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The Night King has been marching his undead armies towards the wall for quite some time. They start off well before there is any inkling that Dany will come with her dragons to rescue 'Jon' et. al.

At the start of their march, it seems like they are going all the way to the wall, even though it will prevent them from passing into the North of Westeros. The whole time they are marching we, the viewers, are wondering how they will overcome this obstacle.

Then, just before they arrive at the Wall, we get our answer - they kill and turn Viserion the dragon, who can destroy a section of the wall to allow their passage.

My question(s) is/are: should we assume the Night King knew he would be able to capture Viserion? We've had hints that Bran's powers extend to prophecy, and there are obviously a lot of parallels between the Night King's powers and those of the Three Eyed Raven. If he didn't anticipate turning a dragon, aren't we told passing the enchanted Wall would be impossible for the armies of the dead?

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    We've already proved that the chains were already there so that argument does not lend weight to anything. – Paulie_D Aug 30 '17 at 6:14
  • ahh, OK makes sense – Black Aug 30 '17 at 12:52
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    It's 3E Raven, not Crow. – Federico Aug 30 '17 at 13:46
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    I have not seen anything to indicate these hints at Bran having prophecy. He repeatedly states, explicitly, that his power is to see what is past and current. On a related note, there is a question, on hold, that asks what the non-dragon plan was for getting past, and there is one not on hold on the SciFi stack, asking how that might be accomplished - scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/168425/…. Also - Hardhome was a fishing village and deep-water port. There would be big chains a-plenty at a port deep enough to handle big ships. – PoloHoleSet Aug 30 '17 at 20:00
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    I don't know about show-Bran, but in the books, Jojen Reed has the ability to see the future in his dreams, and tells Bran that he has the same power - to dream "Green Dreams". – Andrew Hows Aug 31 '17 at 5:04
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It has not been directly stated that the Night King is prophetic, however we have a few clues. Most importantly, the Night King is able to see and touch Bran as he uses greensight. This implies that he is somehow tapped into this power.

Beyond that is pure speculation. During the battle on the frozen lake, the White Walkers and the army of the dead apparently allow Jon and Co. to remain surrounded but alive. We have seen "the cold" that surrounds the White Walkers instantly freeze water, so it seems unlikely that the broken ice would pose a real obstacle. Furthermore, the army did not attack until the Hound realized that the water had frozen over. The Night King is not dumb - everything he has done has been calculated. To me, this means that he was waiting on purpose, knowing that Jon had sent word to Daenerys.

Again, this is all speculation, as we haven't actually seen the White Walkers use prophetic abilities. It is entirely possible that they intended to go around the wall somehow, or get through simply by attacking it. However, I do think the clues point to the idea that the Night King knew this would happen and was waiting all along for this precise moment.

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    "the army did not attack until the Hound realized that the water had frozen over" so why attack at all? Are you saying the NK attacked after this event because he didn't want Jon to realise he was holding off on purpose? – Black Aug 30 '17 at 1:10
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    Possibly, but not necessarily. The point is really just that the Night King wasn't actively trying to kill them. He also seemed prepared to take down multiple dragons. We don't really know for sure, but there are a lot of clues that he knew the dragons would come. – DKu Aug 30 '17 at 1:31
  • also; you make the point that NK and 3ER's powers overlap somehow but we haven't proof that Bran can use prophecy either - have we? – Black Aug 30 '17 at 13:53
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    No, in fact I don't think prophecy is really a requirement at all. If he can see the past and present he would still know about the dragons and he could surmise that Daenerys will bring them to help Jon – DKu Aug 30 '17 at 13:55
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    True, but if he is tapped into this power it is possible he 1) knows about the Hound's vision, and may have even somehow caused it, and 2) saw Bran through his ravens. In other words, he knows that they know where he is, and he knew Jon's reaction. Perhaps he planned it this way, and the plan could have failed but ended up succeeding – DKu Aug 30 '17 at 14:00
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Possibly, but more likely he is using his intelligence (in both senses of the word) better than his enemies.

We know that he can interfere with what the Three-Eyed Raven (both Bran and his predecessor) can do. This suggests that he has the same type of power: "It Means I Can See Everything, Everything That's Ever Happened To Everyone. Everything That's Happening Right Now." Except ... the Night King has has this ability for millennia and is probably better than Bran at using it.

