Game of Thrones Season Eight: “The Long Night”

By Bob Case Posted Monday Apr 29, 2019

Filed under: Game of Thrones 134 comments

This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

It’s finally here: the Big Honking Battle Scene. This review is going up a bit later than usual; yesterday was the day I saw Endgame, and didn’t get back until late, and then watched Game of Thrones, and jeez that’s a whole lot of Big Honking Battle Scene to watch in a single night. I don’t recommend it.

Just to set the stage: a handful of characters (Cersei, FrankenGregor, Euron, Qyburn, Harry Strickland, and possibly Bronn) are down in King’s Landing. Pretty much every other character on the entire show is at Winterfell, awaiting the imminent arrival of the Night King and his army. This episode, as much as any other I can think of, demonstrates the things about the show that are good, the things that are bad, and the things that are ugly.

THE GOOD

I’ve complimented Miguel Sapochnik in the past, and my opinion of him is mostly undamaged by “The Long Knight.” The runtime is an hour and a half, but subtract opening and closing credits and behind the episode stuff and it’s more like an hour and ten minutes. Even so, doing over an hour’s worth of show on a single battle is a big ask. It’s something of a Game of Thrones tradition, however, dating back to “Blackwater,” the second-to-last episode of the second season. Now they tend to do one of these every season, regardless of whether it’s a good idea pacingwise.

Despite all that, “The Long Knight” has a consistent rhythm to it, and it’s one that works with the nature of the Wights and White Walkers: a slowly building sense of despair. This is an army that just moves forward and forward and doesn’t stop for anything. This is reflected in how the fighting plays out: Winterfell has arranged its defenses in depth, and one by inevitable one they’re defeated. The first iteration of this is probably the best-executed: the flaming swords of the Dothraki, slowly winking out while the rest of the army watches. Later, the White Walkers summon a white-out blizzard, rendering Dany’s dragons less effective due to lack of visibility. It’s not an ability we’ve seen from them before, but it makes sense thematically and added an unexpected and ominous twist to the proceedings.

This bit where the dragons fly above the clouds is one of the coolest shots the show's ever had.
This bit where the dragons fly above the clouds is one of the coolest shots the show's ever had.

Later on, we see the relentlessness that makes the Wights so terrifying. They smother a flaming trench with their own bodies, creating bridges across, and later assault the walls of Winterfell by climbing on top of each other World War Z-style. Gradually, the last threads of order fray, and what was supposed to be an organized defense collapses into chaos. All seems lost. Multiple major characters are in impossible situations.

Then they remain in those impossible situations for improbably long amounts of time. You can probably already tell that I’m getting ready to transition into the “bad” part of the review, but let’s finish off the good first. Arya comes out of nowhere and kills the Night King. Since he’s said to have created all the White Walkers, they, and all the Wights they created, all die at once. The KIA list: Jorah and Lyanna Mormont, Edd, Theon, Beric, nearly all of the Dothraki, and one of the dragons.I have trouble keeping track of which is which, but I think it was Viserion that died. I think that’s everybody. Jorah and Theon are the two most major characters that die, and they both get a good sendoff. Jorah’s death scene confirms for me that Emilia Clarke can actually act when she’s given an opportunity to.

So that’s the good. The show still has some strong aspects. The direction is often solid. The production value, overall, tends to be high. It has a knack for spectacle. Most of the audience remains attached enough to the characters to still care about them.

THE BAD

I don’t like to just laundry list complaints – I’d rather find some sort of unifying theme. However in this case I have to do some laundry listing. There’s just too much.

I can’t see shit: I spent two-thirds of this episode squinting at the screen, barely able to make out what was going on. I’ve mentioned that this show is dark – not just figuratively but literally – before, but always as a sort of snarky aside. But it is in fact an actual problem, and judging by the reactions online I’m not the only one who has it. Whenever this is pointed out, there’s usually a group of people who say things like “I watched it on ______ type of TV/monitor, and I could see everything just fine.” I’m happy for those people, but I can’t see shit over here.

By the end of the episode, my screenshot folder was full of images like this.
By the end of the episode, my screenshot folder was full of images like this.

I’ve never had this problem with any other show. I’ve watched Game of Thrones on computer monitors, multiple TVs, multiple rooms – enough for me to conclude that the problem is on the show’s end, not mine. I know it’s a night battle and this is part of the mood they’re trying to set, but the lack of lighting makes watching it an unpleasant experience on a practical level.

Baffling decisions: I know that the battle was most likely blocked out for maximum drama rather than maximum in-world practicality. But Dany’s forces were arrayed in so many head-scratching ways that it almost seems comical. You don’t have to be von Clausewitz to know that you’re supposed to attack with your entire army at once, not send different sections in to fight the enemy one at a time. But they send the Dothraki in alone while everyone else just watches. It doesn’t stop there – why did they put their siege weapons in front of their best infantry? Why did they dig a long, spike-filled trench behind them? Why did they “hide” their most vulnerable people in the place that has the most dead bodies against an opponent they know can raise the dead? Why did they assign, like, a dozen people to guard Bran when they know he’s the enemy’s main target? I thought the whole plan was to lure the Night King into the Godswood and then spring some kind of trap. But they forgot to come up with the “trap” part of that plan. I usually like to limit my nitpicking of the tactics of fictional battle scenes. After all, the whole thing is make believe anyway. But it’s harder to root for characters that seem so mind-bogglingly dumb.

Where the hell did Arya come from?: Bran was completely surrounded. There were wights, many ranks deep, shoulder to shoulder, on all sides. How on Earth Arya got within stabbing distance of the Night King without getting turned into couscous will forever be a mystery to me. A lot of people might say, “Who cares? She came from off camera. Quit overthinking this.” But in my opinion this is not overthinking. It’s just regular thinking. Stories that don’t follow basic notions of common sense are less exciting to me.

Against all odds, and despite highly conspicuous 'two days until retirement'-type dialogue last episode, Grey Worm actually survives. I have concluded that this man is invincible.
Against all odds, and despite highly conspicuous 'two days until retirement'-type dialogue last episode, Grey Worm actually survives. I have concluded that this man is invincible.

How can a writer maintain actual suspense when practically anything can happen at any time, regardless of plausibility? My reaction when Arya leapt out of the fog was not a fist-pumping “yeah!” thing but a snort of disbelief. I’m guessing that’s not the reaction they were going for. I’ve seen theories circulating online that Arya may have stolen the face of a White Walker. Yeah, that would’ve been cool, if it had happened. It’s frustrating watching the fandom’s excuses for the show be better and more imaginative than the show itself.

Characters that are completely surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered survive again and again: Not only that, but they were repeatedly rescued by other characters that were completely surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered themselves just a few shots earlier. A part of me was honestly expecting Benjen Stark to somehow show up again. Seemingly hopeless situations don’t get more dramatically effective the more you use them. They get less.

THE UGLY

I meant the figurative ugly.
I meant the figurative ugly.

In my review of “Winterfell,” I mentioned that the B and C stories (Dany and the White Walkers) would have to be folded into the A story. I assumed that was the case because I assumed that the Night King would be final antagonist of the series. Now it’s clear that he’s not. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t see this coming.

After all, I know it’s a major theme in the Song of Ice and Fire series that the living should find solidarity with each other against the dramatic incarnation of uncaring nature. I’ve always thought this to be the point of the Stark words, “Winter is Coming,” and of Ned’s memorable conversation with Arya about how when winter comes, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. George R.R. Martin uses this to create an avenue for exploring an inclusive concept of humanity. Our enemies, or for that matter those different from us, are still human, and seeing them and treating them as such is not a type of weakness but a vital survival strategy.

And, after all, I know that Benioff and Weiss have been bound and determined to make a show with themes and messages almost diametrically opposed to those in the books. The dramatic incarnation of uncaring nature has just been defeated. Turns out all you had to do was stab it. And now that the miniboss is out of the way, it’s time to confront the real enemy: Cersei Lannister, her cackling sidekick, her murder zombie, and her tragically elephantless army.

Like I said, I shouldn’t be surprised. This is the culmination of the show’s decision to be a different kind of story than the books. Sure, the place and character names are the same, and the show’s characters occasionally act kind of like their book counterparts, but the similarities end there. A “different” type of story is not necessarily a worse story, but I can say that the story the show is telling is not the type I’m interested in. I almost watch it with a sense of melancholy now. I’ve become resigned to the possibility that A Song of Ice and Fire may just never be completed. This may be the closest thing we ever get to an ending, and it’s so, so far away from the spirit of the books.

But who knows? Maybe, at the moment when all hope seems lost, and Benioff and Weiss are advancing on a wheelchair-bound GRRM with murder in their eyes, Maisie Williams will come out of nowhere and whack them over the head with a completed Winds of Winter manuscript at the exact moment the New York Jets score a Super Bowl-winning touchdown. Once that happens, I bet GRRM could bang out A Dream of Spring in just a couple of decades.

In the meantime, I’ll have to watch the rest of Game of Thrones, out of morbid curiosity moreso than anything else. Back next week.

 

Footnotes:

[1] I have trouble keeping track of which is which, but I think it was Viserion that died.



From The Archives:
 

134 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Season Eight: “The Long Night”

  1. Jenkins says:

    The more I reflect on the episode, the worse it gets.

    The first half of the episode was nervous, frightening and tense – a fitting followup to the sense of finality which hung heavy on the characters present in episode two. Up until the White Walkers broke through the gates of Winterfell, the episode was truly eponymous to its name. However, whatever tension had been built up to that point evaporated when it became clear that, yet again, D.B. Weiss and Benioff would put drama and narrative aside so that their favorite characters can have their moments. The stretch from Ayra on the battlements to Lyanna Mormont slaying a Giant was the worst part of the episode, and it epitomised some of the worst characteristics of Weiss and Benioff’s writing since the end of season four with characters reduced to speaking in cliches, and the believability of the action onscreen being streched beyond its limits for the sake of certain characters (almost always the same offenders, and I would guess W&B’s favorites: Ramsey Bolton, Jon Snow, Sandor Clegane, Arya, Lyanna Mormont) getting a signature moment. I liked Lyanna a lot. But it became incredibly clear that the episode was going to have a banal conclusion when the same pitfalls which have plagued the show since season five reared their ugly heads.

    After eight years of waiting, it feels bewildering that the story of the White Walkers ended as it did, and so suddenly.
    There’s nothing inherently wrong per se with Arya killing the Night King. Although her training arc was immensely dissatisfying, the show’s writers have made clear time and time again that Arya is now capable of remarkable physical feats. The problem I have with the scene, and the problem I believe many others also have, is that Arya didn’t have any enmity towards the Night King beyond the purely abstract (the Night King as the ultimate enemy of the living). It wasn’t personal for her, unlike it would’ve been Jon (who has had numerous confrontations with his armies), Daenerys (who lost a dragon to him), and Bran (who was being hunted by him). It might make some degree of logical sense for Arya to be the one to kill the Night King, but I do not believe it made for good drama and it was unsatisfying as a result.

    It was also unsatisfying that the “long night” wasn’t really that, well, long. The previous episode really made it seem like we were saying farewell to many of the characters we have grown to love over the course of the show’s existence, characters like: Brienne, Podrick, Tormund, Ser Jorah, Samwell, Edd, Gendry, Ser Davos, Jaime, Beric Dondarrion, Sandor Clegane, Theon, Greyworm, Gilly, Melisandre, Ghost, and Varys. For a series infamous for killing off so many of its beloved characters, the Long Night was really quite tame. Now I’m not suggesting the show had to kill off characters left and right, only that characters should’ve been killed off when the tension and drama of a scene demanded it. There were many instances where a character was in immense danger, and the subsequent loss of their life could’ve been absolutely heartbreaking: Greyworm when holding the line as the armies of the living retreated into the castle, Sam when the undead piled on top of him, or Brienne when the dead had pushed her up against a wall and surrounded her. As it was, both Jorah and Theon died in fairytale fashion avenging themselves for their past betrayals, Lyanna killed a friggen’ giant, and Beric died saving Arya’s life.

