Game of Thrones: The Long Night   Show Only 
April 28, 2019 7:22 PM - Season 8, Episode 3 - Subscribe

The army of the undead arrives at Winterfell and the battle for life begins.

Directed by Miguel Sapochnik
Written by D.B. Weiss and David Benioff

Show only thread!

Game of Thrones director discusses the super-sized Battle of Winterfell
posted by Brandon Blatcher (848 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
But. But. I don’t give a shit about the actual Iron Throne.
posted by lydhre at 7:23 PM on April 28 [30 favorites]


“Not today.”
posted by Fizz at 7:24 PM on April 28 [33 favorites]


See this is why you always put points in dual wielding.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:26 PM on April 28 [50 favorites]


Arya is the true King Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
posted by nightrecordings at 7:26 PM on April 28 [17 favorites]


The knife drop callback to the spar with Brienne was satisfying. The plot armor that kept the heros alive for 10 minutes while pinned against the wall by the dead wasn't.
posted by bfranklin at 7:27 PM on April 28 [38 favorites]


Ok, I'ma need a Hunger Games-style montage of the fallen to keep track, though it looks like a lot of Our Favorites survived (I presume to die fighting Cersei's army?).

Random thoughts:
-I legit squeeled when I saw Ghost again. BUT THEN WHERE DID HE GO? Damn you, show!

-ARYA! That was more satisfying than I expected.

-LADY MORMONT. Damn you again, show.

-Loved Davos and Arya together. Davos loves the Little Ladies Who Need An Avuncular Figure in their Lives.

-I get that it probably seemed epic (and undoubtedly helped the effects budget) to do this at night, but for me, especially in the first half, it was just too much poorly-lit chaos for me to really get drawn in. I nodded off a few times. I was disappointed in how it felt. Mostly, it just felt long. And I could have used fewer cuts of Sam blubbering in fear.

-Question: why did Melisandre die? Did she feel like her job was done, or something?
posted by TwoStride at 7:27 PM on April 28 [27 favorites]


I have so many other thoughts, but first I just have to say:

Is that really how they killed off Ghost??? Because that is so, so epically lame. Ghost deserved better. He didn't even die fighting by Jon's side.

#Justice for Ghost
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:28 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


Also, is Rhaegal alive? Is Drogon alive?

(Clearly, we can see dogs and dragons >>>> humans, as far as I'm concerned.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:28 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


⅓ Pizza and blue jello smeared on a screen
⅓ “Resident Medieval”, as a friend put it
⅓ Pretty darn good
posted by oulipian at 7:29 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


The plot armor that kept the heros alive for 10 minutes while pinned against the wall by the dead wasn't.

I just assume there was some non-synchronicity occuring for my own well being and enjoyment. Figure they got pinned to the wall right before Arya went BAMF.
posted by Justinian at 7:29 PM on April 28 [11 favorites]


Okay, but Arya is awesome. As an incredibly short, petite woman myself, every time she does something epically awesome, it just warms my heart. And that flying leap, and dropping the dagger, and then stabbing it in the night king's gut was just like the most epic move ever.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:30 PM on April 28 [30 favorites]


CONFUSED SCREAMING
posted by Jacqueline at 7:30 PM on April 28 [17 favorites]


Yeah, how did Sam survive? He did, I think, but he seemed to have spent at least the last 10 minutes of the battle just lying there swarmed by zombies.
posted by the primroses were over at 7:30 PM on April 28 [17 favorites]


Also, is Rhaegal alive? Is Drogon alive?

Drogon is Dany's mount and the one we saw at the end. I think Rhaegal was killed by Viserion though I'm not sure we saw the actual death on screen.

GHOST is still alive and I will listen to no one claiming otherwise.
posted by Justinian at 7:30 PM on April 28 [11 favorites]


drogon is alive and did the sweet puppy thing of comforting Dany

that sure was a lot of expensive, glorious nonsense, huh?
posted by Kybard at 7:31 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


See my problem is that I don’t trust the show anymore. I want to think they’re being clever but I’m actually pretty sure they’re just being stupid.

Three episodes of who sits on the stupid chair is not going to do it, which means that I remain suspicious of Bran and his Night King-ness but now I fear the PLOT TWIST!!! or whatever. I don’t trust the show to not be dumb.

And speaking of dumb, wtf kind of stupid ass battle plan was that?
posted by lydhre at 7:31 PM on April 28 [17 favorites]


Listen, I thought the end of GoT was going to be a dead vs. living battle. The fact that it is going to be a battle of the living, with Cersei squaring off against Dany (+/-Sansa??) is the best outcome I could have hoped for. Queen of the fucking North, you guys.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:31 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


Confirmed Kill List:
• Theon Greyjoy
• Eddison Tollett
• Lady Mormont
• Ser Jorah Mormont
• Berric Dondarrion
• Ghost
• Dragon 2 & 3 (I can't remember their fucking names.)
• 10K+ Unsullied
posted by Fizz at 7:31 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


First thoughts:
Underwhelming overall, though individual parts were amazing (the death of Dothraki, Little Bear's exit). I had predicted the Night King would be defeated in this episode (but was oh so wrong about wights in the crypt), but the kill the king and his army literally falls apart and victory trope is so overdone, that it does a disservice to the viewers. This episode could have honestly just been an hour.

Hurray for Arya though and Bran's overall plan though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


I'm sure there will be some nitpickers coming along any minute now but I just want to point out that this was... on television. Not a two hundred million dollar feature. I don't think we've ever seen anything like that entire sequence and I doubt we will again (on the small screen.)
posted by Justinian at 7:32 PM on April 28 [66 favorites]


Also, we all knew the winterfell crypts were one giant Chekhov guns, but I wish they had gone with my idea of the zombie Starks fighting on the side of the living, because I think that would have been so much cooler. We could have seen zombie Lyanna Stark fighting for her son! Zombie Ned! Oh, the wonderful possibilities are endless.

And since that didn't happen, it just looks incredibly stupid on the part of every single character who didn't think that putting living humans in the crypt was a terrible idea without first burning the bodies.

Another thing that seems like it would have been a great idea? Dragon glass spikes across all the walls of the castle, and also facing outwards on the doors of Winterfell. Just saying.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:32 PM on April 28 [19 favorites]


• Ghost

Take it back. Immediately.
posted by Justinian at 7:32 PM on April 28 [13 favorites]


drogon is alive and did the sweet puppy thing of comforting Dany


See, I knew that was Drogon, but I wasn't completely sure whether that was a sweet comfort thing or here, let me just curl up and die next to you like Jorah just did.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:33 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


Another thing that seems like it would have been a great idea? Dragon glass spikes across all the walls of the castle, and also facing outwards on the doors of Winterfell. Just saying.

They actually did this! You could see it on the battlements last episode, and we did catch glimpses of ice zombies fragging themselves on the glass spikes this episode.
posted by Justinian at 7:34 PM on April 28 [22 favorites]


They're going to need to hire a mercenary company from Essos just to clean up zombie bodies at Winterfell dang
posted by jason_steakums at 7:34 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


i want to hire melisandre as a motivational coach
posted by lalochezia at 7:34 PM on April 28 [27 favorites]


When the hero body count was low half way through I figured the NK was toast and they were saving everyone for a human-centered rest of the series. A little cheesy but god damn my main lady with the all time, no Greatest Of All Time on screen victory.
posted by MillMan at 7:34 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


So wait, like why wasn't there a ring of fire from the get go? Oh right, drama and suspense.
posted by Fizz at 7:35 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


[Neighs Horsely]
posted by drezdn at 7:35 PM on April 28 [22 favorites]


So. Fucking. Tense.

I am done with the "here we see a shot of a character being swarmed and certainly dying" ... "and now they are miraculously alive!" shots.

I hate that they killed Lady Mormont. I love that she went out like the boss she was.

Arya FTW.
posted by jzb at 7:35 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


-Question: why did Melisandre die? Did she feel like her job was done, or something?

I'm thinking maybe she put all of her lifeforce/energy into all that fire magic or made some sort of deal with the Lord of Light, so by the end, she was just all used up. Because otherwise, that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

But can I just say I absolutely loved the moment where she lit all the Dothraki swords on fire. That was awesome.

And a super useful cinematic effect. I spent the whole episode screaming, more fire, more fire! Because otherwise I couldn't see a fucking thing, even watching this in a pitch black room with the brightness on my monitor jacked all the way up.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:35 PM on April 28 [32 favorites]


We cannot say Ghost is dead BECAUSE WE NEVER SAW HIM FIGHT.

Also, as someone who totally defended the smithing of dragonglass weapons in the premiere, I kind of take it back now because they seemed totally useless (and totally inconsistent about when they made someone kinda explode, like when Lady Mormont took out the giant) and when they just acted like a normal weapon (Arya driving her weapon up through the head of a wight). So yeah, I spent a lof the battle thinking that the should have made a dragonglass MOAT or some dragonglass grenades instead.
posted by TwoStride at 7:35 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


Looks like Bran had the better intel.
posted by drezdn at 7:35 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


litera scripta manet, I don’t think you were going to see zombie Ned what with his head being off and all that.
posted by komara at 7:36 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Confirmed Kill List:
• Theon Greyjoy
• Eddison Tollett
• Lady Mormont
• Ser Jorah Mormont
• Berric Dondarrion
• Ghost
• Dragon 2 & 3 (I can't remember their fucking names.)
• 10K+ Unsullied


To add to this:
- Melisandre
- All those Dothraki

I choose to believe Rhaegal and Ghost ran away to a farm upstate, personally. Or downstate, somewhere warm. Maybe in Essos.

Viserion was already dead, so I'm not sure we can count him as being deceased in this episode.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:37 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


I fully expect none of the Azor Ahai stuff to come up again cause ...what would be the point of creating lightbringer?

Which I kind of like cause hey maybe there are no gods, magic exists and can be used but all the rituals and superstitions and prophecy around it are just that.

So, uh I know we’ll figure out Bran’s three dimensional time lord logic soon enough but ...why become all the ravens?
posted by The Whelk at 7:38 PM on April 28 [15 favorites]


Yeah, the visual of the fireblobs of the Dothraki riding out into the darkness was awesome. Then the rest of the darkness was tiresome.

I did think they sort of wasted a creepy opportunity with the newly undead Starks in the crypts. Family reunion time? Clarify a few secrets?
posted by TwoStride at 7:38 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


So wait, like why wasn't there a ring of fire from the get go?

My retcon (though I would argue it's probably what the showrunners would claim) is that they knew they couldn't hold, they never intended to hold, and they were just trying to make it look good for the Night King so he'd pull a Red Viper on Bran in the Godswood. Which is what happened. And so they *waves hands randomly towards the screen*

Also there were too many people to fit in the castle. Though "get half of them killed outside the walls so the rest can fit" is a strategy you'd expect to find coming from a World War I general.
posted by Justinian at 7:38 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


I'm a little frustrated. The Night King was the end game. To dispatch the ever-larger looming threat in one episode and then spend three(!) episodes on the Iron Throne undermines the whole premise of the world. I thought the idea of Bran being the secret Night King was a little far-fetched before, but I am firmly on this team now.
posted by lilac girl at 7:38 PM on April 28 [15 favorites]


I also really loved that moment between Sansa and Tyrion in the crypt, when they pulled out their daggers, and he kissed her hand.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:38 PM on April 28 [64 favorites]


Finally an episode with the visual clarity of Blair witch project... God that sucked.

God

That

Sucked
posted by French Fry at 7:38 PM on April 28 [20 favorites]


Did we see Gilly and baby Sam at the end there? I was too busy hyperventilating to really focus.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:39 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


Why did Bran warg the ravens?
posted by drezdn at 7:40 PM on April 28 [19 favorites]


Also, I loved how the Hound was having a major PTSD flashback moment, until Beric pointed out Arya being a fucking badass, and then he finally stowed his shit to protect her. My heart grew ten sizes in that scene.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:40 PM on April 28 [44 favorites]


Why did Bran warg the ravens?

