is wearing more clothing.
71td77.jpg

Edited by Lady S.
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Onto s2, this is the white walker Jon Snow witnesses taking in Craster's infant son. Again with the bad lighting.

Here's a version of that one with the brightness/contract yanked way the hell up so I can see anything at all:

http://i.imgur.com/rsRwE78.jpg

 

Pretty much just a silhouette.

 

(I had to up my monitor brightness and turn off f.lux to even see that the original one wasn't just black.)

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(Cont.)As the Night's Watch is escaping the Fist at the start of the s3 premiere, this wight does come after Sam but is attacked by Ghost. Then Mormont burns it with his torch.
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This is the poor white walker stabbed in the back by Sam when trying to rescue his baby brother. Unclear if this is the same white walker from the s2 finale, or how he feels about Sam's ingratitude.
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Here's our guy who does manage to rescue the last Crasterling.

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And here's the friendly king/priest/whatever who converts this child.

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28gq99t.jpg

 

 

 

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From the pilot, here's the littlest wight

b5lafc.jpg

The littlest wight.

You make her sound so cute.

 

 

This is the poor white walker stabbed in the back by Sam when trying to rescue his baby brother. Unclear if this is the same white walker from the s2 finale, or how he feels about Sam's ingratitude.

tumblr_mn2zlpeA921qcqa3io6_250.giftumblr_mn2zlpeA921qcqa3io3_250.gif

Sam may have killed one of Gilly's brothers, if that's a "Crasterling" Walker.

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Sam may have killed one of Gilly's brothers, if that's a "Crasterling" Walker.

My mind must have slipped that he'd be both Gilly and her baby's brother, I should be used to figuring out these incest relationships by now. Gilly and Stannis are both complicit in murdering their brothers then.

 

And, this is also pretty important, here's a full view of the white walkers' fortress and their ruling council, let's call them the Thirteen.

nW2LgfMl.jpg

FnaRbH5l.jpg

(Who's cuter, the littlest wight or the littlest white walker?)

 

To sum up:

  • white walkers are humanoid looking skeletrons, with a blue-white "skin", but they lack the meat of men.
  • also men do not burst into shards of ice when killed
  • wights are pale undead corpses without that annoying corpse smell. their eyes turn a blue paler than their masters'. fire destroys them, swords would only help if they're hacked into a hundred small pieces.
  • unclear if wights are truly resurrected or just meatsuits being possessed. but they do retain some human memory, like where to find the commander of the night's watch to take him out.
  • wights can essentially de-activate and play possum, which is useful for infiltrating castle black.
  • human (and horse) corpses can be turned into wights, but live human babies can be turned into white walkers. their eyes turn a bright out to the white sclera, unlike the wights who only have pale blue irises. (this was the difference that confused me when i first saw that scene.)
  • it would appear that only babies or perhaps only craster's male babies get to be accepted to the school of white walkers. the young lady in the pilot was quite small but still had to be killed and then turned into a wight, as an adult would be. unclear how or when craster entered into an agreement with the folks adopting his sons.
  • dragons were missing for at least 100 years, but white walkers were not seen for thousands of years when they were getting a very good, long rest. this led men such as ned and robb stark, and even men as learned as maester luwin and tyrion lannister to doubt their existence and discount the tales of their glory as scary stories for children. maester aemon's library contains more informative books on the subject.
  • white walkers should know better than to trust samwell tarly, but it worked out ok for them with the deserter in the pilot.
Edited by Lady S.

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Update time, y'all!
Have to start with the end of s4 and our first sight of frozen skeleton zombies.
tumblr_n78vjvrjNW1qzhshoo4_500.gif
 
Meera chops up some of the skelly wight crew, while Summer and possessed Hodor get others when Bran goes into warg mode. Next we meet a "Child of the Forest" who can throw magical grenades or some shit.
tOBXywS.gif
Then Bran and gang (sans Jojo's fried corpse) enter their destination and his new elfin friend tells them this:

They cannot follow us. The power that moves them is powerless here. .... The First Men called us the children, but we were born long before them.