    Years after the show is over, this episode will be one of the ones which I believe will prevent Game of Thrones from entering television’s pantheon of all-time great shows. At times the cinematography was stunning, and the action fraught with tension. Once again Ramin Djawadi nailed the accompanient music completely. But this was the show’s ultimate climax (make no mistake, whatever happens with Cersei pales in comparison to the existential conflict between the living and the dead) – Game of Thrones’s Battle of the Black Gate – and in the end it ended with a whimper.

    On a final note, I absolutely agree with you Mr. Case about the poignancy of the Stark words and I mourn their lost importance. The series is to end with A Dream of Spring, which follows The Winds of Winter. It’s quite baffling then that Game of Thrones will end long after the ‘Winter’ has been defeated. Well, it’s baffling in the sense of being completely thematically incoherent, but perhaps not so much given the showrunner’s record up to this point.

    1. The Guardian says:

      After thinking it over a bit, I’m wondering if the Red Woman actually “purchased” the death of the Night King from Arya?

      After all, she was a nervous wreck up to that point, but all of a sudden after a little chat she goes into full assassin mode and leaves without saying another word.

      I’ll have to rewatch the ending to figure out how exactly she got close enough, but there were clues like that puff of wind through the hair of the white walker… maybe she was up in the trees?

      Then at the very end, the red woman allows herself to die, paying the price for her bargain.

      As a total aside… they could have really used some Valyrian Steel crossbow bolts for that final showdown too, right? :)

      1. Lanthanide says:

        In episode 1 of this season when Arya meets Jon in the godswood, he asks her “how did you sneak up on me?”

        Not a satisfying answer of course, but foreshadowing in retrospect, given the location.

    2. “it feels bewildering that the story of the White Walkers ended as it did, and so suddenly.”
      Not really, “if the king falls i’s game over”, the Night King had been unopposed for centuries only the wall holding him back, it was the dragon that gave him the edge to break the wall.
      We never saw anyone get close enough with valerian steel to try and cut the Night King, and Arya hit his heart or that crystal inside him.

      BTW! I’m not so sure that “whatever happens with Cersei pales in comparison”, the Night King fight was impersonal a horde of an army, with Cersei you have Jamie, Tyrion, Bronn, Cersei, Arya, Sansa, Dani, John, all with personal reasons, and they got between a hundred to a thousand men (compared to tens of thousands that Cersei has).

      Cersei was “smart”, with the Night King loosing the decimated forces left can “easily” be mopped up. However if the Night King had won then Cersei would have lose too which was a stupid risk IMO.

      1. GloatingSwine says:

        I think the complaint is that the Night King and the White Walkers are a foe that the society of Westeros has had to socially engineer a solution to on the scale of the Wall and the Night’s Watch, the largest feat of civil and magical engineering in their entire society and a permanent standing force to stand guard on it. A problem that has been around so many generations it has had time to pass into myth.

        The White Walkers coming south of the wall is supposed to be Westeros’ apocalypse scenario, the ancient doom that can’t be fought it can only be contained. And it turns out that he can just get stabbed up [i]straight away[/i].

        To draw a comparison to another series with a similar situation, in Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera when the Big Horde of Ancient Evil* shows up for reals, there’s a book and a half of desperate defences, losses, retreats, and cataclysmic final stands before the swarm before we get to this sort of point.

        * Who are basically the Zerg.

  2. Elzair says:

    Yeah I feel the same way about the central theme. I have been following ASoIaF since 2002, and I long since gave up on GRRM ever finishing the series (plus I did not like the last two books). Several seasons back I was stoked that we would at least get SOME kind of ending, but now? *censored* The Others were introduced in the freaking prologue of GoT, and they are clearly made up to be the major threat. I know ASoIaF is known for its political intrigue, but those intrigues were always portrayed as the “conflicts of summer”, and winter is coming. Plus the Night King just turned to be a generic mook! I do not care about who sits on the Iron Throne; it feels irrelevant.

  3. Olivier FAURE says:

    Regarding the Night King’s death, the scene could have been much better if it had switched Arya and Jon.

    Have Arya try to kill the Night King. It doesn’t work because he summons a bunch of dead people. Someone says “You can’t sneak up on him, he can sense the living and the dead”. Then, in the Godswood, just as the Night King is preparing to strike Bran, a corpse rises behind him and stabs him with a Valyrian steel sword at the last moment: Jon Snow, who is both dead and alive, thus fooling the Night King’s senses.

    It would be cooler thematically, it would make the good guys look smarter, like they planned ahead instead of just getting lucky, and it would feel more like a personal victory for Jon Snow (whereas Arya didn’t really have any personal tie to the “undead army” storyline).

    It would also make the ambush thing more logical: you can’t ambush him with an army, or with a ninja, because he’s always surrounded by his own army. You need to catch him off-guard, when he thinks he’s safe, which means you need a single person who can evade his senses.

    Oh well.

    1. trevalyan says:

      Jon Snow could heroically fight- and heroically lose- to the Night’s King. Then, during the monologue explaining how the dross of humanity must be cleansed before the remainder can be purified, in A Song of Ice and Fire, Jon acknowledges that he could not defeat the Night King. But then, he wasn’t intended to. Cue the backstabs, go to the House of Healing where Jon forswears violence and takes up baking, a climatic battle scene with Cersei at the Black Gat-

      FUCK!!

      1. Both those two alternate endings reads like fanfiction (and per some no different than the TV show itself); maybe you two were’nt serious about your alt. endings?

        “you need a single person who can evade his senses” like Arya just did?

        1. trevalyan says:

          Mine was pretty much ripping off LOTR. No, it is not profound, but short of heavily rewriting this episode (and most episodes since season 5) it is the best you can get.

        2. MonsieurZb says:

          She did not evade his senses though. That’s my problem with the whole scene: he sensed her and caught her by the throat and the left arm. She was able to stab him only because he *forgot* that she had two hands. Not because she used her disguising abilities to make him believe he caught her while she was still free. Nope. She killed him by virtue of being ambidextrous. What a superb ending to a character arc based on ninja training.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Ah, that ancient mystical martial art: ‘having two hands’. It’s been fooling bad guys since forever.

          2. shoeboxjeddy says:

            She killed him using the element of surprise, which was a key part of her training. They even foreshadowed it, by having the much better warrior (than Arya) Brienne be taken by surprise by the same move.

            I keep hearing people wanting Arya to have stolen the face of a Wight to sneak up, but to me this is stupid. The Night King has a supernatural connection to his forces. He can mentally control every move they make and can see through their eyes in order to direct them better. Suggesting Arya disguise herself as a part of his forces is kind of like suggesting someone sneak up on me by disguising themself as my hand or my left shoulder. I uh… know what that is doing at all times. You cannot fool me with this method, it would be stupid to even try.

          3. Nessus says:

            I feel like there’s a “Princess Bride” reference laying on the table there.

  4. Armagrodden says:

    The question of where Arya came from is answered in the books, if not in the show. When remembering his pre-fall climbing escapades, Bran comments on a couple of occasions that there’s a place where the trees of the Godswood grow right up to the Keep, and you can access one from the other. So Arya could exit the keep via a window and get in a tree, then move from tree to tree until she reached the Heart Tree where Bran was waiting as Night King bait. She was at the planning session where Bran said he’d be waiting there and that the Night King would come for him, so she knew to go there when Melisandre sent her on her assassination mission. All she had to do was wait there in the cover of the foliage, undetected by the zombies (after the show just established she could stay quiet enough to evade zombies), then drop down on the Night King when he came to kill Bran. Which is what she does, and the move she uses to kill him when he senses and blocks her is the same one she’d previously used to fight Brienne to a draw. The confrontation between Arya and the Night King was actually telegraphed pretty well.

    Also, we have seen the white-out blizzard ability used by the White Walkers before; both in combat at Hardhome and as a shroud surrounding their army while travelling in various other episodes (the first episode of last season, for example).

    The rest of the episode was a mess, though. Their tactics were just ridiculous and most of the characters were pinned, with no real character building moments, for the entire episode in ludicrously hopeless battles. Both Jon and Dani were essentially useless, and I don’t see how this leads to either of them “earning” their victory or their place on the Iron Throne. Jon is now officially out of sisters to rescue him from his idiotic battle plans; both Sansa and Arya have done their duty in this regard. Overall, the episode made me kind of angry. I usually don’t agree with the negative goal of these reviews, but this episode made me say that if HBO isn’t going to take this seriously than neither am I.

    1. “So Arya could exit the keep via a window and get in a tree”

      I wish they’d have shown her jumping from a roof to a tree at some point to show that though, or have Bran say that line earlier in the show. I blame the Screen Adaption writer (not the showrunners) for such “mistakes” though.

      “no real character building moments”
      Sansa and Tyrion?
      The Hound and Arya?
      Dani and Jorah?

  5. Nessrox says:

    I thought the episode would see The Night King victorious, like infinity war, leading to a finale where he attacks Kings Landing. The last session kind of painted him as a larger threat and as the final boss. The stakes here are “end of the world” and the stakes with Cersei are “who gets to rule?”

    1. Nessus says:

      As corollary, it ends up validating Cersei’s selfishness.

      If the threat of the White walkers ends here, then any theme of people having to get past their pettyness and band together goes in the dumpster. Cersei gets exactly what she hoped for: her enemies weakened by the war up north so they’ll pose less threat to her. The petty power-grabby tyrant was right to be petty and grabby, and the nominal “good guys” were wrong to think that solidarity was more important than selfishness.

      And I can see why the writer’s did it: they think Cersei is the bigger villain and thus the final boss, because she’s a human with human motives, and therefore is more dramatic than an inscrutable endead thingy. This is kind of true, however what they fucked up is that in this story Cersie is the sort of villian who has to be undone by their own bad decisions, rather than just by the good guy’s sword. She has to lose by being the protagonist in her own private Greek tragedy. Without the White Walkers pressing on King’s Landing, she learns nothing, and the “good guys” win purely though brute force rather than because they understood what she didn’t. In fact, any victory against her now comes explicitly spite of them being wrong.

      Going by the writer’s previous track record, I rather expect the huge losses Jon and Dany suffered at Winterfell to be magically forgotten so they can have another Big Damn Battle at King’s Landing two eps from now. If we’re very lucky, Cersei can still be killed by Jamie, thus salvaging at least SOME semblance of morale/theme. But since she’s supposed to be the big dramatic villain now, they’ll probably give her a big villain confrontation instead, which would be the worst.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Cersei was supposed to be done about two seasons ago. GRRM wrote her an arc; she got to be Queen, then messed up and caused her own Walk Of Shame via incompetence and cruelty, as well as overseeing the death of most/all her children.

        That the show has allowed her to continue as an antagonist is D&D’s problem.

        1. Lanthanide says:

          Walk of Shame occurs before she is Queen, and that’s a large part in why she blew up the Sept Of Baelor which causes Tommen to kill himself and then she is Queen.

      2. Matthew Downie says:

        Cersei isn’t a bigger villain, but she might be a more interesting one, because she has more humanity. She’s already lost, because her children are dead, largely as a result of her own actions. Now all she can do is cling to power from force of habit.

