BIG SPOILERS: DON’T READ ANYMORE UNLESS YOU WANT THE ENTIRE SERIES SPOILED
After an eight year build-up, with zombies up the ying yang and ice dragons to boot, it’s fairly unsatisfying how the whole “winter is coming” threat was taken down by a quick handed Arya Stark.
I mean don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say that “The Long Night ”—which was basically an 82-minute action sequence—was boring. It was a wild beautiful ride. The long tracking shots that shifted from character to character, the ticking clock soundtrack, the (too dark) darkness, dragons, white walkers and fiery set pieces lit up the episode.
Miguel Sapochnik directed a final battle with the White Walkers that was appropriately intense, and one that easily put “Hardhome” and the “Battle of the Bastards” to shame in its size. But when the blood and snow is settled, Jon Snow looks like the world’s worst military general, while Deus Ex Arya killed the final boss in a way that was badass, but made little narrative sense.
If anything, “The Long Night” gave us more questions than answers...and man, do I have some questions.
What happened to Ghost?
You remember Ghost, don’t you? That direwolf who’s supposed to be Jon’s best friend? But who was completely overlooked in season 7 because HBO’s budgets do have a limit? Are we really going to ignore the brave little guy being at the front lines, rushing in with the rest only to never be heard of again? Like, not even a shot of the little guy’s eyes turning blue?
Where did Bran warg off to?
Listen, we were all thinking the same thing the moment Bran went into warg mode. Bran had possessed direwolves, birds, heart trees, and Hodor in the past, so why not a dragon, right? Desperate times called for desperate measures, and you’d think that it would be the least he could have done with Theon Greyjoy slicing his way to an early grave to protect him. But of course, in Bran’s continuing reputation for being the most mystifying and frustrating character in this series, we’re left wondering what he spent those several minutes doing inside a bunch of ravens before abandoning his warg state to give the Night King one last stare down. At least we got an aerial tracking shot of the battle out of it.
Why didn’t anyone think of the dead coming back?
It’s painful how on-the-nose season 8 has been about the safety of the Winterfell crypts. “No safer place!” they said, over and over again to the point of making the masquerade stupidly obvious. For a week straight even, Thrones Twitter has been making jokes about the foolish concept of hiding the defenseless in a place of the dead—considering the Night King and his habit for raising the lifeless.
To a certain degree, you’d expect the common folk of Winterfell to be a bit uneducated about the concept. But everyone from Jon Snow to the two smartest people in Winterfell—Tyrion and Sansa—don’t have an excuse here. They’ve always been anal about burning bodies in the past due to the Night King, so suddenly this doesn’t cross their minds that a crypt containing buried bodies is a death haven? It’s too dumb for words.
How did Jon’s dumbass plan actually work?
Let’s get this out of the way. Jon is a terrible military leader; always has been. I mean sure, he can dish out the inspirational speech and look brooding and shit, but his affinity for suicide missions (see the Battle of the Bastards) has killed way too many soldiers.
So in accepting this as fact, can someone explain why Jon’s plan actually worked? Why encourage this guy with the belief that it’s a great idea to ride into the dead of night towards an unknown number of enemies with low visibility? Why would anyone send their best ground soldiers into that kind of danger? They’ve had time to plan this, so why not send a few scouts on ahead. Why not use your air superiority with those dragons and trebuchets of yours? Also, if you know Bran has the ability to possess animals, why not ask little bro for a favour and have him spot the incoming danger on ahead? Like come on.
Seemingly, they’ve lost the Dothraki, most of the Unsullied and they’re down to a single injured dragon, which leaves not a whole lot of resources to take back the Iron Throne. Well done, Jon.
Oh, and what was Jon’s plan when he stood in front of an ice dragon?
Did my guy really think he was going to square off with a whole damn dragon? Was he set to out yell a dragon until it gave up? I feel like Jon is getting a bit of a Christ complex.
Who else died?
The biggest twist of this episode probably comes down to the lack of main character deaths. As far as we know, Jorah and Lyanna Mormont, Theon Greyjoy, Melisandre, Beric Dondarrion, and Dolorous Edd all kicked the bucket. But apart from a lot of painful faces, we can’t be sure of the fates of Gendry and Grey Worm, although you’d assume they’d get dying scenes.
Thrones, ever since it killed Ned Stark, has left us with the impression that anyone can die, but it really seems like the writers pulled a few punches here. I’m not sure anyone was left in tears over Jorah except Daenerys.
Who forgot the lighting rig?
Yes, it’s a night battle...the most cost effective way to show a giant fight. But there were huge chunks of time where it was extremely difficult to tell what was going on screen, who was doing the killing, who was doing the dying, etc etc. Still, that opening 15 minutes or so was some of the best filmmaking Game of Thrones—or anyone—has ever done.
Where the hell did Arya jump from?
Just minutes before the Night King broke his way through every force thrown at him, Thrones spent a precious few minutes setting up his slow motion strut towards Bran in the Godswoods. To his back was an entire security team of ice generals and white walkers, but somehow Ayra snuck into the joint and fly her way into attacking the Night King. Keep in mind where Arya was before this moment: Trapped in a room with White Walkers on her tail. The godswood is pretty much an open field, but somehow, it was she that saved the day.
Is that it for a Night King?
For something they spent eight years building up to, the Night King turned out to be your pretty basic fantasy villain. That’s disappointing. Thank the gods for Cersei, the smartest person in Westeros.
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