ONE OF THE SKELETONS ACTUALLY BURSTS INTO PIECES TRYING TO FOLLOW THEM INTO THE CAVE!
 
Speaking of "the Children", our next WW info dump from Sam mentions Bran's new pals.

King Stan: Dragonglass?
Sam: What the maesters call obsidian.
King Stan: I know what it is. We have it in Dragonstone. Why would obsidian kill a walker?
Sam: I don't know. I've been going through all the old manuscripts hoping to find something, and all I've learned is that the children of the forest used to hunt with dragonglass. King Stan: The Lady Melisandre told me that death marches on the Wall.
Sam: I've seen it, Your Grace.
King Stan: Seen what?
Sam: The army of the dead. And when they come--
King Stan: We have to know how to fight them.

 
 
Now onto the latest amazingness, starting with cool lady wildling warrior gone too soon, and the fucking Thenn. 

Cool Chieftainess: There are old stories about dragonglass.
Thenn: There are old stories about ice spiders as big as hounds.
Cool Chieftainess: And with the things we've seen, you don't believe them?

Which seems to support Sam's stories about the dragonglass and Old Nan's word about the WWs riding big ice spiders.

 

Then the dogs start barking and the cold comes with a force of wights, who are tough to destroy with conventional weapons.

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Jon notices the WWs are watching the fight from on high, presumably on their undead horses.

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One of those guys enters the field when the main structure is already on fire.

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The Thenn puts up a fight and his battle axe gets shattered, meanwhile Jon is searching for his manpurse after giving the dragonglass as a gift to the cool chieftainess. Good riddance, Thenn.

SutQQNv.png

 

Jon gives up on his manpurse and just picks up Longclaw again. The big showdown between Jon and the WW manages to shock both of them.

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King White Maul is watching and I guess this is when he decides to enter the fray and show this pretty boy crow what he can do.

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Next come the reinforcements, including more li'l wights, though these kiddos don't look as fit as the girl in the pilot.

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Pour one out for cool chieftainess. Then some more wights jump off a cliff to join the fun.

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And then...
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King White Maul only has to give a hand signal to turn corpses into wights, as opposed to touching the last Crasterling.

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Notice the eyes still have whites, and aren't 100% bright blue like the last Crasterling, who actually became a WW.

 

ETA: New info

  • wights may not have any corpse odor, but it would appear from the prevalence of skeleton wights that they do continue decomposing after being wightified. though possibly at a slower rate than they would otherwise.
  • Bran's new friends can destroy wights using magical grenades or some shit
  • Bran's hideout under the weirwood has an anti-WW/wight force field at the cave mouth
  • The "children" of the forest used to hunt with dragonglass weapons
  • Valyrian steel kills white walkers like the dragonglass did, regular metal weapons burst into many pieces when wielded against the swords of the white walkers
  • the white walkers did not know they were vulnerable to Valyrian steel, likely because the first Long Night happened before the rise of the Valyrians
  • wearing black is possibly a sign of rank in the WW, since King White Maul and his cohorts were better dressed than the white walker who stared down Sam and the one who Sam murdered (possibly the same guy)
  • King White Maul can wightify all the dead in his vicinity with a simple hand gesture

I also edited the screencaps in my earlier posts, since I was too lazy to adjust the brightness when I first made the posts.

Edited by Lady S.
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I've been loving all of the NK memes. 

 

One thing I noticed when comparing the death of the WW Jon killed with the one Sam killed was that Jon's broke into icy pieces instantly. When Sam killed the WW with the dagger the WW was clearly surprised and spent some time struggling in anguish before collapsing to his feet. For whatever reason it didn't work as quickly and I wonder if it's just a small difference between Valyrian steel and dragonglass.

 

I also thought it was interesting that both White Walkers were surprised when their opponents ended up having these lethal weapons. Why is it that they don't expect any sort of challenge? 