Why does Bran do anything? Because he fucking could.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:41 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


Melisandre lived long beyond her natural lifespan for a purpose. That purpose is done and now she can die.

I'm a little frustrated. The Night King was the end game. To dispatch the ever-larger looming threat in one episode and then spend three(!) episodes on the Iron Throne undermines the whole premise of the world. I thought the idea of Bran being the secret Night King was a little far-fetched before, but I am firmly on this team now.

The idea that even in a world where there are literal zombie hordes, the real evil is abusive, evil human beings using power to enrich themselves and brutalize the masses is, uh, not really a step away from the themes of this series.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:41 PM on April 28 [74 favorites]




Looks like Arya's ninja classes paid off.
posted by Fizz at 7:42 PM on April 28 [18 favorites]


I just have so many feelings, you guys! And seriously, I'm choosing to believe Rhaegal and Ghost are alive. Until we see a dead body, they are still alive. Just like Syrio Forel. *sob*
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:42 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


Oh--and I can't believe I'm typing this--I was totally hoping for some "what is dead may never die" surprise survival for Theon.

I admit, I had a brief moment when I thought that Tyrion and Sansa were going to kill themselves and I thought THAT would have been a ginormous, epic surprise.
posted by TwoStride at 7:42 PM on April 28 [22 favorites]


Team Justinian. I know it's The Thing now to watch Game of Thrones only to talk about how much Game of Thrones sucks but that episode made me actually sick to my stomach with anxiety the entire way through. I didn't even finish my drink. I'm going to have to stay up for another half hour just to return my blood pressure to normal.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:43 PM on April 28 [16 favorites]


Also Jon standing up to the dragon only for it to crumble into dust really puts me in mind of Rick Moranis at the end of Ghostbusters 2, shooting a proton pack briefly at the slime covering the museum just as the Ghostbusters are banishing Vigo, and when the slime dissipates excitedly shouting "I did it!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:43 PM on April 28 [20 favorites]


But she didn't use her spear did she? She lost that earlier, I think. I also liked the reveal that what she had Gendry build her was a dragon glass spear version of that stupid stick from the Faceless men training. I like to imagine every time she used it, she pictured the Waif's face on each zombie she killed.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:43 PM on April 28 [22 favorites]


like when Lady Mormont took out the giant) and when they just acted like a normal weapon (Arya driving her weapon up through the head of a wight)

I think this is entirely a budgetary issue. The "falling into ice pieces" costs fx budget, getting stabbed is much cheaper. Really I think that explains it entirely. Since almost everybody was using a dragon glass weapon it would have meant thousands and thousands of exploding ice zombies.
posted by Justinian at 7:45 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


Arya stabbed him with the knife that was used to try to kill Bran. The knife he gave her. (Catspaw)
posted by drezdn at 7:45 PM on April 28 [50 favorites]


Rhaegal and Ghost are alive or I am done with this show

STOP KILLING THE GOOD CHARACTERS
(aka the animal companions)
posted by schroedinger at 7:45 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Arya!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's all I have to say.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:45 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


All y'all got Ghost
But my Brienne and Jaime lives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by facehugger at 7:45 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Arya icing the Night King ruins my Cleganebowl theory. I was figuring on the Mountain wrecking the Hound, then Arya finishing the Mountain. Seems a little over the top, even for murderqueen.
posted by bfranklin at 7:45 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


Re killing the Night King, Arya lost her special spear when she ended up being chased into the library. After that it was just weapons she picked up and, I think, maybe her Valeryan steel dagger?
posted by TwoStride at 7:46 PM on April 28


There's stuff that could have been better. But having Arya (and to a lesser extent Bran) deal the blow, not the dragon riders, made me so. Fucking. Happy.
posted by ghost phoneme at 7:46 PM on April 28 [17 favorites]


Valyrian steel fucks up wights and White Walkers- it's the long-forgotten reason why it was invented in the first place.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:46 PM on April 28 [11 favorites]


Okay, I had some nitpicks, and I can't say I enjoyed that episode, because I felt like I might vomit from anxiety for a lot of it, but overall, it was incredibly tense, and it had some really beautifully shot scenes. (I think. It was all very, very dark.)

And there's nothing I love more than seeing dragons fighting in battle. That was super awesome.

Also, Drogon is such a badass too. He deserves major credit for knocking the Night King off his dragon.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:46 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


Admittedly, she did not use the spear. She used the tiny dagger. Which is better.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:47 PM on April 28


They didn’t lift the fire most until everyone was inside, fire is a limited resource, and they couldn’t light it when they wanted cause the blizzard was putting out all their fire arrows, requiring Mel’s magic to lit it up.
posted by The Whelk at 7:48 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


See this is why you always put points in dual wielding.

The D&D recap is gonna be lit.
posted by Justinian at 7:48 PM on April 28 [15 favorites]


Re killing the Night King, Arya lost her special spear when she ended up being chased into the library. After that it was just weapons she picked up and, I think, maybe her Valeryan steel dagger?

I think she gave that dagger to Sansa when telling Sansa to go to the crypts. I'm guessing it was just a dagger that she picked up.

I've never loved Melisandre more than I did in this episode.* What do we say to the god of death, indeed.

*Okay, I've never particularly liked Melisandre, period. And much like Davos, I could never forgive her for Shireen, but I still cheered for her a lot in this episode.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:49 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


And there's nothing I love more than seeing dragons fighting in battle. That was super awesome.

My biggest complaint here is the scene where the Night King on Viserion is attacking Danerys on Drogon- the NK is chasing Dany and she's fleeing and dodging, and Jon is, uh, well he's not following and blasting the shit out of Viserion, because he's too busy being out of frame and therefore forgotten by the show. Flanking is something literally everybody who's ever been in a fight of any kind can tell you is a good move, and he's not even trying, he just doesn't exist at all in the narrative until the camera is ready to go back to him.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:49 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


She used the tiny dagger I guess we could say, she used... the pointy end. *sunglasses on, sees self out*
posted by TwoStride at 7:49 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


On the one hand, bits and pieces of that were awesome. On the other hand, meh? Even though I buy the comment upthread that "the real evil lurked in the hearts of humanity all along" is on-theme, it still feels anticlimactic to do the big giant Death Zombie Battle tonight, and then give us three more weeks of Logistically Implausible Ships Doing Logistically Implausible Ship Things.

Do we know anything about the book Arya picked up in the library? Must have been at least somewhat important to risk all that Splinter Cell gameplay for.

I'm really hoping we're not done with Bran/The Lord of Light/The Children of the Forest. If all the mythos went into this fight and the rest of it is 100% Cersei being shitty, then.. meh? I mean I want to see Cersei get her comeuppance as much as anyone, but.. meh?
posted by Alterscape at 7:50 PM on April 28 [14 favorites]


Well, that was a lot of expensively shot darkness. Did the section where John was trying to get through the castle to Bran, but was stopped by the dragon, while sad piano music played, remind anyone else of the Gears of War Mad World trailer?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:51 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


Why did Bran warg the ravens?

Why does Bran do anything? Because he fucking could.


"Because I got high..."
posted by Fizz at 7:51 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


I don't think Arya went there for the book- unless I'm mistaken, she just picked it up so she could throw it and cause a distraction so she could slip out.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:51 PM on April 28 [19 favorites]


I quite enjoyed the soundtrack.
posted by mephisjo at 7:51 PM on April 28 [14 favorites]


This episode was A LOT, but I was worried it was going to be even more over-the-top self-indulgent when it started on a long take following Sam and then Tyrion, I thought maybe they were going to try to not only have the biggest battle ever but also make it an episode length oner.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:51 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


But my Brienne and Jaime lives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes!!! That made me so, so, so fucking happy. And Pod lives too, I think????

But did Tormund survive? I know he was still around towards the end, but man, it was dark, and again, I was kind of freaking out for most of the episode.

And towards the end, I was freaking out because I thought, oh shit, what if they end on some stupid cliffhanger??? Glad they didn't go that route.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:51 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


This episode is like skipping all the homework but acing the final.. you still get a D but way to do that one thing well.
Why did it look like shit? Seriously why?
Why piano??? PIANO ????
Why is being at the bottom of a zombie pig pile not leathal in the last 30minutes???
posted by French Fry at 7:52 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


litera scripta manet, I don’t think you were going to see zombie Ned what with his head being off and all that.

I kind of figured they would have sewn him back together before putting him in the crypts.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:52 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


Good catch PG, I think you're right. On the down side, that's even less interesting whatnot to be revealed next week, unless Bran turns out to be evil, or it's necessary for Arya to kill The First Ones Bran so that we can begin the Third Age of Mankind, or something like that.
posted by Alterscape at 7:52 PM on April 28


Or he could have been like the headless horseman, and carried his head in one hand. That would have been fun too.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:52 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


I'm anxious for Tormund to survive, too. We definitely saw Pod next to Brienne at the end.

I know this isn't Pern, but damn I was so distracted watching the dragonfight thinking that Dany and Jon should have invested in some kind of harness for hanging on.
posted by TwoStride at 7:53 PM on April 28 [14 favorites]


On first watch I thought Arya dropped the knife and Bran caught it to deliver the final death shank. That would have been a nice call-back to "The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives."

Still not buying that Arya was able to run through all of those wights without being detected though.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 7:53 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


This episode is like skipping all the homework but acing the final.. you still get a D but way to do that one thing well.

It was the Quidditch of battle strategies.
posted by Justinian at 7:55 PM on April 28 [23 favorites]


I once made a joke about Jorah being the Eponine of the show and yeah.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:55 PM on April 28 [25 favorites]


On the one hand, bits and pieces of that were awesome. On the other hand, meh? Even though I buy the comment upthread that "the real evil lurked in the hearts of humanity all along" is on-theme, it still feels anticlimactic to do the big giant Death Zombie Battle tonight, and then give us three more weeks of Logistically Implausible Ships Doing Logistically Implausible Ship Things.

See, I guess I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I think this all should have happened in S7, because I've enjoyed the show the most when it's not focusing on zombie apocalypse. I don't care so much about who is on the iron throne, but the human moments and politics and all that are what got me invested in the first place.

On the other hand, in recent seasons, they've done a pretty crappy job at handling all of that, so I shouldn't get my hopes up too high, I suppose.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:56 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


If Arya got to kill the Night King -- and I was happy enough for that! -- I think Sansa should get to smile coolly at Cersei and poison her tea.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:57 PM on April 28 [40 favorites]


I also thought the Red Woman's death was a bit random. Maybe she never quite got over her failure with Stannis; with the Night King dead (...I presume; I'm also not sure it isn't Bran, TBH), Westeros is saved and nothing stands between the North and King's Landing, and whoever wins, it won't be her dude. I guess her time was over.

And maybe the time of magic is ending in Westeros again as well? If I remember the lore properly, magic began to creep back in in a big way with the birth of the three baby dragons. But the dragons are dying out fast, and the evil magic the Night King represents is vanquished. Maybe the Lord of Light is also slipping away. That could be why Melisandre couldn't summon the fire at first.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:57 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


We've rewatched the previous two episodes immediately after they ended, but for this one I'm like "eh, my eyes hurt from squinting in the darkness, is there any pie left?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


I watched this in a pitch black room with my laptop shoved hard up against my face. It looked very pretty. And tense as hell. I thought it was as good as it was likely to be. The worst part was the egregious plot armor that the characters on the walls had, but that's a relatively minor quibble.

The idea that even in a world where there are literal zombie hordes, the real evil is abusive, evil human beings using power to enrich themselves and brutalize the masses is, uh, not really a step away from the themes of this series.

Also, the Night King is boring. Bran is boring. The show has not shown much interest at all in explicating what the hell Bran is, and has not seemed interested in trying to tease out magic and/or prophesy rules. So Arya shanking the Night's King with a steel blade that we know can kill White Walkers? It's one of the few things that would really be explainable in the context of the show and also be a character moment.

