Obvious Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t caught up on Season 8 of Thrones yet come back later.
In what was one of the most anticipated episodes in TV history, Game of Thrones finally unveiled the “Longest Consecutive Battle Sequence Ever Committed to Film” with S8E3 “The Long Night” AKA The Battle of Winterfell. Similar to Season 6’s “Battle of the Bastards,” this was a military operation through and through. (This episode was directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who also directed “Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards”)We got less of individual heroics and more of armies legitimately going to war with hordes of people and wights (temporarily at least) getting slaughtered. It was violent, it was dark, and it was hectic. I’ve heard some complaints about this episode and to be completely honest I need to rewatch it to fully digest everything that happened in the episode’s 82 minutes. Needless to say the internet is divided; the NY Times says the episode “exceeded expectations” while USA Today complained about the cinematography calling it “too dark.”
It was the longest episode in Thrones history and it was packed with action so my feelings below are subject to change after I’ve had a little more time to sit with it. With that being said, lets break down the biggest storylines from S8E3:
For the Night is Dark and Full of Terrors. Mainly Dark Though.
I’m not going to spend too much time on this because I understand it was done intentionally for affect, but one of the first things I said at the start of the episode was this is difficult to see. And that was while I was watching from an almost completely dark room. So I get the thinking, but thank christ for the dragons and Melisandre adding some light to this episode or I wouldn’t be sure what actually happened.
House Mormont Goes Up in Dust
Lyanna Mormont goes out like a G and takes down a wight giant while weighing all of 95 pounds. She really did prove that “every man from Bear Island fights with the strength of ten mainlanders.” RIP Lyanna.
I do have a bone to pick with the way we handled my man Jorah Mormont’s last moments though. We all knew Jorah was not long for this world. He is the archetype of the aging knight who will die to protect his queen. The musical montage of Jorah fighting off wights left me wanting more though. Maybe its because I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Jorah. Maybe its because I am dead inside after having just watched Avengers Endgame right before this episode, but it seemed to be lacking. Maybe a line or two of heartfelt dialogue would have tied things up a bit more for me. RIP to Jorah Mormont one of the realest to ever take the screen and a character we’ll all remember forever.
The Dragon Battle in the Clouds?
This was tough to follow, but for people complaining about it; thats the point. It was supposed to be disorienting, hard to see, and anxiety inducing. If the Night King is just flying around in plain sight then 2 dragons>1 dragon every day of the week, so it shouldn’t be a surprise he was trying to level the playing field with outside factors. With that being said it was definitely tough to follow and at the end of the scene I wasn’t entirely sure what had just transpired, but dragon on dragon action is always sweet. For having a dragon for about a week, the Night King knew how to fly that thing 100x better than the Dragon Queen though and thats a fact.
Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon (or the Night King)
As I predicted in my recap of Episode 2 last week, we saw that the fire of a dragon cannot kill a White Walker. In fact it can’t do shit to them, at least not to the Night King who took a flamethrowing Dracarys blast to the face and came out grinning. It was really quite jarring and one of the most underrated scenes of the episode, one that I think people are forgetting. Thats exactly why I am telling people to back and watch this episode a second time before deciding whether you loved or hated it.
Khaleesi used dragon fire. Its not very effective.
Valyrian Steel though?
The Night King Gets Got
As my fellow blogger Giorgio put it; “8 seasons for the Night King to make it to the Westeros equivalent of Nashua.” Dude didn’t even sniff the Iron Throne.
Apologies to everyone who bought the Night King Iron Throne pop figures already.
Arya has now solidified her role as the MVP of Game of Thrones. She had a slow season as the show meandered a bit with her story arc in Bravos, but it paid off big time. She has become THE most lethal character in Thrones history. She legitimately snuck up on a gaggle of White Walkers and almost knifed the Night King before he could even turn around. In what looked like yet another suicide mission, turned into one of the most stunning moments in recent Thrones history when she dropped her dagger and stabbed the Night King in effortless fashion. Arya has been working on this move for years and in fact is a direct call back to her sparring session with Brienne of Tarth in Season 7.
Incredible scene. We’ll get to what this all means for the overarching story in a moment, but holy hell Arya has skyrocketed up the Thrones Power Rankings.
Jon Snow Nearly Meets His End Again
I have to give props to the Night King for not falling to pride like we’ve seen Jon Snow and the realms of men do time and time again. Pride is a sin of men so it made sense for him to make the cold, calculated decision to rise the dead yet again rather than try and take on the greatest warrior in the Seven Kingdoms in a sword fight dick measuring contest.
He’s seen first hand what Jon Snow can do with a (Valyrian) sword in his hand so why take the risk? It’s reminiscent of when Jaime Lannister challenged Robb Stark after he was taken prisoner following the Battle of the Whispering Wood. He challenges Robb to decide the war one on one. To his credit Robb says, “If we do your way Kingslayer, you’d win. We’re not doing it your way.”
Jon also nearly gets lit up by the Ice Dragon and essentially decides to give himself up and go out in a blaze of blue firey glory.