        The good guys prioritised doing the right thing over seizing power. They banded together despite their differences, and it paid off. This episode was the defeat of Sauron. Whatever comes next is the Scouring of the Shire.

        1. Thomas says:

          I know the LOTOR films had a lot of epilogues, but Return of the King doesn’t end half way through.

      3. Cubic says:

        Cersei gets exactly what she hoped for: her enemies weakened by the war up north so they’ll pose less threat to her. The petty power-grabby tyrant was right to be petty and grabby, and the nominal “good guys” were wrong to think that solidarity was more important than selfishness.

        That would be so annoying that it’d actually make me chuckle. Final scene could be her guards decapitating captured Sansa and Arya (the rest already being dead) in front of the Iron Throne, then zoom in to Cersei’s smiling face filling the screen, hold for … sixty seconds. Roll credits. Your nihilism lightly warmed over, sir.

        1. Thomas says:

          Everyone would hate it, but that would actually work as an ending the way everything has gone. Have Jaime die in the last episode and Cersei has nothing left but the throne.

      4. shoeboxjeddy says:

        She can still be proved wrong by having no (or terrible) allies. Like, Euron will fight for her… until he doesn’t feel like doing so. Then he’d turn on her in a second. Compare that to having allies like Theon or Jorah who will fight to their last breath no matter what. Cersei temporarily having the upper hand doesn’t make her right, just as Tywin taking the victory lap after condemning his son to death by ALSO sleeping with his ex didn’t make him smart. It eventually just made him dead.

        1. Nessus says:

          That’s why I said having Jamie kill her would probably be the best end to her now. He’s her closest and longest relationship, so it would mean the most, and it would be a strong character culmination for him as well, given his past.

          I know there’s people who think it’d be great if she ended up sitting uncontested on the throne but cursed with the loneliness and bitterness she’s crafted for herself, but I disagree. That could be satisfyingly tragic conclusion to her story, but this is far from just her story. For everyone else and Westeros as a whole, that would make the theme “people suck, and nothing ever changes”.

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            I not only agree with you, I think the witch’s prophecy that Cersei received in her youth means that this WILL happen. Of course, the writers could swerve, but I really hope they don’t. If Brienne survives, she could also write about Jaime’s titles of King and Queenslayer in the book about the King’s Guard, which would be a nice epilogue to the whole thing.

    2. The TV show is called A Game Of Thrones so “who gets to rule?” is the focus in the end.

      1. Nessrox says:

        That would be fine if they didnt tell me that “who gets to rule” is irrelevant last season. If they wanted that to be the focus they should have done a better job making it the focus. “Who gets to rule” felt like an epilogue question in the face of “can we stop the end of the world”.

    3. Adrian Cade says:

      I also noted the new opening shows blue tiles turning over to signify the WW advance. I figured that would spread over much of the map leading to the finale but I’m just a big dummy apparently.

  6. SkySC says:

    I mostly enjoyed this episode. The baffling battle tactics, the characters spending several minutes underneath a thrashing pile of enemies to suddenly be saved by someone who was also underneath a thrashing pile of enemies and recover unharmed, all of that doesn’t bother me (anymore, I remember being just pissed off at the stupidity involved in the Battle of the Bastards, on all sides). It was all very stylish, there was good pacing switching from intense battle to slower sections, and I generally liked everything I managed to see (I agree, it was waaay too dark).

    But then when the episode ended, the most awful realization came: the rest of the show is Daeny vs Cersei. I know there are only 3 episodes left, but I just don’t know if I can make it to the end.

    1. “but I just don’t know if I can make it to the end” Stop being overly dramatic, leave that to the professional actors of the show. :P

  7. shadr says:

    Surprised you liked Arya killing the Night King, I thought it was outright bad. Nothing as egregious as other things the show has done, but it seemed like a pretty huge waste of 8 seasons, and a waste of closure for Jon’s arc.

    It always seemed like the NK and Jon had a deeper connection to eachother, beyond just their physical encounters. Remember at Hardhome when the Night King stared at him from atop a mountain, when Jon slayed the White Walker he was fighting? It almost felt like he knew something about Jon that we didn’t, that he wasn’t even surprised that Jon killed one of his own – that he was expecting it. There’s also the scene of Jon staring at the four horsed White Walkers (Four Horseman of the Apocalypse?), and the staredown between Jon and the NK at the end of the episode where he raises the dead (which happens again this episode).

    Their connection is only strengthened by the fact that they’re both connected to old magic – the NK being born of the CotF, Jon being born again of R’hllor.

    I always thought the NK had deeper motivations beyond just wanting to kill all humans (if that even was his motivation – which I thought was misdirection since it seemed too generic). Wanting to slay all humans doesn’t really explain the symbols made of human limbs they’ve been leaving since the very first scene of the show (did we ever get an explanation for that, anyway? Will we?). It doesn’t explain his connection to the Three-eyed Raven, or why he has to specifically hunt the Raven down to plunge the world into darkness, or why a creation of the CoTF would want to plunge all life into non-existence.

    I half expected a twist when the NK approached Bran, thinking he was going to speak to him or kneel or something. I thought there might have been a reveal that explained a deeper motivation behind the NK’s actions, one that re-contextualized the symbols, the transforming of children into WW, etc., but then Arya, someone completely unconnected to the White Walkers this entire series, comes out of nowhere and kills him. Oh well, I guess? Some threat ‘Winter is Coming’ was.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      You forget that Arya is a BADASS NINJA trained by other BADASS NINJAS trained to do BADASS NINJA things. And BADASSES never lose in this show. So if course she won.

      What, what there supposed to be something deeper behind the Ice Zombies?
      HAH, sure there was.

    2. Armstrong says:

      I think Sam’s awkward remarks about memory from last episode is the closest we’ll ever get to have to a proper explanation for the Night King’s motivation. Their superfluousness and abruptness lead me to suspect they are a very cut-down version of a theme GRRM had planned for the books.

      1. This is part of the issue, the Screen Adaption writer did all the books to screen writing, when he ran out of books he had to make things up.

    3. SkySC says:

      If you were seriously expecting some actual exploration of the Night King and his motivations, then I’m sorry to tell you, but you’ve been putting more thought into this show than the writers.

      1. Synapse says:

        Lets be honest fellas “exploring the NK motivations” sounds pretty ridiculous. The white walkers don’t need to have an interesting or understandable motivation or any of that crap, they are an seemingly unstoppable force of nature that’s all*.

        * unless you have dragon glass, or Valerian steel or some other unique weapon that can kill these beings.

        1. shadr says:

          I don’t think it’s ridiculous, given the direction the whole WW plot has been going since S7.

          If we were talking about the books, then I’d agree with you, since so far they seem to function as just an all-destroying species, not dissimilar to a plague.

          But the Night King in the show, and by extension, the White Walkers, seem more complex than that. In S7E6 the Night King manages to turn one of Dany’s dragon’s into a wight-dragon.

          Recall that the only way for the White Walkers to make it past the wall was to burn it down with dragon fire, something that the NK somehow knew. Even more, the NK also knew that dragons existed once again at that point in time (which is why he chose to strike now, as opposed to before), and that Dany controlled these dragons, despite never having met her or seen the dragons. He also knew about Jon and Dany’s relationship somehow, seeing as his whole trap centered around using Jon as a bait to lure Dany to bring her dragons past the wall so he could turn one of them. The most popular explanation that accounts for all this is that the NK is a greenseer that can see the future, or, at the very least, can see the past/present in its entirety (this presents many problems on its own, but it seems to be the only reasonable explanation – or, better put – the least unreasonable explanation).

          If this is the case, then the NK is seemingly an intelligent, conscious being, capable of enacting plans. If he really were just a ‘force of nature’, he would behave like any other animal – instinctively, he would not be creating elaborate plans that only seem possible to plan with some degree of omniscience.

          Couple all this with the mutilated limbs left in spirals/patterns throughout the series, his connection to the 3ER, his ability to mark Bran in his visions, his origin as a normal man turned into a weapon, etc., (all of which still remain unclear as to how this all connects to each other) and it isn’t hard to see why it seemed like there was more than meets the eye. It also doesn’t help that they gave him other anthropomorphic traits (him staring at Jon ominously after he killed a WW, his smirk after Dany attempted to burn him with dragon fire), which just helped ‘humanize’ him more.

          Ask yourself this – if they removed the Night King from the show, what would have changed? If the WW were just a force of nature, then I don’t see the point in adding the NK as this intelligent, arguably omniscient being that displays human qualities more-so than the other White Walkers.

          We never got to understand what the spiral patterns meant, why he sometimes left it there for others as a trap (eg. when Tormund and Beric come across the wight-child who’s nailed into a spiral, only for him to attack them) and other times just as a spiral for others to see, how he knew of the dragons and of Jon/Dany’s relationship, his connection to the 3ER, etc.

          Call my cynical, but after the entire series built up this threat, after the inexplicably stupid way the NK managed to turn one of Dany’s dragons, after all the confusion, I was expecting something that would tie it all together (of course, nothing would have been satisfying given how progressively bad the writing has gotten, but at least it would have been something).

          1. Synapse says:

            Well like the OP said you and many other people put WAY more thought into this than the screenwriters prob did when planning out the narrative with the WW /shrug. I don’t know what to say other than they gave the NK a Dragon for convenience and make them an even larger threat lol simple as that. They (the showrunners/screenwriters) pretty much shot their own foot by putting too much mystery and hints to “something greater” with the NK/WW plot so its no surprise many people are sorely disapointed. All it did was, as you said, make the NK/WW seem more intelligent and some more purpose alongside bringing the long night. I suspect the writers just cut their losses instead of trying to whip up a satisfying explanation just leave it open and have fans make theories for it .

  8. Walter says:

    Woudn’t surprise me if Bran was actually watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy the whole time during the battle through his raven powers because he was sick of where the show was going

    1. tremor3258 says:

      Ah, he was caught easily because he was trying to figure out which epilogue was the ending in Return of the King, something that has laid low the best of men

    2. TheCheerfulPessimist says:

      Nah, he was watching Endgame.

  9. cheekibreeki says:

    Can’t wait for the final episode where Drogon faces off against Dumbo

  10. trevalyan says:

    In theory, you can make the Others a mid-boss battle. In theory. The kingdoms unite, the zombies are sent to hell. In the unrestrained jubilation that sweeps the continent, nobles and peasants, men and women, children and adults, all realize they’ve wasted their lives in pointless fighting. A Great Council is called: now, and forever after, the Emperor of Seven Kingdoms will be elected by their subjects in a great meeting, and be charged with upholding all the kingdoms. It is to no one’s surprise when Empress Arya Stark, the Nightslayer (copyright KEVIN on DeviantArt DO NOT STEALE) marries Gendry, last of the Baratheons, to lead Westeros into a Golden Age- advised by the Lady of Winterfell, Sansa Stark, and her husband Tyrion- just Tyrion. (Bear with me, I’m rolling. ) Dany learns a lesson about dealing with people and returns east, to become the Good Queen. Jaime and Brienne usher in a swarm of adorable blond ubersoldat children. Arianne Martell returns from her unaccountably long spring break and marries Willas Tyrell…

    Etc, etc. Of course, this would imply that violence and dragonfire weren’t the most important things to build a society on! And while Cersei/ Euron would be an appropriate final boss if we were talking about Book Euron completing whatever sacrilege he has planned, the show obviously won’t do that.