 

Another thing I took note of from the Inside the Episode is that one of the showrunners said that Jon basically killed one of the lieutenants of the Night King. (Is it Night King or Night's King btw? I keeping hearing and seeing both.) It wasn't a top guy but still important enough for the NK to be concerned. He also says that the WW is one of the NK's lieutenants so clearly there are a lot more White Walkers probably back in that ice city we caught a glimpse of that one time. 

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I think when Sam murdered the big bro of Gilly and Sam Jr, that guy was just shocked to be stabbed at all, not by the weapon used. No one slaying a WW in 1,000+ years probably gave them a big sense of overconfidence, they probably had good reason to think no one remembered how to kill them.

 

It's also interesting that the WWs enjoy engaging the black brothers in staring contests, probably as some sort of psychological warfare.

 

I only heard "the Night King" from Benioff in the inside the ep vid.

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I also think that we can say that the White Walkers bring the cold with them. There'd been some debate about that as well.

 

It also makes me think of how the fire went out when the WW stepped into it when he was going after Jon and that Thenn. I am curious to know what would happen if a White Walker were to be hit with dragonfire or wildfire. 

 

Another thing I'm curious about is if the Night King is the only one who has the power to turn babies into White Walkers or if all of the WW can do it. Can they all make wights? If they can all make wights then do the wights lose their power when the WW who animated them is killed?

 

During the stare off I just wished that Jon had a dragonglass arrow and a bow.  

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It also makes me think of how the fire went out when the WW stepped into it when he was going after Jon and that Thenn. I am curious to know what would happen if a White Walker were to be hit with dragonfire or wildfire.

I bet it's like the difference between regular steel and Valyrian steel.

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I want to know what the White Walkers want. Why are they trying to take over? If everyone dies and they win, then what? They don't seem to desire anything other than killing. 

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Can they all make wights? If they can all make wights then do the wights lose their power when the WW who animated them is killed?  

 

The answer to at least one of these questions is no. No Wights dropped after Jon killed a WW which means either he couldn't make Wights or the Wights he made work independently of him.

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We don't know though if the WW that Jon killed made any of the wights that were present at Hardhome. Or he could have made wights that were already killed. 

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I want to know what the White Walkers want. Why are they trying to take over? If everyone dies and they win, then what? They don't seem to desire anything other than killing. 

This has been bothering me in the books too. I may be guilty of having skipped over it because I've done a lot of skimming, particularly in the later books, but what exactly is the point of the White Walkers? I mean, what's their aim? Are they just Ice Demons who appear roughly every thousand years and let's assume at some point they succeed in zombifying all of Westeros, then what? Everyone else has an agenda, but they are just terrifying for the sake of it, it seems. Can they reproduce in other ways? What are they going to do once they run out of human babies to steal and turn?

 

This is not to say that I'm not enjoying the way the story is unfolding with some Ironborn exceptions, but it sometimes takes me out of the story because I want to know WHY the White Walkers exist in the first place, what their purpose is and if there's something that "triggers" their rise. Like  a connection to the levels of decay in Westerosi society or rulers losing their way and the White Walkers rising as a consequence and laying waste to everything. 

Edited by franopy

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I think, and the keyword is think, that it was stated that the free folk have always burned their dead. With that said, what we saw on Sunday was varying states of decay among the wights. I think that the skeleton wights might, in fact, be Night's Watch Rangers that have died throughout the years. Which is why they're in all black.

Which also means that I think the NK, or WW on a whole, can reanimate all dead things, no matter the state of decomposition. But I also think that wights do slowly decompose. Obviously cold preserves the bodies longer, vs being in the south. (Don't get me started on the Walking Dead and how those zombies can still walk around after 2-3 years in the Georgia heat. :p)

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I asked this in the other thread, but this thread is better.

 

What is with the whole water thing?  Wights can't go in water or something?  What about the White Walkers?  Could they? 

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The wights can definitely go in the water because we saw a bunch of them rise from the shallow water where they'd been killed by other wights. 

 

I'm unclear as to whether or not water is somehow harmful to the White Walkers.

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I asked this in the other thread, but this thread is better.

