Here’s a breakdown of the best sports-talk about ‘Game of Thrones’ this season – Washington Post

 In Entertainment
Here’s a recap of the sixth episode in Season 7 of “Game of Thrones.” (Daron Taylor,Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)

Maybe it’s because it falls on a Sunday night, traditionally the time when we’re watching football. Or perhaps it’s because this season of “Game of Thrones” is nothing but battles to set up more battles. Or maybe it’s just because we use sports analogies for almost everything these days (just look at how we speak about politics). But sports-talk has dominated what’s been written and said about “Game of Thrones” these past six weeks.

Ahead of Sunday’s season finale, let’s untangle several sports references the show has conjured in Season 7, some of which could play a significant role in the series’ future.

Warning: Spoilers abound.

‘Gendry made like Pheidippides’

As Jon Snow and Co. were trapped on a rock encircled by a frozen lake and about a million zombies, Gendry Blacksmith (or whatever his last name is) was sprinting full-steam to send an S.O.S. raven to Daenerys. “You’re the fastest,” Jon had told King Robert Baratheon’s bastard son as he sent him off to the races in Episode 6. And how right the King in the North was proved! Gendry’s run was ludicrously far and fast — one site crunched the numbers and concluded “he seemed to be running for about four to five hours at least” while noting that the distance traveled seems to stretch much further. Even the episode’s director Alan Taylor admitted they were trying to “fudge the timeline” and perhaps “straining plausibility a little bit.”

Despite all the ground Gendry needed to cover, not to mention dispatching the raven and awaiting the Khaleesi’s airstrike, Jon and friends “sort of spent one dark night on the island in terms of storytelling moments,” Taylor told Variety. Thus, Gendry’s record-setting gallop caused more than a few writers to recall Greek history in referencing the legend of Pheidippides, a messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens (about 40 kilometers, or 25 miles) to deliver word of a battle victory against the Persians. This feat led to Pheidippides being credited as the father of the marathon. Both the Ringer (“Gendry [made] like Pheidippides … hauling [tail] back to Eastwatch for help”) and the New York Times (“Gendry made like Pheidippides — he’s a better runner than rower”) made note, while Indie Wire and a Reddit thread pointed out the symmetry between Gendry’s collapse at the Eastwatch gate and the original tale of Pheidippides, which concludes with the messenger heroically delivering his triumphant news — before collapsing and dying.

With this season’s plot in hyper-speed, with characters crisscrossing Westeros as if they’re simply walking across Cersei’s floor map, can we expect more marathon moments that defy space and time? In the meantime, we’re still wondering how exactly Gendry worked up his leg strength after spending all those years rowing around the Seven Kingdoms. There probably isn’t enough time remaining to dig into that plot hole.

The Night King’s incredible arm

In “Beyond the Wall,” the Night King and his perfectly tossed ice-spear javelin did what Cersei and Qyburn could not with their silly wooden spear doohickey: take out one of Daenerys’s dragons (there seems to be a consensus that the felled beast was Viserion). In remarking on his throwing skills, Mashable wrote that “this guy can wing it like Uwe Hohn” while the New York Times went a similar route, saying “the Night King revealed himself to be the Uwe Hohn of the Known World.” Both writers went deep on the sports references to name-check Hohn, the only athlete to throw a javelin more than 100 meters and a man who set the world record with a 1984 throw in which no dragons were killed.

The Ringer took the javelin thing a step further, talking to three-time U.S. Olympian Kara Winger about the Night King’s form. She praised his windup, but, clearly, the show’s creators were not striving for proper javelin form after that (results be darned).

“He has no speed coming into the throw; he’s not nearly patient enough with his upper body to generate dragon-killing force,” said Winger, who has read all five “Game of Thrones” books. “He shortens the arm at the last second, and he loses his chest — he doesn’t keep the tension, as we say.”

Even the actual U.S. Olympic team was impressed.

But when it comes to sports references and the Night King’s magic arm, you knew the New York Jets would figure into this thing.

The Night King could trade in hunting the living for the NFL, where it just so happens that author George R.R. Martin’s favorite team could use a quarterback.

Hey, he has a high motor.

He isn’t the only “GoT” character with a future in the NFL, either.

Of course, the fact that the Night King is so talented with an ice-spear has huge, terrifying ramifications within the show itself. He now has a zombie dragon in his employ, which he can ride (cue the Kentucky Derby jokes) while simultaneously picking off the two other dragons with his javelin tosses. This show is coming down to a living vs. dead, dragons vs. dragon duel. And worst of all, the leader of the White Walkers has one hell of an arm.

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