The episode titled ‘The Long Night’ had a ton of action including character deaths, dragon wars and an unexpected finish.
Since the beginning, way back in the first episode of the first season, the show set the tone of defying expectations and eight seasons in, with the third episode currently aired, the theme of the unexpected continues to ring true. In George R. R. Martin’s books — A Song of Ice and Fire, Azor Ahai has been referred to as the prince who was promised. This is mainly due to the fact that he will have the power to defeat the Night King. Ever since the emergence of Jon Snow, it was widely believed that he would be the one to fell the Night King. But in a sudden turn of events, while Jon was fighting the reanimated Viscerion, the ice dragon, it was another member from the Stark clan to slay the evilest character television has ever witnessed.
The episode started off where it left off last week with the preparation for battle with the Dothraki hordes, the Unsullied and the free folk all forming flanks outside the walls of Winterfell. Morale was not the highest as fear was evident on their faces. Joining these armies were some of the shows biggest heroes including the now respected Jaime Lannister, Ser Brianne of Tarth, Ser Jorah Mormont, Samwell Tarley, Edd and others. Assisting them was Jon Snow’s trusty dire wolf Ghost. While the thought of victory seemed impossible, an unlikely help came in the form of Mellisandre, the Red Woman, who set the Dorthraki swords on fire in a bid to vanquish the dead. This helped in spurring on the troops as they rode into battle to take on the White Walkers. However, this newfound hope was short lived as the flames were snuffed out within a matter of minutes indicating that none of them was coming back alive.
The rest of the armies marched on towards battling the wights but no matter how great a swordsman you were, the sheer number of the undead overwhelmed the living forcing them to retreat.
Elsewhere in the crypts, the women and children sat in muted silence with Tyrion and Varys alongside Sansa Stark. There was a spark between the former husband and wife and a sense of the inevitable sweeping along their faces showing that they were resigned to their fate even though they would fight to the death.
At the Battle of Winterfell we saw some major characters lose their lives; including but not limited to Doloros Edd, Beric Dondarion, Lady Mormont and possibly Ghost as he never returned from his battle with the undead.
Arya being Arya didn’t hesitate in joining the battle and bravely fought off hordes of wights and digging deep where others had failed; she overcame her nerves and fought like she’s never done previously. Her past training had served her well and this was essential in her tip-toeing across the halls of Winterfell and avoiding the wights who were searching for any living being to devour. She is then pulled out from the clutches of death by the Hound and comes face to face with Mellisandre. The Red Woman then asks her what happens when she comes face to face with death, she promptly replies “Not today.” This sets the tone for the rest of the episode.
While the battle is going on the grounds, the dragons and their riders — Jon Snow and Dany are in an insane aerial duel with the Night King. Even though it’s one on two, he is more than capable of holding them at bay. Dany and Jon manage to drop him off the ice dragon and he falls to the ground giving the ‘Dragon Queen’ an open invitation to torch him with Drogon’s fire breath. In a long played out the scene, the Night King is engulfed in flames and it seems that the humans have finally won as it appears that he is disintegrated. With the flames dying down we see the Night King smirking and unaffected; leaving Dany and the on-looking Jon completely clueless as what to do next. This prompts Jon to rush him to battle him in a swordfight. But before he gets closer, the Night King raises his hands and reanimates all the fallen; including Lady Mormont, the Dothraki and the Unsullied who lost their lives earlier on.
Back at Godswood, it’s just Theon and Bran who are left to face the Night King and Bran reassures him that no matter what he’s done in the past; it has all led to this moment in time. This prompts Theon to dash forward to slay the Night King and in one quick swoop, the lord of the dead snaps his spear and stabs Theon in the gut.
The Night King makes his way slowly to the unperturbed Bran and it looks like the end is near for the Three-eyed Raven. But suddenly, there’s a whoosh in the air and out of nowhere Arya jumps behind the Night King to stab him. He sees this move and catches her. She drops her dagger from one hand to the next and stabs him in the stomach; shattering him to a million ice pieces. With the death of the Night King, the rest of the White Walkers and the army of wights are evaporated the same way; including the ice dragon.
After the slaying of the Night King, we see Ser Jorah Mormont succumb to his injuries and dying in Dany’s arms. Mellisandre, realizing her work is done, walks out of Winterfell, removes her necklace, turning her back into an old woman where she lays down and passes away.
The episode was proof that Game of Thrones defies expectations and nothing can be taken for granted. While Jon Snow has long been heralded as Azor Ahai or ‘The prince that is promised’, it is, in fact, his sister Arya who, after going through the most ups and downs manages to fell television’s biggest bad guy.