WEATHER ALERT

Game of Thrones fans rejoice: at last, a battle Long-awaited fight against Night King a dark delight

In this age of fractured viewing, where PVRs and streaming services make “appointment television” seem like an antiquated notion, episode 3 of the final season of HBO’s fantasy series Game of Thrones was as close to a water-cooler moment as you can get these days.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/05/2019 (1368 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In this age of fractured viewing, where PVRs and streaming services make “appointment television” seem like an antiquated notion, episode 3 of the final season of HBO’s fantasy series Game of Thrones was as close to a water-cooler moment as you can get these days.

It was the episode everyone had been waiting for: after two talky instalments of heartfelt reunions and catty infighting, the Battle of Winterfell was finally upon us, as the united forces of the North, the Dothraki, the Unsullied and two badass dragons prepared to take on the Night King and his army of wights.

Unfortunately, the Night King takes his name seriously, so the battle took place after dark; the murky lighting meant it was a challenge to keep track of whether you were winning your office dead pool. (Real battle nerds should check out Wired.com’s The Battle of Winterfell: A Tactical Analysis for a breakdown of myriad failed strategies employed by the allied forces.)

Four Free Press GoT fans sat down to unpack the many high points of the episode aptly titled The Long Night (as always, spoilers await).

 

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) tends to a dying Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Erin Lebar: Something finally happened!

Everyone: Hurray!

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: Everything happened.

Alan Small: I normally watch television lying on the couch, but I had to sit up and grab onto something; it felt like a roller-coaster.

Ben: You also had to lean in — it was pretty dark.

Jill Wilson: This is the main take-away many people had, post-show, that it was very dark. I didn’t have any clue what was going on in those dragon scenes. I didn’t know which dragon was which or who was riding whom.

Ben: Yeah, were they above the clouds or below?

Jill: That’s a big pet peeve of mine, that kind of quick editing of battles, and then the darkness did drain some of the impact.

Erin: I get that they’re trying to make it really chaotic, because that’s what it would be like, but sometimes they don’t take into consideration the viewer experience. Of course, battle, killing, bodies everywhere, but if I don’t know what’s going on, I’m not invested.

Jill: The Battle of the Bastards, on an open field in the daytime, was superior, I thought. But quibbles aside, there were some great moments.

Alan Small: Earlier in the week, I had watched the Hardhome episode again, and that was really well done, too. I don’t know if this one was done better, but there was way more tension in it.

 

Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramse) killed the giant. (HBO)

 

Jill: Did anyone see Arya’s big scene coming?

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: That was a pretty good moment, though the buildup was so slow — the Night King is just reaching for his sword so slowly, you knew something was going to happen. I actually thought Theon Greyjoy might make one last stab.

Erin: Me too! And the whole time I was screaming at the TV, “Open your eyes, Bran! Do something!”

Alan: The Night King obviously isn’t a watcher of Game of Thrones or he would have known: like when the Mountain fought the guy from Dorne, you don’t sit around gloating about your victory — you get it done.

“Oh, I will saunter over to the guy in the wheelchair and pull my sword out very, very dramatically…”

Ben: And he could have killed Arya, too, if he’d been quicker. That was a nice move on her part, though; I feel like I’ve seen it before in another action movie.

Erin Lebar: I was very happy with the “girl power” aspect of the episode. It was all women doing everything: Melisandre did the flames, Arya killed the Night King, Lyanna Mormont killed the giant, Sansa was down in the crypt with her stick; it was great.

Ben: I was sad to see Lyanna die, and Jorah Mormont — he’s been one of my long-standing favourite characters.

Erin: You knew he had to go, though.

Jill Wilson: Did anyone predict who died correctly? I thought there would be more. I was really surprised how many major characters survived.

I did not predict Theon; I hoped he would live to see another day, although it was clearly the perfect way for him to prove he’d changed to a better person.

Alan: He gets a nice, heroic death. A lot of them got heroic deaths; nobody died because of their own stupidity.

Jill: There were some sweet parts, too — I liked that little interaction between Tyrion and Sansa.

Erin: When he kisses her hand? That was nice; I always forget that they were married.