Jon is, uh, well he's not following and blasting the shit out of Viserion,

It was never explained how much control Jon even had over his mount. Neither of them seem to be psychic, he doesn't have Dany's bond with them, so... Targaryen blood something something? Him not being very useful on a dragon isn't super surprising, is all I'm saying. He's not exactly had that much practice.

Still not buying that Arya was able to run through all of those wights without being detected though.

She was trained by the faceless men. She's more or less silent, and she also has a perfect knowledge of Winterfell. It's literally her home turf, she's probably climbed over every inch of it as a kid. I buy it entirely.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:57 PM on April 28 [66 favorites]


Also, what is it about the direwolves that they all get the worst deaths ever? Lady killed by Ned for terrible reasons, Grey Wind shot in a wooden crate at the red wedding, Summer killed in a pile of zombies (off screen basically), Shaggy Dog beheaded by Ramsay goons off screen, and Ghost...

Flew away on Rhaegal, and is going to go live his best life somewhere warm.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:57 PM on April 28 [11 favorites]


Oh! In an ill-fated attempt to make myself believe that the giant supernatural what-the-what story isn't entirely dropped here (well, aside from Euron's clearly-magical ships): Wonder what the remaining Death Pixies Childen of the Forest are going to get up to, now that their misbehaving superweapon has been neutralized and their free land north of what used to be the Wall is no longer in magically-imposed eternal winter? I imagine they're still not great fans of the First Men, so.. maybe this plays into whatever's left with Chekhov's Three-Eyed Raven.

Oh, and also: yes! why was Jon sitting on his dragon on the wall doing nothing while the archers tried and failed to light the trench-o-pointy-trees. Agree that "flanking" is a tactic, y'all.
posted by Alterscape at 7:58 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


I kind of figured they would have sewn him back together before putting him in the crypts.

I don't think we know that Ned's bones made it back to Winterfell. We know they were sent but the Ironborn were holding the Neck at the Time and Riverrun was taken by the Frey's and so on. Someone with more knowledge can correct me if I'm wrong but AFAIK the fate of Ned's bones is still unresolved.
posted by Justinian at 7:58 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


Ghost is off to reunite with Nymeria!
posted by TwoStride at 7:59 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


I have a million thoughts, and generally loved this (well for a certain definition of "love" where I was tense as hell next to a gf reminding me how much she hates horror movies) but I feel like Melisandre is very aware of R'hllor's guidance and that she had been kept alive (by her charm) long enough to serve this purpose, as Beric had been kept alive long enough to make sure Arya didn't get got.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:59 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


No real emotional arcs for most of the main characters, lots of repetitive scenes, an indoor zombie sneaking scene that felt really out of place...last thing I expected was to often be bored by this episode but there it is. I was often bored by this episode.
posted by mediareport at 7:59 PM on April 28 [19 favorites]


So almost all the Dothraki are dead right? And most of the Unsullied? There are a surprising number of named characters still around, but how many survivors are there supposed to be?
posted by the primroses were over at 8:01 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


My biggest complaint here is the scene where the Night King on Viserion is attacking Danerys on Drogon- the NK is chasing Dany and she's fleeing and dodging, and Jon is, uh, well he's not following and blasting the shit out of Viserion, because he's too busy being out of frame and therefore forgotten by the show. Flanking is something literally everybody who's ever been in a fight of any kind can tell you is a good move, and he's not even trying, he just doesn't exist at all in the narrative until the camera is ready to go back to him.

Well, he's only ridden a dragon once before, and Rhaegal had gotten beat up on a fair amount, and Drogon was always the biggest and strongest of the dragons, not to mention they are fighting in this horifically windy shit storm, so it's not that surprising. What they should have done is armed Jon with a spear, so that he could have just shoved it or thrown it at Viserion.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:01 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Litera Scripta Manet, the thing is, I pretty much agree with you re: the human stuff being somewhat more interesting. It just seems ridiculous to build up All! That! Mythos! and just do nothing with it, although I suppose "well actually the mythos didn't matter" would be in keeping with GRRM's genre busting.
posted by Alterscape at 8:02 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


The Red Woman believes she was put on this path by the Red God, and survived in order to kill the Night King. Like she said to Beric- he was brought back for a purpose, and now his purpose is done. Her purpose was done, too. She was very, very old.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:02 PM on April 28 [15 favorites]


Also, what is it about the direwolves that they all get the worst deaths ever?

I always figured the direwolves were supposed to be an indication that the Stark kids were Chosen by Fate and had a Special Purpose, and that much of the point of the earlier books is that GRRM thinks that kind of stuff is bollocks.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:02 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


And yeah, the ending felt a little anticlimatic, but that was sort of baked into the DNA of this episode. Basically, the side of the living was either all going to die, or you were going to end up with someone killing the night king and poof everyone is saved. I'd rather the latter than the former, personally.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:03 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


I kinda feel like I can’t really judge this episode (except for the lighting) until I’ve seen the rest of the season.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:03 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


Huh. That episode of Barry was a suitably 100%-action-packed followup. Score one for network synergy.

Now I’m all amped up for an equally bananas episode of Veep.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:05 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


I'm not feeling like I can really finalize the Dead Pool yet. We saw a lot of people in dire circumstances, and we didn't see them die, but we didn't see them not die either.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:06 PM on April 28


I love that the threat of Dany bringing a Dothraki horde across the narrow sea was like the biggest deal from the very beginning and they were total jobbers when it came down to it.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:06 PM on April 28 [18 favorites]


I always figured the direwolves were supposed to be an indication that the Stark kids were Chosen by Fate and had a Special Purpose, and that much of the point of the earlier books is that GRRM thinks that kind of stuff is bollocks.

Oh, I dunno. There's definitely gods and fate and stuff. But no guarantees.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:07 PM on April 28


I did like that melisandre had a dramatic entrance, did two big splashy things with fire that did not help, said some spooky shit, then noped out into the cold damatically. All very on brand.
posted by French Fry at 8:07 PM on April 28 [102 favorites]


In the after episode commentary by D&D, one of them mentions how Dany fucked up the plan they had after she saw all the Dothraki killed. Evidently, she and Jon were supposed to wait, but she took off after seeing her people killed and Jon felt he had to follow suit.

That was shocking unclear in the actual episode though.

And no dear reader, there was no pie left.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:07 PM on April 28 [25 favorites]


I always figured the direwolves were supposed to be an indication that the Stark kids were Chosen by Fate and had a Special Purpose, and that much of the point of the earlier books is that GRRM thinks that kind of stuff is bollocks.

But there is a lot of symbolism to the direwolves, and their lives and deaths are sort of mirrors for their chosen Stark sibling.

- Sansa sort of sheds her Stark identity and heritage (for a time) so her direwolf dies first)
- Grey Wind is butchered just like Robb is, essentially
- Rickon is a literally shaggy dog story
- Summer is killed by Winter, pretty literally, and also, Summer dies just as Bran sheds his Brandon Stark identity and becomes the 3 Eyed Raven
- Nymeria goes off and creates her own wolf pack, thus rejecting the role originally planned for her, much like Arya did.
- And Ghost rode a dragon to safety, just like Jon did sort of.

Or maybe Ghost will be resurrected, just like Jon was! Maybe Melisandre died to bring Ghost and Rhaegal back to life.

Okay, clearly I need to go get some air or something. I think spending the last two hours in a pitch black room, glued to my computer screen has warped my brain a little.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:08 PM on April 28 [20 favorites]


although I suppose "well actually the mythos didn't matter" would be in keeping with GRRM's genre busting.

I honestly don't know whether GRRM intended the politicking to be seen as a distraction from the real threat (which some have called a metaphor for climate change) or whether the ice zombie thing is a typical fantasy trope and GRRM was saying that the true evil was inside us all along!

And I don't think GRRM knows either anymore. But since he ended up not writing it he doesn't get a vote! Sorry GRRM.
posted by Justinian at 8:08 PM on April 28 [18 favorites]


In honor of Brienne and Jaime surviving, I'm going to link to my favorite fanfic concerning them. Maybe reading it can hopefully help people decompress and chill out, because I for one am going to walk to the corner store across the street to shake out the adrenaline.

I will be buying bananas for the potassium.
posted by facehugger at 8:08 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


Why did Bran warg the ravens?

I think I figured it out.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:08 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


I loved it. It was super tense. A bit predictable and too dark to see, but it was a great television.
posted by about_time at 8:09 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


Also I thought this episode was terrifying and that throng of zombie bodies was downright nightmarish. The character beats were cheesy at times but at least they were also satisfying, which is the most I expected after the Hodor nonsense last season.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:09 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


I did like that melisandre had a dramatic entrance, did two big splashy things with fire that did not help, said some spooky shit, then noped out into the cold damatically. All very on brand.

To be fair, she did basically single handedly get Arya back into her fighting spirit, launching her on her quest to kill the Night King, so that seemed pretty important to the ultimate outcome of the battle.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:09 PM on April 28 [25 favorites]


I'm not sure if I'm happy that I was right or annoyed that it was so predictable.
posted by octothorpe at 8:11 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


Bran pulls a total Mueller.
posted by srboisvert at 8:11 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


In honor of Brienne and Jaime surviving, I'm going to link to my favorite fanfic concerning them. Maybe reading it can hopefully help people decompress and chill out, because I for one am going to walk to the corner store across the street to shake out the adrenaline.

You are doing the Lord (of Light)'s work. Thank you!
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:11 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


In the after episode commentary by D&D, one of them mentions how Dany fucked up the plan they had after she saw all the Dothraki killed. Evidently, she and Jon were supposed to wait, but she took off after seeing her people killed and Jon felt he had to follow suit.

That was shocking unclear in the actual episode though.


There was a bit of dialogue where Jon tried to stop her by saying the Night King hadn't arrived yet and she went anyway saying that the dead were already here. Parallels of Ramsay baiting Jon into charging by killing Rickon in front of him. Seems like Dany and Jon deserve eachother.

Maybe... maybe that's the Targaryen in them? Or am I reading too much into it.
posted by Justinian at 8:11 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


Jon didn't flank the ice dragon because he has ridden a dragon about once.

Still not buying that Arya was able to run through all of those wights without being detected though.

She dodged dozens of them in the castle. And all of the wights were focused on Bran and the Night King. I'm surprised that no one thought to have a whole bunch of archers hidden in the weirwood tree.

And even though I would have liked to see Lyanna Mormont live past the end of the show, I'll forgive her buying it because she went out so hard.

Overall, pretty great, although the huge casualties make me wonder what they're going to pull in the final three. Arya can ninja into the Red Keep, and maybe Varys can bring back some of his little birds to the good side, but...?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:11 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


[Neighs Horsely]

This was a literal, actual caption during the episode, for those that don't habitually watch everything with captions on.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:11 PM on April 28 [73 favorites]


But, of course, there's always

C L E G A N E B O W L

get hype!
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:12 PM on April 28 [28 favorites]


It seems like they could have had Arya drop from the big tree onto the Night King instead of somehow running past eleventy undead who were standing right behind him, watching his back.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:12 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


And yes, I'm fucking ecstatic that Jaime and Brienne survived. Even if they don't survive to the end of the series, just to know we will get some more scenes with the two of them together (and I'm rooting for some steamy clothing optional scenes personally) makes me exceedingly happy.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:13 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


Also, Cleganebowl confirmed! It's gonna happen.
posted by Justinian at 8:13 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Oh Halloween Jack, great minds.
posted by Justinian at 8:13 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


That had to be the longest tv show with no dialogue, ever.
posted by valkane at 8:14 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


Also, I have to say that it was truly painful for me to see Winterfell (the literal castle) getting so destroyed. We've spent a lot of time there, and it has so much symbolism for the show and characters, that seeing it get seriously wrecked was very sad. I mean, I know they'll rebuild it, but still.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:14 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


> That had to be the longest tv show with no dialogue, ever.