  11. Erik says:

    “I can’t see shit”

    This. This, this, and again this. I have a projector that’s a fair light-cannon. I can watch normal TV in a daylit room. But even in a night-dark room this show was barely decipherable.

    The ferret-on-crack three-cuts-per-second editing pace compounded this badly. When there’s so little detail due to darkness, my eyes kept having to grope for enough detail to see which character was on-screen, and there just wasn’t enough time before the cut. Yes, I know the cuts are supposed to convey the chaos of war, but if I can’t tell who the figure that just died in front of me was, I can’t have the emotion that it’s trying to convey. Most of the flashes just didn’t register clearly enough, and were frustrating more than tension-racheting.

    That said, the director did a very good job keeping an hour-long battle from getting same-y and monotonous. The scene pacing was excellent, and the moments they chose to dwell on (for comparatively huge amounts of time… measured in usually single-digit seconds) were well chosen.

    My other main complaint was that the hopelessness of the final situation was dwelt on for about three times as long as I needed, and (it seemed) at least twice as long as anyone should need – the tension was starting to break due to delay and overextension. But while Arya’s leap may not have been mechanically plausible, the catharsis of the payoff did release all that almost-overextended tension to excellent dramatic effect.

    1. trevalyan says:

      I imagine you can save a lot on CGI if only you use enough shadows…

  12. Nessrox says:

    I am also convinced GRRM is afraid he won’t live up to the hype. So he plans to pass away before finishing the series on purpose. Then someone will ghost write the ending. Either it’ll be great and GRRM gets the credit or it won’t and we’ll blame the ghost writer for “screwing it up” but the blame won’t be his.

    1. IMO that was a rather underhanded remark against R.R. Martin.

    2. Bloodsquirrel says:

      I don’t think GRRM actually cares anymore. He uses “Oh, I’m just too much of a perfectionist” as and excuse, but at this point the claims he kept making about his progress have departed too heavily from reality, and I think the truth is that he just can’t be bothered, that he isn’t seriously working on it, and that he just says whatever in order to not admit it.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I don’t envy the man*, especially after the TV series started the pressure on him has been very high, now that the TV show overtook the books I honestly wouldn’t know what I should do in his place. I’m mostly taking this from what I’ve read here (both in the posts and in the comments on the series) and in other places on the internet but it does feel like the show is strongly departing from the themes he intended, so if he goes in a completely different direction then the books and show undermine each other, if he tries to steer the books towards the same ending while patching up the differences he might either not succeed in making it convincing or he might actually be acused of aping the show.

        *Well, I don’t envy him his “A Song…” bookwriting situation, the international fame and I assume loads of money… yeah, maybe a bit.

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          I don’t think his problems have much to do with the TV Series. GRRM is an admitted “gardener” – he doesn’t do a lot of detailed planning, and he’s already talked about having to completely restructure his plans for the last two books because his idea for a timeskip wasn’t panning out.

          I think what’s happened is that he gardened himself into a place that he had no idea how to get out of (a common problem with gardeners), and after spending a few years in frustration with it just lost his passion and now he doesn’t want to deal with it at all anymore. The whole thing ran away from him, and he’s doesn’t have the drive or energy to chase it down and wrangle it into conclusion.

          The good news is that it’s been so long that I don’t care either anymore. Even if Winds of Winter comes out, I won’t be bothering with it just to get invested again so that I can vainly hope that A Dream of Spring will somehow actually be finished.

          Have I gushed about The First Law Series lately? Really great trilogy to get your dark, deconstruction fantasy fix, except with far more focus, less bloat, and exactly the kind of conclusion that ASoIaF needs, but will probably never get.

  13. Misamoto says:

    Surprised no one mentioned how stupidly Dany got grounded from her dragon. Like, “Oh, Jon, your back is so manly, I can’t stop myself from staring here amidst the dead”

    1. Matthew Downie says:

      That would require us having been able to see what happened there.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      That’s a time-honoured trope, that is. A character has a world-saving/useful power, important plot knowledge, or something similar – and simply forgets about it in the name of drama.

      See also: dropping their magic sword on the floor and not going back for it, pointing their guns at the ground instead of the enemy, turning their back in a grounded enemy so that said enemy gets up and attacks them again.
      I’m pretty sure GoT has been doing this consistently since they realised exactly what a ‘Dragon’ was and how much of an advantage it could be.

    3. shoeboxjeddy says:

      I think the idea there was meant to be “she had to land to have any chance of saving Jon’s life instead of setting him on fire accidentally in the confusion and fog” and then she got distracted for a moment. It was filmed a bit dopily though.

  14. Thomas says:

    I can’t get over that the White Walkers are dead. The show has been building them up as the ultimate threat for 8 seasons!! and they die in a side story. They’re barely adequate as a roadblock to Cersei because almost all the main characters survive.

    This was set-up perfectly for characters dieing left and right, the armies rout, the Walkers win and Cersei is left with the ultimate hard choice. Does she kill her human foes or finally unite to face the inevitable?

    And they didn’t do it? Maybe the NK will resurrect himself?

    1. Syal says:

      Maybe the NK will resurrect himself?

      One of my first thoughts on reading this. Some kind of body-hopping thing, suddenly Post-Gregor becomes the Night King.
      Or maybe Euron summons him.

      1. Hector says:

        Ooh… They could have done this:

        *Bran: Why?! Why attack us?
        *Night King (is stabbed): I sent warnings written in blood, but you did not listen! I did not come you, but for Him… (Dies).
        *Hard cut to a triumphant Euron…

    2. “The show has been building them up as the ultimate threat for 8 seasons”

      True, but they also subverted the “Goliath and the Giant” with Lady Mormon, sure she took out the giant but she also died.
      The Night King was badass, unstoppable except for that one weapon (or metal type) perhaps, if Bran had taken back the blade the stab might have failed.

  15. sheer_falacy says:

    The way they’ve arranged the fights against the Night King and Cersei kind of reminds me of Babylon 5 – they beat the existential threat against all life early in the season and then had to deal with the usurper back home. But I bet B5 handled it better than GoT is going to.

    1. Thomas says:

      In Babylon 5, the ursurper back home was the subtle threat running growing into the background and tying into the themes of the show. It was their ‘Winter is coming’

    2. Matthew Collins says:

      The thing is, the two stories aren’t that different thematically, and the problem with A Game of Thrones is that it has just turned its back on that theme.

      Babylon 5 was never about the Shadows, it was about bringing the various younger races together to build something that would last. They had to work out their problems both domestically and between one another, take control of their own destiny, and learn to live with one another. That was the story; standing up to the overpowered elder races (note, not defeating them, that was impossible, just standing up to them) was simply one aspect of that.

      In ASoIaF, so far as we can tell, the point is supposed to be that the “game of thrones” is distraction, it’s inherently less important than the living standing together to fend off death, and the harsh natural (or supernatural) world. The politics and fighting may be important to the peoples involved, but in the grand scheme of things it’s pointless. The real enemy is death, the real purpose the preservation of life.

      The two stories handle it differently — in B5 the overpowered elder force are almost a side-story, in ASoIaF it’s the whole point, the overarching threat — but actually they’re thematically similar. This episode saw the show turn its back on that, though.

  16. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    It was boring. That was the cardinal sin. In minute 1 we knew how it ended: someone stabs the Night King. I held out hope that somewhere in the intervening 83 minutes, we might learn something. I was hoping Bran and the Night King would have a conversation. The could could have surprised me and had the Night King win -with all the build-up of Jon Snow, I didn’t believe that likely.

    There could have been some good character moments, like in the battle of the Wall where we see Jon take command, the old Nights’ Watch leadership crumble. Or in Blackwater, where we see Tyrion’s concern for the people of Kings Landing, and also the attempted assassination of Tyrion, the arrival of the Tyrells, and Tywin’s triumph. We could have at least gotten something as good as Sansa’s calling in the Veil during the Battle of the Bastards.

    We got almost none of that. People die foolishly. Sandor Clegane’s mini-arc was good. The Red Lady makes no sense, and I just can’t bring myself to care about her, and do they seriously expect me to believe that she is Syrio Florell in disguise? What the hell.

    Jon and Dany had nothing to do but look bad in the composite shots. OK, Jorah had some good moments. Lyanna Moremont’s death was good -but I’m annoyed by the show forgetting it’s own rules about how dragon-glass works on the undead. She didn’t need to stick it in the giant’s eye to make it work.

    And at the end of the show, Arya -who has been given a last-minute pep talk by the Red Woman (see above destruction of suspension of disbelief) kills the Night King exactly how we always knew he had to die. And we learn nothing about him.

    For all that action, nothing happened for the entire course of the episode. It was a waste of time.

    Yeah -I’ve stuck it out this far because there are only 3 episodes left. I almost can’t bring myself to care about them now.

    1. Nick says:

      The Red Woman presumably references the “What do we say to the God of Death?” line because she’s familiar with Bravos and/or R’hllor showed it to her in the flames, which considering it put Arya back in the proper frame of mind for the plan to work isn’t unreasonable.

    2. Marcellus Magnus says:

      The Red Lady makes no sense, and I just can’t bring myself to care about her, and do they seriously expect me to believe that she is Syrio Florell in disguise? What the hell.

      I don’t think that’s the implication with the “What do we say to the god of Death” line; she can just reference important quotes she couldn’t have heard thanks to her witchy powers. She’s done it before with “You know nothing, Jon Snow” a few seasons ago. I guess she didn’t like getting upstaged in that department by Bran :)

      1. Distec says:

        On the other hand, it’s possible that a lot of people just happen to be regularly saying this to hapless Jon.

    3. “we knew how it ended: someone stabs the Night King” then you knew the same thing as Bran knew, he’s known for a long time too.

  17. Fabrimuch says:

    It turns out that every short-sighted, self-centered politician who refused to help the Night’s Watch defend against the White Walkers for their own personal gain was completely right. The North managed to defeat the threat by itself while suffering the brunt of the casualties and leaving the armies of the south perfectly ok and ready to wipe them out in the fallout.

    Game of Thrones just vindicated Tywin, Joffrey and Cersei Lannister

    1. Jenkins says:

      Grumpkins and Snarks.

    2. Possibly, it’s a high chance that more heroes will die to Cersei than they did in this battle.

  18. camycamera says:

    I know it’s a major theme in the Song of Ice and Fire series that the living should find solidarity with each other against the dramatic incarnation of uncaring nature. I’ve always thought this to be the point of the Stark words, “Winter is Coming,” and of Ned’s memorable conversation with Arya about how when winter comes, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. George R.R. Martin uses this to create an avenue for exploring an inclusive concept of humanity. Our enemies, or for that matter those different from us, are still human, and seeing them and treating them as such is not a type of weakness but a vital survival strategy.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    With the end of this episode, “Winter is coming” means nothing now. Winter has been defeated, to make way for Fire and Blood…. Which is so damn lame.

    1. Thomas says:

      Winter came for 4 episodes. The Song of *Fire

      *a light frost and

  19. Agammamon says:

    . . . Grey Worm actually survives. I have concluded that this man is invincible.

    Is . . . is that who’s in that screenshot? I can’t *SEEEEEE ANYTHING!*

  20. ColeusRattus says:

    Two things that irked me aswell which haven’t been mentioned before:

    1) The smug half smile of the NK after getting burninated made him to be just an asshole rather than an uncaring unrelenting force of nature he was up to this point.

    2) Jon and his dragon were right next to the trench when it was supposed to be lit, yet they did nothing.

