Game of Thrones Philosophy Breakdown: S7E6 “Beyond the Wall” – Death, Immortality, Mind Control, and Unethical Alliances

*SPOILER ALERT FOR GAME OF THRONES, OBVIOUSLY. Don’t listen to this if you haven’t watched the show!*

Is death really the enemy? What can the mind control of the White Walkers teach us about free will and evil? Is it ever a good idea to partner up with evil people to fight evil (*cough* Cersei *cough*)?

Perhaps most importantly, do people have the right to bear (flaming) arms?

Just kidding about that one. Of course they do. Especially if they’re the LIGHTNING LORD, BERIC DONDARRION, THE TRUE CHOSEN ONE OF THE LORD OF LIGHT. THE NIGHT IS DARK AND FULL OF TERRORS.

Sorry, got excited there for a second.

Hide your dragons. Game of Thrones Season 7 got ice cold in Episode 6 “Beyond the Wall.” That means even more morbid philosophical fodder is on deck for me and showrunner Ryan Ferguson in our sixth episode of Game of Thrones Philosophy Breakdown. 

  • Is death “evil”? Is immortality a good goal to have? When is it good to accept death? And what does it mean to be dead? – Beric and Jon and the Night King
  • What are the ethical implications of mind control? What does mind control tell us about the nature of evil? Are you responsible for free will? And when does persuasion become manipulation?  – Viserion, the Night King, and the wights
  • Is the Night King evil? How would we know if someone is evil? Is evil determined by actions or motivations? – the Night King 
  • Is it ever ethical to ally yourself with an evil person or group? Are compromises with evil unavoidable? – Cersei and Jon/Daenarys
  • When is it unethical to put yourself in danger, even for a good cause? – Jon and the Beyond the Wall Crew

Ready to dig in? Download episode six from iTunes or your favorite podcast app. 

You can also listen to this episode (and others!) in the in-browser player below. Want to chime in with your thoughts? Comment on this blog! I’m sure we haven’t said anything controversial AT ALL.

NSFW WARNING: These episodes contain language and themes not appropriate for children and probably not safe for work or your grandmother. In no circumstance should these be heard by the delicate ears of Prince Tommen.

DISCLAIMERS: Despite all evidence to the contrary in this show, I am not a professional philosopher, doctor, climatologist, maester, brother of the Night’s Watch, or financial advisor.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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