Beating out Bojack Horseman's underwater episode.

I thought that Arya did jump out of a tree?
posted by about_time at 8:15 PM on April 28


I'm sticking to my long-ago prediction that Arya will use Littlefinger's face in some way when it comes time to do some dispatchin' in Kings Landing.
posted by TwoStride at 8:15 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


I actually think the surviving couples makes the end game more interesting. We have Gendry (who has one of the best claims to the throne) and Ayra who killed the fucking Night King; they're now shipteasing us Tyrion and Sansa, and that handkiss was the romance she's wanted her whole fucking life, with Sansa being the clear Queen in the North who wants independence for her people. Jon and Dany, of course, who both have claims. I'm curious to see what happens.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:16 PM on April 28 [35 favorites]


Listen, Ghost lives. But the idea that Bran “is” the Night King remains very silly to me and I wish I could make a predictit bet on it.
posted by dis_integration at 8:16 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


I'm not saying it was awful, but lord was it at least 15 minutes too long. The slow walk to Bran was absurd, and the 10+ minutes of heroes about to die but very slowly was stupid.
posted by tocts at 8:16 PM on April 28 [13 favorites]


Huh. That episode of Barry was a suitably 100%-action-packed followup. Score one for network synergy. Now I’m all amped up for an equally bananas episode of Veep.

Sys Rq, will you be facing 4 straight hours of HBO-money-adrenaline-rides??? I can get you some aspirin from the corner store.
posted by facehugger at 8:17 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


I did like that melisandre had a dramatic entrance, did two big splashy things with fire that did not help, said some spooky shit, then noped out into the cold damatically. All very on brand.

Also, Bran just chilling and warging the whole time to no apparent effect: extremely on-Bran-d.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:18 PM on April 28 [68 favorites]


I really do think the only reason Bran warged into the ravens was to give the show a reason to put the camera on the Night King flying around.

and I would have been totally okay with the camera just ending up on the Night King anyway, like, without having to have a character warg about to do it.

I'm sure the explanation is something like he wanted to keep eyes on the battle as a whole or see how close the Night King was getting but ...
posted by komara at 8:18 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


Did Gendry for sure live? I think I'm going to have to go and re-watch, because there was a lot of chaos there at the end.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:19 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Also, I've kind of hated Theon for a lot of this show, but I loved him in this episode.

It's also funny to see that Bran can choose to act like a decent human being when he puts his mind to it, so I can't help but feel him being creepy robo Bran the rest of the time is a choice. Meera deserved better.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:20 PM on April 28 [29 favorites]


I bet 1 million US dollars no one who didn't get a slow motion death scene with ALL THE PIANO is dead. All the not seen deaths aren't deaths, they're all fine.
posted by French Fry at 8:21 PM on April 28 [17 favorites]


Seen on twitter:
DAVOS: okay what's everyone's plan for the big battle?
JON SNOW: I'm gonna see how high the dragon can fly
DAVOS: ...
JON: Bet it can almost touch the moon
posted by Justinian at 8:21 PM on April 28 [38 favorites]


I'm betting Gendry lives because as stated up thread, that gives a final Baratheon a claim to the throne...
posted by TwoStride at 8:22 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying it was awful, but lord was it at least 15 minutes too long.

Fifteen minutes too long?! There's half an hour of content here at most, the rest is basically watching Plants Vs Zombies, except the zombies here have less personality.
posted by FallowKing at 8:23 PM on April 28 [13 favorites]


As a person who reread Lord of the Rings on a near annual basis throughout my childhood, I was extremely ready to assume Bran was warging out specifically to attract the Night King, put-on-the-one-ring style. But then the show did not go there, because why bother.

He could have at least smacked him in the face with a raven.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:24 PM on April 28 [25 favorites]


It's kind of nuts that this battle for all civilization and life in the world went totally unnoticed by pretty much everybody but the northerners. Now watch literally nobody south of the Twins believe a word of it and the Citadel sweep it under the rug.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:26 PM on April 28 [27 favorites]



In the after episode commentary by D&D, one of them mentions how Dany fucked up the plan they had after she saw all the Dothraki killed. Evidently, she and Jon were supposed to wait, but she took off after seeing her people killed and Jon felt he had to follow suit.

That was shocking unclear in the actual episode though.


GF definitely shouted "dammit, Dany, stick to the plan!" there, but I didn't get it myself.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:26 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


An hour+ of zombies jumping on people was a bit much. At least the bits where everything was on fire were a bit better lit.
posted by ubersturm at 8:28 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


I am an arya stan and have been since she first picked up a sword so this episode was not a wash for me but it was pure fan service for a lot. Oh well, off to go see Avengers Endgame!
posted by dis_integration at 8:30 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


I am 100% willing for Dany to die if it means Sansa and Tyrion get a happily ever after. I've always hoped they would somehow get back together, and they had mad chemistry this episode.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:30 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


litera scripta manet, Alterscape, and PhoBWanKenobi, one reason I'm so hype for Brienne and Jaime surviving is because it seems like they're one of the few relationships left that D&D still know how to write thrilling character beats for. After last week's episode, I'm (slightly more) confident that wherever/however they go with the relationship, it will make the last episodes left still moving, still powerful.

I really should leave to get those bananas...
posted by facehugger at 8:30 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


I still don't know how Tormund possibly survived the fall of the Wall with the way it was shot, dude's unkillable.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:30 PM on April 28


I think it did have to go extra long. They couldn't finish off that storyline without a big finish. I mean there is only NK and the iron throne.
posted by about_time at 8:31 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


I really, really, really enjoyed the episode, guys.

I loved Melisandre turning into dust while facing dawn, and when she said Valar morghulis to Greyworm, and he said Valar dohaeris back I may have shrieked. I loved Assassin's Creed in the library. I loved the crypt doors staying barred against desperate shrieking soldiers. I loved Danerys weeping over Jorah with Drogon curled around her (and how even then, she wouldn't kiss Jorah). I love Tyrion and Sansa behind a crypt, and the look of respect on Tyrion's face when Sansa pulls out her little dagger. I don't know how Varys was keeping those people safe in an alcove.

I may have spent like, five sold minutes yelling to Mr. Machine about THAT'S NOT HOW YOU USE LIGHT CAVALRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT'S NOT HOW YOU USE SKILLED HEAVY INFANTRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But my God, the thrill of the zombies swarming Drogon was fucking SOMETHING.

Neither Rhaegal nor Ghost are dead until I see their bodies, and have it confirmed by on-screen dialogue.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:32 PM on April 28 [56 favorites]


I totally thought the dead coming back in the crypts wouldn't work, 'cause it was pointless and didn't make much sense. Then they DO and it was still pointless and didn't make much sense. I suppose it forced Tyrion and Sansa together a bit, so there's that, but otherwise not much. I guess it gave some special effects artists some work, so...okay?

Really loved the image of the Dothraki dying from their flames going out, that was a brilliant visual. And Little Bear went out exactly how I'd want her to go, if she had to go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:32 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


> I loved Danerys weeping over Jorah with Drogon curled around her (and how even then, she wouldn't kiss Jorah).

Yeah my wife and I talked about how if that was the last thing he saw before dying? Khaleesi crying over him? he probably died a happy man.

> And Little Bear went out exactly how I'd want her to go, if she had to go.

shame they used that scene of her opening her zombie eyes only to tug at our heartstrings before dusting her along with the rest of the dead a few minutes later with no scenes of her eating anyone's throats or whatever.
posted by komara at 8:34 PM on April 28 [17 favorites]


because if anyone could eat some throats it's Lyanna Mormont
posted by komara at 8:35 PM on April 28 [38 favorites]


Tough night for the Mormonts.
posted by jeoc at 8:35 PM on April 28 [44 favorites]


And while I really enjoyed Arya killing the Night King, I think it would have felt less anticlimatic if there had been an actual fight there or at least a bit more build up. Like, I think my ideal way to go would have been to have Jon fighting it out with the Night King for a little bit (also because I enjoy a good sword fight, and the zombies don't actually fight so much as just swarm their opponents like a horde of undead locusts), but also to build up the suspense of that sequence a bit more, and then, just as we think Jon is about to bite it, have Arya launch herself at the Night King and kill him just like she ultimately did.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:35 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


Poochie Bran: I have to go now. My planet needs me.
posted by logicpunk at 8:36 PM on April 28 [18 favorites]


Tough night for the Mormonts.

So are there any Mormonts left now or is the house officially wiped out? Glover and Umber houses are gone too, right? Also Boltons, but screw them, no one cares. I guess the male branch of Frey house has also been wiped out thanks to Arya mostly.

Also, did we see the Knights of the Vale at all in this episode?
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:38 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


One other thing that did bug me:

Could they really not spare say 20 Unsullied or something like that to guard the crypts (from the inside)? Or maybe there were guards there and I just missed it?
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:39 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


So it seems that the night king gave power to the tall frozen guys on horses? And the TFGoH were able to animate the dead? The NK and the guys didn't do any fighting at all. They were just his posse I guess.
posted by about_time at 8:41 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


So are there any Mormonts left now or is the house officially wiped out? Glover and Umber houses are gone too, right? Also Boltons, but screw them, no one cares. I guess the male branch of Frey house has also been wiped out thanks to Arya mostly.

What I'm hearing is "a whole lot of real estate just opened up for Tormund and the Free Folk"
posted by jason_steakums at 8:42 PM on April 28 [35 favorites]


Ok one last remark: having tried riding one of those bucking broncos at a bar once before I just want to emphasize that Jon and Dany clearly have special Targaryen skill bonuses that give them +99 strength and agility while riding a Dragon. Like it just is not possible that Jon stayed on that Dragon during the dragon-fight.
posted by dis_integration at 8:42 PM on April 28 [11 favorites]


I totally thought the dead coming back in the crypts wouldn't work, 'cause it was pointless and didn't make much sense. Then they DO and it was still pointless and didn't make much sense. I suppose it forced Tyrion and Sansa together a bit, so there's that, but otherwise not much. I guess it gave some special effects artists some work, so...okay?

Yeah, but I feel like you could have gotten that scene with Tyrion and Sansa anyway, by showing the zombies on the verge of breaking down the doors to the crypt.

Considering how little consequence re-animating the zombies in the crypts actually was, I think it would have been better if they just skipped it. It was also way too telegraphed last episode.

So it seems that the night king gave power to the tall frozen guys on horses?

Do you mean the white walkers? I guess they are sort of like the Night King's body guards/generals. Also, as far as we know, their ranks seem to be largely made up of Craster's sons, right?
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:43 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


Could they really not spare say 20 Unsullied or something like that to guard the crypts (from the inside)? Or maybe there were guards there and I just missed it?

Nope, nobody considered the dead coming back to life within the crypts. By nobody, I mean all the damn characters, yet most of the internet thought it was a bad idea.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


DAVOS: okay what's everyone's plan for the big battle?
JON SNOW: I'm gonna see how high the dragon can fly
DAVOS: ...
JON: Bet it can almost touch the moon


Davos would respect that.
posted by drezdn at 8:45 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


Ok one last remark: having tried riding one of those bucking broncos at a bar once before I just want to emphasize that Jon and Dany clearly have special Targaryen skill bonuses that give them +99 strength and agility while riding a Dragon. Like it just is not possible that Jon stayed on that Dragon during the dragon-fight.

Yeah, trying to stay on a horse that is bucking and rearing and whatnot is challenging enough. Also, try staying on a horse that is falling itself. Not so easy. And at least with a horse, you have a saddle and your legs can wrap around the horse to grip. Also, if you are only riding a horse for the second time ever, if that horse bucks, you are going to go flying. I'm pretty sure we've discussed in previous episode threads how they just short have invented some sort of harness/saddle thing for the dragons so that there would be something to hold on to. Tyrion invented a saddle for Bran. Why not do the same for Dany and Drogon?

