It was a long night, team. The Long Night, a title aptly named for one of TV history’s most compelling episodes to date. The episode was one of the longest-running episodes in the show’s history, with a run time of 84 minutes to be exact. A long night indeed. All 84 minutes had Game of Thrones heads across the realm experiencing a gamut of emotions: stress, anxiety, hope, mirth, despair, shock and last but not least, pure unadulterated excitement.
Shall we begin?
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW
The night starts off with an ominous tone, characters from Davos to Sansa, to Dolorous Edd look out beyond the catapults and trebuchets towards the horizon, waiting for death. At the front lines are Gendry, The Hound, Jaime and Brienne with the Vale legions behind them and in front of the Dothraki screamers are Ser Jorah and whaddayaknow? GHOST. Thank you, writers, this is the only fan service I cosign on. The air is thick with tension especially when a hooded figure on a horse makes their way towards the castle. Iand who is it? None other than the lady in red. Melisandre. Coming through like the queen she is, calm and collected most likely due to her spa treatments in Volantis. She makes no preamble, just shoots an order to Jorah to tell the Dothraki to lift their Arakhs. Not a moment after she whispers an incantation over one weapon do the rest light aflame. Thank you Melisandre, for giving this show the pump of hope we needed and the extra lighting for that matter as well.
The gates are opened and she meets Davos, letting him now there’s no need for retribution on his end, she’ll be dead before the dawn.
Well sh*t, spoilers much?
Melisandre takes a look at at the battlements where she shares a look with Arya, mind you, the two haven’t seen each other since season 3. But there’s no time for reunions, because the Dothraki, now strapped with lit swords have shouted their battle cry and proceed to charge the field, heading straight into the night Jorah at the head and Ghost at their heels.
The hype and screams die only moments later and instead, grim echoes of their shouts begin to ring out…. then fade. It’s at that very moment that the threat looming beyond the wall is real, only cemented when horses return without their riders. The grimmest omen? The slow-motion shot of Ser Jorah, riding back [miraulously I might add] but with open gashes on his face, looking as if he just encountered something sinister.
Yeah, blatant foreshadowing here. His queen, aka Dany seems to catch on rather quickly from her lookout post with Jon because she uses her common sense to hop to it. It seems as though they have a plan, something Jon tries to remind her of, but instead she rips her hand from his grasp, letting him know *fuck the plan, fuck timing*
Pew, pew, Dracarys.
OK, so it’s a bit hard to see what’s going on without turning the brightness up on one’s screen but once that’s done it’s not hard to make out faces of the dead coming at the crew full tilt. I mean it’s an avalanche of necrosis. Drogon and Rhaegal come through at the clutch roasting the dead before they can swallow those guarding the gates totally. It looks as if this may be a fair fight.
HA, just kidding. This is, after all, Game of Thrones.
Speaking of avalanches, the Night King and his squad decided to fight dirty and go full Auroro a la X-Men. Bringing the storm to Winterfell’s very gates. Like, no joke, an actual storm. The wind and snow come in full hurricane mode and literally blind our two Dragonriders from seeing anything. Because it wasn’t hard enough trying to make out what was going on.
Atop the battlements more of our Winterfell lot are realizing shit is getting real, so our favorite Scorpionic Stark, Arya advises Sansa that she’d better head to the crypts. Hands her a piece of dragonglass that Sansa genuinely reminds her (and the audience) that she doesn’t know how to use. Arya’s advice? Stick ’em with the pointy end. A call back to the advice Jon gave her when gifting her ‘Needle’. The symmetry is perfect. Back on the field, the carnage continues. Mountains of bodies are piling up and with the blizzard, visibility is almost non-existent for the fighters. What the audience can see is that they are overwhelmed, Jaime is still holding his own with his left hand only, Brienne is still a BAMF, poor Sam is doing what he has to survive but still, not the best of combatants. We learn this hard lesson the minute we see his comrade, Edd comes to his aid, only to be stabbed a moment later by a bloodthirsty wight.
The first significant casualty of the night.
The gates open so that the few survivors on the battlefront can seek some refuge before more of the onslaught occurs. The Unsullied stand their ground at the command of Grey Worm and try to hold the dead back for as long as possible. There’s only so much they can do, so the archers begin to put in some work, using fire to kill the wights hot on their tails.
Fire, hey that’s a good idea! The trenches are apparently set to be lit aflame, A + plan. Not only will it help them with visibility, but it’ll also keep those nasty dead folks at bay for a little while. Of course, when there’s a plan, there’s the certainty that it won’t go the way it’s set up to. Brilliant as it is, Grey Worm is unsuccessful in getting a signal up to Khalessi and KiTN. The trenches can’t be lit because neither Daenerys or Jon can see a thing flying around above. It’s all bad. ALL bad.