And what do we say to death?
Jon the last 3 seasons: Please be today. I’m begging you to make it today. Why isn’t it today? I really want it to be today. pic.twitter.com/FLGNgp3Aoa
— Beyonce has an uncle named Larry Beyince. Bruh…. (@DragonflyJonez) April 29, 2019
For a second I thought we might see Jon Targaryen showing his immunity to fire like a true Targaryen, but the Mrs. pointed out something critical. Way back in Season 1 when Jon saves Lord Commander Mormont from the wight, he grabs the lantern and burns his hand before throwing it at the undead creature.
A direct contrast to when Khaleesi, a full blooded Targaryen, grabs the dragon eggs off the hot coals and is uninjured.
WTF Was Bran Doing?
I understand that he is a cripple in a wheelchair so theres not much he can really do in terms of fighting, but he was particularly useless in this episode. Bran spends 45 minutes basically just worging around Winterfell to get a bird’s eye view of the action, while offering nothing in terms of actual help to anyone. I feel like there is something more still lingering in terms of what Bran is there to offer the story, but I can’t put my finger on it. At least we can dispense with the moronic “Bran is the Night King” theories finally. Right?
Melisandre and Beric Dondarrion Fulfill Their Purpose for the Lord of Light
In what was one of the most intriguing storylines in show history, the red priestess fully redeemed herself with a comeback for the ages saving the day with some incredible fire spells. You have to believe that Melisandre went back to Essos specifically to train at the temple of the Lord of Light. Now that she has fulfilled her purpose and died “in this strange country” we’ll probably never get a clear answer. Melissandra coming out of left field to light up the Dothraki’s swords and then the spiked trenches was an all time Thrones moment though. Thats before we even mention the pep talk for the ages that she gave Arya though.
— Kyle Johnson (@the50thUSPres) April 29, 2019
I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by pointing out the source of Melisandre’s quote about death though. If you have to ask you don’t deserve to know. It really is crazy to look back on Melisandre’s storyline though; she’s been with Stannis, and of course when she first meant Arya back in Season 2 with the Brotherhood Without Banners.
Then we have Beric fulfilling his destiny and saving Arya’s life which obviously allows her to take out the Night King. It was some sick poetic justice though as Beric has been asked multiple times why the Lord of Light keeps bringing him back and he always answers, I don’t know. So for him to sacrifice himself to save Arya while on his 7th life was a valiant and fulfilling way for Beric to go.
Sam Gets Another Brother of the Nights Watch Killed in Edd
Jesus christ, Sam. Tarly better have another redeeming moment because he ignored everyone’s advice to stay off the battle field and when he couldn’t fight and need to be saved, which we all knew he would, Edd gets a knife in the face for saving Samwell yet again.
Khaleesi Gets Another Dragon Killed
Correction: The dragon is not dead, he can actually be seen in the preview for S8E4, which I missed in my post Avengers/post Thrones delirium. Carry on.
Khaleesi has to be the worst caretaker of Dragons to ever walk the Seven Kingdoms. And thats saying something considering her ancestors used to chain dragons up until they wasted away. What did she think was going to happen landing the dragon in a field of mindless, savage zombies? Well exactly what we all expected did happen and Khaleesi is down another dragon leaving her with only one. I think I get more emotional when a dragon or direwolf dies than any other human character does, but then again I am a total schill for animals.
Theon goes out with honor and pays the iron price once and for all. Protecting Bran in the godswood was a suicide mission and everyone knew it. Kudos to Bran for having his first human moment in 2+ seasons and telling Theon the only thing he’s wanted to hear since he confided in Maester Luwin while wracked with guilt after taking Winterfell; “You’re a good person.” He killed dozens of wights to protect Bran while he worged around to essentially watch the action with a bird’s eye view and offer little in the way of actual help. After a lot of really cowardly moments over the past few seasons, Theon went out like a warrior trying to take down the Night King himself.
On the Lookout for the Fake Out
Maybe I’ve just become too used to the George RR Martin misdirection shock and awe storylines, but I refuse to believe this is the end of the story. I know the showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss have veered off from Martin’s original source material a bit as they have passed the books, but he obviously has still given them the roadmap of how to get to his intended ending. So I just refuse to believe we’ve built up the Night King for 8 years only to have them go out just before the end of the story only to leave us with a battle for the crown. Maybe that was his goal the entire time? To truly have it all come back to a literal Game of Thrones? I don’t know, but I said it last week and I’ll say it again, if they kill the Night King and the remaining episodes are just a battle for the Iron Throne I will be a bit disappointed. Theres plenty of story left to wrap up still, but it seems like a missed opportunity not to mention a world of confusion to just let the White Walker storyline fade into dust like a Thanos snap. So I am on full alert on the lookout for the fake out. Whether it’s something as it relates to Bran, maybe the Children of the Forest make a comeback or maybe it’s not the last we’ve seen of the White Walkers. We’ll see next week, but its getting real now…theres only three Game of Thrones episodes left. Ever.