Game of Thrones: Season 8 Episode 3 – The Long Night (Recap & Review)

Please note: there are FULL spoilers for the entire third episode of season 8, as well as all preceding episodes. I won’t list the cast of the main characters, only the bit players or interesting additions.

As the full armies of the North gather outside the gates of Winterfell, Tyrion heads to the crypts below, as Sam takes his place atop the castle walls. Bran is escorted into the Godswood, with Theon Greyjoy and the Iron Born soldiers as his guard, in order to lure the Night King to a single location. Jon Snow and Daenery Targaryen ride the dragons to a hill overlooking the battle field.

Through the near pitch black outside the castle walls, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) arrives, and sets alight the weapons of the Dothraki cavalry, before heading towards Winterfell and coming to a tense face off with Ser Davos inside. Jorah Mormont leads the Dothraki charging into the night against the undead army, though to Dany and Jon’s horror, their weapons are soon extinguished, with barely a handful returning, bloodied and broken.

The remaining ground forces quickly prepare for the incoming wights, as Greyworm leads the Unsullied in the main defensive line. A literal tidal wave of undead careens into the Unsullied soldiers, severing limbs and heads through the heavy armour. Jamie, Brienne, The Hound, Greyworm, Edd and Sam do their best to stem the tide, before Daenerys swoops in atop one of her children to set a swathe of undead alight with dragon fire. Jon attempts to do the same to the Night King’s generals, but a thick fog descends on the battlefield obscuring nearly all view. Arya sends Sansa to the crypts, after handing her a small dragonglass dagger. The defensive soldiers barely survive the onslaught, as Edd perishes saving Sam, before a full retreat is ordered.

Inside the gates, Lyanna Mormont watches over the incoming soldiers, while Greyworm ensures the safe retreat of the forces outside. Due to the fog across the battlefield, neither Jon nor Daenerys can see Davos’ signal to light the trenches with dragonfire, and many soldiers die attempting to do so themselves. A band of Unsullied form a protective wall around Melisandre, and she invokes the Red God to set the trench ablaze, granting a slight reprieve to the already battered Northerners inside the castle walls.

In the crypts, Tyrion laments being locked away from the battle, as he may be able to help in some small way. He reminds Varys (Conleth Hill) of his role in the Battle of Blackwater, which Varys rightfully reminds him nearly cost him his face, if not his life. Tyrion and Sansa share a solemn moment together, with Tyrion even joking that they should have stayed married, but Sansa is doubtful that they would have worked, due to Daenerys’ influence over Tyrion. Missandei reminds them that Daenerys is the only reason they are still alive to complain right now.

In the Godswood, Theon attempts to apologise to Bran for his past betrayals, but Bran tells Theon that all of his choices have led him back to his home, back to Winterfell. Bran wargs into a flock of ravens, and sees the Night King atop Viserion, as the undead leader commands his minions to die by throwing themselves on the flaming trench to create a bridge for others to pass. The undead clamber over each other like step ladders to reach the castle walls, and the defenders are soon forced back and overrun.

An undead giant bursts through the main gate and swats aside young Lyanna Mormont, but she rises to her feet and charges the monster. As she is crushed in his hand, she impales the creature and it crumbles to bone and dust. Atop the walls, Beric attempts to rally the Hound, but it is Arya who snaps him out of his shock. Jon and Dany engage the Night King in an aerial dragon fight.

Stumbling alone through the (surprisingly quiet) Winterfell corridors, Arya enters the library and is forced to avoid a handful of wights, lest they screech and summon uncountable more. Just as she believes she has made her escape, she is almost surrounded, and forced again to flee for her life. Those in the crypts are left horrified by the screams and begs for safety they hear coming from those above.

Beric and the Hound come across the undead in the labyrinth-like corridors of Winterfell, and rescue the fleeing Arya, but Beric is fatally wounded in the process. The trio hide in a nearby common room, where they are met by Melisandre, who reminds Arya of the prophecy she told her long ago, that Arya would kill those with brown eyes, green eyes… and blue eyes. Melisandre echos the phrase of Arya’s original sword instructor, Syrio Forel, and Arya rushes off.

In the Godswood, Theon and his warriors hold off the wights, whilst above, the Night King commands Viserion to blast a chuck out of the castle walls and heads towards Bran. Jon intercepts him, and another dragon fight ensues, with both the Night King and Jon knocked down towards the ground below. Daenerys hovers just above the unscathed Night King, and commands her dragon to burn him, but to her shock and despair, he is unharmed. Jon rushes the Night King on foot, but the patriarch of the undead raises all the fallen soldiers around him, and any dead nearby, to fight for him, and Jon is surrounded.

