All aboard the Hype Train! Check out our biggest takeaways from the Season 8, Episode 3 The Long Night!
We need to put a disclaimer in front of this one: we had a great time watching this episode. There’s no doubt that the showrunners know how to surprise and make a moment and really tap into the excitement of being a viewer. But. This episode doesn’t at all fit the rest of the series. Simply put- it’s sloppy and Hollywood-ized. We are disappointed with how the show has dropped the ball in later seasons and how inconsistent it is. Its quest has become to shock us rather than its original objective of making us think.
That doesn’t take away from the fun we had on Sunday, but we’re not going to make excuses for the show simply because it’s Game of Thrones. We are going to do our best to acknowledge where this episode landed punches while also pointing out its flaws.
Our MVP of the Episode: Arya Mothafuckin’ STARK.
In a surprising turn of events, the youngest Stark was given the honors of getting to kill the Night King. It’s not too surprising considering she is one of the most popular characters on the show and it’s been going downhill to fan service since the fifth season or so, but it was done so at the expense of some of the development of Jon and Dany, as well as some of the other storylines.
Arya had a hell of an episode- she put her Darth Maul-like spear to work, most likely got a concussion, ran around scared of her own home, took a trip to the Jurassic Park library, was saved by two people she once wanted to kill, teamed up with someone she also wanted to kill at one point, and then realized that all of her training had led her to the big moment of the show. From beating Bran with a bow and arrow in the pilot episode, to her first practice with Syrio Forel, Arya has proven to be an excellent fighter and more than skilled enough to assassinate the Night King. Let’s be honest- if anyone was going to get out alive this episode, it was going to be her. Or a dragon.
We don’t doubt her capabilities- it’s the narrative where we aren’t sure she belongs. This kill wasn’t 100% hers to have. Azor Ahai prophecy and book things aside (we don’t want to be those people), Arya has a lack of history with the Army of the Dead. While we cheered in the moment, this was nowhere near as satisfying as seeing Walder Frey get his pie- and the Night King is supposed to be the most dangerous of the entire series. More than that, the doesn’t serve Jon or Dany, and maybe that was the goal of the showrunners- to make everyone feel like they were on even playing field and that neither are deserving of the Iron Throne.
Runner-up: Jorah Mormont
Jorah is one of the more problematic characters of the show, mostly because of the way he creeps around Dany. We here firmly believe that his feelings towards her are romantic, but we suppose it’s something that he never acted upon those feeling because they weren’t reciprocated. As far as Dany is concerned, Jorah is her father figure and her voice of reason. And despite their range of friendship- experiencing all shades of the loyalty-betrayal spectrum- he really is the only person whose opinion she will listen to and not outright reject.
It makes it all the more heartbreaking when Jorah Boromirs himself to save Dany after she’s fallen off Drogon- he’s the very last person whose loyalty she could count on and the person she expected to have in her council when she became queen. Not to mention, he was one of the few who witnessed her full evolution as a leader. After the Dothraki were beaten on the open field and her Unsullied got rocked, Jorah’s death shatters her confidence. Sure, Missandei is there, but Jorah was the one Westerosi who really believed in her claim to the throne- if he’s not there to have faith in her, who will.
We expect that this death will play a big part in either sending Dany over the edge or have her realize that without trusting anyone, she has no business being in charge of the Seven Kingdoms.
Honorable mentions: Theon Grejoy and Lyanna Mormont get the right endings
Well, at least someone got a full arc in here. We’ve been on quite a roller coaster with one Theon Greyjoy and have disliked him, hated him, immediately sympathized with him, hopes for him, and cheered for him. Theon went out in a blaze of glory, going from a troubled character who was desperate to please his father and identify with the Iron Born, who he never really agreed with in the first place, to defending his surrogate home and family.
Lyanna Mormont, a character that was supposed to get a few good lines in Season 6 and grew into one of the most popular characters, gets killed but not before she tells one more big dude to sit down and take his place. She’s swept aside by a giant, stands up, and hollers at him, only to get picked up and squeezed to death. Just as he’s about to bite her head off, she pulls out her dragonglass sword and stabs him in the eye. Lyanna went out fighting the biggest symbol of patriarchy on the show and it’s an absolute payoff.
Plot armor is THICK.
The lack of logic and sense in this show took us out of several moments. Jaime was a Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and had several victories in battle, Tyrion defended against a siege, Davos led a siege, and Jon led the Night’s Watch against the Wildling Castle Black attack when they were outnumbered six to one- yet none of them step in to say, “Uh… this isn’t the right way to defend.” Anyone could have told them to get their armies behind the trenches and to funnel the wights. And how about not sending your cavalry out on a dark field against the undead with simple steel?
