Season 8, Episode 3
As we roar towards the conclusion of Game of Thrones, questions will inevitably be asked of where it sits in the canon of great TV shows. The truth is, while Sopranos, Breaking Bad and Mad Men never stumbled quite so dramatically as Game of Thrones did with the disastrous burning of Shireen Baratheon or the farcical rape scene between Jamie and Cersei, neither can they touch George R.R. Martin’s creation when it is on song. If you were to make a list of the top five TV episodes of the last 20 years, there is an argument that all of them would be from Game of Thrones. This is not just the biggest TV show ever. With The Long Night, it has probably cemented its reputation as the best.
This battle was much different to the Battle of the Bastards or the Battle of the Blackwater. There was always more at stake here. While Game of Thrones has long been a dimly lit show (apart from any scene in Dorne – Jesus, remember how bad this show could be?), The Long Night is as dark as an episode of The X-Files set in an underground cavern. The fact that this made it difficult to fully grasp what was happening actually made the battle sequences even more intense. I was constantly peering into the shadows and this only enhanced the idea that death was always just around the corner.
There were many memorable moments during this episode but the stand outs were the Red Witch lighting the swords of the Dothraki (not that it did them much good) and the Night King reviving his army of the dead after withstanding everything that Dany and her dragon had to offer. In an episode that leaned into horror more than any other Game of Thrones episode, this was a genuinely chilling moment.
For all its flaws and mistakes over the years, Game of Thrones knows how to conclude a big episode. Arya’s dramatic and quite frankly fucking brilliant slaying of the Night King was perhaps the shows most iconic moment to date. This was Ned Stark’s beheading. It was Robb Stark’s throat being cut. This made every scene in which one of our beloved protagonists suffered dissolve into the ether. Arya is ours and on the biggest stage she delivered. The big question now of course, is where the hell does Game of Thrones go from here?
- Former commander of the Nights Watch Dolorous Edd. Lord Beric Dondarrion. Ser Jorah Mormont. Lady Lyanna Mormont. Theon Greyjoy. Melisandre of Asshai. You are gone but your sacrifice will never be forgotten. The North remembers after all.
- While we lost a fair few long standing characters, the most surprising death was probably the Night Kings. For a show that revels in its reputation for ruthlessly killing off major characters, they sure seem reluctant to do so at the moment.
- And so, Dany and Jon survive another week. Their scenes in the clouds with the dragons served only to be confusing and ultimately completely pointless. Jon ‘Deus Ex Machine’ Snow was saved yet again at the final moment. It’s time for me to accept these two wet blankets are in it for the long haul.
- The Hound is actually a bit rubbish in a major battle it turns out. In fact he’s never been the same as a warrior since they took all of his chicken that time. Someone take him to KFC.
- No sign of Cersei again. Presumably she is drinking wine out of an elephants trunk and asking her mirror if she is fairer than Daenerys.
- What’s the deal with Bran? Were we supposed to know where he went when he warged off somewhere? Perhaps he decided to spend his remaining minutes in control of Hot Pie in his bakery. I’d watch that spin off.