That is until Melisandre ONCE AGAIN comes through with the assist. This woman is basically Steph Curry with the shot boy. She says a little incantation and light’s the trenches her damn self. Fast forward to the Crypts and Varys, Tyrion, Gilly, Sansa and Missandei are all together, rather mopey that they can do nothing to help above ground. Tyrion and Sansa talk about their marriage because when you’re trapped in a cage of literal death, why not reminisce on the not-so-pleasant-but-it-could’ve-been-worse times, right? She admits to him that he was the best of all her husbands. Definitely, a compliment considering the lot she had to choose from. He takes it in stride, only to be reminded that there’s no hope for them to be together considering where her loyalties lie [the North] and where his lie [Daenerys/the South]. Missandei is tired of all the perceived hate so she decides to cape for her queen, reminding both Tyrion and Sansa (and whoever is in earshot really) that without Dany, they wouldn’t stand a chance.
More death, more carnage, more assaults as they man the battlements waiting for the dead to scale the walls. Since we don’t have giant ice spiders, the wights do a petty good job of acting as arachnids on their own with their climbing skills. They envelop the castle–Jaime and Brienne, as well as Gendry doing everything they can to hold them off. All seems bleak until No one shows up on the scene. That’s right, Arya and that handy weapon her lover gave her. She slices and dices wights like butter and it really goes to show just how much she learned while in Braavos. Heart eyes, mother F*****. The Hound is incapacitated, still afraid of fire while Berric attempts to galvanize him into action. Someone else who’s afraid? The Little Bear. But her fear doesn’t stop her from standing her ground in the Winterfell courtyard. A giant white walker bursts through Winterfell’s gates and knocks her off her feet. Yeah, that’s gonna bruise. Despite her injuries, she lets out her best war cry charging after the beast with a dragonglass ax. He stops her in her tracks, and the audience hears a distinct and quite frankly, blood-curdling crack (which is no doubt her spine) and we know at the moment Miss Mormont’s a goner. Never the type to go out without a bang, we think she’s done for but she pulls out a dragonglass dagger and shoves it into the giant’s eye, taking him down with her. Though she be little, she be fierce. I took a shot for the girl, went out like a champ.
Dany and Jon still don’t know what the hell they’re doing, flying up and down, back and forth that is until Viserion and the Night King decide to go full blast with the blue flames and disorient them even further. But we’ll get back to them later.
Enter Arya in Winterfell’s library. She’s trying to stay lowkey, putting those cat-like reflexes to work. Staying silent while maneuvering her way across the aisles. Through a series of tactics, she’s able to hide from them until one comes to close and she sticks them with the pointy end. We think we get a moment of peace for her but it’s only the beginning. It’s like they can smell life, so they come for it. A chase ensues and Arya is forced to run for her life through her own home. The chase ends when Beric and Mr. Doggy, who has now decided Arya is more important than his pyrophobia, come through and yank her from the necropolis, taking on the wights themselves.
We were right to assume Beric was on his last life now that his priest has passed Cir. season S7. He gives his life up for Arya and the hound, blocking the wights in a very Christ-esque manner while he gets stabbed repeatedly. Arya and the hound are able to yank him into a room, but he succumbs to his injuries. We don’t really get a chance to mourn him (or any of the deceased for that matter) before Melisandre appears AGAIN and gives Arya a very well-needed [and well-timed] pep talk. “Brown eyes, green eyes, and blue eyes.” She reminds her, hinting at their meet-cute in season three and of all the people she predicted Arya would kill. Only to end the pep talk with a reminder from first fighting teacher, Syrio Forel “What do we say to the god of death? Not today.”
AGAIN the foreshadowing is so blatant I can’t even!
We break scene to the Godswood where Theon is waiting it out guarding Bran.
Jon and Daenerys and the Night King are getting into some shenanigans in the air but it’s really hard to tell with the lighting who is hitting who and what is hitting what. When things clear up, we see wightserion in the night, chomping at his brother, AKA Rhaegal and Jon just before they all tumble down to earth. The night king included. Dany Lands and it looks like things are gonna pop off, finally! The battle we’ve been waiting for! She corners him without his normal arsenal of lieutenants and undead, stolen dragon, and utters her most famous line “dracarys”.