 

Arya killed the Night King. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

 

Ben: I liked the Hound’s reaction.

Erin Lebar: He had a little PTSD there. But I wanted Sam to die so badly. He’s such a little wiener and everyone is dying trying to save him because he keeps falling down — “Oh, I can’t get up, uh.”

I know that his arc is to become the Maester, so he can’t die, but it was very frustrating.

Jill: This has been the case throughout the show, but I’m a fan of the “fast zombie” effect. They seem all creaky and slow and then, bam, they spring into action. It’s very scary.

Erin: My favourite shots were the aerial, bird’s-eye views — you could see the fire and then this wall of people.

Ben: The standoff between Jon Snow and the Night King was very good, when you realize, oh, he just has to raise his hands and everyone on the battlefield rises.

Jill: Yes, you’re caught up in the battle and you forget, the more people die, the more you’re creating new warriors.

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson: So next week, where does it begin? With cleaning up all these bodies?

Jill: That’s the first thing I thought: “Ugh, who has to clean this crap up?”

Erin: Ah, they just get a dragon to blow fire on it all.

Jill: That’s another question I had: how much collateral damage is there from just dragon-firebombing the battle lines? It didn’t seem like there was any sort of strategy involved.

Ben: I guess when you’re fighting the dead, you just go for it.

Jill Wilson: I thought maybe it was a comment on U.S. military tactics.

Ben: C’mon, it’s not Game of Drones.

Jill: In a way, I felt it was almost anticlimactic. It wasn’t over fast — it was a long battle…

Ben: It was the longest episode, I think.

Jill: And the longest battle scene ever filmed, for movies or television. But just — stab! stab! — and the Big Bad is dead. We’ve been building up to this episode for so long and now it’s just over.

Erin: That’s what I said to my partner. You’ve spent eight seasons leading up to this moment, then one jab and it’s done.

 

Arya, right, and Melisandre (Carice van Houten). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

 

Alan: You know the next three episodes will be a repeat of the first three. They’ll be building something up again, because they’ll have to go back to King’s Landing, and then the second one will be the buildup to the big battle and then the third one will be the battle.

Erin: I can appreciate that symmetry though.

Ben: How many dragons are left?

Jill: Who can say?

Alan: I think one of them is OK, and one is not-so-OK.

Jill: I guess we’ll find out next week on… Game of Thrones.

Alan Small: They’re going to have to do some kind of inventory to find out how much they have left to take on the Lannisters.

Ben: There’s probably about 12 of them left alive. And two of them are Lannisters.

Erin: I was so upset when all the Dothraki went out and you saw all their (flaming swords) get snuffed out. You see a few come running back and you know, if they’re retreating, we’re in s—.

Jill: That was a beautiful dramatic moment, those lights going out.

Erin: It just made my stomach sink.

Alan: That’s some great military strategy there. That’s probably what it was like in the First World War — they’d go over the trenches and then there’d be none left.

Jill: Despite the confusion, it felt very visceral, very real.

Ben: Except for the dragons.

Erin: I was hoping for a more intense interaction between Bran and the Night King. Some kind of mind-reading thing or “You can’t kill me, I’m the three-eyed raven, I will destroy you.”

Ben: Or even a single word from the Night King.

Jill: We all know what the Night King’s goal was, but his motivation was never really revealed.

Alan: His death was almost as much an anticlimax as Darth Maul’s was in the fourth Star Wars (The Phantom Menace). So much hype built up about how cool he looked and his two lightsabers, and then he just got killed.

Ben: Nerd alert: he doesn’t actually get killed; he comes back in The Clone Wars.

 

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen (Kit Harington), Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Arya Stark. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

 

jill.wilson@freepress.mb.ca

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca

ben.macphee-sigurdson@freepress.mb.ca

alan.small@freepress.mb.ca

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Alan Small

Alan Small
Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Manager of audience engagement for news

Erin Lebar spends her time thinking of, and implementing, ways to improve the interaction and connection between the Free Press newsroom and its readership.

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson
Senior copy editor

Jill Wilson writes about culture and the culinary arts for the Arts & Life section.

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