    1. TheCheerfulPessimist says:

      As for point 2, If you’re not familiar with ChrysWatchesGoT, he/she is an absolute genius who grabs a couple hundred screenshots from each episode and recaptions them. So of course there was one of Jon flying over the trench saying, “Oh, that’s what they meant by ‘Light the trench! Light the trench! You’re right fucking there Jon do something!’ “

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        Well, thanks for pointing me in that direction, that was fun.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      The smug half smile of the NK after getting burninated made him to be just an asshole rather than an uncaring unrelenting force of nature he was up to this point.

      This, sadly, was inevitable. Given the show’s approach to bad guys, it was always going to be made absolutely clear that he was a smug asshole that we should hate. Though he’s done this before: in the Hardhome episode – after massacring the Wildlings he gave Jon a gloating smile while raising all the bodies around him.

      Ironically, he’s the only character who I actually would have liked to be this simple. Remember that Sauron (backstory notwithstanding) was basically just a evil glowing eye in LOTR, and worked fine as a looming, implacable threat.

      By contrast, the appeal/horror of characters like Petyr Baelish, Tywin Lannister, Joffrey Baratheon and Walder Frey was that they were believable and human in their actions. Well, until the show started to ‘adapt’ them.

  21. CloverMan-88 says:

    This episode broke me. Up to this point, I genuinely liked Game of Thrones. It had it’s weaker episodes, and it couldn’t hold the candle to the books, but I enjoyed it.

    I’ve spend 70% of this episode almost shouting at the screen. Every line of dialogue was trying so hard to be cool and failing. Every dramatic setup was wasted. I hated, HATED this episode, and it will most likely dramatically change my outlook on the series as a whole.

    1. “This episode broke me” then seek professional help.
      “I hated, HATED this episode” hate is a strong feral emotion, you hate your enemies for example
      “change my outlook on the series as a whole” so the first episode is bad suddenly now?

      Not trying to be an ass here, just curious as to your motivation for those very strong statements.

      1. Boobah says:

        so the first episode is bad suddenly now?

        Kinda, yeah. It’s a long form story; the various parts of it can’t stand separately, nor should they be expected to.

        And in this example, the White Walker menace was introduced before any character of import. In the first episode. So yeah, you watch the horror story intro of the show knowing how that story ends, and it can quite easily ruin the episode.

      2. Dude says:

        This is possibly the only end we get to a story in the building for decades. It’s a strong failure.

  22. Crokus Younghand says:

    I kept watching the show thinking that atleast I would know how the story ends until Martin finally finishes up and now I feel robbed. This couldn’t possibly be what he intends, right? Subversion is one thing, no dramatic structure is quite another.

    If this is what GRRM intended all along, maybe it’s just as well that we are never going to get to read A Dream Of Spring.

    1. Joshua says:

      From reading a few of his other works, I’ve never gotten “Hah, bet you didn’t see THAT coming, did ya?!?” I liked his Novella “In the House of the Worm”, didn’t care for his first book “Dying of the Light”, but fully understood in both why the stories ended the way that they did. I really don’t buy that there’s been a strong theme of Humans needing to overcome their pettiness and banding together against a true threat all for Martin to pull the rug out at the end of the story.

      1. I knew from the start that the Night King would fall (it’s a hero story after all).
        And that he doesn’t die in the last episode but the 3 eps earlier does not bother me; I kinda like that we’ll get a long epilogue that hopefully ties up all loose ends.

        1. Thomas says:

          If this was epilogue stuff, I think it would have worked (although been extremely rushed). I reckon most people thought the last episode would be sorting out Jon / Daenarys and the fallout.

          But at the moment this seems like a midpoint instead of an ending. They’ve potentially got a whole other battle coming up.

        2. Karma The Alligator says:

          3 episodes is way too long for an epilogue. There’s a reason most series only use like a quarter of an episode (up to a full episode) as epilogue. There aren’t that many loose ends to tie up.

  23. zoarian says:

    Defeating White Walkers was a central part of both Jon and Bran’s character arcs. Bran literally went through a magical apotheosis, a journey far beyond the wall that culminated in the sacrifice of his humanity. Jon was the first main character who was aware of the Others and the entire thrust of his development is based around fighting them. He’s the chief unifying force of the setting and he’s faced them multiple times. He’s said multiple times he doesn’t give a shit about the throne and that the living vs the dead is the only conflict he’s concerned about.

    You would expect some sort of resolution to arcs the show has been building up for eight season but instead both of them do fuck all. Bran literally sits there for an entire episode. He’s not revealed any pertinent knowledge to defeating (or bargaining) with the White Walkers and he doesn’t do anything. There’s no scheme, magical loophole or an interesting plan at all. There was a meme were Jamie suggests cutting off Bran’s hand to use as a beacon and honestly, this might as well have happened. In fact, his entire character might as well be replaced with the marked hand and all that would be missing is a couple of snappy lines.

    Similarly, eight seasons of build up only for Jon to ineffectively fly around on a dragon and fight some zombies. I don’t care about Arya killing the NK but Jon should be crucial to leading the battle. Do you remember when he sent Grenn to hold the gate? He had to make a choice to sacrifice his friend for a strategic benefit. What choice did he make in this episode? To ignore Sam and go after the NK – only it doesn’t matter at all.

    I’m surprised by just how much this episode soured the series for me. Like, at least let the characters most invested in the storyline earn their victory. Is that too much to ask?

    1. Kylroy says:

      “Like, at least let the characters most invested in the storyline earn their victory. Is that too much to ask?”

      Given that the entire series has been about toying with people’s expectations, I have to think this is actually the most GRRM move the show could pull.

      1. Vivi says:

        Laying down eight years of story only to subvert it for the shock factor isn’t satisfying. What does killing the Night King mean to Arya? She hadn’t even seen a wight before the battle itself and there’s no history of conflict there. Both Jon and Bran have spent years fighting against him – the fact their presence is meaningless leaves a sour note.

        I mean, might as well have a stray obsidian arrow hit him. That would toy with people’s expectations too, and would be more realistic than her teleportation shenanigans.

        1. Distec says:

          As ridiculous as it would have been, Samwell Tarley would have been a x10 better dramatic fit.

          1. Kylroy says:

            …for maximum Some Dude effect?

            1. trevalyan says:

              Naw. Sam the Slayer being a BADASS DEATH MACHINE is wholly in the tradition of this show.

              Just don’t include aerobic exercise.

        2. Guest says:

          But don’t you get it? They set it up with the VALYRIAN DAGGER AND ahahahaha

          Sorry, I couldn’t keep up the facade.

          Yeah, it’s dumb, it’s just another stupid “Badass” moment, for their favourite little twit who hasn’t been fun to watch for now 4 damn seasons.

          At least we know this is all fanfiction, odds on that the NK won’t feature in the books, because the books have clearly established that the endgame will involve the dragonriders travelling to the heart of winter to end the threat of the Others once and for all.

  24. tremor3258 says:

    Most damning question for the Dothraki charge- don’t they have horse archers (or had?) Skirmishing with Dragonglass arrowheads, plus the trenches to funnel them would do a lot more damage than murder themselves.

    1. Lanthanide says:

      The Dothraki never having archers is one of the more ridiculous things about them.

      1. Guest says:

        It’s extra funny because the Dothraki in the books are famed for horse archery, and they fight in two ways, by charging and firing volleys of arrows (Which is pretty key to the origins of the Unsullied) and by running down infantry or fleeing foes with their horses, often not riding past them like a knight, but trampling them.

      2. TheCheerfulPessimist says:

        Yeah; for steppe peoples in general, archery is the default setting. Melee is 100% optional when you are on a horse and have nothing but a “sea of grass” in every direction.

  25. Regarding Bronn, he is on his way to Wintefell (or what’s left of it) to kill Jaime and Tyrion, I’m guessing in the next episode we’ll see the outcome of that.

    “the flaming swords of the Dothraki, slowly winking out” that whole scene deserves an award, how that big burning arrow of horsemen just hit a wall of darkness and seemingly stopped.

    It was at that moment I (and some of the characters) kinda new that this was not a battle they would win, but a instead to try and slow them down (as Bran’s plan, which everybody trusts blindly in despite him not showing his powers much to anyone).

    The dragons above the clouds scene was an amazing shot, in all the death and maybe it was a moment of beauty, however came up with that won’t lack work in the future.

    Also after getting doused in dragon fire “The Night King Smirk” with the T1000 terminator-esque “braaawh” horns playing, was just kickass direction.
    Night King just raising the dead and letting John Snow deal with it was also cool.

    There is no Dothraki or Unsullied army left, we just have barely a thousand (maybe only a hundred) people left (including the major heroes/main characters), and Cersei has the Lannister army + the mercenary army and Euron’s men).

    I lost count of how many times Brienne and Sam and Jamie “should” have died.

    I think both dragons are alive (but one (John’s dragon?) is badly wounded), and Ghost is still alive I think.

    “I can’t see shit” two issues with this, one is that too many does not have properly calibrated displays, the scenes was supposed to be suffocatingly dark/artificially dark (the magical snow storm/clouds), the dragons flying up above the clouds clearly shows this (there is lots of moonlight). It also made the Dorthraki flaming swords going out a lot more dramatic,
    Also when the ditch is lit on fire you can see a swarm of dark undead everywhere.
    I’m wondering though if this episode (or this season) is also available in HDR (it’s possible the people doing the stream/TV encoding messed things up).

    “why did they”
    They did all that to delay the undead, the plan was to lure the Night King (to fly in presumably) and go to Bran in person and then they’d “jump” him.
    The Unsullied where not supposed to charge in, but to hold the line, the ditch was the last line, meant to be lit after all troops retreated inside the fort. I don’t think anyone thought the cavalry units would be taken out that easily, they expected heavy losses but not total wipeout.

    What I’m confused about is that map we saw in Ep 2, there where units on the flanks outside the fort, but we never saw them in the battle. Did they die with the unsullied army or are they still intact?

    Personally Id’ have directed the episode such that the Dorthrtaki flaming swords dying out would have been the end of Ep 2, thus allowing for a longer Ep 3 battle (more time to show some tactics).

    “they forgot to come up with the “trap” part of that plan”
    No I think they forgot to shows us, heck I think Bran forgot to tell anybody “the plan”, he thanked Theon for the coming sacrifice that was needed to stall for some more time for Arya to get in position, but we never saw her get in position.
    I’d have loved to see Bran and the Red With converse about “the plan” or similar. Bran did tell Arya to keep the knife many episodes ago, and I assume Bran saw the past/present/future tied to that knife.

    I think again the main issue here is the jump cuts (jump cuts not as in camera cuts, but as in time cuts) that GoT suffers from (I can’t recall a single character talking about time/using a clock/sun watch or similar, I know they have days but not time it seems, and it seems the show writer(s) lack such devices too).

    “Grey Worm actually survives”
    I think he survived due to being the one responsible for collapsing/raising the spikes at the entrance of the ditch, he had to raise it before all unsullied managed to retreat properly too.

    “Night King would be final antagonist” he kinda was generally speaking, but politically he is not.
    I’m also not convinced that Cersei is the final antagonist (I think there are more, and I got a feeling someone will betray “the heroes” at some point too).

    Last time I guess we’ll get ep 4 as somewhat calm, then Cersei fight in ep 5, then a calm epilogue in ep 6. I still think this is the case.

    Also, Dani is unstable, with Jorah dead I’m curious if John is enough to keep her stable or if she’ll just go bonkers and go after Cersei and the iron throne in blind rage.

    I’m also curious if Bran is really “that good”, I also think the Night King died a little too easily, is it possible he is not truly dead (can he posses other bodies/forms?)

    Some people (like Angry Joe on youtube) wished that at least twice as many heroes had died. Myself I’m fine with whomever lives and dies, assuming it’s makes sense.

