Game of Thrones: The Darkest Night

Game of Thrones | Season 8 | Episode 3 : “The Long Night”
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For a quick read, go to Review. For a complete summary, go to Recap.

KBear Recap [Read  time: 5-7 min]

“There’s no need to execute me, Ser Davos. I’ll be dead before the dawn.” Melisandre

Samwell Tarly’s (John Bradley) hands shake as everyone hurries around him. The camera tracking shot follows him as soldiers get into position. Lady Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) screams at Bear Island troops to get into position. The camera begins to track Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). The Ironborn are escorting Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) to the Godswood. Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) are on the tower watching the activity below.  The dragons fly above them. Ser Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), Ser Jaimie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman) are shoring up the left flank. Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) is getting the Unsullied in position. Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) is with the Wildlings. Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane (Rory McCann), Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and Edd Tollett (Ben Crompton) stand together, Sam finally joins them. Edd: “Oh for fuck’s sake, you took your time.”

Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) is on horse back in front of the Dothraki. For some reason, Ghost is beside him. [I know Ghost can’t ride a dragon with Jon, but shouldn’t he be protecting some other Stark.]  Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) are standing on a cliff with Drogon and Rhaegal looking at the activity below, neither human speaks. It’s exceptionally quiet at Winterfell because everyone is scared shitless. A lone rider emerges from the dark, it is Melisandre (Carice Van Houten). She rides up to Jorah and asks, “Do you speak their tongue?”  He nods yes. Melisandre: “Tell them to lift their swords.” Jorah gives the order and she lights the head Dothraki’s sword. Soon all of the Dothraki swords light up. It is a wonderous sight and it gives everyone hope that they might win this battle. Melisandre rides up to Grey Worm and greets him, “Valar morghulis.” He responds, “Valar dohaeris.” They open the gates so that she can enter. Davos heads her way. Melisandre: “There’s no need to execute me, Ser Davos. I’ll be dead before the dawn.” She looks up and sees Arya looking at her. Jorah leads the Dothraki into the dark, with their lighted swords to fight the wights. The castle starts catapulting fire balls to light their way. When they confront the army of the dead, their lights begin to extinguish. Everyone at Winterfell looks on in silent horror as the lights from the Dothraki flicker out one by one. Only a few riders [including Ser Jorah] make it back. Dany looks at her Dothraki cavalry get snuffed out. She heads towards Drogon to mount him. Jon tries to stop her. Jon: “The Night King is coming.” Daenerys: “The dead are already here.”

Grey Worm puts on his helmet and the Unsullied ready themselves for the onslaught. The wights arrive and ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE! Daenerys on Drogo and John on Rhaegal light up the wights. Jon sees the White Walker generals and flies towards them, but the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) causes a snow storm so that Jon and Daenerys can’t see. Arya looks at the fighting and turns to Sansa. Arya: “Get down to the crypt.” Sansa: “I’m not abandoning my people.” Arya [Handing Sansa a dragon glass dagger]: “Take this and go.” Sansa: “I don’t know how to use it.” Arya: “Stick ’em with the pointy end.”

“It’s the most heroic thing we can do now…look the truth in the face.” Sansa Stark

Theon Greyjoy is in the Godswood with Bran. Edd saves Sam from a wight and is stabbed in the eye. {RIP Edd Tollett} Sansa enters the crypt, Tyrion and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) can tell from her expression that things aren’t going well out there. Because of the lack of visibility in the air, Drogon and Rhaegal bump into each other. The order is given for the troops to retreat back inside the castle grounds. The wights are in hot pursuit. It’s total madness out there. The Unsullied guard the retreat. The trench needs to be lit on fire to halt the wights advance. Davos tries to signal Daenerys and Jon, but neither one can see him. The troops try to light it themselves with no success. Grey Worm and some of his soldiers’ escort Melisandre to the trench to light it. She prays for fire, but the wights keep disturbing her. She looks frightened but she keeps praying until the stakes in the trenches catch on fire. Jon and Dany can see the fire from the sky and this stops the wights for a moment.

Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) and Tyrion listen to the combat above them. Varys: “At least we’re already in a crypt.” Tyrion wants to be up there; he thinks he might see something that might help the troops. Varys scoffs at that. Tyrion: “If I was out there…” Sansa: “You’ll die. There is nothing you can do out there.” Tyrion wants to argue that point. Sansa: “That’s why we’re down here, none of us can do anything. It’s the truth. It’s the most heroic thing we can do now…look the truth in the face.” Tyrion is impressed with her. Tyrion: “Maybe we should have stayed married.” Sansa: “You were the best of them.” Tyrion: “What a terrifying thought.” Sansa continues that it wouldn’t work because he works for the ‘Dragon Queen’. He would have divided loyalties. Missandei is tired of Sansa taking shots at Daenerys. Missandei: “Without the dragon queen, there’d be no problem at all. We’d all be dead already.”