Also, up in the clouds like that with that Night King made wind storm, shouldn't Dany and Jon just been frozen to death? They don't even have goggles.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:47 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


From r/asoiaf

---

I thought bran was gonna have a bomb with dragon glass rigged to his chair and we would have a gus fring situation on our hands

[DRAGONGLASS BELL SOUNDS INTENSIFY]




With the Dark Lord dead we can use the last few episodes to go over Dany's tax policy. Just as GRRM would have wanted.

Three extended episodes of describing feasts. The true GRRM ending



posted by lalochezia at 8:48 PM on April 28 [42 favorites]


Nope, nobody considered the dead coming back to life within the crypts. By nobody, I mean all the damn characters, yet most of the internet thought it was a bad idea.

Oh, I totally get that the characters didn't expect the people in the crypts to come back to life, even though that is a giant fucking plot hole that bugs me a lot. My point was that in the event that the army of the dead got the doors to the crypts open, it seems like you would want someone there to defend the people in the crypts (and at least give them a running head start).

I also was assuming that the crypts had a secret way out of Winterfell. So if there were guards, it might give some of the people in the crypt enough of a head start that they could get away.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:49 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


You know, Bran does have arms that work. No one thought, hey, maybe give him a dragonglass spear or sword or something.

And you know, even if you aren't going to put guards in the crypts, maybe give them some weapons at least? Again, not because of the dead being re-animated. But just in case any zombies got through.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:50 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Also, before sending in the Dothraki, shouldn't they have fired a lot more of those flaming cannonball things? Those seemed like a great idea. Or maybe the idea was without the Dothraki, they couldn't have seen how to aim them.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:53 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Why even send out the dothraki? It's not like the NK was using a siege strategy; he was coming to them. Which leads me to ask... shouldn't the NK have used a siege strategy? It's not like his army needed food. He's waited thousands of years already, what's a few months?
posted by about_time at 8:54 PM on April 28 [31 favorites]


I thought bran was gonna have a bomb with dragon glass rigged to his chair and we would have a gus fring situation on our hands

You know what would have been great? Wildfyre land mines. That might have helped thin out the herd a bit. Also, maybe dragonglass spikes embedded in the ground all around the castle. I know they did some of it, but seems like they could have done a lot more of that defensive weaponry.

I was also really hoping they would have had a scythe along the walls of winterfell, just like they had at the Wall.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:55 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


One other thing that did bug me:

Could they really not spare say 20 Unsullied or something like that to guard the crypts (from the inside)? Or maybe there were guards there and I just missed it?


When it comes to the battleplan, I think we can all agree that Mistakes Were Made. (Like pointlessly sending all the infantry and cavalry out to die and become wight reinforcements. Or totally failing to use the siege weaponry in any useful way!)

Three extended episodes of describing feasts. The true GRRM ending.

Perhaps with an extended version of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair."
posted by ubersturm at 8:55 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


The Night King smirking at Dany is the only time he ever felt like a character, Mysterious Silent Evil Boss is always kind of a boring choice. I think the fight with Cersei is something of a let down for the final stretch, mainly because I don't caaaare about Euron especially with Theon dead and Cersei Goes to War isn't as fun as Deadly Court Intrigue Cersei, but at least there are emotional stakes and such for everybody going forward.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:56 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


THAT WAS EXTREMELY DISTRESSING I HAD TO KEEP WATCHING THROUGH MY FINGERS.

Surprised by the low named-character body count.

Arya is FUCKING BADASS.

Lyanna Mormont also badass, and I'm glad she was only raised from the dead briefly. (Ditto Edd, although less badass.)

Surprised Brienne survived.

Will now go read the whole long thread. :D
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:58 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


The idea that even in a world where there are literal zombie hordes, the real evil is abusive, evil human beings using power to enrich themselves and brutalize the masses is, uh, not really a step away from the themes of this series.

I agree with you, but feel the dispatching of the Night King in basically a single episode undermines the theme that the game of thrones is the real evil. The series has made a point over the years that rich people's games are incredibly harmful to the general populace, whose only option in life is to suffer the abuses of the rich. It's why the Mountain was so hated, the initial reason for our hatred of Joffrey (the butcher's boy!), and why Daenerys was positioned as the alternative to the game of thrones with her statements of, "I want to break the wheel."

The white walkers were the final proof that the game of thrones were ultimately the petty distractions of rich people. The whole continent was going to die because the rich nobles couldn't get over their stupid games and tournaments to properly prioritize the unsexy things like infrastructure development. I don't think the audience ultimately should be sympathizing with the nobles who are playing the game, because every moment spent on the Iron Throne is a moment wasted against the Night King.

But the show veered at some point and became enamored with the distraction itself rather than the endgame. (I think it was with Ramsay Bolton, but that's another essay.) Allowing the humans to dispatch the Night King in a single episode means that he was the distraction from the real goal of the Iron Throne. He's the obstacle we gotta get over in order to get to the real good stuff: the comeuppance of Cersei. And for me that switch in narrative focus steers the audience away from the central question of, "can humanity overcome its shortsightedness to face an existential threat?" If the white walkers are really gone, the show's answer to that question is, "yeah no problem -- in fact it wasn't even that difficult to do." The fact that we made it through the battle without any of Cersei's troops and there were no truly painful character sacrifices sort of implies that she was right to withhold her troops, even though the series takes great pains to point out at every opportunity that Cersei is wrong about everything. If the white walkers are truly gone, Cersei's shortsightedness will be a huge advantage to her because Daenerys effectively sacrificed her troops at a battle that didn't matter. And while I am definitely team Dark Ending I don't know if I can get behind a show that vindicates Cersei at the expense of Jon and Daenerys trying to do the right thing for humanity.
posted by lilac girl at 8:58 PM on April 28 [103 favorites]


The Night King smirking at Dany is the only time he ever felt like a character, Mysterious Silent Evil Boss is always kind of a boring choice.

He also felt like a character when he basically said, "Fuck you, Jon Snow" and raised all those dead bodies. Sort of deja vu from Hardhome.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:02 PM on April 28 [13 favorites]


So, is R'hllor the One True God then?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:06 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


And while I am definitely team Dark Ending I don't know if I can get behind a show that vindicates Cersei at the expense of Jon and Daenerys trying to do the right thing for humanity.

I would have preferred the Night King win and kill everyone than for Cersei to win at the end.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:07 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Wow. This was a bad one. This episode really pissed me off.

It was shot beautifully. There were some great fight scenes. Arya getting the final stabby win into the night king was great, but pretty predictable at this point.

The #1 huge problem: no characters of real consequence, who had real emotional connection with the audience, died. There was no real consequence for this massive battle of death to Jon, Danearys, Brianne, Arya, Sam, Worm, Gilly, or even Clegane. Sure, Theone and the flamey resurrection guy died, which was a thing, but I would claim that no _major_ characters died in what should've been a central battle of this whole story and the whole show.

When Sansa and Tyrion were contemplating suicide, I was ready for at one of them to go through with it right when the other realized there was some hope...that would've felt earned and in keeping with the story. Instead they all have a tender Hollywood moment and carry on with their day.

This all felt cheap to me. Somehow the major dark force of this whole story has been conquered without much in the way of real consequences to the people we care about. I want to blame most of this on the GRR Martin having way less role in this season, and I think you can see it in how it feels so much more safe and easy compared to earlier seasons.

Bah. If Arya had died in her final valiant (successful) attempt on the night king, and if Jon had died when he surrounded by the undead, and _then_ humanity would've won, it would've felt earned and real and like it had some weight for the characters we were following. As it stand, this feels like some cheap comic book shit.
posted by rsanheim at 9:09 PM on April 28 [35 favorites]


So, is R'hllor the One True God then?

In the GoT universe, I don't think there is a one true god. Because we know the old gods obviously have power as well. And clearly the drowned god must have some power, because Euron and his fucking ships. Also the god of death because the faceless men have lots of power, although perhaps R'hilor and the god of death are the same.

I think the only religion that we haven't seen real proof for is the faith of the Seven.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:09 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


When Sansa and Tyrion were contemplating suicide,

I don't think they were contemplating suicide, though. Well, they probably figured they were done for, but I think that sort of silent pact was about fighting back until the end. Which I did like, because in the earlier scene, Tyrion was saying that he should be out fighting, and Sansa was talking about how they are all in the crypts because they can't be of any help, so it was nice to see them both be like, "Well, we can give it our best shot at least."
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:12 PM on April 28 [17 favorites]


Also, is Rhaegal alive? Is Drogon alive?

Yes and yes.
posted by Windigo at 9:13 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


I would have preferred the Night King win and kill everyone than for Cersei to win at the end.

My preferred ending for years has been Cersei sitting alone on a frozen Iron Throne while the white walkers run towards her, but I'd also accept a final shot of the Night King taking a seat on the Iron Throne and smiling.
posted by lilac girl at 9:15 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


I don't care about Rhaegal, there is only GHOST.
posted by Justinian at 9:15 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


Also, I feel like it was kind of a wasted opportunity to re-animate Edd, and Lyanna Mormont, etc, only to do nothing with them after. It would have added something to the battle to show the remaining living characters being forced to kill people they knew and cared about. Can you imagine Sam having to fight Zombie!Edd after Edd died saving him? Or say Brienne having to kill little Lyanna Mormont?
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:15 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


My preferred ending for years has been Cersei sitting alone on a frozen Iron Throne while the white walkers run towards her, but I'd also accept a final shot of the Night King taking a seat on the Iron Throne and smiling.

But can the Night King sit on the Iron Throne? Isn't it made at least in part of Valyrian steel swords? With lots of stabby bits?

Actually, I do like the idea of the final scene being the Night King going up the steps, and sitting on the Iron Throne, only to get jabbed by a valyrian steel sword, and "poof" everyone disintegrates.

The End.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:17 PM on April 28 [28 favorites]


I don't care about Rhaegal, there is only GHOST.

How dare you! Ghost and Rhaegal are BFFs now. They are curled up by the warm Winterell fires* as we speak. They're best buds after they saved each other's lives in the battle. Remember that scene where Ghost was about to be killed by a bunch of zombies, and Rhaegal swooped down and saved him? How else do you think Ghost got out of there alive.

*And when I say warm Winterfell fires, I mean the burning remains of the castle, obviously.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:20 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


Okay further thoughts:

The directing was quite good and I hope Sapochnik gets some great work and shows some non-battle chops. He does a lot within some interesting constraints.

When Melisandre wandered off to die in the dawn, it would have been super-helpful if she burned the bodies first.

Sophie Turner;s acting was amazing all episode. I felt her fear. I am not always 100% sold on her as an actress but I was 100% sold this episode, she was great.

Grey Worm needs to LEAVE HIS FUCKING HELMET ON. I know why he takes it off and puts it on, but it was stressing me out hardcore.

Mr. McGee spent a lot of the episode objecting to the tactics of the living.

Bran + Theon was a bit heavyhanded ... especially when Bran kept giving Theon the walk-off death lines. Theon also got a major hero edit with lots of shots from below and broad-shoulder shots, so it felt obvious he was going to a) be heroic and b) bite it.

I was surprised Jorah outlived Lyanna (if only technically).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:22 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


The dragons looked much better in this episode than in Dany and Jon's little fling a couple episodes back.

We know Gendry is alive because Beric Fucking Dondarion got a 90 second death scene, and there is literally nobody on the planet who cared about that character.

So I guess (but we don't know) that now that the Night King is defeated that the long winter curse is over, so that means that the North, which is the biggest territory in Westeros but sparesely populated, will now become an agrarian powerhouse. Land is probably so cheap there now what with everyone being dead, and all that land will be hugely productive without having to worry about 15 year winters. Real estate opportunity of a lifetime.

Soooo, is Arya Azor Ahai, or did that just turn out to be not a thing? Maybe she's not Azor Ahai, but Lightbringer itself (the fancy sword Azor Ahai was supposed to have), since she's the most deadly weapon. Or not.
posted by skewed at 9:23 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


And while I am definitely team Dark Ending I don't know if I can get behind a show that vindicates Cersei at the expense of Jon and Daenerys trying to do the right thing for humanity.