He goes up in flame. And a triumphant smile graces Dany’s features Until the flames clear and the Night King’s face stares back up at her. Unbowed, unbent and worse, unburned. He’s even got a smile on his face, and I’ll tell you right now, I’ve never been more creeped out in my life. This is a character that has sho 0 to little emotion in 7 seasons and this once, he changes the game. it’s all bad for Dany the minute she sees him because he picks up a spear.
Yes, experience is the best teacher. The minute she see’s it she turns tail and runs. Smart girl.
Enter Jon who hasn’t really done much this episode, but better late than never right? He decides to run up on the Night King but not before the zombie king does what he’s best at, and raises all of the fallen up before Jon can get to him. I’m talking, Edd, Qhono, Unsullied– even little Lyanna.
Jon’s left to fight them on his own since the Night King has bigger fish to fry, also known as Bran.
Remember the crypts? A place they seemed to have thought was a safe place to be? Yeah turns out that was a dumb move too. Crypts=dead people. Dead people=more troops for the Night King’s army. So let’s do the math shall we? Living people + dead people + plus night king + Crypts= problem. They learn that the hard way when they’re all forced to fight or be killed.
Jon gets saved by Dany’s dragon fire against the unruly wights just in time to run to Bran. She, stupidly I might add sticks around unaware of her surroundings. Heart eyes aren’t a good thing to have right now Khalessi, you’re surrounded on all sides! *facepalm* So what happens? The wights climb on the dragon’s back because they’re bloodthirsty mindless creatures and attempt to kill the queen. But of course, she’s got plot armor so who comes in to save the day? Jorah of house friend zone. Gotta love the man for being consistent. The director, writers and of course composer put their score to excellent use as we are taken through a tour of every scene from every possible angle. As the somber music plays, we see Jon stuck in limbo, ignoring Sam getting swarmed by the undead and attempting to get past wightserion. Sansa and Tyrion sharing what feels like a last goodbye, Jorah still slicing away, taking hit after hit in defense of his queen. Dany trying to defend him as best she can. Theon… ahhh poor Theon, taking a shot through the heart in a heroic moment of redemption. RIP.
And last but not least, the Night King walking up to Bran with full confidence now that dragon fire can’t beat him and Theon, the last gate has fallen. The music builds and Bran who has decided to come back to earth after warging looks the Night King dead in the face. They seem to share a look for what seems like ages before the NK, reaches for his sword, ready to end Professor X, I mean Brandon for good.
Not today. Who comes through? THE GOAT. ARYA FUCKING STARK! She sneak attacks the NK from behind but he catches her by the neck. Thank goodness she’s ambidextrous because my girl does a switch up worthy of only Michael Jordan. Drops the very same dagger that was used try and kill Bran season one and sticks the Night King with the pointy end.
Ending the man’s whole career as a result.
And just like that, the dead begin to fall off in a domino effect. I’ve never seen more satisfying television in my entire life. This moment only trumps that BoTB at the end of season 6, watching the Starks get their home back and Ramsay fed to his dogs.
The downside, watching Jorah die in Dany’s arms and realizing that House Mormont, with the death of the Little Bear and Ser Jeor, are now extinct. RIP my friend, you were a real one.
The last scene is bittersweet. Now that the war has ended, Melisandre has done her duty. She proceeds to walk out of the castle, passing the dead bodies piled beside her, takes off her necklace (the one that keeps her young) as Davos watches from behind, and then disintegrates in the snow.
Beautiful, and confusing.
The long night. Aptly named fam. I was stressed out, as I’m sure many of you were the entire episode. The upside to an episode like this? The explicit attention to detail, from the eerie but gorgeous piano requiem of Ramin, to the genius direction of Sapochnik [may he win all the emmy’s]. I will say I had counted on more deaths, as bloodthirsty as that sounds. I did plan on seeing some of the more titular characters doing more work AKA Jon . What the hell was Bran doing the entire time he was warging? I really want to know what happened to Ghost during that Dothraki charge as well. Like when are you guys going to let us see him in all his glory, goddammit??
Moreover, what happened with the dragon fire and the Night King? If the Wights can get burned, why not him? Why did Melisandre decide to kill herself? And what will happen moving forward now that the big bad, for 7 seasons has been taken out by the Faceless Men University’s most accomplished dropout, Arya Stark? What fate will Cersei meet and even more, at whose hand? Will there be peace in the realm? Or will we be seeing A Dance of Dragons/Targbowl 2.0?
We’re at the halfway mark, team! Check out what next week has in store below.
Ramin Djawadi's Excellent use of Hans Zimmer's tutelage
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