How are wights re-animated?
At the end of season 5:
We see the Night King raise all the dead soldiers of Hardholme into wights. This seems to be done through the Night Kings proximity to the dead soliders.
In the most recent episode of season 7:
We see one of the dragons turn into a wight dragon. I assume this was done by the Night King felling the dragon with his spear.
However, in season 1:
The corpses of two members of Benjen Stark's scouting party are found near the Wall. They are taken back through the Wall to Castle Black where they eventually reanimate as wights, and they attack Jon Snow and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont.
So my main question is, how are wights reanimated?
The events in season 1 seems to contradict the idea of the Night King needing to be in proximity to turn the dead into wights. If wights can be reanimated beyond the wall why doesnt the Night King reanimate all the dead he can beyond the wall? Or was something done to those two corpses (perhaps in the way they were killed) that made them eventually turn into wights?
We see two ways of reanimating the dead:
- The Nights King touches the dead to turn them into a White Walker. This is shown with him touching Crastors babies. This also happens in Season 7 Episode 6 with the Viserion, not by the spear as you seem to think, however, it is unclear as to whether the dragon is a white walker or a wight.
- The Nights King does it remotely. We see this at Hardholme when he raises his hands to turn all the dead into wights.
Note I have only said the Nights King in the above examples because although from the latest episode we know other White Walkers can create wights we have not seen how this can be done.
We know that no White Walker was beyond the wall in Season 1 to turn those two corpses so it must have been done remotely. We have no information on the range of this or any other specific details so how exactly it was done is a mystery. It would stand to reason though that the WW's do not have to see the dead they are turning as the Nights King couldn't have seen every single wight he turned at Hardholme as there were structures and other things obscuring parts of the battlefield.