It's a collective action problem, and she defected. She gambled the entire fate of Westeros on her troops not being the difference between success and failure, and won. The only way to show her losing that bet would be for Jon et al to lose, and if they'd lost we'd be in the Bad Ending and what can you do for another three episodes? So... she had to win that bet, for purely narrative reasons. Which is frustrating.

Agreed that someone more important should have gotten killed, preferably Jon or Dany. Those two had adamantine plot armor because of how they strung out the Secret Targaryen storyline though, so that was clearly not on the cards. Sansa, Tyrion or Sam biting it would not have been a bad idea at all, but I think the writers like using them too much to kill them yet.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:24 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


The dragons looked much better in this episode than in Dany and Jon's little fling a couple episodes back.

See, that's the beauty of shooting an entire 1hr30min episode at night. Everything looks better when you can't actually see a damn thing.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:25 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


Maybe the Prince that was Promised was the friends we made* along the way.

*and/or killed
posted by BungaDunga at 9:26 PM on April 28 [16 favorites]


Soooo, is Arya Azor Ahai?

No, she's Neville Longbottom.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 9:26 PM on April 28 [20 favorites]


I was also mildly disappointed that Melisandre didn't show up with a whole host of fire priests and priestesses. Because a bunch of fire wielding fire worshippers would have been very helpful.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:27 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


It was OK. Definitely one of the more exciting episodes, but it really did feel like nothing mattered. Characters were pinned down by 30 undead half a dozen times and came out alive and slightly scraped. The battle plan was idiotic, even aside from Daenrys breaking rank, and contradicts several things that the characters should know (e.g. the long undead being reanimated in the crypts, the battle strategy of a screaming wall making traditional moves like a calvary charge ineffective, the dead of your army being an ultimate resource for the NK). The obvious need of the plot is to have them almost die, but you have to write that convincingly for the characters - they have to make mistakes that make sense with their pasts, not mistakes that are simply convenient from a scripting perspective. Also, as a minor nitpick, if you have a uniform line of undead that you have free shots on with dragon fire that can take out roughly a hundred per minute THEN START AT THE LINE THAT'S CLOSEST TO YOUR DOOR AND MOVE BACK.

I still think that the narrative arc of resolving one of the major conflicts and then moving onto the next conflict that's structurally identical is bizarre. Are we going to get another episode of reminiscing as our plot armored favorites gear up for the assault on KL? Do we have another hour long battle episode with slowly building piano music as a few notable faces die? It really just feels like stuff that took up 20 hours of screen time (approximately) was all a misdirection, unless there is some residual NK storyline left (maybe in the form of a Bran betrayal). The NK was never all that interesting as a character, but it still sucks to see that apparently the apocalypse was mostly just a side story.
posted by codacorolla at 9:29 PM on April 28 [22 favorites]


I wish this season opened to a time skip from the Wall falling with everyone now beaten back far south, the north completely lost, our heroes on the retreat, King's Landing barely holding on in a prolonged siege if not for wildfire defenses, something like that, to show the real threat of the Night King before taking him out. Like have this battle be the last stand of a desperate war and not just the first real obstacle the White Walkers came to after the Wall fell.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:29 PM on April 28 [32 favorites]


I think the Dothraki were out in front b/c where else would those proud people let themselves be. Surprised Jon and Dany didn't have major savior bits unless I missed it. I think Sam rolled around shivering so much he'll make some sacrifice at the end to prove himself. I really thought the Night King would bend the knee to Bran as the ultimate Oh Fuck moment. I was annoyed the whole White Walkers thing ended tonight ... but now I am really glad and am ready for an in the light war (ugh so hard to see this show in the dark) to end all wars, with a return of the witticisms and love bits and everything I loved most about this show.
posted by soakimbo at 9:30 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


Jon could be on borrowed time now, if he was brought back for a specific purpose.
posted by drezdn at 9:32 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


With the Night King dead, there's no more reason to burn the bodies.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:32 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


Also, I suppose that having Daenrys' massive army be mostly useless and 90% dead is a sort of in line with flipping a fantasy genre staple, but the way it happened... Jesus. Mereen was even more of a waste of time than any of us had imagined.
posted by codacorolla at 9:34 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


We know Gendry is alive because Beric Fucking Dondarion got a 90 second death scene, and there is literally nobody on the planet who cared about that character.

Hey now, Beric was great! ...when you just got little glimpses of him. The magic wore off when he got steady face time. Kind of a Boba Fett effect.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:34 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


With the Night King dead, there's no more reason to burn the bodies.

There is if you don't want a huge outbreak of illness in Winterfell now.
posted by tclark at 9:34 PM on April 28 [23 favorites]


That was tense (and frequently too dark to follow) and occasionally visually impressive (Melisandre setting the Dothraki weapons afire, etc) but I enjoyed last week's character episode about a hundredfold more. There were a few nice moments of feeling here—Sansa and Tyrion in the crypt; Melisandre setting up Arya's "not today"—and I'm glad Arya got to do the honors in the end. But the second half of the episode just seemed overlong, and the slippage from frantic action to those ponderously drawn-out bits with the Night King slowly walking towards people eventually felt aggravating.

Anyway Ser Brienne is alive (as far as we can tell; bet there might be some casualties discovered at the start of next week's ep) so I'm fine with it overall, and hoping next week is more interesting plot and character-wise. Pouring one out for Lyanna Mormont.
posted by karayel at 9:38 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


With the Night King dead, there's no more reason to burn the bodies.

I mean, Winterfell's gonna smell like a charnel house for the next decade. Dealing with tens of thousands of corpses in varying states of decay is a pretty real logistical problem! (Or would be if the show worried about practicalities like that.)
posted by ubersturm at 9:38 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


The first thing Gendry should say to Arya when he sees her is "You're welcome."

I guess Jaime surviving the battle means he's still got a chance to kill Cersei.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:38 PM on April 28


I thought for a second that Sansa and Tyrion were considering suicide, which would have been crazy-stupid in that situation (suicide would only provide more soldiers for the Night King, after all) and then realized they were readying themselves to die fighting, though of course it didn't come to that.

The idea of setting up Sansa/Tyrion as a romance now is... weird, but weirder things have happened i guess.

Did Missandei, Grey Worm and Pod all survive? How is that narratively possible?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:39 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


I think it's pretty cool that the Valyrian steel dagger which Arya uses to kill the Night King is the same one that sort of started the whole War of the Five Kings chain of events.
posted by clockzero at 9:41 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


I do think this episode finally cracks one of the greatest mysteries of the show. We finally know how Ramsay's dozen good men took down Stannis' army: he picked guys with an unresolved rivalry / love interest, so they all had plot armor during his raid that presumably they resolved by The Battle of the Bastards.
posted by codacorolla at 9:42 PM on April 28 [13 favorites]


wait so the mechanism that triggers Long Winters is unknown, right? Like they don't KNOW for a fact the white walkers start marching causes the long winter? Maybe they;re just following weather patterns and where expecting an easily defeated populace to, as Bran cryptically said, keep in the dark without a history for as long as they can? (which considering they;re basically escaped biological weapons, makes sense)

Cause I could see "Yes! we killed the King! everything is fine now!" getting smacked with "No he was just taking advantage of the fact that kings landing is gonna be under 12 feet of snow no matter what we do."

That's where Azor could slot in, in the end the Night King is just an opportunist, the real defeat is winter itself - possibly someting Bran has foreseen/done and planned all this out as he;s a time wizard now
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 PM on April 28 [17 favorites]


It's not how I would have written it, but if I had written it there would have been lots more heavy-handed penis symbolism, a bunch of comic book references, and it probably would have been harder to understand.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:45 PM on April 28 [18 favorites]


So I guess (but we don't know) that now that the Night King is defeated that the long winter curse is over, so that means that the North, which is the biggest territory in Westeros but sparesely populated, will now become an agrarian powerhouse.

Weirdly I was thinking about this as well...after I was done crying and the adrenaline wore off. But stuff like this is why they needed 2-3 more seasons to work through the endgame in a more satisfying fashion. I'm not sure what they have left for a satisfying coda. Can they do something interesting with Bran breaking the wheel of "this has happened before and it will happen again?" Can they do something interesting with the politics? The relationships between the characters, driven by fantastic actors, is what makes this horribly dark show so good, so I probably shouldn't expect even some mildly satisfying pop-philosophy at the end.
posted by MillMan at 9:46 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


lots more heavy-handed penis symbolism

I mean, "getting it on up again" was a central plot element, certainly showcased here
posted by clockzero at 9:48 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


The idea of setting up Sansa/Tyrion as a romance now is... weird, but weirder things have happened i guess.

I think if they do go this direction, it would be less of a romance and more of a "hey, we get along well and this marriage is politically convenient." And as Sansa said, Tyrion was the best of any of her husbands/potential husbands.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:48 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


Yeah this is one of those “well if I was writing it I’d have everyone think they defeated the big bad but it’s really just a symptom of this larger problem of the wildly unpredictable seasons, which like the WW could've been a result of magical heywire in the distant past? What if they misjudged Mellie’s mission, her goal is to stop the night king not to stop the winter but to create the conditions to allow humanity to survive and Azhor to rise to fight the real underlying problem.
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


I think they are done with magic, barring the dragon(s), for the rest of the show. It's just going to be a straight up battle for the throne now. Sadly.

Also, man, Bran really did turn out to be as useless as we all thought.
posted by Ragini at 9:54 PM on April 28


There is if you don't want a huge outbreak of illness in Winterfell now

Corpses don't spread TB etc nearly as well as live people sitting around in tents waiting to fight a battle. As long as they're drinking from deep wells! They have to be drinking water somehow, they whole place is designed to survive a Winter, so I'm sure there's some deep wells underneath the crypts, they are probably drinking groundwater.

It's gonna smell real bad, but at least it's Winter and quite cold, they'll soon turn to corpsicles and not pose much of a threat to anybody.

I think the Dothraki were out in front b/c where else would those proud people let themselves be.

Yeah, I don't think even Dany could explain to them how sieges work and get them on board with any other plan. They might in fact have done some good, if each one took out a couple dozen wights, even with the ressurrection it's a net gain.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:55 PM on April 28


Okay, you know, I am kind of annoyed that with all the build up of the Night King, in the entire series, we never got to see him actually do anything, other than raising a bunch of zombies and spearing a dragon one time. You'd think the Night King might enjoy a good sword fight every now and again!

Also, if we had seen Jon fighting the Night King, almost losing, only to have Arya stab the Night King in the back, it would have had some really great symmetry with the Tower of Joy scene, when Ned is about to lose to Arthur Dayne and then Howland Reed stabs Dayne in the back.

We didn't even get to see the white walkers fight at all! I just feel like watching characters be swarmed by zombies when it's pitch black and impossible to see gets old after awhile.

At the very least, couldn't Bran have used his ravens to peck out the Night King's eyes or something?
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:56 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


I didn't love a lot of the confusing cinematography during the battle scenes here, there were weird pacing issues, and the battle plan was pretty dumb. Maybe you should put your heavy infantry in front of your siege weapons? And surely there must be a better place to defend Bran than out in the open in a courtyard? But I will say that the episode did have me actually convinced that everyone in Winterfell was going to die. Also I liked the circularity of the Valyrian dagger that kicked off the whole Game of Thrones being used to kill the night king.

Melissande's hair reverting to white at the end there was pretty neat too.
posted by whir at 9:58 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


Arya stabbed him with the knife that was used to try to kill Bran.

If the theory is that Bran turns out to be the true night king, that might add some complexity to Bran travelling through time lines and its use in trying to assassinate him in the first season. Was the attempt made not because of him knowing about Jaime and Cersei, but to ultimately keep him from becoming whatever follows the night king, or to stop him from interfering with the NK's plans, perhaps?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:58 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


shouldn't the NK have used a siege strategy? It's not like his army needed food. He's waited thousands of years already, what's a few months?