The lack of strategy sticks out simply because there was just a handful of casualties when there are easily eight more that should have happened. The one that really got to us was that the same army of wights that steamrolled the Dothraki and Unsullied then decided to pin Jaime, Brienne, Pod, Sam, and others with their backs against the wall but not stab them. Every time someone seemed to be in a life-threatening situation, there was a cut, and the next time we retuned to that character, the wights around them would suddenly be on the ground. Plus, the amount to attacking wights decreased whenever the got within ten paces of these people.
Let’s not talk about silent Varys’ comfortable, well-lit hidey hole. Let’s not even go there.
We did really like that moment between Sansa and Tyrion though.
After a few lines of bickering, Tyrion and Sansa agree to disagree while acknowledging that the other person is right about some things. After the dead crypt residents pop in, Sansa and Tyrion find themselves hiding behind the same tomb and Sansa pulls out a dragonglass dagger and Tyrion kisses her hand.
Apparently, some people read this as a suicide pact? What? It read so much to us as a real acknowledgment of her strength from Tyrion. It was a genuine sign of affection and respect- here is the one character who knew what she went through in King’s Landing and saw what she was capable of, and he’s quite proud of who she has become. While Sansa is told that she’s smart or other characters discuss it, it’s never as heartfelt as when Tyrion speaks of her or as when they are with each other. There’s always been a tangible aura of respect and honesty between the two and it was more than seen here- it was felt. We’re hoping that these two are offered proper leadership roles, as they would do the realm justice and work with each other for the greater good.
Melisandre’s sole purpose on this show was to be naked
Melisandre was a wonderful antagonist and foil for many of our favorites on the show- and thus, we loved her as the enemy- but by spitting on the Azor Ahai prophecy and handing things over to Arya, the showrunners also took a giant dump on this character. They defend it with “She knew about Arya all along”- but that just makes her seem not all that bright and impulsive, without any real thought. Granted, she is a representation of a religious zealot who begins to lose her faith, but the show didn’t do a very good job of this- mostly because she hasn’t been seen for over two years (maybe about 7 or 8 episodes). Show-Melisandre goes from a scheming scarlet woman with her own agenda to someone who can drive plot convenience with her instinct that Arya is the real champion.
After showing up at Winterfell after a very long absence- and seemingly from the same direction as the army of the dead- she gets some good moments in the episode, including setting the Dothraki weapons and the trench on fire which gave way to some hopeful moments, but at the end, she walks away, takes off her necklace, and her dress falls off before she Voldemorts away. Like we said. Naked.
Ultimate Flex: Night King
In a one-two punch, the Night King survives dragonfire, smirks, and then raises the freshly killed Unsullied to fend off Jon, as well as the dead bodies in the crypts where the women and children are hiding.
It’s a cool bit and all and yes, it instilled a bit of terror at the time, but we have a lot of questions- if dragonfire kills wights and White Walkers but not the Night King, does this mean he’s also impervious to dragonglass and Valyrian steel? No? Ok. We’ll wait for the books for his backstory. We are 99.99999% sure this was done for effect and no real thought.
While we’re glad we didn’t have to see some dead Starks running around (we would have turned the TV off if Robb chased Sansa around), we also kind of wished that people were forced to kill the wight versions of their freshly killed friends- that would have emphasized real horrors and sorrow in the episode (remember Karsi at Hardhome and how she refused to kill children?) but adrenaline (and the showrunners) ain’t got no time for that when trying to crush everything in six episodes.
That being said, does news and terror of the Battle for Winterfell reach the rest of the realm? Aside from the Knights of the Vale, what other Westerosi army is helping out the North? It’s really going to downplay the historical significance of this war and we can easily see this turning into a, “Oh, you Northerners love to exaggerate, ya wimps!” We’re hoping that this plays out differently in the books.
Cersei really is the big bad of the series
There’s a reason why the show is called Game of Thrones and not A Song of Ice and Fire– this show hasn’t really cared about the battle to the North with the Others and has always rooted its interest in the politics of King’s Landing. It always appeared odd that the “big battle” of the season was scheduled for episode three of six- and after The Long Night and our overall disappointment with the episode, it’s clear that they were saving bigger, (not necessarily) better things for Queen Cersei and King’s Landing.
We’re not sure how this will all play out in the books, but we’re hoping that they do eventually get written and released under the writing or at least direction of George R.R. Martin. We miss his pacing and attention to detail. This series deserves his vision and a proper ending.