He is aware that his army cannot go around the wall (because they cant swim) or over the wall (because magic), therefore the wall must come down. He is aware there are dragons, he is aware of the strife between the humans, he is aware of the plan to take one of the dead to King's Landing, he is aware of the relationship between Jon and Daenerys. Using this intelligence he uses his intelligence to set a trap, the trap works and he gets the dragon he needs.

  • I like this explanation, up until the point that the WWs happened to have massive chains to drag Viserion out of a frozen-over lake. The fact that he anticipated this need goes beyond my suspension of disbelief for 'intelligence' and firmly over into 'prophecy' territory – Black Aug 30 '17 at 4:01
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    @Black Really? Even I can foresee that if I kill a dragon near a lake it might fall into it. – Dale M Aug 30 '17 at 4:13
  • I think Dale is right, the Night King doesn't need to be able to see into the future. If he has an ability like greensight he knows Jon is coming and may deduce that Jon will send for help, and that Daenerys will come. – DKu Aug 30 '17 at 5:20
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    @Black - is there anything in the show that supports your claim that the WW had the chains with them? Or that contradicts the alternative hypothesis that there was a period of days, weeks or months between the killing of the dragon and the use of the chains? Considering the distances traveled, S7 spanned at least several months. – Scott Aug 30 '17 at 5:50
  • @Scott brings up the salient point. The show has never been clear about the passage of time. You never see a "Three weeks later..." displayed on the screen or anything like that. It's left to the viewer to deduce that however much time was necessary to pass has. The chains matter is resolved by letting however much time is necessary to pass to get them, probably from Hard Home. Or maybe they're ice chains, like their weapons. How the whole party didn't die of exposure before they even got to the lake, though... – zibadawa timmy Aug 30 '17 at 7:32
6

Not prophetic, just patient

The Night King has spent rather a lot of time north of the Wall. We've seen his forces near the wall since the first scene of the show. This means that the army of the dead was active for a long time. We've seen from the sightings of the army that they seem to wander north of the wall, raking east and west rather than making a beeline for the Wall itself.

How does this answer your question? It shows that the Night King was preparing for a very long time, and that he probably didn't need to be prophetic, just prepared. We can see that in a short span of time after acquiring Viserion the Night King was able to launch a full scale attack on the Wall. He only needed an opportunity to present itself. Once he had the means to take down the Wall, he did so.

It may sound absurd to mass any army without knowing when you'll be able to attack. But remember that the Night King can afford to be patient. His army is undying and requires no supplies to maintain, and his lieutenants seem to be completely subservient. He doesn't seem to have to appease bannermen or deal with internal politics - his empire is completely bowed to his will, and will last forever. If he wants to wait 8,000 years, it seems like they're quite content to do so.

The Night King obviously has supernatural powers, but the point here is that he didn't need to have any special divining power to plan his assault.

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The Night King was shown to have a large number of giants in his army of the dead.

In 'The Watchers on the Wall', a single giant manages to nearly destroy the main gate at Castle Black, and then lifts the gate.

Such a method of attacking the wall would have been more prone to failure, and certainly would have led to more casualties amongst the army of the dead. But it would have been the Night King's best option for getting South, without a dragon.

Edit: There is no canon proof that the armies of the dead cannot pass the wall. It may be true, or it may have been a rumour.

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    The wall had the same magic that the area where we first saw the 3 eyed raven did (the place with the tree). They would not have been able to get close to the wall for the same reason – Dan Hastings Aug 30 '17 at 8:38
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    In the books, Benjen Stark could not pass through the wall together with Sam because he was not among the living anymore. – Hans Janssen Aug 30 '17 at 13:25
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    @Geliormth He says that in the show too. – LeonX Aug 30 '17 at 14:06
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    There is canon proof, though, isn't there? A dead guy, created by the same Children of the Forest magic that created the Night King, said, specifically, that he could not pass the wall because of the magic that blocks the dead from passing. Seems pretty definitive. The wights that came through weren't re-animated yet when they passed through. They also did not try to pass through on their own power/will/locomotion (also true of the "sample" wight taken back, though that was flown over). – PoloHoleSet Aug 30 '17 at 20:07
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    @SunilChauhan - Jon was brought back to life and is one of the living. He is not re-animated dead, nor does he live through the magic that created the Night King, which all the White Walkers and wights do. – PoloHoleSet Aug 30 '17 at 20:26

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