I agree, and we've seen him do exactly that in the past, when the Magnificent Seven were trapped on that island north of the Wall.
posted by whir at 10:00 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Lots of decisions this episode that don't make a lot of sense. Why station all these troops outside of Winterfell instead of simply enduring a siege?

And what about Bran? I thought the whole point of stationing Bran out in the grove was as a trap to lure the Night King. I mean, the luring part worked, but it seems like there was no plan to actually kill the Night King once he arrived -- am I right in thinking Arya's death blow was just sheer luck and she just happened to be there?
posted by crazy with stars at 10:01 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Soooo, is Arya Azor Ahai, or did that just turn out to be not a thing? Maybe she's not Azor Ahai, but Lightbringer itself (the fancy sword Azor Ahai was supposed to have), since she's the most deadly weapon. Or not.

I think the show is giving up on all of that, because D&D don't really give a crap about that stuff anymore, if they ever did. Also, based on the inside the episode interview, I get the sense that Arya killing the Night King was not one of those direct from GRRM things, so I'm sure it would go differently in the books in a universe where the final books are published.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:01 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


And what about Bran? I thought the whole point of stationing Bran out in the grove was as a trap to lure the Night King. I mean, the luring part worked, but it seems like there was no plan to actually kill the Night King once he arrived -- am I right in thinking Arya's death blow was just sheer luck and she just happened to be there?

Well, I think Jon and Dany were supposed to go in and help once the Night King came around, but then Dany jumped the gun and the plan went to shit.

Hey, you know what would have been an actual good use for Bran's warging? If they used the ravens as a signal for when Jon and Dany should come help protect him from the Night King.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:03 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


I was really worried going into this that they were going to Battlestar Galactica Opera House the prophecy stuff and just have characters awkwardly go through the motions of the Azor Ahai stuff.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:03 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


i kind of feel like Arya would have had more than one knife on her
posted by cortex at 10:06 PM on April 28 [26 favorites]


You see, I always figured that they would never explicitly confirm the prophecies, but leave enough bread crumbs that you could connect the dots if you chose to. Maybe that would have happened in the books, but not so much in the show.

Okay, yeah, the more I think about this episode, the more disappointed I am in it. I should probably just go to bed.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:07 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Well, I think Jon and Dany were supposed to go in and help once the Night King came around, but then Dany jumped the gun and the plan went to shit.

Yeah, the plan was for Jon and Dany to jump the Night King once he got to the godswood. But she pulled a Jon Snow.
posted by Justinian at 10:09 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


One thing that sort of made me laugh at the time--though in retrospect, maybe it did a good job setting up surprise ninja!leap Arya--was the ridiculously long runs that both Jon and Theon made at the Night King. Like, my dudes, you're not Usain Bolt and that's way longer than 100m you're trying to cover. It was very anticlimatic for both runs to be so utterly futile.
posted by TwoStride at 10:10 PM on April 28 [13 favorites]


You know what else would have been cool? If rather than having Arya improbably sneak up on all the White Walkers and the Night King, we had the Hound and Arya just mowing through a line of zombies. Or something! I just think the ending would have felt less anticlimatic if some fighting led up to it, besides Theon's suicide run at the very end there. It would have at least drawn attention away from Bran sitting there doing nothing.

Also, isn't the Night King super strong? I don't see why he wouldn't have just immediately snapped Arya's neck when he had her by the throat.

I guess I should really stop trying to make any of this make sense.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:16 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


I agree with the general gist that things get... muddy... if you look at the logic too closely but is the Night King super strong? He does that spear thing but that could be magic?

Although then you get into the question of if he can telekinesis a spear hard enough to kill a dragon he could telekinesis her neck. I'll just go with he pulled an Oberyn Martell. Lots of mistakes seem to get repeated...
posted by Justinian at 10:19 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


You know, at least if Tormund lives, he can help singlehandedly revive the Free Folk. Can you just imagine, him going around the seven kingdoms, finding as many big, strong women as possible, and being like, let's make giant babies that will take over the world? I like it.

And then Jaime and Brienne will quietly retire to the Sapphire isles and live happily ever after.

Of course, Jaime is heir to Casterley Rock, but I like to imagine he'll let Tyrion have it. Jaime probably doesn't want such a big castle anyway.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:22 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


What a tedious indulgence. 70 minutes of pointless battle scenes is 60 minutes too many.

Someone really fucked up the digital encoding. It wasn't all just too dark and snowy to see clearly; that's a trick to save money letting them cheat on the quality of the sfx. It was also video encoded poorly, judging by all the online complaints of posterization. It's possible to make a dark H.264 stream look good but it takes extra work.

100% there for the Arya knife drop though.
posted by Nelson at 10:22 PM on April 28 [17 favorites]


ALSO -- and I don't know if anyone else noticed this -- but at 45:39, when Samwell is staggering around the castle courtyard, WHY does he step on the ribs of a wight rather than the breastbone, which MIGHT have PLAUSIBLY held his full weight? He's wearing leather boots, which would have most likely been bovine leather, and taking into consideration that he CLEARLY had room to step more carefully, and that he (as a Citadel grad student) should have known EXACTLY how much torsion stress the substance of his boots could withstand if he should have fallen (by stepping on the WRONG PART of a skeleton -- HELLO, showrunners! what an embarrassing oversight!), it was just distractingly unrealistic and for me, on an emotional level,
posted by clockzero at 10:22 PM on April 28 [25 favorites]


I agree with the general gist that things get... muddy... if you look at the logic too closely but is the Night King super strong? He does that spear thing but that could be magic?

One of the reasons I assumed he was super strong is that I'm pretty sure we've seen White Walkers throw people around like it was nothing. Didn't that one white walker at hard home just like launch Jon off a roof? So if the White Walkers are strong, surely the Night King is extra strong? And snapping tiny Arya's neck wouldn't even require that much strength.

Or yeah, maybe the Night King is just a gold medal javelin thrower and literally can't do anything else aside from raise the dead.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:24 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Or yeah, maybe the Night King is just a gold medal javelin thrower and literally can't do anything else aside from raise the dead. Don't forget his fireproofing! Take that, Danaerys.
posted by TwoStride at 10:26 PM on April 28


Someone really fucked up the digital encoding. It wasn't all just too dark and snowy to see clearly; that's a trick to save money letting them cheat on the quality of the sfx. It was also video encoded poorly, judging by all the online complaints of posterization. It's possible to make a dark H.264 stream look good but it takes extra work.

Yeah, so I was wondering if my internet connection was crap, because for a lot of the episode it seemed like the clarity was crappy, aside from everything being pitch black. That or maybe my eye sight is just going.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:27 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


A lot of my takes have been said already, but might as well: Melisandre lighting up the Dothraki swords was cool, and seeing them gradually wink out was more cool. Of all the ways for the Night King to go, I guess having Arya assassinate him was pretty ok. The moment between Sansa and Tyrion was nice.

Everything else was pretty blah. Boring, pointless, hard to see even in a pitch-black room. Repetitive, redundant, tedious, repetitive, and redundant. I'm losing faith that Bran is secretly this or plotting to that. Pretty sure he's just sitting there, the one-liner MacGuffin Man.

Oh yeah, and my vote is this is a world with just enough magic in it for various religions to be able to go around showing minor miracles to say "see we're really the true one". The Seven have never been shown that way because the show lives in a majority-Christian culture where people are disillusioned with it so only the exotic religions get to be cool, and the stand-in for the Church gets what people think about the Church.
posted by traveler_ at 10:28 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


Don't forget his fireproofing! Take that, Danaerys.

Yes, there is that. It was kind of amusing to see someone use Dany's unburnt trick against her.

You know what else would have been cool? If it turned out that Jon being the one and only Starkgaryen meant he could walk through ice fire! Fire and Ice, bitches! But no.

I'm going to go back to reading the Jaime/Brienne fanfic linked above, because that's my happy place right about now.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:30 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


SO I haven't been following GOT, and I haven't been watching, though my dad has. I know the plot points because pop culture and I was reading this thread for shits and giggles when I realized- Man I would really like to see Maisie Williams stab an ice zombie king to death. So, realizing that my dad was watching this in the other room, I decided to join him, to his delight, as we don't watch too many things together these days and I watched the last eh 40 minutes of this episode with my dad and I saw the hand-kissing scene and the other scenes and most importantly the Arya being awesome scene and honestly? I liked it. Can't say it made much sense, and it was more gory then I tend to watch but considering dad's good quips "Man who's going to clean that up?" and how happy he was that I joined him, maybe I'll watch out the rest of the series with him on Sundays. It's like 3 more episodes right?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:31 PM on April 28 [28 favorites]


Quick note re: wight explosion consistency: as far as I could tell it’s 100% wights that need a full CG character (giants, partial skeletons you can see through) doing the exploding.

I‘d put a couple hundred dollars on some producer telling the directors they’re happy to explode anything they’ve got a rigged mesh for (subdivide, voxelize death pose mesh, apply physics to the pieces), but they’re not making any additional rigged meshes purely for the sake of that one effect, FFS.
posted by Ryvar at 10:31 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


"With the Night King dead, there's no more reason to burn the bodies."

THEY'RE SURROUNDED BY GIGANTIC PILES OF CORPSES, ain't nobody burying those in the frozen ground!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:32 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


No all that blockiness and posterization wasnt just you scripta, a lot of people saw the same poorly presented digital garbage. I watched a clean 8Mbit steam and it still looked like crap. Again, it is possible to do dark digital video well but it requires special tuning of the encoder.
posted by Nelson at 10:33 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


It will be interesting to compare the blu-ray to the streamed episode. I bet it'll be a lot clearer. Loads of black is where it really shows up when ISPs/cable companies/etc cheat on the bandwidth.
posted by Justinian at 10:37 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


While it probably won't be released until 2020, I'm hoping that an HDR release of the series will allow the night scenes to have a little more detail. The digital encoding used for streaming is crushing the blacks, which isn't helping. According to the one of GOT's cinematographers the use of more darkness and natural light was a deliberate choice starting in Season 7.

(On preview, Justinian beat me to it, as ever)

I liked the callback to The Battle of the Bastards: the Night King drew in Jon / Aegon with desperation, and then surrounded him.

I have to say that watching this episode _and_ Avengers: Endgame on the same day has given me quite the cardio and emotional workout.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:42 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


> ain't nobody burying those in the frozen ground!
Do we know that the season isn't associated with the Others? With the Night King dead, is it possible that winter will end early? The previews of the next episode certainly looked a lot sunnier (of course, they also appeared to be further south).
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:46 PM on April 28


I honestly thought Dany was going to die for a while there and I think that would have been a good narrative complication to throw in at this point

Not that's she's got a lot of forces left at this point, besides the dragons. Dragon? Assuming they're both alive, Rhaegal might be loyal to Jon now, if they had a split.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:46 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


the use of more darkness and natural light

chiaroscuro!

This episode leaning, uh, heavily on the dark part of that contrast.
posted by Justinian at 10:47 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


I honestly thought Dany was going to die for a while there and I think that would have been a good narrative complication to throw in at this point

Yeah, it might have upped the stakes if they had actually killed a character who seemed to be on the totally safe list like Jon, Arya, Sansa, or Dany. And out of those 4, my vote would be for Dany. Also, it would have set up some really interesting narrative opportunities.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:54 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


Also, I know we aren't supposed to discuss the previews, but some kind souls have done the hard work of screen shotting some key shots from the preview for next episode, so for anyone who does want some confirmation about who did or did not survive this battle:

Here be spoilers*

Here be more spoilers*

*Literally just spoilers from the preview for next episode, but some people like to avoid them so fair warning and all that.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:57 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


-Question: why did Melisandre die? Did she feel like her job was done, or something?