 

What is with the whole water thing?  Wights can't go in water or something?  What about the White Walkers?  Could they? 

I doubt that the wights have the ability to swim, but I'd guess that they could ford streams and such. They don't seem to be coordinated enough to row a boat, so it looks like the WW quest for world domination would stop at a shore line.

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http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/06/white-walkers-dragon-fire-game-of-thrones

 

So let’s say in the final confrontation between White Walkers and humans, every able-bodied man is armed with Valyrian steel and obsidian-tipped daggers and arrows. Do you think that evens the playing field when every fallen human can then join the side of the army of the undead? (Bran and his magical, tree-based training may have something to do with counteracting that.) As high as the odds against men are stacked here, we learned one final devastating thing in this episode. Those White Walkers seem to not only be impervious to fire, they actually put fire out with their icy presence.

In the words of one Redditor, these guys are walking freezers. But, listen, if dragon steel (Valyrian steel) and dragon glass (obsidian) can penetrate these chilling monsters, then dragon fire should probably do the trick. It’s called “A Song of Ice and Fire” for a reason. Sam will figure it out eventually, I have faith in his book learning. So thank heaven we’ve finally got Daenerys Targaryen a fantastic advisor in the shape of Tyrion Lannister. Now let’s just see if they can get those pesky dragons under control.

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I want to know what the White Walkers want. Why are they trying to take over? If everyone dies and they win, then what? They don't seem to desire anything other than killing. 

I came here to ask that same question! It's been making me a little crazy. Obviously the lead WW is intelligent, so it's not just some zombie primal urge, but there doesn't seem to be a motive beyond making sure that everybody gets deadified. The only thing I can come up with is that he and his cohort are serving a more powerful force. A god of darkness to counter R'Hllor's god of light. A Song of Ice and Fire turns out to be the story of these two gods using their creatures (humans and Others) as pawns in a giant pissing match. Think Babylon-5. Or Terry Pratchett for that matter.

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This has been bothering me in the books too. I may be guilty of having skipped over it because I've done a lot of skimming, particularly in the later books, but what exactly is the point of the White Walkers? I mean, what's their aim? Are they just Ice Demons who appear roughly every thousand years and let's assume at some point they succeed in zombifying all of Westeros, then what? Everyone else has an agenda, but they are just terrifying for the sake of it, it seems. Can they reproduce in other ways? What are they going to do once they run out of human babies to steal and turn?

Reproduction is something I've been wondering about too. Maybe there are a few original WWs and they have to make more by transforming live human infants, and since Craster was the only one willing to run a baby farm for them, expanding their "family" means conquering more territory, forcing others to become desperate enough to be like Craster and making frozen corpse puppets out of all those who don't. Problem with that is, we still don't know how the hell Craster entered into his deal with them. Did he just leave his sons out in the woods and the WWs sensed it? I guess more parents might try to abandon their babies at birth if humanity seemed like a lost cause. "Thousands of years ago there came a night that lasted a generation. Kings froze to death in their castles, same as the shepherds in their huts. And women smothered their babies rather than see them starve, and wept and felt the tears freeze on their cheeks." And now Jon is asking the wildlings to think of their children, what happens when a parent decides abandoning their baby is easier than smothering him? Is that what happened with Craster, he just wanted to let the cold take out his sons for him? Craster thought of his sacrifices as "gifts to the gods" so I think the WWs themselves are the higher power, trying to make a new world order. And from what we've seen of Bran's cave friends, I think the old gods' representatives are the main adversary to the cold gods.

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By chance, I watched the episode again last night where Sam kills the White Walker with dragonglass.

From that, it appears that Valyrian steel is much more effective in killing Walkers than dragonglass.

The Walker that Jon cut with his sword exploded into ice cubes more or less instantly, but the Walker stabbed by Sam in the back with dragonglass took a few minutes before it died and dissolved.

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I really want to know why the water didn't freeze.  Actually I want to know what the whole thing is with water and the Wights/White Walkers.  I also wonder if the show writers just threw that in there, and it's not in the books?

