“The Long Night”
Episode 3 of Season 8 was indeed a long and very anticipated battle scene for the Game of Thrones fanbase. Set aside the fact that we had to wait almost two years, you have to wonder if it’ll ever live up to your expectations.
It’s no secret that Game of Thrones has many remarkable moments throughout its series. “Hardhome” and “Battle of The Bastards” both having been directed by Miguel Sapochnik, are easily in the top five. So once news broke that Miguel was chosen to direct the Battle at Winterfell, fans felt a sigh of a relief. Knowing how he shaped two of the biggest battle scenes and did so in a fantastic way, the anticipation continued to grow.
“55 days. 750 people.
The longest battle sequence in cinematic history.”
So was it worth it? Was it everything we wanted and more? That’s still up in the air. It’s nearly impossible to have everyone pleased, no matter how much hard work is put in. But we can say this much – it had the power to wake up every emotion you didn’t even know you had. There was tension, there was relief, there was heartbreak, there were tears. It was dramatic, it was soft and it was bloody. It was the perfect mixture without being the perfect episode.
It opens with everyone in preparation. It’s chaotic, it’s dark, and then there’s Samwell Tarly. Sam is a whole mood, let’s be honest. His hands are sweaty and shakey because he knows firsthand what it’s like to be face to face with death. I mean, let’s not forget that he was the first character to ever kill a Wight. So right away his anxiety becomes your anxiety and you don’t even know what to do about it.
The Unsullied march into position behind roughly 90,000 Dothraki and every beloved character who was lucky enough to make it this far. Brienne is in the middle of Jamie and Pod, Jorah is on horseback with Heartsbane and we even get a full twelve seconds of Ghost.
The Battle at Winterfell will be remembered for many reasons. Take the stirring scene of all the Dothraki swords igniting into a wave of fire, for example. It gives you the smallest sense of hope that maybe… just maybe … they have one last chance. Of course moments later that same hope is completely thrown out the window as you watch their flames disappear one by one into the night. Dany gave them something to fight for and they died valiantly, but honestly… where was the strategy? She unified them, made them cross the Narrow Sea for the first time in history, led them to Winterfell only to have them die in a single pointless charge. All we could think in that moment was, “we’re totally fucked.”
Before you’re able to catch your breath, the battle breaks out and remains non-stop for the entirety of the episode. There’s so much going on at once that you actually feel like you’re living right in the center of it all. The chain of events are sequenced simply but the zombies remain forceful. One man down, then another, and another… and before you know it our first beloved character is gone. Dolores Ed. It didn’t come as much of a shock but the way it happened was practically gut wrenching. Back in season one, Dolores Ed was one of the only men in the Nights Watch who protected Sam. His arc comes full circle as he dies protecting Sam, once again.
We’ll say this much – Miguel and every member involved with this episode did a great job of keeping up with all of the main characters. They touched base with everyone multiple times which in fairness, is hard to do when there is so much going on. But… is that the only thing they did right?
This might be the first time in Game of Thrones history where the fandom is split 50/50. In simple terms, you’re either happy with the way the episode went or you’re absolutely pissed.
It’s quite possible that we’ve fallen so far into the vortex of theories and speculation and prophecies that we’re actually to blame for setting too much of an expectation. (We actually blame Talking Thrones) but that’s also just the beauty in being a dedicated fan. If you get into something enough then you’re always going to want to dig a little deeper – especially if there are books you can compare to.
We love Game of Thrones and we don’t want to make a full evaluation until the series is over, but we do find that Season 8 has been a bit underwhelming.
For the last decade, possibly even longer, the Night King and the army of the dead were the biggest build up. We were led to believe that nothing else mattered so long as the Night King still existed. But of course, we should’ve known better because when do the writers of Game of Thrones ever follow through with anything?
Last night basically concluded that the Night King was no more than a red herring. He was a distraction that in the end, just gave Cersei more time to plan her endgame.
Ding Dong, the “ultimate threat” is gone. Just like that.
And guess what? We’re back at square one. Except Jon & Dany no longer have an army. The Dothraki are dead, the Unsullied are dead, most of the Wildlings are dead… who’s left? You can pride yourself on winning the Great War but at what cost? To give Arya a badass hero moment? Don’t get me wrong, Arya has been and always will be our favorite character. She was born a badass. But we honestly were rooting for her to be the one to kill Cersei. I mean, she’s been number one on the girl’s list throughout the entire series. Now? We’re not so sure. We’re actually not sure about anything anymore. All of our theorizing and speculation has been crushed.
Is Arya now Azor Ahai? Why hasn’t anyone even questioned Bran other than Tyrion? Does Tyrion know Jon is a Targaryen? Is Dany actually pregnant? Why were the crypts consistently foreshadowed if nothing important happened down there? There’s almost no payoff in anything that happened in “The Long Night.” Jon and Dany tearing shit up on their dragons with massive gouts of fire was cool but we would’ve liked to hear Jon say “dracarys” at least once.
We almost feel like every fan theory we ever read or watched prior to the battle of the dead was more interesting than what actually happened. Do we think more characters deserved to die? Absolutely. Are we upset that Bran knew Theon was going to die and didn’t bother to protect him? Absolutely. We know it’s going to take a couple more rewatches to understand why the writers did what they did. We expected some real and impactful character deaths in this episode, but the stakes weren’t nearly as high as they coughed it up to be. Now the idea that these same characters being unable to survive the battle in Kings Landing but survived the army of the dead, feels foolish.
With only three episodes left, we tell ourselves to expect nothing. We hope that they turn around and make it all count. We want all of it to count. Everything that happened, everything that led us to where we are now, they need to make it count. Otherwise, everything will be based on a lie.
Just like Robert’s Rebellion.
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