The Night King’s generals enter Winterfell, whilst in the crypts, the remains of long dead Starks, buried with their weapons, begin to rise. Jon is barely saved by Daenerys and her dragon mount, before she is knocked off it’s back, and nearly overwhelmed before being saved by Jorah Mormont. Jon traverses the castle grounds, seeing Tormund and Gendry, Sam, Greyworm and Brienne, all fighting a seemingly never ending horde. Theon’s men fall one by one, and those in the crypts don’t fare much better, with many falling to the newly risen Stark ancestors. Tyrion and Sansa grip their daggers and leave their hiding place to save whoever they can.

Jon is pinned down by Viserion’s blue flames, as Joran and Daenerys struggle to hold their ground. The Night King enters the Godswood, where only Theon is left to defend Bran. Theon knows what he must do, and Bran tells him he is a good man, even after everything that has happened between them. Theon charges the Night King, but is ineffective, and is slain. The Night King approaches the now defenceless Bran, whilst in the courtyard, Jon stands firm against Viserion’s might.

The Night King and Bran calmly stare each other down, before the Night King goes to draw his sword. From behind, Arya suddenly appears, and attempts to assassinate the Night King, but she is thwarted when he senses her coming and grabs her by the throat. Dropping her dagger to her free hand, she stabs the Night King, and he immediately shatters, and all the undead still writhing in Winterfell fall still, including Viserion in the courtyard and all the Starks in the crypt.

Following the Night King’s defeat, Jorah dies in Daenerys’ arms, and Melisandre wanders out the castle gates, removing her necklace, and crumbling into dust.

+ poor Hound. Imagine standing there, with a crippling fear of fire, but not caring because you’re about to fight some ice monsters only to have all the weapons around you suddenly burst into flames
+ one of the first things young Spartacus is taught by Oenomaus in Spartacus is NOT TO THROW YOUR WEAPON, because anything less than winning the fight means you now have no weapon. Beric should have gone to the ludus of Batiatus and he might still be kicking
+ that music that played in the final moments, as Jon did battle with Viserion etc, was superb

– the whole episode was too dark. I won’t bother trying to be funny or clever, because that’s just a simple fact. If it was fine for you, then great, but if the majority of people say it was too dark, then perhaps it just was
– Edd, Tormund and Beric made it very clear last episode that anybody not yet at Winterfell would not be able ot get through the Night King’s army, how did Mellisadre just stroll on through? If the answer is “she’s a witch” then that’s a point towards bad writing
– whoever was in charge of those military tactics (I assume Daenerys, through Tyrion/Jorah) should be executed. First of all, and most importantly, the entire undead army was unseen, so why would you launch a blind charge? From that, why the shit would you send your entire cavalry unit straight on to the enemy, rather than, say, flanking them Helm’s Deep style? Those horse bastards deserve everything they got. Secondly, why were the trebuchets IN FRONT of the Unsullied? Then, your Unsullied, the heavily armoured shield wall… all stood almost two metres apart. It wasn’t until they stood shoulder to shoulder like a real phalanx, to block the retreat behind them, that they were effective at all. Those idiots also deserved everything they got. And what the holy hell was Theon doing in the Godswood? He spread his men around in a loose circle, in the confined, densely wooded area… AND USED BOWS? Especially after his pathetic one on one Night King “fight”, he definitely deserved what he got
– how is it possible that the undead were turning the Unsullied, in their full plate armour and long spears, into mincemeat, whilst our good looking heroes – Jamie, Brienne, Gendry, Pod, Sam, Edd, Jorah, Sandor Clegane etc – were all but unharmed while not even wearing helmets?
– whoever thought that a barely-one-human-length-pit was enough to stop a horde of monsters who feel no pain and have no qualms sacrificing themselves on a whim should also be executed
– what was even the point of Jon and Dany riding dragons if they didn’t even attempt to thin out the undead herd before the zombies attacked, instead opting to use flamethrower on the ensuing melee?
– why was there such a highlight given to, for example, Edd and Lyanna coming back as wights when as far as I know, they weren’t even seen again? Why not have Sam face off against Edd, or Davos have to battle with the young Mormont, in a horrible reversal of what happened to Shireen
– why the HELL did Daenerys just chill there with that goofy smile when Jon ran off, only to be swarmed by wights. DID SHE FORGET THERE WAS A WAR GOING ON LITERALLY ALL AROUND HER? I have never wanted her to be torn to pieces more than in that moment. How did Jorah get form surrounded in the castle to out by Daenerys’ side so quickly, and how did he know she needed help anyway?
– since when is Arya able to be literally invisible? There were hundreds of wights blocking the door to the Godswood, and I don’t believe she could sneak past them, Faceless One or not
– the fact the undead are now all gone means that Cersei will never have to face the truth of her actions. Her reaction to the wight when she, Daenerys and Jon all met at King’s Landing was terrifying and intense, and the fact she now will never need to even think of that again is just ridiculous
– how does Daenerys’ hair stay so perfectly braided even after she has been on perilous dragon flights?