 

Because, this White Walker dude brings the cold, so if his very presence didn't freeze the water (at least a few dozen feet of it) then certainly touching it should have done that.  It's already called the "Shivering Sea" so what's a few degrees more?  If the Wights aren't disabled by water, why didn't they continue to the boats?  I can buy that they can't swim, being pretty full of holes as most are, but again, why didn't the WW just turn the sea to ice, freezing the boats in place, and allowing the Wights to walk to the boats and kill them all?

 

The biggest thing (and this BETTER be in the books and not simply a show-runner idea) is that the White Walkers don't seem to be bothered by fire, he walked right through it.  I guess DRAGON fire might do more than wood fires, but still.  That had to be deliberate, right?

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Another thing I'm curious about is if the Night King is the only one who has the power to turn babies into White Walkers or if all of the WW can do it. Can they all make wights? If they can all make wights then do the wights lose their power when the WW who animated them is killed?

 

My take on the baby turning thingy is that it's somehow bound to the leadership position, i.e. the other WW might be able to do it, but would have to be promoted after the NK dies and one of them takes his place. No idea if that ever happened, though.

Reanimating the Wights may be more of a community thing. They've probably gathered their army by roaming around, finding corpses from previous fights between NW and Wildlings and then attacking Wildling camps and it wouldn't seem very practical if only the head honcho had the capacity to reanimate them, so whoever is there can just do it. They're probably not "controlled" by that dude, though, more like a Borg kind of collective sentience thing.

Of course I'm pulling this all out of my ass, but this looks the most likely to me.

 

This has been bothering me in the books too. I may be guilty of having skipped over it because I've done a lot of skimming, particularly in the later books, but what exactly is the point of the White Walkers? I mean, what's their aim? Are they just Ice Demons who appear roughly every thousand years and let's assume at some point they succeed in zombifying all of Westeros, then what? Everyone else has an agenda, but they are just terrifying for the sake of it, it seems. Can they reproduce in other ways? What are they going to do once they run out of human babies to steal and turn?

 

This is not to say that I'm not enjoying the way the story is unfolding with some Ironborn exceptions, but it sometimes takes me out of the story because I want to know WHY the White Walkers exist in the first place, what their purpose is and if there's something that "triggers" their rise. Like  a connection to the levels of decay in Westerosi society or rulers losing their way and the White Walkers rising as a consequence and laying waste to everything. 

 

Maybe they've just taken a loooong nap, only to find they're dying out (maybe a lack of White Walkerettes? Where are they?) and need to transform some human babies, STAT. And/or they're pissed for some reason. Maybe the Wildlings invading "their" lands? Would actually make sense. Apparently, they were defeated some 8000 years or so ago, after which the Wall was build. Maybe there was some sort of truce that the WW would get the land north of the Wall (which explains why there weren't completely annihilated and why there's a Wall in the first place), now humanity hasn't held up their end of the bargain (likely because they simply forgot) and is settling all over the place again.

 

I really want to know why the water didn't freeze.  Actually I want to know what the whole thing is with water and the Wights/White Walkers.  I also wonder if the show writers just threw that in there, and it's not in the books?

 

Because, this White Walker dude brings the cold, so if his very presence didn't freeze the water (at least a few dozen feet of it) then certainly touching it should have done that.  It's already called the "Shivering Sea" so what's a few degrees more?  If the Wights aren't disabled by water, why didn't they continue to the boats?  I can buy that they can't swim, being pretty full of holes as most are, but again, why didn't the WW just turn the sea to ice, freezing the boats in place, and allowing the Wights to walk to the boats and kill them all?

 

The biggest thing (and this BETTER be in the books and not simply a show-runner idea) is that the White Walkers don't seem to be bothered by fire, he walked right through it.  I guess DRAGON fire might do more than wood fires, but still.  That had to be deliberate, right?

 

I guess they simply don't have the power to freeze that big amount of water. There's a reason the sea doesn't freeze completely, even in arctic temperatures.