    But again I suspect that it may be the plot armor, and not just in the form of the writers doing it (so they’ll be alive to face Cersei), but the god of light (through the witch) affected the battle a lot, I wonder if that god protected the heroes to some extent.
    I hope they at the very least lampshade this in the next episode somehow.
    I also wonder what Brans warging was all about, that was a very long time ravening about, was he prepping something else?

    The Night King also did a curious head tilt while looking at bran before taking the sword. The look could either be “You have given up? How curious!” or “You planned for me to get here, I walked into your trap!”
    I wonder if the Night King “knew” as soon as he gripped Arya that he’d be dead, or maybe he even knew his fate at the point of that head tilt.

    Sadly I don’t think the show will tell us. The books might (but they will probably do things differently). I haven’t read the books but I assume the characters have inner dialogues, we lack that in the show.

    1. Guest says:

      There were reportedly broadcast issues and compression issues that made vision worse.

      Still, the show is consistently dark, underlit, and abysmally colour corrected. The fucking white balance is wrong every episode, how professional cinematographers can stand to have their work represented like that, my blood would boil.

  26. Matt says:

    I didn’t like this episode and I’ve been strongly critical of the show since S5, but I’ve been seeing a lot of “D&D are stupid” from the hardcore fan community that I’m not sure is justified. I think they made some choices I didn’t like, but I think they did that in service of the show’s producers & fans. The result undermined the integrity of what they were trying to adapt. Also, I think “A Song of Ice and Fire” is particularly difficult to transfer into a live-action format.

    A good example of this I can think of is in Season 2. Charles Dance is a good and expensive actor (at least I suspect that he is in terms of the budget for the show). Arya has these scenes in Harrenhal with Roose Bolton, who isn’t a strictly necessary character until later on in the story. D&D decided to economize and dole out a bit of fan service, resulting in some enjoyable scenes between Arya and Tywin. Unfortunately, by tugging at this narrative thread, things begin to unravel. Surely Arya would know enough to have her pet assassin kill Tywin to stop the war and Tywin wasn’t known for indulging precocious servants.

    I think D&D’s choices make some sense in the context of the limitations of creating a big-budget TV show. Perhaps I’m being too charitable, but they can be wrong without being stupid.

    1. Thomas says:

      The truth is, managing a big budget TV show like this is probably a nightmare, and we can’t see the pressures that the writers have to work under and adapt to. Even getting a completed script probably takes a lot of skill.

      So the stupid complaints are probably unfair. On the other hand, as the audience it’s not our job to care if something was hard behind the scenes, we only have to care about if we like the end product.

    2. trevalyan says:

      Arya killing Amory Lorch over Tywin is a major plot point in the books, so I’m not surprised it survived to the show. It’s about how making decisions under pressure is hard, and how power that isn’t innate is difficult to control, plus the strange logic of fairy tales. On the whole, Arya came out quite well, in book and show both.

      As for Tywin, he doesn’t mistreat servants, just his children. No doubt he would value Arya, either as a competent cupbearer or displaced noblewoman.

      1. Matt says:

        I think it’s a bit different when Arya realizes how limited her thinking had been in the book versus the show. In the book, Tywin was far away – out of sight, out of mind. In the show, she interacted with him daily for an extended period of time and even witnesses him planning the war. Her lapse is far more understandable in the book.

        I must disagree about Tywin. Certainly he isn’t a sadist the way that Joffrey or Ramsay are. That said, he has no qualms about abusing smallfolk (Tysha, for example) when it suits his purposes. He also cares little for the loss of Gregor Clegane, despite decades of faithful service. Tywin strikes me as someone who values others for their usefulness to him and does not suffer insolence. A mouthy cupbearer would get a quick smack the first time and dismissal after that.

        1. Joshua says:

          Agree on both points.

        2. trevalyan says:

          Right, but Tywin only abuses smallfolk when they step on the Lannister name- especially when they are women seducing his kin. In the presence of people who have some use- Shagga, Gendry, Littlefinger- he is surprisingly tolerant. Arya had some leeway. Not a lot: refusing a marriage proposal from a Lannister cousin would be very unwise. But Cersei threatens Tywin with her secret and gets away with it, whereas book!Tywin would have her beaten until she couldn’t talk. Or something worse: an unmarriagable middle-aged daughter is of negligible value to him.

          1. Matt says:

            Besmirching the Lannister name is likely to earn disproportionate retribution (see “Castamere, Rains of”), but I don’t think Tywin was otherwise lenient on anyone. He never smiled, after all. That said, his family (as the embodiment of his legacy) was clearly important to him, which is why his children are able to get away with as much as they do. He is also quite aware of realpolitik and seldom rude or intemperate. As he tries to teach Joffrey, if you must always scream about your rights, you have no power at all. Shagga shows him what deference a savage can show and Tywin treats him even-handedly. Littlefinger is a fellow noble, wealthy, and a seeming-ally. I don’t remember him meeting Gendry.

            Tywin is solemn and politically aware by nature. He is respectful when it profits him to be so or when custom demands it, but he is otherwise indifferent. A cupbearer and a commoner (or minor noble, if he suspect this) are of no consequence or relation, so he has no reason to indulge any backtalk or probing questions.

            1. trevalyan says:

              I’m not sure that’s the best read of show!Tywin. His children are constant disappointments who require near total control to be even slightly productive. His only regard for them is because they carry his family legacy.

              By contrast, he openly praises Arya as smart, and clearly thinks enough of this Northern girl he’s never seen before to appoint her cupbearer. In the books, Roose Bolton holds her in far less regard, but only quells her questions with a very mild threat to tear out her tongue. It is odd how these sociopathic high lords let Arya get away with things they would flay other servants for, but this too is the power of being adorable.

  27. To those who was surprised or was unhappy that Arya killed the Night King rather than Jon Snow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv5J2LUSobk
    They point out stuff I missed myself too and to me it makes even more sense now.

    1. Distec says:

      I’ve seen this argument repackaged in several forms, mostly on Reddit – and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where ScreenRant borrowed its points from. I find it really hard to swallow, to be honest.

      So many of these supposed “clues” are intertwined with this notion that Arya trained to be a total badass for over half a decade! I reject this statement, because I think there’s no way in hell you become an epic zombie/Night King assassin with just a few years of training. Especially when this supposed training is scattered all over the place with various gaps and with different functions. Yes, she trained with Syrio for a little bit, but her tutelage was cut short well before its completion. She got into some scuffles during her travels with The Hound, but he was the one doing most of the heavy lifting and functioned more as a model to observe than any kind of instructor; a meaningful difference. As for her time in Braavos – wasn’t that a period of a few months? During which we mostly saw her getting hit by sticks? I’m sure she picked up some meaningful skills during her stay there. But she cut it short out of her own volition and in no way could be considered a fully graduated student by a meaningful sense of the word; surely not on the skill level of the more seasoned peers. There have to be plenty of other people in Westeros – or even just Winterfell – who could do what she does or even better! Yet the show treats her like this top 1% badass when it’s nowhere near justified.

      So I’ll buy that she can be a scrappy fighter and is capable of handling herself well in most one or two-on-one fights. But anything beyond that is too much to believe – especially for a show like Game of Thrones that got its initial reputation by never indulging these kinds of fantasies. In a previous era of the show, Arya would be Walker food in any number of the situations she threw herselves into. Also, Sam and Brienne would have rudely and tragically bit it in combat. Lyanna Mormont would have been straight-up crushed and tossed instead of getting her David v Goliath moment. The episode is full of this kind of fan service and plot armor, but Arya is the problem’s apex avatar.

      I think that’s reason enough to dislike it, and the rest of the “clues” often cited look more like coincidence or back-twisting retconning.
      -Remember when Arya snuck up on Jon in Season 1, and he asked how she could be so sneaky? That’s a clue!
      -Remember when Melisandre said that stuff about about *eyes* 5 seasons ago and was never brought up again, but now she said it (in a different order) and really emphasized the “blue” part? Wow, they’ve planned this from Season 3!
      -Remember when somebody said “No one can kill death”? Well, do you know who else is No One?! Whoah, awesome foreshadowing.

      That last one is a particularly great gem, since people seem to forget she explicitly rejected becoming No One and claimed her identity as Arya Stark. She was not a hand of the Faceless Men; she was a girl who elected to pursue her Kill List and her own personal vengeance. All these supposed hints and breadcrums are so disparate and isolated with so little bread crumbs between them that nobody should seriously consider this properly set up in any way. I don’t want to be too hard-up about this, but I feel like I’m going crazy watching people treat this as actual well-considered and deliberate foreshadowing when it’s so obviously not. Ned Stark and the Red Wedding, this isn’t.

      /rant

      1. BlueHorus says:

        I feel like I’m going crazy watching people treat this as actual well-considered and deliberate foreshadowing when it’s so obviously not.

        I wouldn’t go that far, but I get the sentiment. Arya’s show storyline was the breaking point for me.

        She’s been consistently ‘whitewashed’ (almost all of the genuinely creepy/frightening actions she’s taken in the books altered or re-framed to make her look less ‘bad’ and more BADASS), and she’s received almost none of the training the show seems to treat her as having.
        Not only did she obviously flunk out of the Faceless Men training, badly, the show version of the FM came across as incompetent street thugs who bear stupid grudges. who couldn’t kill someone even when disguised and with they had the jump on her
        (Though, being a main character, she does of course have Plot Armor. Sigh, remember when this was famously the show that DIDN’T feature that?).

        Related: remember the ‘Hold The Door’ twist a couple of seasons ago? I remember thinking that was one of the dumbest things I’ve seen…but people were actually calling it clever!

  28. Retsam says:

    It seems like Bob’s “mass souring” prediction towards the series is bearing fruit. I don’t watch the show, but the reactions I’ve seen on reddit and elsewhere have been largely negative, for the first time I can remember.

    1. Matt says:

      I disagree. Most of the reactions I’ve seen from casual fans of the show at my office and online have been very positive. Long-time reviewers were a bit more circumspect, but still seemed to give it a solid B+ to A rating, with some leading questions about the next three episodes. When I expressed criticism, an officemate described me as a snob who didn’t allow themselves to be entertained by the show. Many (most?) diehard book fans seem to hate it.

      It’s all very Last Jedi. I’m even starting to see memes that describe the episode as a masterpiece and that the only reasons for disliking it are because one’s pet theories or armchair tactics failed, or because a woman delivered the final blow.

    2. Joshua says:

      I was thinking of that, and how Bob started his series a couple of years ago talking about that “Gitchy Feeling”.

    3. Bloodsquirrel says:

      I think that’s the same effect that Shamus talked about with ME3- people putting off their disappointment by telling themselves that the big climax will make everything pay off. Then, when the climax happens, and they don’t get the satisfaction they were hoping for, they blame the climax, when the problem was developing long before then.

      I’ve mentioned before that it reminds me of Bleach- how the final arc of that series was an awful mess that was going nowhere, but how people kept insisting that it was all just build-up for an awesome ending, only to have the whole thing wrapped up in a surprise 3-4 chapters, leaving half of the plot lines unresolved. A lot of people blamed WSJ for cutting Bleach short, but there’s no evidence that they did, and a mountain of evidence that the author just had no idea where he was going with any of it.

      1. Matt says:

        I agree. I hope George knows what he’s doing though, despite much of the evidence pointing to the contrary.

        1. Kylroy says:

          I think he knows exactly what he’s doing: he’s not finishing the series. He’s been bored with it for a while now, just as GoT’s success opened a bunch of new opportunities for him. I mean, he’s finished two Wild Cards books since his last ASoIaF novel.