Theon tries to apologize to Bran for all the awful things he did to the Starks. Bran: “Everything you did brought you where you are now. Where you belong. Home.” Bran wargs into some ravens and sees the Night King riding Viserion. The wights start walking into the fiery trench, using their bodies for the others to walk over the flames. Soon the wights are back on the move towards the castle.  Davos gives the order to man the walls. Jon sees the Night King and he and Rhaegal fly in pursuit.

Everyone mans the walls to defend it. The wights climb on each other backs to scale the walls. [It looks like the scene in World War Z.] It is hand to hand combat now. Jaime and Brienne fight back to back. Someone saves Sam again. Arya goes to work with her double-sided bladed shaft. Davos watches Arya in wonder as she wrecks shop. The Hound is hiding behind a wall traumatized by the fighting. Beric tells him to stop hiding so that they can assist Arya. A zombie giant knocks down the door and bats Lady Lyanna away. [Bastard!] Arya is bum rushed by some wights and bangs her head against the wall, making her woozy. The giant is slaughtering everyone. Lady Lyanna gets up and gives a warrior scream as she runs towards the giant. He picks her up and squeezes her in his hand, it looks like he is ready to eat her, but using her last breath she slams a dragon glass dagger in his eye. The creature dies, but not before killing the tiny warrior. {RIP Lady Lyanna Mormont} For a moment it looks peaceful in the skies, but the Night King riding Viserion attacks Daenerys and Jon. Viserion shoots blue fire at them, but both riders and dragons escape.

Arya is in the library trying to catch her breath. The wights are in the library too. They are shuffling along quietly. Arya plays hide and seek with them. She’s bleeding and they can sense her blood. To throw them off the scent, she throws a book in the opposite direction. The wights run towards it. When she turns a corner she runs into a wight, she stabs it in the throat before it can make a sound. After some eerie silence, more wights break a door down and chase Arya down the corridors.

“What do we say to the God of Death?” “Not today.” Melisandre and Arya Stark

The people in the crypt can hear the wights in the distance. Soldiers are outside screaming for them to open the door. Suddenly there is silence. Beric and the Hound are creeping down a corridor. A door falls down with a wight on top of Arya. Beric throws his flaming sword at it, Hound grabs Arya while Beric holds them off so they can escape. He fights bravely but there are too many of them. He’s able to escape and join Arya and the Hound. They barricade the door and Beric silently slips away. {RIP Beric Dondarrion} Arya hears a voice from across the room. Melisandre: “The Lord brought him back for a purpose. Now that purpose has been served.” Arya: “I know you.” Melisandre: “And I know you.” Arya: “You’d said we’d meet again.” Melisandre: “And here we are. At the end of the world.” Arya: “You said I’d shut many eyes forever. You were right about that too.” Melisandre: “Brown eyes…green eyes…and blue eyes.” Arya understands what she is telling her. Melisandre: “What do we say to the God of Death?” Arya: “Not today.” Arya bolts out of the room.

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Theon yells to his men that the wights are coming. When the creatures rush in, the Ironborn begins shooting flaming arrows at them. Viserion lights up the castle with his blue flames. Jon and Rhaegal attack the Night King and Viserion. The Night King tries to throw his ice spear at Rhaegal but he gets knocked off Viserion and falls to the ground. Jon and Rhaegal also crash into the snow. Jorah hears Drago and heads in that direction. Daenerys sees the Night King standing on the ground and says “Dracarys!” Drogon shoots out a mighty stream of fire. When the flames clear up, the Night King is still standing, not a scratch on him. He smiles and throws an ice spear at Drogon, the dragon takes off before he is hit. The Night King is heading towards the castle. Jon spots him and gives chase, the Night King hears Jon’s footsteps and stops. He raises his hands and raises the dead to fight Jon and the surviving living. Jaime and Brienne look in shock as they see their dead comrades rise up. We see Edd and Lady Lyanna’s blue eyes open. Now the Night King joins his White Walker generals as they head to the Godswood.

The dead begin rising in the crypt. Theon and his men keep firing arrow at the wights. Jon fights an army of the wights, before he is overwhelmed, Drogon sets them on fire. The dragon lands and the wights start climbing on him like insects. He shakes them off, including Daenerys and takes off. The wights converse on Daenerys but Jorah arrives just in time to save her. Wights’ bodies are falling everywhere, Jon is desperately trying to make it to the Godswood but he runs into Viserion who is firing blue flames everywhere. All of his men are dead now, but Theon keeps fighting valiantly. Jorah and Daenerys are surrounded, she has a sword now and they are fighting off the wights.