> I think the showrunners and media hyping this up as “Better than Helm’s Deep” was a really poor move, because the planning and detail that went into that trilogy was never seen before, and for my money has not been seen since
> was the giant that squished Lyanna, Wun Wun? Last we saw of him, I think, was Ramsay killing him (ironically enough, at Winterfell), so that probably doesn’t make sense (but LOL, TURN YOUR BRAIN OFF, BRO)
> undead and literally falling to pieces Viserion looked a lot like the Ur-dragon from Dragon’s Dogma, aka the best RPG you’ve never played
> I get a weird vibe from the Night King and Bran being face to face. I don’t think they were going to fight/the NK was there to kill him

Final thoughts: This was incredibly underwhelming, and legitimately one of the worst nu-episodes of the series. The plot armour the main characters have, to survive those overwhelming odds with no support and even less armour is just ridiculous. I was never expecting any of the big three (Jon, Dany, Tyrion) or even too many of the B level cast (Jamie, Brienne, Sansa, Arya, Hound) to go, but the fact that even most of the C levels (Sam, Jorah, Greyworm, Missandei, Edd, Tormund (don’t hate me for saying it), Varys, Gendry, Podrick) are still alive shows that this show is now, more than ever, more about fan service and Twitter gifs than sticking to the rules of it’s own universe.

Here’s some food for thought: in season one, Ned Stark got stabbed in the leg, and he walked with a cane and a limp for the rest of his life. In this episode alone, those B and C level guys fought off hundreds of undead soldiers by themselves with barely a scratch between them, Jon fell some 20 metres off a dragon onto the ground, and Arya teleported through hundreds of enemies to get to her target. This was more of a comic book than Endgame was.

4 Comments

  1. I agree with basically all you’ve said. I was super hyped for this episode after the other seasons big battle episodes but this was just poor.

    Too dark with too many quick cuts in the first half of the episode. Made it hard to tell who was fighting what and if an important character died I wouldn’t have been able to tell if just a generic soldier or not. Then Daenerys sat on her dragon surrounded by walking corpses was just unbelievable. I don’t understand how she’s surprised when she gets attacked. Arya being able to reach the Night King is just sloppy storytelling.

    The big one for me is as you said; too many characters surviving for the sake of pleasing fans. The bit where Jon is walking past Sam on the floor crying, Brienne and Jamie backed against a wall, fighting in desperation and other characters that I could barely see. How did none of them die? I know this is a fantasy show but it’s mostly felt like real fantasy. There was weight in the fantasy of Game of Thrones. The teleporting characters and characters having the invincibility cheat activated is appearing a lot more this season. Hoping it calms down for the final episodes. This was a great spectacle fight (when I could see it) but a big let down for me and won’t leave a lasting impression like Battle of the Bastards did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Fitzy,

      Thanks so much for the comment. I completely agree.

      I should have mentioned that from a technical, or behind-the-scenes standpoint, this was nothing short of a huge accomplishment. The number of extras, set design, costumes etc. were all fantastic, and whoever was involved deserves nothing but praise.

      But I think your final point was the most pressing. The show has long evolved from being “that show where your favourite characters die” since maybe the Red Wedding, all the way back in season 3. But the show has always been about consequences to actions, and I was certain that when Jon saw, but didn’t save, Sam, Brienne and Jamie, to name a few, that decision would come back to haunt him. But apparently, once you get a following on social media, you are exempt from death in Westeros.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m fairly confident that the Night King will return or be reborn. Cersei being the final boss of this show would be underwhelming and the fact that threat of the walkers has been building since S1E1 seems ridiculous that it would be over and done with in 1 battle/episode.

    Bran worging during the battle has to have been significant and hopefully, we find out what he saw next week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,

      Well, between you and I, I think Daenerys will be the final boss. Cersei has been fun to hate, but if Arya can take out the NK like she did, how would Cersei stand a chance?

      Like

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