The Long Night
Warning… this episode was dark and full of…well just dark I guess. So turn up the brightness on your screens, grab your drink of choice, and let’s get started. This was arguably the most anticipated episode of this show and there has been a lot of hype around it for quite some time. “The longest battle in cinematic history!” I haven’t done the math, but sure, I’ll go with it. “Unlike any battle you’ve ever seen before.” Maybe. Have you seen Endgame yet? It’s awesome! There’s this one part where…(Relax. I’m not spoiling it. Go see it though. Now! After you read this of course.) “Better than the battle of Helm’s Deep in the Lord of the Rings saga!” Respectfully disagree. (I was a fan of the One Ring before I found out about the Seven Kingdoms.) It sounds like I’m trashing the episode a bit, but I really did enjoy most of it. I think the hype may have hurt it somewhat. I still think as far as GOT battles go, the Battle of the Bastards was better as a whole, but I will say that this one had fantastic moments throughout. The ending, which we will get to later, has also been the topic of controversy for some reason. For the record, I liked it. It may not have been what we expected, but that’s what this show often does. OK. This was a long battle. I’ll do my best to break it down. Here’s what jumped out at me…
A Lesson in Suspense
The first five minutes or so are perfect. No talking. No reiterating of the plan. Just silence and ominous music. Great way to build up suspense. The army, staring out into the darkness, looking for an enemy they cannot see, yet know is out there. (Similar to “Jaws” in that respect. Minus the army of course.) I was getting amped up and anxious watching this opening sequence which I’m sure is what was intended. It was like an overture setting up a long, magnificent symphony… And then the plan (as expected) went off the rails.
So… I’m confused. The Red Woman shows up seemingly out of the shadows and lights up the Dothraki swords. A couple of things here. Is she coming from the direction of the undead army? By herself? OK. Fine. It’s great that the Dothraki now have flaming swords, but were they the only ones that did not get the dragon glass memo? What was their plan before the Red Woman showed up? Wound, but don’t kill? Look, it was cinematically cool to see all the swords light up and then charge into the darkness, but it didn’t make much sense. If you’re defending, why are you charging? Anyway, Ghost makes another cameo and then he’s out of the episode. (Hopefully he’s not out of the show.) Melisandre (See, I know her name) tells Davos that she’ll be dead by dawn. The Dothraki get their horse lord asses handed to them. The dead charge in and the horde begins to overtake the Winterfell army right from the start.
Well… That Escalated Quickly
Understandably upset after seeing an entire group of her people get slaughtered, Dany jumps on her dragon (and jumps the gun) to fly into battle. Jon…uh…Aegon…hmmm….Jaegon? Whatever. He tries to stop her, but is unsuccessful. Instead of sticking to the plan he decides to follow her instead. This actually works out for a bit as they light up the battlefield and burn some of the horde. Then Jon tries to get fancy and flies toward the White Walkers. Bad idea. They are engulfed in some sort of snow storm cloud that spreads its way to the battle making it harder for the army (and tv viewers) to see what is going on. Sansa and Tyrion are sent to the crypts. Arya has a “stick ’em with the pointy end” callback as the Winterfell army begins to retreat inside the walls. Grey Worm can’t find a match to light the trench, but fortunately he finds the human torch that is the Red Woman who, again, is at the right place at the right time. She lights the trench with more of her Lord of Light fire magic and it stops the dead in their tracks. For now. In the Godswood, Theon apologizes to Bran. (Probably for coming up with the plan to protect him which is still the worst thing ever.) Bran peaces out and wargs into some crows who fly near the Night King. Hey! He’s at the battle after all! Sweet! I can’t wait until he fights Jon Snow because the series has been building to their inevitable confrontation. Right? Anyone? Too soon? In any event, the Night King orders his army to sacrifice themselves onto the flaming trench to create a zombie bridge to walk across. They do just that and begin to go all “World War Z” on the walls of the keep.
The Winterfell defenders fight them off as long as they can, but eventually the dead get through and all hell breaks loose. The episode then turns into a “Transformers” film with editing so fast that I couldn’t keep track of who is being overwhelmed, or killed, or anything else for that matter. Just chaos. Seriously, I thought Brienne alone died about a dozen times. At least it kept looking that way. Speaking of awesome characters dying…
Lyanna Giantsbane (Mormont)
Yep. This tough as nails gal gets her own section in this blog. She was awesome and lived up to her character until the end. Very badass that one of the smallest fighters takes out one the dead’s biggest. RIP Lyanna Mormont. Jorah will see to it that your family name lives on with honor. Again, too soon?
Dragon fighting! A little hard to follow, but this was satisfying to see. A very anticipated confrontation between Dany’s (and Jon’s) dragons and the wight dragon was incredibly cool. The almost silent moments of them hovering above the clouds in the night sky were beautiful. Why does the Night King have to ruin everything?