  29. BTA says:

    It’s worth it to rewatch Bob’s very own video about the “Cult of the Badass” in Game of Thrones. The death of the Night King by a ninja assassin and the obliteration of the White Walkers plotline for the sake of more courtroom politics make this episode alone the perfect illustration of that analysis.

    1. Kylroy says:

      From the video: “It’s nasty and vicious and glib in a way the books never were.”

      If you think the books weren’t vicious and nasty, you weren’t paying attention. And the only reason they weren’t glib is because they got so long GRRM stop bothering to write them.

  30. Ardis Meade says:

    The cinematographer has gone on record. The show is not too dark, if you think it is, that’s because you suck peasant.
    https://theplaylist.net/game-of-thrones-cinematographer-lighting-20190430/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

  31. Fabrimuch says:

    The existential war between life and death is resolved with a literal *Teleports behind you* “Nothing personnel, kid”

  32. Grimwear says:

    I don’t watch GoT but why does it seem like every tv show nowadays has an amazing premise but then just devolves into man versus man conflicts? Are they supposed to be more interesting? I know a big critique of The Walking Dead was that the threat of zombies got sidelined so that instead they could face other group of humans. Most recently I tried watching The Terror and stopped after 4 episodes because it started focusing too much on personal conflicts and drama rather than the cthulhu creature stalking them.

    Is this just what people are stuck with nowadays? I get that having conflicts between people is cheaper since you don’t have to pay for effects and such but for GoT to be heading this way where the White Walkers just…end seems lame. Is this human Cersei conflict really more important? I’d personally say no. I don’t understand this aversion to man versus the unknown. I mean Mass Effect we go around recruiting different groups to our cause so we can band together against the looming threat of the Reapers. Could you imagine if we just got the Turians and Salarians on board, beat the Reapers, but then it turned out the Asari used the Reapers as a distraction to take control of the Citadel and our true final act was to take it back? We had bigger problems! There’s a reason the Lord of the Rings movies cut out Saruman taking over the Shire. It would have felt bad to watch this epic trilogy of trying to defeat Sauron but then once that was accomplished we then had to spend another hour cleaning up his minions. That wasn’t the focus of the story. It just comes across as really anticlimactic.

    1. Syal says:

      Thirteen hours is a very long time to try to keep a mysterious threat interesting. What kind of interesting conflict can you make with an inscrutable enemy the eighth time you run into it, without robbing it of the inscrutability? They’re also generally representing some kind of emotion and as such are pretty one-note. Whereas people are easy to write conflicts for; two people under pressure can believably fight over any petty thing on hand.

      Mass Effect did the same thing, really; Saren got the villainous screentime in the first game, and TIM got it in the other two.

      (Also I disagree about cutting the Scouring; the point of it was how much the hobbits had grown and how far Saruman had fallen. A short cleanup battle would have fit fine.)

      1. Grimwear says:

        For keeping a looming threat interesting it all depends on how it’s done. I’m sure there’s a way to do it so that they’re exploring and discovering things regarding the nature to the threat without needing to devolve into only human conflict. I’m not saying none whatsoever but so many times they make it so that members of a group argue over petty things, separate, and get picked off while the viewer sits back going you all deserve to die for being so stupid. I personally believe that the former is not done very often because writing drama between characters is way easier.

        I mean there’s lots of things that need to be overcome in a game. You need people to shoot and in terms of Mass Effect until the third game we’d never actually fought a Reaper really in gameplay so we had Saren for the boss fight. But there were always things that needed to be overcome for the true threat. In ME1 you need to overcome the council and escape in order to pursue Saren. In Dragon Age you needed to overcome all the factions and the quabbles to then unite them against the Darkspawn. GoT is this weird one where they overcome the true threat of the White Walkers and THEN turn around to deal with Cersei to unite the world. But the whole point of uniting the world was supposed to be to have a united front against the White Walkers. They screwed up the order of operations.

        I personally straight disagree with the Scouring being in the movies. It would have just made them even longer and it honestly wasn’t necessary.

        1. Syal says:

          This is a complex thing to argue and I do poorly in long form so it’ll probably come apart somewhere but I’ll give it a shot. (I’m assuming a level of inhumanity that would rule out folks like SHODAN or the Beldam from Coraline, who are technically force-of-nature villains but have extremely human characterization.)

          The way I see it, there are two ways to resolve a force-of-nature style threat:

          A) The inscrutable threat is revealed to be a threat because of man/group/society’s attitude, and is defeated by people changing some fundamental behavior.
          B) The inscrutable threat is revealed to have an inscrutable weakness that the heroes have to go find.

          B is generally always going to disappoint; the mystery has been replaced with “you can only kill a werewolf with silver”, and it has to become that way significantly before the climax so the heroes have time to assemble their silver flamethrower or whatever. You’re pretty much guaranteed to lose momentum at the reveal and have to try to rebuild it on the other side. Not a fun thing to plan for yourself ahead of time.

          So A is what you want to shoot for. But A is, at its base, man versus self, and man vs. self is essentially man vs. man but with fewer men. It’s also hard to film an internal conflict; you have to have some physical representation of the thing. Both of those problems are easily fixed if, instead of having the main character struggle with both sides of himself while cutting to shots of shadowy buffalo demons or whatever, you make a second character that embodies the wrong side of the internal argument. Then you can put the conflict in front of the camera, and you can also have as long and detailed a debate about it as you want, because now both sides can express themselves with words.

          Then for TV shows there’s the question of episode pacing. Every episode needs to have some kind of resolution, or buildup to a resolution, which means you need to create problems small enough to be overcome. You can’t use the force-of-nature for very many of those or you’ll discredit it as a threat.

          There’s also the problem of not knowing how many seasons you’re working with. Trying to keep a mysterious threat mysterious for one season is going to be a challenge, but how are you going to pace things when you don’t know whether the mystery has to last 13 episodes or 52?

          So I don’t think it’s possible to pull it off for a TV series. I can’t think of many movies that have managed it; even in pure monster movies there’s usually some human villain too*.

          *I don’t watch a lot of them so I might be wrong here, but all the ones I can think of either have substantial human conflicts in interest, or are comedies.

  33. General Karthos says:

    For the record, I like the show. My enjoyment of the show is not based on its intellectual merits, or anything like that. My goal is to be entertained, and I’m willing to forgive a lot if the show succeeds in that respect. I am, however, not a brainless fanboy. I recognize that the show has flaws, and that not everybody can enjoy it the way I do, or look past the problems. I actually wrote this in large part to agree with some of what you said. While I do disagree with a lot of what you said in broad generalizations about the show, a lot of the things you said about this episode in particular were accurate. (In my opinion.) The episode was a disappointment for me in a lot of ways. Four major things you said really struck home for me.

    The first two major points were about the episode:
    1) The episode was visually, too dark. It was difficult to impossible to see anything through much of the episode.
    2) The defenses were terribly thought out and poorly arranged, if your goal was to actually set up an intelligent battle plan. However, if your goal was to make a series of bite-sized battle scenes one-after-another that drove home a sense of crushing despair more gradually… it worked. It would have been a lot less interesting battle if the defenses had been arranged intelligently. (For the record, that’s not a good reason from any standpoint except sheer entertainment value, but, since that’s what they’re going for, it’s the reason.) Hiding people in the crypts was also a bad idea, but I think the assumption was that you had to be recently dead to be raised. I never assumed that, and think it was a stupid assumption to make when you’ve never tested it, but… whatever.

    This isn’t about the episode, more of an aside, but:
    3) A Song of Ice And Fire may never be finished. (I would actually have put it more strongly than this. It’s never going to get finished, and everyone knows it, whether they can admit it or not.)

    However the big one is:
    4) The show and the books are two entirely different enterprises.

    Whether one is better than the other, I’m not going to say, because at this point, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. “Which books are better, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?” or “Which movies are better, Star Wars or Star Trek?” People will debate these issues while missing the underlying truth that both of them have a handful of things in common, but are telling entirely different stories, in entirely different universes, with entirely different goals.

    The Song of Ice and Fire series of books and the Game of Thrones television show are at odds with each other to the same degree now, despite the names of the people and the same beginnings. I know people who dislike or hate the books and love the show, people who dislike or hate the show and love the books, and people like myself who enjoy both to a degree on the like/love scale. But for different reasons.

    I still maintain that the show is a lot better than the author of the post gives it credit for, and I disagree with a lot of the negative sweeping generalizations he makes (not all of them, but many of them) but I’m very clearly in the minority, and probably one of the few people who actually likes the show who reads these posts. (After all, it’s a lot easier to read a review that you agree with than one you disagree with.)

    Anyway, as I said above, I found the episode to be a disappointment to me in a lot of ways, but it hasn’t ruined the show for me. They can’t all be winners.

    1. Synapse says:

      Hah well your not exactly alone i really enjoy reading Bob’s posts (well any posts/videos he makes) despite liking the show way more than him. I wouldn’t say i love GoT as my enjoyment has very much shifted with the later seasons to being more entertaining despite many of the narrative decisions. I do agree with most of Bob’s criticisms with the narrative though they don’t bother as much, rather I enjoy many of the other aspects of the show (production, visuals, music etc).

  34. Guest says:

    The show’s colour grading has gotten significantly worse over time.

    The last few seasons are just washed out and blue, it’s like playing gorram Battlefield 3. Couple that with them taking all the colour out of the costumes, and you have people in brown and black, on muddy ground, with a desaturated filter that only leaves in a bit of blue. And the colour in the costumes matters damnit. Medieval knights wore surcoats and soldiers wore their lord’s colours, so they could recognise each other, who recognises who in TBOTB. Their commital to using natural light as much as possible is admirable, but they don’t put the effort in to get it right, and their colour grading makes it worse. What editor looks at this tripe and goes “This is ok”?

    It just makes it look bleak and boring. The only time colour seeped in was when it cut to Mereen or god save us, Dorne. Whoever is responsible for this decision should be fired. Yeah, really want to save this world. This muddy, grey, world.

  35. Preciousgollum says:

    The episode was very dark (I.e difficult to see things, and that is because they changed the brightness in post production.

    You can clearly see (hehehehe…) in the behind the scenes video they made that everything is well lit. Even the CGI inclusion shots demonstrated a well-lit environment. The final version, however, is completely different. That’s why the cinematographer says he can see stuff, but the rest of us cannot.

    In other words, they did NOT film in darkness. They filmed in a well lit environment and then cranked the brightness waaaay down in photoshop.

  36. Preciousgollum says:

    Seeing Arya jump out and stab the Night King AFTER he had already grabbed her, and AFTER it seemed that Bran was going to die, AFTER Dragon fire didn’t work is an irritating triple fake-out.

    Sure, it was… errr… exciting for the moment, but immediately stupid afterwards. Kind of like a lot of Game of Thrones Episodes. End of Season 6 being a good example. The first 13 minutes were great (with the destruction of The Church)… but then the rest of the episode was really lame a second time watching it.

    In the case of ‘The Long Night’, the last 5 minutes were really good… Inevitable Bran going to die. Music that screams ‘Accept your Fate’… up until flying Arya. Because Arya has had nothing to do with the frost zombies… ever. If she had ONE scene before this episode where she encountered the zombies, I could have perhaps bought what the show runners decided to go for. But what finally went wrong with Arya’s character is her decision to go up north because Maisie Williams didn’t want to kill celebrity guest cameo Ed Sheeran in a prior season. Arya should totally have returned to Kings Landing and got up to shenanigans there. The place where they killed Syrio Forel. And Ned etc etc. Creepy stuff. Take Jeoffrey’s face and walk around Kings Landing creating rumours of a ghost king. This is the character that bakes sons into pies so that she can get revenge on old men before killing them. I’d have at least like to see Arya threaten the Night King by threatening to turn White Walker children into Snow Cones and Popsicles.

