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A War of Ice and Fire

Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 3 Review

Again, I have to apologize for this. You’d think with how much I love Game of Thrones, this would be the highest priority. But then I worry that I won’t write it right, stuff piles up, and this happens.

More to the point, I needed a couple of days to process what happened. The show had been building up to this moment since the very first scene. Then HBO said that this was going to rival the Battle of Helm’s Deep in the Lord of the Rings films. That this was going to be the longest continous battle in television history. Game of Thrones had a lot to ride on. The question is, were they able to live up to the hype?

The short answer is, yes and no. To better explain, let’s head back to the start of “The Long Night”.

As stated last episode, the army at Winterfell can’t win a head on fight. Numbers aside, the enemy has no fear or rational thinking. The plan is to lure the Night King to Bran, then Jon and Daenerys will swoop in on Drogon and Rhaegal and kill him.

Right away, things don’t go the way I expected when Melisandre shows up. I had a hunch that she would show up, but instead of bringing a couple thousand Red Priests as help, it’s only her.

I wanted to see the Red Priests play a role in the Great War since they talked about fighting the darkness. In the end, though, I had to settle with Melisandre lighting all the Dothraki’s swords on fire, which was awesome.

For a brief moment, I thought that things would work out as the Dothraki charged at the enemy. Then I remembered that this was Game of Thrones.

This is what I thought when I saw the Dothraki’s swords go out one by one:

Then the plan falls apart when Daenerys charges into battle anyway. We all get where she’s coming from, but she has a history of letting her emotions get the best of her.

When the Wights appear out of darkness, I thought it was like watching a wave of evil crashing on a shore. It was terrifying to watch, but it would have been scarier if we could actually see them!

I don’t know if they wanted to make the moment even more terrifying, but it was pointless if we couldn’t see a thing. I hope HBO fixes that in future releases. Thank god we had Drogon and Rhaegal to light it up. But then the dragons and their riders got caught in a snowstorm the Night King created.

From that moment on, the battle turned into a scene from hell. Fires burning in the distance, the dim lights, and the snow looked like ash. That was a good way to use the low lights; it conveyed a sense of terror, a feeling of true hopelessness.

When faced with despair, the cast reacted in different ways, but the one who took it best was Arya Stark. She was by far the best fighter in the episode, killing dozens of wights, sneaking past them, and being a master assassin. Then the one moment when she almost gave up, all it took was Melisandre reminding her what Syrio Forel said.

What do we say to death? Not today.

There were plenty of awesome moments in this episode, but aside from Arya proving she was co-mvp, the biggest was the fight against the Night King. In the series’ lore, the last time the world had seen dragons fight each other was in the Dance of Dragons 150 years ago. The fight, while short, didn’t disappoint, and the heroes almost beat the Night King.

Then we saw that it was all a red herring. As it turns out, not even dragonfire can stop the Night King, and seeing him just smirking in the flames scared me. A LOT. Then when I saw Jon chasing after the Night King, I thought, like many people, that this was it. the fight between Jon and the Night King that we had waited for all this time.

He’s doing the “come at me, bro” pose again

As much of a buzzkill that was, I have to give the show props for making the Night King smart enough to not fight Jon. Jon would need one hit to end him, and with him pinned by Viserion, that wasn’t happening.

Despite all their efforts, it looked like the Night King was going to win. The heroes were on their last legs or too far away from Bran to save him. Then I realized something: we hadn’t seen Arya in a while, and I realized what was about to happen.

Me when I knew what Arya was doing.

A master assassin only needs one moment to strike. And while the White Walkers were focused on Bran, Arya reminded us what we say to death: not today.
Just like that, it was over. With one lightning stike, Arya had slain the Night King. It’s ironic that she used the blade that had caused her family so much.
I hereby dub Arya “Arya Stark the Nightkiller”.

“What do we say to death? Not today, bitch”

As the credits rolled, so many thoughts raced through my head. I loved seeing Arya become the Nightkiller, but it also felt a little anti-climactic, and disappointing that we didn’t get an epic sword fight between Jon and the Night King. Then again, this is Game of Thrones, and Game of Thrones is all about taking the medieval fantasy and throwing it on its head. So, it makes sense, in a way. And it cements Arya Stark as one of the best assassin’s in fictional history.

So in the end, was this the battle that HBO promised us? It did live up to the hype at times, but it was also hindered by the poor lighting, and the ending seems anti-climactic. But let’s not forget that while the White Walkers were always going to be a major plot point, they weren’t going to be the end all for the show. This show has always been about one thing: the Throne and who sits on it. And while I may have some issues with the episode, I will not deny that I was entertained from start to finish.

Valar Morguhils

I Give “The Long Night” A 3/5. Fix the darn lighting already, and give me the head of Cersei

Stray Observations

  • Just once, couldn’t we just let Ghost fight in a battle? For god’s sake, we don’t even see him again
  • A lot of people agree that the “tactics” the living used were idiotic.
  • I’m almost tempted to just bail on the show now that the White Walker’s are dead. Only thing keeping me here is the hope of seeing Cersei dead.
  • RIP House Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, Melisandre, Dolorous Edd, Qono, and Theon Greyjoy. You didn’t die in vain.

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