Let’s talk about this DOOZY OF AN EPISODE.
It is SO EPIC that I don’t know where to begin. Comparisons to the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers are so apt! I’ll just start with the shockers.
Biggest surprises of the episode
- That ANY OF THEM, much less MOST of them, are left standing. That Sam, Jaime, Brienne, Podrick and Gendry are still alive. The whole castle was overrun, they were in the thick of it and swarmed at times, and they somehow managed to survive??? REALLY??? Sam even had breaks to sit around and cry!
- And where did Ser Davos go for most of the battle?!
- Tormund and Greyworm also disappeared after the first half of the battle.
- The Night King and his PESKY tendency to bring back the dead. The dead breaking out of their crypts gave me (and all the people hiding in there) such a shock! I thought it was limited to the newly dead only.
- WHERE DID ARYA COME FROM!!!! WHERE DID SHE COME FROM!!!! WHEREVER SHE CAME FROM IT’S AMAZING!!!!!!
Major character deaths
These all hurt me very much — except the last one obviously, and the second-last one — because we’ve grown familiar and fond of them, and they all died bravely. Heroic deaths never fail to twang my heart.
- Tolly was the first to go, dying to save Sam. :’-O I may have expected him to die, but that didn’t make it any easier.
- Followed by Lyanna Mormont in a brave last stand against a Giant Wight. Now House Mormont is no more!
- Then Beric Dondarrion, who was stabbed multiple times, and blocked the way of the White Walkers, giving Arya and the Hound time to escape, and yet somehow ended up in the same room as them to breathe his last breath.
- (Melisandre said that the Lord of Light brought him back 18 times to serve a purpose, and his purpose is done. So Beric’s purpose all along was to make sure Arya is saved so she could kill the Night King? The Lord of Light is a true god in his machinations indeed.)
- Theon, facing the Night King head on after being validated by Bran, whose castle he usurped, and therefore the catalyst which started the most agonising personal journey on the show before leading him back home to Winterfell a redeemed man.
- Ser Jorah, who died defending his queen! :’-O Who sobbed brokenheartedly over his body. I’ll miss him. His faithful, loyal knight having unrequited love for his queen and who would do anything for her is one that inspires deep sympathy and admiration. People always feel sorry for unrequited love, and Ser Jorah was such a good man.
- Melisandre, who effectively committed suicide after her purpose was done. A purpose that seems to be being in the castle at the right moment to remind Arya of her prophecy, and then to remind her of what her sword-fighting instructor Syrio Forel told her in Season 1: “What do we tell the God of Death?” “Not today.” I wonder when she realised this was her purpose, and why she was so wrong about Stannis.
- (I mean, she lighted the Dothraki’s arakhs — which made an impressive sight, but was ultimately fruitless — and the trench, but I think lighting the trench wasn’t something that she planned for, and she just did it because they were all in dire straits with Dany and Jon unable to see the signal. She looked worried when her Valyrian chant took a little too long to work.)
- And of course, the Night King. I actually thought the Battle of Winterfell could last two episodes, and the Night King could get all the way to King’s Landing, because the opening credits this season shows the Night King’s advance. To defeat him and his undead army only halfway through the season feels too fast. The credits will look unfinished now (or maybe they’ll remove all the ice in the next opening credits). And I wish Cersei could have seen the Night King and the White Walkers and undergone all the fear and trauma those at Winterfell did. I want to see the smug look wiped off her face at her dismissal of that threat.
Going into the episode, I thought Brienne would die, because she got her wish fulfilled to be a knight the last episode. I’m glad she survived of course, but back to my very first point on the “Biggest surprises” list: I’m amazed MOST of them survived. It really was an unwinnable battle and it lasted for aeons.
I didn’t get the plan until the writers explained it in a post-episode recap. I had no idea why Jon and Dany were flying around blindly, and what exactly they were looking for, until the fighters couldn’t light the trench.
And I completely understand the articles about fans complaining how dark the episode was. I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that I *hate it* when filmmakers shoot things in the dark. Like why bother to waste money creating a detailed castle or choreographing fight scenes IF YOU DON’T INTEND YOUR AUDIENCE TO SEE IT ANYWAY.
Yes, the scene happened at night. And I’m SURE the filmmakers want to put us in the characters’ shoes where they don’t even know who they’re fighting. But I also assume the filmmakers want the audience to know what happens, or they wouldn’t bother showing it at all. Because blurry scenes get old, *fast*. And it was a very long battle.
Anyway, I’m glad to be doing instant reaction posts again! I missed the first two cause I was away and I only got caught up yesterday. Looking forward to the rest of the episodes! Three episodes is a lot of time to gear up for a final battle for the Iron Throne.