    If the Night King was really that great in terms of his reactions (and that was some *cool* stuff… hehehe) then Arya should be dead or crippled.

    I for one HATE Jon Snow’s character and everything he represents as the default ‘saviour’ motif. Much how I also kind of hate Eren’s character in Attack on Titan. However, Jon has seen the zombies since Season 1. I think a *well earned* and desperate version of Jon saving Arya… somehow… would have worked. Maybe Bran still dies.

    I heard plot rumours about a year ago (or at least I interpreted it this way) how this battle was going to be lost, and that the next episode was going to be The Final Battle with Night King in The Vale (aka the tower that littlefinger threw Lysa out through the trap door). You get your invasion of Westeros that way.

    I think I also heard that Dragon fire was going to kill Night King, or maybe a combination… so I was quite shocked (but then also *immediately* underwhelmed) when Dragon Fire didn’t work and . Maybe Double Dragon fire works. Maybe Bran Wargs into Ice Dragon and takes back control of it… before he dies. Maybe Fire AND Ice Dragon kills Night King in The Vale Tower where he cannot escape. With the usual green of The Vale being replaced by snow…

    … but No. Out of Nowhere Arya (that is literally what the producers and stunt co-ordinators are calling it) saves the day because fan service. Character deaths that were utterly utterly cliche. This was a case of Lord of The Rings influence being on overdrive but for misunderstood reasons as to why LoTR worked.

  37. SAD1 says:

    So I think that this Episode is is the one where we are all going to have to admit that he Book Readers and the TV Watchers are likely to part ways, (if not seasons before!). – TV Watcher here, for the record –

    I enjoyed the Episode, (a lot), for what it was, but I can certainly understand the viewpoints of the people with complaints. As far as I can tell in surveying some various comments sections, people are having problems with one or more of the following issues; ‘Technical’, ‘Historical’, ‘Pacing and/or Theme’ & ‘The Killing’. And I guess ‘TV Show’s Gotta TV Show’ issues as well?;

    * Technical: Too Dark!
    I personally did not have any issues with the overall level of darkness, (even though it was intentionally dark and confusing), but I was watching the official direct HBO feed via my old fashioned cable company’s co-ax cable on a 60″ 4K LCD from about 8 feet away, at night, in a room with the lights out and the blinds drawn. I appreciate that’s not always going to be feasible though, and if your viewing experience sucked then I feel sympathy for you. Unless you were trying to watch it on a phone outside during the daytime, in which case, not so much. I have read comments about there being problems with bandwidth and compression ratios that could be the culprit for some, but I honestly know exactly nothing about the technicalities of this. I would be interested to hear a comment on this from someone who is actually knowledgeable on the topic? Part of me wonders though if HBO didn’t just release an intentionally darkened leak to the Torrents as a big F.U. to the pirates? (Not that they don’t beg for it with their antiquated restrictions on just letting you pay them to download it).

    * Historical: They’re Armying Wrong!
    Yah, so, they are just wrong and bad at this at every turn, it almost makes you nostalgic for the first season when they had no budget and Tyrion would wake up after the battle to hear how it all turned out. I have no idea why GoT can’t just hire an actual Medieval Battle Consultant and get the details right, but they obviously decided in season 2 that budgets still needed to be taken into account and that visually engaging was more important than any kind of historical accuracy or common sense. Fortunately it is Entertainment and not a Documentary, and I for one am glad that I can let this sort of thing not detract from my enjoyment of the show. I.E.; Flaming Dothrakis charging into the darkness only to be rapidly extinguished one by one was awesome to watch and thematically appropriate no matter how little sense it made. Dothraki Chargers gotta charge, I guess?

    *Pacing /Theme: (Macro-Pacing not Micro, for me anyway)
    When I say Micro-Pacing, I refer to the rapid jump cuts and switches in viewpoints that they used to try and communicate the chaoticness of the battle. I’m not really going to comment much on this other than to say I think its super subjective, and I’m certainly not going to tell you how to feel about it! Generally, it worked for me, (except in cases of “TV Show Gotta TV Show”).
    By Macro -Pacing I am referring to the plot decision as to whether to deal with Cersi first and then the Night King, or vice versa. Yes this sort of really ties into “Theme” too, we’ll get back to that. I think there are a lot of pro’s and cons to the order they decided to do this in, (and yes it ties into whether this is a Fantasy Horror Show that got side-tracked with some meaningless political squabbles or a Psycho-historical Soap Opera about the horrors and beauty of the human condition that veered off course into cliche territory), but my take on it is that this is just not really a valid complaint about this Episode. They clearly telegraphed this last season when they said: “This is what we’re gonna do”! If you’ve got issues with it, I don’t necessarily think you’re totally off base, I just don’t want to hear about it as a criticism of this episode, you should’ve said your piece 2 years ago. Although, as far as what the show’s actually about, well, its called “Game of Thrones”, not “Game of Zombies”, (or “A song of Ice and Fire”, for that matter).

    *The Killing: (Also, The Parting)
    Here is where I think the Book and TV People likely part ways, and I am specifically relating this to who kills the Night King. If you are a Book Reader with a heavy emotional investment in the Azor Ahai Prophecy and that John is the Prince who was Promised, then I totally understand why Aria doing the deed would seem like a big slap in the face. It was my understanding that GRRM had given the TV Writers the cliff’s notes for the ending, (yes I know the Books are not the same), so I assumed that this decision however, was his. I have since read some (totally unsubstantiated) claims that this is not the case, and that the Show Runners just thought having Aria do it would be cool. This would seem like a double slap in the face, (but I can’t bring myself to look into it further for fear of what I might discover). Having said that, having the White Male Heterosexual Cisgender Chosen One Hero defeat the Big-Bad in single combat doesn’t really seem like the fantasy-trope subverting show that we have all grown to love (and/or apparently now hate?). [White male heterosexual cisgender dude here, for what it matters, (still working on the chosen-one hero stuff, so far: not so much :) ] Honestly I thought it was pretty awesome though when Jon moved to engage the NK and he was like, “Yah, whatever, I don’t have time for your chosen one prophesy bull-shit, here, play with some wights, I’ve got actually important stuff to do”. Sure, maybe having Arya pull it off was as fan-servicy as the other parts that I enjoyed that got called out for being fan-servicy, apparently I am I fan and enjoy being serviced? I definitely thought though that it was adequately foreshadowed that a). The White Walkers could only be Killed by stabbing them with Dragon Glass or Valyrian Steel, and that b). Arya spent 7 seasons, (including a Training Montage that literally lasted 2 seasons), to become the most baddest-ass bad-ass assassin in all of Westeros. The fact that Bran gave her the Cat’s Paw Dagger in the exact spot she used it to kill the NK was also awesome. In short, without the baggage of expectations from the books, I bought it; I bought the leap out of nowhere, I bought the fore-shadowed off-hand switch, and I yelled “Yes! No! Yes!” along with everybody else. And maybe it wasn’t all about Jon and Danny all the time, and maybe they still have some important shit to do… (Although obviously they were also instrumental in getting Arya to where she needed to be, when she needed to be there, whether they realized it or not. This could really be said about just about every character though I suppose). At least it wasn’t Bran going back in time and retroactively unmaking the NK before he was born or something like that, now that that would’ve been a deus-ex!

    *TV Show’s Gotta TV Show: (TV Show’s Gotta TV Show)
    So did they use the “Oh look, our heroes are in increasing amounts of peril and look to be overrun right before the Cut” TV Trope too many times? Yes, yes they did. When the cycle the groups around until you are going “Aren’t the guys saving the guys who are in trouble the same guys who needed saving when we cut away from those guys?” its too many times. TV Show’s Gotta TV Show, I guess?

    Closing Remarks:
    I think that the next three episodes are going to affect the taste that the series has in everyone’s mouths, but we’ll just have to see where they go with it, I suppose, (insert obligatory “GRRM’s never going to finish the Books crack here).
    Also, I generally agree with the thrust of Bob’s comments, (and certainly appreciate his way with words), I guess I am just glad that some of this stuff doesn’t seem to detract from my enjoyment of such an amazing entertainment spectacle as much as it may for some. I hate to say it, but I’m kinda glad I never read the Books?
    Sorry for the wall of text, apparently I needed to get this off of my chest, thanks for reading anyone who stuck around this long.
    Also, I misspelled Valyrian and the Internet auto-corrected me. I am scared for humanity now…

    1. Crokus Younghand says:

      Reading your comment made it click for me – it’s basically an art vs. entertainment issue. ASoIaF is shaping up to become one of the greatest literary pieces of art and so I (and others like me, I guess) kept hoping that GoT would be similar. Not the same, sure, but the difference would be in degree of artistic quality and not in whether it has any artistic quality at all. We should’ve known that the show was entertainment first and foremost from the beginning, and any apparent artistic quality was just a shadow of the source material.

      I really wish I had watched the show before reading the books, just enjoy it for what it was instead of forcing my expectations on it. Let’s hope GRRM is going to actually give it the finishing it deserves.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      I’m kinda glad I never read the Books?

      That’s fair enough. Because I have read the books, I know a different version of this story, that was about deconstructing/questioning common fantasy tropes, more interesting and in-depth versions of the same characters, a rigorous commitment to character’s actions having dire consequences, etc.
      (Also, sadly, endless tangential subplots and no ending in sight…)

      And the show is distinctly Not That. But I get the impression that a lot of people like the show for what it is, fanservice, different writing priorities and spectacle and all…
      …which is fine. Like what you like.

      …doesn’t really seem like the fantasy-trope subverting show that we have all grown to love (and/or apparently now hate?)

      If it was still that show, I wouldn’t have stopped watching it 3 seasons ago.

      Also, I misspelled Valyrian and the Internet auto-corrected me. I am scared for humanity now…

      Hah, that made me laugh. Ah, the internet and its priorities.

  38. wumpus says:

    I couldn’t see squat far too much of the time (I kept wondering why they didn’t force a siege, at least until daybreak), so maybe someone can answer a couple of ‘what was happening’ questions for me:

    1) When Bran said he was going to go, and seemed to transition to RavenView (TM), was he doing something that had plot impact? Helping in some way? It seemed like he just sat the whole battle out.

    2) How did the wights get into the crypt? Or were there bunches of fresh corpses down there that were raised by the Night King? (Which would seem like a truly dumb thing when they’ve been making a point of burning all the dead in the North…)

    3) How the heck did Arya end up spending so much time in apparently completely deserted interior areas with sneaky wights? This seemed completely improbable to me, and really messed with the pacing, as we go from massive, sprawling battle to Friday the 13th, Westeros Edition with no real transition.

    4) Did the Night King really win an aerial duel against Dany _and_ Jon, removing them from most of the battle and killing a dragon in the process? Even in the aerial bits (which were less dark) I had trouble telling which dragon I was seeing or who was fighting whom, but it sure looked like the Night King was both a better strategist and pilot.

    Finally, not an actual question, but commentary – does anyone else wish Ramsay Bolton had been the one conducting the defense of Winterfell here? He wouldn’t have screwed up the use of forces so badly, and while he might’ve sacrificed some or all of them, it wouldn’t have been accidental. Also, if Bran really was the actual target, why didn’t they hide him in King’s Landing?

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *