RECAP | GAME OF THRONES season eight episode three - "The Long Night"
When the Game of Thrones producers announced a shortened final season, they promised movie-quality episodes of ‘epic proportions’ to bring the story to completion.
They delivered on that promise in “The Long Night with 82 minutes of mind spinning action, surpassing “Battle of the Bastards” of season six – both episodes directed by Miguel Sapochnik.
But let’s rewind to the start as the mighty Winterfell prepares for the final battle. For the first few minutes, there’s very little dialogue as the camera pans across Winterfell in what could be a silent farewell to some much loved characters.
On a hill top overlooking Winterfell, Jon and Daenerys also wait for the coming battle, when suddenly a figure appears on horse back: Melisandre.
Chanting an incantation in ancient Valyrian, she sets light to the swords of the Dothraki horsemen before heading into the castle, where she encounters Ser Davos.
“There’s no need to execute me, Ser Davos. I’ll be dead before the dawn.”
OK, that’s one name we can cross off ‘who will die in episode 3’ list.
The focus then shifts back to the Dothraki, who charge into battle with the direwolf Ghost running alongside Ser Jorah.
But, the Red Woman’s magic isn’t strong enough and the Dothraki war cries are replaced by an eerie silence before a few survivors stagger back to the castle.
Before long the Ice Dead are upon them in a tsunami of death. It’s unrelenting, frenetic and almost impossible to tell who has fallen.
Jon and Dany enter the fray, raining dragon-fire upon the Night King’s army. It offers only a little relief as a snow storm negates the flames and the frenzied fighting continues.
On the ramparts, Arya orders Sansa into the crypts and brooks no argument from her sister as she hands her a Dragonglass blade.
“I don’t know how to use it.”
“Stick them with the pointy end.”
Which is the sage fighting advice Jon gave Arya when he presented her with the sword, Needle.
With the Unsullied decimated by the dead, the final line of defence is a trench and the Red Woman’s magic finally succeeds allowing Dany to cast down fire from above.
Meanwhile, Sansa makes her way to the crypts, where Tyrion and Varys are hiding with the women and children, fully aware of what’s happening above their heads.
It’s here that he and Sansa properly reflect on their ‘marriage’, giving us a little respite from the carnage above them.
And it shifts from ‘what it was’ to ‘what it could have been’ and hints at what may still unfold if something should happen to Daenerys.
“Maybe we should have stayed married.”
“You were the best of them….. it wouldn’t work between us.”
“The dragon Queen. Your divided loyalties would become a problem.”
A tantalising ‘what if’ should something happen to Daenerys in the remaining episodes.
In the God’s Wood, Theon tries to apologise for what happened way back when. Bran basically tells him what he told Jaime in the episode two: without your past actions, you wouldn’t be the man you are now.
Theon’s redemption has been completed. He’s made peace with Sansa, Jon and now Bran.
With that Bran wargs into a raven and flies away as Theon continues to stand guard and wait for the inevitable.
The Night King’s army, meanwhile, flings itself at the burning trench, creating a bridge to the castle, where soon they’ll be climbing the walls and into Winterfell itself.
True to his word, Jaime is fighting with Brienne and protecting her back as the dead over run the castle and flood the keep.
Arya joins the fight, putting her spear-skills to the test. Her days could be numbered and all the while, the Hound is cowering from the flames.
He’s all but given up until he sees Arya putting up a fight and he springs into action. But, it’s Lady Lyanna Mormont he should have been looking out for.
A walking-dead giant picks her up and crushes the life out of her. But before she dies, she stabs it in the eye with Dragonglass.
So, that’s Dolorous Edd of the Night’s Watch and Lady Lyanna who’re definitely on the ‘dead list’. There will be more before the final credits roll on this episode.
In the castle, Arya is stalked by blue-eyed monsters who are swarming her home. As she runs for her life, she’s rescued by the Hound and Dondarrion, who is stabbed as he tries to hold back the horde. (Hodor anyone?)
This is where they encounter Melisandre, who all but seals Dondarrion’s fate:
“The Lord brought him back for a purpose. Now that purpose has been served.”
And delivers another veiled prophecy for Arya.
“You said we’d meet again.”
“And here we are at the end of the world.”
“You said I’d shut many eyes forever. You were right about that too.”
“Brown eyes. Green eyes. And blue eyes. What do we say to the God of Death?”
It’s a lesson learned from Jaqen H’ghar and the Faceless Men in Braavos. The Red Woman has given Arya purpose in the ongoing battle.
The battle for air supremacy continues with living dragon fighting its dead brother. They tumble and twist before the Night King is unseated and falls to the ground.
With Dany hovering above, she utters one word ‘Dracarys’ and dragon fire is unleashed. But it has no affect and the Night King survives to summon the dead on the battlefield and in crypts.
The noise of the battle is then muted as we see Jorah battle to save Dany, Tyrion and Sansa make their escape, Jaime and Brienne fight for their lives, while Theon makes a desperate one-man stand as the Night King and his henchmen arrive.
Theon knows what’s coming and bravely faces the Night King, but is impaled as he launches a desperate charge.
We can now add Theon Greyjoy to the episode three death toll.
On the burning battleground, Ser Jorah Mormont is also impaled as he tries to protect Dany. Its heartbreaking. He’d always vowed to give his life for Khaleesi and he’s done just that.
Another one for the Battle of Winterfell death toll.
And still the Night King makes his way towards Bran and as he draws his weapon to deliver the death blow, Arya springs out of nowhere.
He grabs her by the throat and it would appear she’s done for until she grabs a Dragonglass dagger and stabs him. The Night King is destroyed and his army of the dead are no more.
The Red Woman told her she’d close blue eyes as well as brown and green. It raises an interesting question: does that make Arya the ‘prince(ss) that was promised’ and possible ruler of the Seven Kingdoms?
As dawn breaks, Melisandre leaves the castle, removing the life-sustaining necklace from her throat. As it falls to the ground, she ages and collapses in a pile of dust.
The end credits roll and it would seem the threat from ‘beyond the wall’ has been dealt with. Now, we turn to the threat in the south, where Cersei remains happily ensconced at King’s Landing.
It’s been a head spin and with episode four promising to be even longer, it seems we still have a lot to resolve before the ultimate ruler of the Seven Kingdoms is revealed,