A Break in the Action
Watching any battle scene for an extended period will take its toll on you. The show is well aware of this and gave us a break. Arya plays hide and seek with zombies in the Winterfell library which goes on a smidge too long if I’m being honest. Eventually she gets spotted and begins running for her life through the halls of the keep. Beric and The Hound (who found his courage again) save her, but at the cost of Beric’s life. Oh, wait! There’s the Red Woman again! She can bring Beric back right? No? He’s really dead? Huh. Well, that makes sense I guess? Arya has a “not today” callback and runs off by herself.
The Night King is T-1000
After another sequence of dragon fighting the wight dragon has a chunk ripped off of his face and starts leaking blue flame. (Nice touch) The Night King is thrown to the ground and Dany and Drogon have a clear shot at him. They engulf the Night King in flames and wait to see his burned corpse, but instead he is revealed to be immune to dragon fire.
Probably too easy for him to go down like this right? I mean, he’s the Night King! It’s not like he has an achilles heal or some sort of vulnerability that could destroy him and his entire army in one strike right? He turns to walk toward the Godswood apparently and Jon Snow draws his sword and charges at him because he’s Jon Snow. The Night King’s spider sense begins to tingle and he turns around to strike his “come at me Snow” pose which in turn raises the dead all around our hero. He’s saved by Dany at the last minute and charges again to save Bran. Dany falls from Drogon and is saved at the last minute (a lot of that going on this episode) by Jorah Mormont. The battlefield, however, was not the only place the dead began to rise…
As predicted by everyone, the crypts were not safe at all. The dead begin to rise and buried Starks break through the walls and coffins with super human zombie Stark strength because it looks cool so deal with it and don’t question the logic! For a moment it looked like Tyrion and Sansa would defend the people trapped down there with the dragonglass dagger that Arya gave Sansa in act one of the episode. Nope. Well, it looks like Chekhov is rolling over in his grave just like the Starks. (OOOH. Literary Theatre jokes eh? Someone’s so clever.)
OK. I’ll give it to Theon. He fought off the dead until the end. The dead suddenly stop in their tracks as the Night King and his entourage of White Walkers make their way (slowly) into the Godswood. Theon charges, but is no match for the Night King’s ninja skills. He dies valiantly trying to protect Bran. What is dead may never die. Except for Theon. He’s dead for sure. Bran conveniently finishes warging (Seriously, where else did he go that whole time) just in time to see the Night King walk (very slowly) towards him. He gets all the way up to Bran and they have a staring contest. I’m serious. Watch it again. They just stare. If he could talk, this would be the Night King’s equivalent of monologuing. A common flaw of evil villains. One that often allows a hero to succeed at the last minute when all seems lost…
Deus Ex Arya
Dany tried, and failed. Jon tried, and failed. Even Theon tried, and failed. Is no-one able to destroy the Night king? (See what I did there?) Arya Stark jumps from out of nowhere right at the Night King who, again, uses his ninja skills to catch her by the neck. She then pulls a feint and drops that iconic dagger into her other hand and poof! Literally, the Night King and all his servants go “poof.” A shocking and sudden end to the Night King and his army, but a satisfying one as well. If you were one of those “Arya kills the Night King” enthusiasts, then I applaud you. Well done. I honestly don’t have a problem with Arya being the one to do it, but I DO have a HUGE problem with the white walkers not fighting at all. They did nothing but walk (which I guess is what got them their name) the entire battle. Couldn’t we have seen Brienne or Jaime or anyone with a Valyrian steel sword go toe to toe with one of them? Missed opportunity I think. What else? Oh, the Red Woman decides it’s time for her to die and nearly fades away as she instantly grows old upon taking off her magical collar. I guess her purpose is served too now? Looks like we won’t get the aftermath until next episode. One thing is for sure and that is the fact that the seat of power in The North finally earned its name. It now truly is the place where winter fell. (Really? You’re going to end with that cheesy line?) Yes… yes I am.
Thoughts and Theories
- No, I didn’t forget about Jorah. He died the way we always knew he would by saving his Khaleesi. A fitting end and probably the most prominent character death this episode.
- Speaking of the death toll.. Edd, Lyanna Mormont, Theon, Jorah, Beric, nearly all the Dothraki. Maybe Ghost? I was expecting more oddly enough.
- Fitting that the dagger that was intended to kill Bran in season one wound up saving him in season eight.
- Seriously, where did Bran go for the entire battle?
- Turns out there was a scene cut from the episode in which Sansa and Tyrion kill some zombies in the crypt. Why? That would have been great to see.
- Looks like Cersei Lannister is the “big bad” after all. Sometimes humans are the real monsters in a story. We will definitely get another big battle this season. Maybe even bigger than this one.
- To those of us who are relieved that our favorite characters are still alive I’ll leave you with this horrible thought… David Nutter is directing the next episode and it will be his last for the show. You know what other episode he directed? The Red Wedding episode. Be prepared people.
Let me know your own thoughts and theories and anything I missed in the comments. As always, thanks for reading!
That’s what I do. I drink and I know things.