Dragon fire may or may not harm them, we'll see. At the very least it could take out the Wights rather easily. A couple of arrows with dragon glass arrowheads should do the trick against the WW, you don't even have to get close with swords or daggers. So yeah, they're scary, but hardly unbeatable, as long as humanity gets its shit together, which of course is doubtful right now.

Edited by Conan Troutman
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Yeah, but he could have frozen enough of it to get to the row boats.  Maybe he didn't want to.

 

Magic is waking up, I think that's why they are there now, just like the dragons, or maybe if one awakens, so does that other side.  Fire and Ice.  Maybe it's a control thing, to keep Dragons from burning everything, and White Walkers from freezing everything, and they are just supposed to cancel each other out, or in some weird way, protect humans from being completely wiped out?

 

I dunno, it's not my favorite part of the story either.  I think Bran may be key though, especially after learning the King White Walker used to be a "Watcher on the Wall" brother crow.

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I don't assume they are really deterred by water. Wasn't there a scene in the books where a crow brings the message "dead things in the water"?

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My take on the baby turning thingy is that it's somehow bound to the leadership position, i.e. the other WW might be able to do it, but would have to be promoted after the NK dies and one of them takes his place. No idea if that ever happened, though.

Reanimating the Wights may be more of a community thing. They've probably gathered their army by roaming around, finding corpses from previous fights between NW and Wildlings and then attacking Wildling camps and it wouldn't seem very practical if only the head honcho had the capacity to reanimate them, so whoever is there can just do it. They're probably not "controlled" by that dude, though, more like a Borg kind of collective sentience thing.

Of course I'm pulling this all out of my ass, but this looks the most likely to me.

IA, when I edited that pilot screencap, I noticed that the WWs there were regular shirtless dudes like the one Sam killed/betrayed. I had the impression that the li'l wight girl was newly risen because of their presence. She could have been playing possum like the former rangers they found later, but that still means she stopped playing when the WWs returned to the scene. And the wights falling over that cliff like lemmings settles the question for me of whether they're just meat puppets for the WW, but I don't think every wight is being directed by their masters all the time because there were a fuckton of skeletons and only a few WW watching over them. That's a lot of strings to pull for those 4 or 5 guys.

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I'm getting antsy on a lazy Sunday waiting for the finale so let's reanimate this thread.

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So, Bran learned that the CotF created the Night King by shoving an obsidian blade into his heart, while he was strapped to a weirwood (which weirdly looked to have a face like Max Von Sydow's, though I'm not sure that was even intentional). Leaf told told Bran they did it because the First Men were slaughtering them and destroying their heart trees, attacking their gods. This raises questions of whether they created all the Night King's top guys or whether he started turning babies from the start, but I don't expect answers to this kind of stuff with time fast running out. At any rate, I imagine the CotF lost control of their creation very soon and had to ally with the First Men with the Night King against them. I think something went very wrong in whatever they were trying to do because creatures who thrive in barren, icy landscapes don't really seem compatible with nature sprites. 

We can see the big change in the CotF's habitat in Bran's next vision walkabout, where the scene of the Night King's creation is now all frosted over.
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Bran walked unaccompanied through the Army of the Dead, but unlike other objects of his voyeurism, the Night King could see him there and grabbed his arm before he came back to reality.
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Creepy Tree Dude informed the cave gang that Bran had been marked by the Night King's touch, which ruined the magic of the cave and meant the Night King now knew where to find this kid who'd been spying on him.

Hours later, the WWs and their army arrived at the cave before Meera and Hodor had even finished packing up. The CotF threw their fireballs again, but just as in Hardhome, the fire only affected wights, not their masters.
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The wights swarmed over and around the tree and cave, invading without going through the front entrance. One of the wights fell from the ceiling and Summer leapt into action to protect Meera and Bran. Another wight popped down and got stabbed in the head with dragonglass, giving us our first clear example of its effect on wights.
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Meanwhile, Bran and CTD were still zoning out back with li'l Ned and Benjy at Winterfell. (Because it was a time loop and CTD must have known that his time was up when the Night King came and that Wylis had to become Hodor at that point in time. Bran always knew him as Hodor. He was Hodor for years before Bran was born. There was sadly no escaping his fate. But that's a bit off our main subject here.) As more wights were coming through, ripping up other CotF and surrounding the survivors, Meera kept trying to wake Bran and told him they needed Hodor's help. CTD told Bran to listen to Meera but did not bring them out of the vision quest. (Because it was a time loop and he knew what was about to happen!) Bran warged into Hodor for the last time and Hodor entered the action.