“Theon, you’re a good man. Thank you.” Bran Stark

The crypt is in complete chaos now, Sansa and Tyrion hide and look at each other. Sansa pulls out the dagger Arya gave her. Tyrion kisses her hands. Brienne and Jaime are against a wall fighting for their lives. Jon is trying to dodge the dragon fire. The wights are down, but Theon looks up and sees the Night King and his generals walk into the Godswood. Theon knows this is the end. From behind him he hears Bran and turns around, Bran say, “Theon, you’re a good man. Thank you.” This gives Theon the strength to attack the Night King. The Night King easily kills him. {RIP Theon Greyjoy} Jorah gets repeatedly struck by the wight’s weapons but he continues to fight for his Khaleesi.  The Night King slowly strolls up to Bran and looks at him. Jon is so desperate he stands up and screams at Viserion. The Night King begins to pull out his sword and out of nowhere, Arya jumps on the Night King. He grabs her by the throat but she drops her Valyrian steel dagger from her right hand down to her left hand. She takes the dagger and plunges it inside him. He immediately turns to ice cubes and falls apart. So does his Night Walker generals. Soon all the wights stop and the dead are dead again. Viserion collapses. Jorah collapses too and Daenerys cries over his body. Drogon returns and wraps his body around them. {RIP Ser Jorah Mormont} Melisandre walks out of the castle. Davos watches her as she removes her ruby necklace and becomes old. She collapses in the snow.  {RIP Melisandre, the Red Witch}

KBear Review [Read time: 1-3 minutes]

One of the things that Game of Thrones is known for is its great battles such as Battle of the Blackwater, Battle at Hardhome, Battle at Castle Rock and of course my favorite, Battle of the Bastards. The Battle of Winterfell takes its rightful place amongst the best. It starts tensely as the soldiers prepare for the upcoming battle. The director Miguel Sapochnik [who also directed Battle at Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards] used a tracking shot to track different characters preparing for the battle. There was very little dialogue, just people barking orders off screen. The tension was suffocating. Melisandre appears and lights the Dothraki swords. It is a beautiful effect as they light up one by one and light up the dark scene. It was as visually stunning when their lights were snuffed out by the army of the dead. Then the main battle started and it was chaotic. My only complaint with the episode and it was a universal complaint from the audience, it was too dark for me to make out what was happening in the fight scenes between the living and the dead. Stylistically I understand the choice, they are fighting at night against an enemy that swarms at you, and so the forces of Winterfell wouldn’t know where the enemy was coming from. Still it is hard to watch a scene when you can’t make out what’s happening. There had to be a happy medium they could have found, to make the scene dark, but light enough for the average TV viewer to see. I could follow it enough to enjoy it, and my own confusion mirrored the characters, so I will accede that it worked. Just not as well as I would have liked.

Sapochnik broke up the fighting with quiet scenes between characters like Sansa and Tyrion. The scene in the library between Arya and the wights was one of the best horror scenes I’ve seen on either TV or the movies. I’m not a big horror fan so take that as you will. The scene was very suspenseful and eerie. Amazing that the wights respected library etiquette and remained quiet. Maybe they were librarians before they died. The aerial battles between the dragons were well shot, with some of the scenes in the sky being beautiful. When they started doing the slow piano music at the end of the episode when all seemed lost, each shot of our heroes in despair was moving. Intellectually I knew they weren’t going to lose this battle and everyone dies, but emotionally it felt like it could happen. So the ninja like attack by Miss Arya Stark on the Night King was exhilarating. Some people didn’t like that it was Arya who took down the Night King, they felt like that honor should have gone to the show’s nominal hero, Jon Snow. I’m not in that company. I wouldn’t have been upset if Jon had done it, but the surprise of Arya doing it was great. Some people say that Arya is a Mary Sue, but many of those same people call any female character who does the type of heroic action associated with men, that name. If Sansa had killed the Night King, I would agree. She has no training and hasn’t shown the temperament to do that. Arya has spent most of the series training for this event, and not knowing that her training would lead her to killing him. She’s an assassin and a damn good one. I’ve seen dudes do stuff on TV and the movies that they couldn’t realistically do, so let the female characters get to do it too. In Arya’s case, she was the most qualified in the show to take him down. It was also fitting that it was a Stark who killed the Night King.

People were expecting a larger blood bath of major characters. Since they have three more episodes to do, you still need some characters to finish out the season. Some people I thought were going to die actually survived, but the same thing also happened on Avengers: End Game. [No spoilers on the movie.] The characters who died in this episode affected me, and their deaths will affect the living characters moving forward. So goodbye Edd Tollett, Lady Lyanna Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, Theon Greyjoy, Ser Jorah Mormont, and Melisandre. Thanks for your service, see you when I rewatch some episodes, and good luck this upcoming pilot season. This wasn’t a perfect episode, but it was a great one.  

Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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