The third episode of Game of Thrones is called "The Long Night" and features the final battle between the Army of the Dead raised by the Night King and the assembled forces of humanity who have gathered around Winterfell. Speculation and anticipation before this episode was at a fever pitch and it did not disappoint in the level of drama and excitement.
The direction of this episode was very well done. The Army of the living seems huge: there's the Dothraki hordes, rows and rows of Unsullied, the assembled forces of the North, and Dany and Jon with their dragons watching from on high. We get a signal that things are not going to go well for the living when even though the Dothraki all have flaming curved swords (thanks to an assist by Melisandre!) they are routed by an enemy we can't even see.
When we finally do see the army of the dead they have overwhelming numbers and relatively quickly are able to use those numbers to breach the defenses of Winterfell, despite the clever use of fire by the good guys, both as deployed by Dany's dragons from the air and by Melisandre at important points in the battle.
Arya's fighting prowess is showed multiple times, but even she is almost killed due to the large numbers of undead wights that stream into Winterfell. Interestingly, after what seemed like the better part of an hour, one of the best sequences in "The Long Night" was when Arya was tiptoeing around a library infested with several undead creatures who suddenly appear to have superhuman sensitivity to sounds.
A quick word about Jon and Dany, who do not acquit themselves well. Dany abandons the plan of waiting for the Night King to appear and try to kill Bran once she sees the Dothraki massacred. This results in a thrilling (but also confusing) aerial dragon fight between Dany (and Jon) on Drogon and Rhaegar and the Night King on undead Viserion. She ends up putting herself (and Drogon) into mortal danger when she is stuck in the middle of the battleground after Drogon's fire appears to have no effect on the Night King despite sustained, direct application. Eventually Ser Jorah Mormont has to put forward a heroic performance to protect Dany from a multitude of wights, dying in the process.
Jon doesn't fare much better. He gets thrown from Rhaegal after a bout with the Night King atop Viserion and despite seeing two of his friends (Samwell Tarly in particular) in mortal danger, he continues forward into Winterfell to try to protect Bran and (presumably) kill the Night King. But Jon is thwarted repeatedly by the undead dragon Viserion, who is inside of Winterfell's main yard.
Of course the most important scene of the episode was the amazing (and surprising) death of the Night King at Arya's hand, who appeared to come out of nowhere, just as he was about to kill the Three-Eyed Raven (Bran) after dispatching Theon, by thrusting an obsidian dagger into him which effectively destroyed the entire army of the dead, including Viserion. Victory!
The highlights of this episode were:
- The most memorable line of this episode was this exchange between Melisandre and Arya: "What do we say to the God of Death?" "Not today!"
- The second best line of the episode is also Melisandre's. As she approaches Winterfell, she says: "There's no need to execute me, Ser Davos, I'll be dead before the dawn."
- Another memorable line is Bran's "Theon, you're a good man, thank you." This was said to Theon right before he redeems himself by charging the Night King and dying a noble death.
- Most valuable player of the episode is of course, Arya for killing the Night King and causing the concomitant destruction of the Army of the Dead. When it happened I stared at the screen with my mouth agape and then cheered. At that point, it didn't appear that the living were going to prevail and it really seemed like everyone we know and care about on the show (Jon, Tyrion, Dany, Sansa, Brienne, Grey Worm, etc) could possibly be dead soon.
- Another notable highlight of the episode was the way that Lady Lyanna Mormont died. Amazingly, as one of the smallest characters on the show, she was able to take out and destroy one of the biggest, an undead Giant, who she stabbed through the eye with dragonglass and then crushed her to death as it collapsed.
The lowlights of the episode were
The lowlights of the episode were
- Although I didn't have a problem with the lighting of the episode I did have difficulty at times discerning what was happening at times during the more frenetic sections of the battle scenes. I saw the episode in HBO NOW using Spectrum wifi on a Roku-connected 55" plasma TV in a darkened room.
- What the heck was Bran (The Three-Eyed Raven) doing during the Battle for Winterfell? Warging into a raven? To what end?
- A slight lowlight is the fact that although there were deaths, none of them were of "top line" characters. The most significant is probably Theon's, since he was an adopted member of the Stark family, but the show has made him a bigger character than he is in the books. The other characters who died are: Lyanna Mormont, Jorah Mormont, Dolorous Edd, Melisandre, Beric Donddarion and The Night King.