The WWs themselves entered the cave and one of the CotF tried to kill a WW with a (dragonglass?) spear, but his armor easily protected him and he killed her instead.
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Meera had better luck with a higher head/neck shot using a dragonglass spear from the supply Sam gave her.
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Meera and the other named survivors got moving into the passage leading to the back door, but Summer stayed back to guard the way. No one needs to see a visual reminder of that carnage.

Soon after, the Night King entered the inner sanctum and went straight for CTD in his lair, with vibes of two old enemies reuniting for the final showdown. (But whatever backstory may have been there will likely fall into the category of all those unanswered mysteries.) CTD told Bran the time had come for Bran to leave him, and as the Night King swung the blade, his vision-self dissolved.
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Back to Meera and the gang in the back passage. This time Leaf stopped to sacrifice herself too, taking down some of the pursuit with her last fireball.
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After they got out the back door, Meera kept yelling at Hodor to hold it shut. Her cries reached back to young Wylis with Bran and he seized up repeating her words, his mind irreparably damaged as his future-self held the door against the wights in his last living moments. Again, no one needs a visual reminder of that.

In the next ep, Meera and Bran are still being pursued through the forest until the timely intervention of a mysterious savior.
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Their masked rescuer is so addicted to mystery that he doesn't reveal his face until some hours later, but of course it's missing uncle Ben.
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Benjen explained that the WWs found his last ranging party (duh!) and killed him, but the CotF found him before he'd fully turned into a wight and saved him the same way they made the Night King, the ol' obsidian blade to the heart trick. Because of this similarity people seem to be assuming Benjen was a good WW or something, but he still looked a lot closer to a wight to me. His skin decomposed some but his face was still immediately recognizable to Bran and the audience. Contrast that with the Night King and his greater hours of make-up and prosthetics. I don't think anyone could have connected the human in the flashback with the (re-cast) Night King without watching the Inside the Ep or checking the IMDb cast-list. I think the difference points back to something going terribly wrong when the Night King was created and the CotF could have refined their dragonglass-related magic in all the millennia since then. As well, they had the difference of working with a corpse vs. a living prisoner. With Benjy, it appeared they just somehow returned his soul/life-force to his corpse.

Later, Benjy ditched Bran/Meera at a weirwood close to the Wall, saying the magic in the Wall would not allow him or any other walking dead to pass through with them.

To sum up, what we learned in s6:

  • The CotF created the Night King by stabbing one of the First Men with dragonglass
  • The Night King knows when Bran is watching him, and can touch/mark a visionwalker in their vision-form
  • When a wight is stabbed with dragonglass, it stops moving immediately but does not combust like their masters do
  • Some of the Night King's top guys (like the one Jon killed in Hardhome and the one Meera killed) have beards (Probably not much significance to this, just a recent observation and until Hardhome the WWs looked almost exactly alike, with the exception of the Night King.)
  • A WW in full armor is pretty well protected but we know from Hardhome that the armor is vulnerable to Valyrian steel
  • Among it's many uses, dragonglass to the heart also stops the wightification process, by reanimating the corpse with some humanity intact
  • The Wall's magic keeps the dead from passing of their own volition, but we know from s1 that a wight can be escorted through by the NW
  • Being undead made Uncle Ben kind of a dick. Seems like he could have at least helped them get closer to the gate, instead of leaving Meera to drag Bran that final distance.
Edited by Lady S.
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Interesting spec on the possible relationships between the Starks and the White Walkers.

NOTE:  Major book talk.

Edited by Umbelina
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