A possible explanation I like is that she did it to fulfill her own vision. The Lorda Light is always giving her visions but people have to do things to make them happen. I think she was expecting to die in the battle. She didn't—but that didn't mean she was off the hook. She did her bit to make the vision come true just like the LoL demands. (This is not incompatible with her also welcoming her fate.)
posted by fleacircus at 11:02 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


I know I've brought this up before, but so many problems would be resolved if they made the dragons easier to distinguish from each other. They are in fact supposed to be 3 distinct colors. There were so many moments in this episode where I wasn't sure whether we were seeing Jon and Rhaegol or Dany and Drogon or the Knight King and wight Viserion. When they show a shot of the rider it's obvious, but even Dany in her white dress and the Night King sometimes took me a minute to tell apart. From certain angles, you could see Viserion having holes in his wings, but there were several key moments, usually when they were ramming each other in the sky, where I had no idea who was doing what.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:05 PM on April 28 [30 favorites]


The Arya move was very cool. In the second it took I honestly thought she was going to fail; that moment of surprise is exactly why I'm in the no spoilers camp.

That being said:

LADY MORMONT. Damn you again, show.

Her dying at all sucked, but giving Lady Mormont a heroic death--the thirteen year old slays the undead giant by sheer grit--for me epitomizes how much the show is now embracing fantasy tropes. Most of the named characters who died went in some at least semi-heroic way. Surprises seem like they'll be limited in scope.

And the stupidity of the tactics in the last few battles is driving me crazy. Fighting a field battle? Trebuchets in front if the infantry? Nothing to do with being constrained to a TV budget.

I'm perfectly happy to see the Night King go down this episode though. One episode to get the game pieces rearranged, one to for the big conflict, one for the denouement and/or inevitable twist.
posted by mark k at 11:11 PM on April 28 [13 favorites]


Or hey, maybe let Dany live, and have Jon die killing the Night King, thus fulfilling his purpose/destiny. Or have Arya die killing the Night King. Or have Sansa die fighting in the crypts.

It's not exactly like I want any of these characters to die, and I thank the old gods, new gods, lord of light, god of death, and the drowned god that Jaime and Brienne made it out of this episode. But it does start to feel a little improbable! And if they were going to hold off on killing the secondary main characters, which I'm mostly okay with, I think they could have balanced it by killing off one of the "safe" characters.

Also, no way Sam should have survived since he spent half the battle basically curled up in the fetal position.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:11 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


There were some beautiful scenes there amid the chaos blur stuff. The dragons up in the clouds (I wish there had been more to that fight). Jon's cat and mouse game with Viserion, with, I think, blue flames shooting out of its head and neck where Drogon chomped him a bit. (I think there was more head-chomping when Rhaegal and Viserion fought but I thought it was mostly Rhaegal's head getting chomped.) All around the best dragon stuff.

When Jon stood up in front of Viserion right as the NK died my SO and I were like, "You've got time for one last chomp buddy! You can do it! Chomp! Chomp! Chomp! Awwwwwww."

The Dothraki lights going out was tense, though of course kinda Real Dumb but the show is what it is. All in all, on the show's own terms, I think they did a really good job of telling the story of a battle.
posted by fleacircus at 11:16 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


I was sorta hoping for a more nihilistic conclusion to the episode. Like Winterfall falls, NK wins, everyone (everyone) at Winterfall dies.

Then we have Cersei vs. the NK for the final three episodes. Hell, maybe she even wins — is Qyburn still around reanimating the dead down south? Maybe science zombies could have defeated magic zombies.
posted by crazy with stars at 11:18 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


You know, considering how much D&D love stupid Ramsay and Sea Ramsay, I should probably mentally prepare myself for the possibility that it will be fucking Euron on the iron throne at the end. He made a thousand ships over night on an island with no natural resources and ten people. What can't he do, really?

At the very least, I really need to stop expecting any logical consistency, and just throw myself whole heartedly into rooting for Jaime and Brienne to live happily ever after. The odds of that happening are not high, but probably better than the odds of this show's concluding episodes being logically consistent and satisfying.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:22 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


The night king is kind of a personification of winter right? So he has to fall at winter fell.
posted by gryftir at 11:23 PM on April 28 [25 favorites]


I thought that was a remarkable 90 minutes of television. Super-tense.

However, they wasted the opportunity to kill some characters. It was not credible that all those people survived -- there should have been at least one surprising death of a major character. Neither Jorah nor Theon count.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:32 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


So I have to change t-shirts because I used mine as a hankie and it is covered in tears from sobbing during Lady Mormont and Theon's deaths and general terror. But I went wtf over the trench fire being lit - Greyworm for a moment realising that something had gone disastrously wrong and the fires weren't going to get lit and realising they were just fodder was awful - because the dragons should have wheeled back and lit all the zombies on fire. Repeatedly. And you had them throwing themselves down on the trenches, that's when you repeatedly aim those fiery arrows down, or you know the traditional burning pitch and what have you down the castle walls. Not just stand there and club the fuckers as they climb up. Really dumb siege warfare. And one trench of fire? ONE? They had time to prepare! You set up multiple trenches! It makes sense that Dany fucked it up and then Jon fucked it up because two dragons should have done way more damage. And those morons knew the dead could be reanimated so why they weren't decapitating every dead soldier on their own side or lighting the dead on fire - DUMB.

But! When Bran went into raven-mode, the Night King flexed his hand and his whole battle tactics shifted rapidly. He went from just zombie-surge forward to strategy. I shouted at the screen "Bran, why do you hate the living so much, why are you killing everyone in your family?" because the shift was deliberate. There's something else happening there and it's - Bran belongs to the Children of the Forest, not mankind is my new theory.

That makes his line to Theon, "You're a good man" even more chilling.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:39 PM on April 28 [29 favorites]


Okay, I know I should let go of any sense that this show will be have some sort of internal logic, but I can't help it:

No one considered having 20 Unsullied to help guard Bran? You could have had them form a shield wall with their spears, while the Ironborn used the arrows. Yes, I know Jon and Dany were supposed to save the day, but since the Ironborn were there to buy time, it seems like it would have been worth having more than 10 archers there to protect Bran.

Also, although I do generally enjoy the human side of things versus the fighting zombies, I do feel like having a big battle against Cersei will feel anticlimatic after a battle against 100,000 undead zombies.

And if they don't at least try to send Arya into King's Landing to stealthily murder Cersei and Euron, i'll be super pissed.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:39 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Oh, and last thing:

I was really rooting for Nymeria's wolf pack to show up and help fight. I know, Nymeria didn't want to go back to Winterfell with Arya, but that doesn't mean Nymeria wouldn't fight against the army of the Dead.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:40 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


And where are all the Children of the Forest? Now their ancient enemy they accidentally created, the Night King, is usefully destroyed, and the human survivors are in a squabbling war....

What a nice time to reappear.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:40 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


I think we're due for a "actually this was my plan ALL ALONG" re Brand and The Children

he's a time wizard! You can go back and set up a lot with that.
posted by The Whelk at 11:42 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


I must have missed the shot that made everyone think Ghost died. Mere non-appearance of Ghost has never been indicative of shit.

I love that Arya used a trick to kill the Night King. Not super-luck, not "GRRR I'M JUST SO DETERMINED RARRR".
posted by fleacircus at 11:50 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


Nope, nobody considered the dead coming back to life within the crypts. By nobody, I mean all the damn characters

Especially frustrating in light of Tyrion's, "If only I was somewhere that I could see something and notice something people are missing because I'm so damn smart" speech.
posted by fleacircus at 11:53 PM on April 28 [35 favorites]


Can you imagine Sam having to fight Zombie!Edd after Edd died saving him?

Dolorous Deadd
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:57 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


from an AV CLUB comment, Cersi thinks she's the final boss but the North has just survived the worst night in recent human history and has dragons, a time wizard, and a possible actual Savior In Waiting. The conflict is going to be within the Anti-Cersi coalition.
posted by The Whelk at 11:59 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Aw, they killed Dolorous Edd? I'm glad I never started watching this stupid show.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:06 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


that being said if Cersei and Jamie don't die in pools of their own blood I will eat a hat
posted by The Whelk at 12:09 AM on April 29


But my God, the thrill of the zombies swarming Drogon was fucking SOMETHING.

yeah. by which I mean wow! Those few seconds were worth a lot of confusion, which itself didn't bug me that much. I hear that's what combat's like.

Cersi thinks she's the final boss but the North has just survived the worst night in recent human history and has dragons, a time wizard, and a possible actual Savior In Waiting. The conflict is going to be within the Anti-Cersi coalition.

I have two Game of Thrones predictions. 1. no dragons will survive. 2. the throne itself will be destroyed which means everything's going to end in ... democracy?
posted by philip-random at 12:09 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


HOT PIE TO LEAD THE SYNDICALIST COOPERATIVE MUNICIPALISM OF KINGS LANDING
posted by The Whelk at 12:13 AM on April 29 [61 favorites]


Vote #1 hot pie
posted by ericost at 12:20 AM on April 29 [18 favorites]


Well, that definitely... was an episode.
posted by jurymast at 12:44 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Incredible and heart-pounding to watch the first time through but I don’t have the same desire to rewatch it as I do with more human-centered episodes like last week’s—one reason I’m so excited to get back to the human-on-human conflict.

Jon needs to work on his running speed!

Have there ever been more beautiful eyes than Sophie Turner and Peter Dinklage in that crypt scene?!
posted by sallybrown at 12:44 AM on April 29 [10 favorites]


Bran wasn’t being nice to Theon, or at least that wasn’t his main goal. He was giving Arya time to get in position.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:58 AM on April 29 [10 favorites]


OK here are my thoughts

LIGHTING PEOPLE LIGHTING. Spending a bajillion dollars on effects I can't really see and therefore don't really know what the hell is going on is super not cool.

Uh are we all ok with the dothraki just running into death and dying offstage? I mean as the people who supported Dany from the outset, that seems super crappy.

But I really did not expect the NK to go out like such a punk ass. I mean Cersei is the big bad?! REALLY? She doesn't even have dragons?! Or even elephants.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:04 AM on April 29 [5 favorites]


The real big bad was the friends we made along the way.
posted by Justinian at 1:32 AM on April 29 [15 favorites]


The scene where the swords of the Dothraki burst into flames was truly impressive and I said "Wow!" out loud, followed by "Oh shit" when I saw how quickly they were all extinguished. That was a masterful scene, where it truly dawned on those watching from the Castle exactly what they were up against.

The end game to be played out now is interesting, with all the characters who have a claim to the Iron Throne surviving. I'd love to see a Gendry-Arya alliance take the throne, but I'm just looking forward to all the intrigues to be played out over the next three episodes.

The only thing I really cared about was that Tormund survived.
posted by essexjan at 2:11 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


Essexjan-YES my ginger muffin lived to see another episode!
posted by miss-lapin at 2:28 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Being a GMT mefite, I woke up and watched this episode before work, which, I'm glad I did because I would not have been able to resist spoilers, but boy I'm gonna have a lot of processing to do throughout the morning.

Arya: unpopular take, but I honestly laughed out loud when she just ninja'd out of nowhere and shivved the Night King. It's about the most Benioff & Weiss thing that could possibly have happened, and I don't know why I expected anything else.

Melisandre: I'm disappointed that Melisandre's last big hurrah wasn't walking out into the snow and resurrecting Rhaegal. Hello????? Lightbringer???????? Or at least setting Arya on fire for her big run at the Night King. Or something.

Bran: butyoudidntdoanything.jpg

Crypts: wasted opportunity, both lore-wise and drama-wise. Come on, you're gonna put my girl Sansa down there with her people in the most desperate of hours to wait it out, and you're not even gonna do a proper callback to Cersei presiding over the women and children during the Battle of the Blackwater? Smh.

THAT SAID, a solid 85% of this episode was nailbiting stuff. The entire ramp up to the main confrontation was horribly, awfully, unbearably tense - and I swear I felt the same cold knot of dread in my stomach as the main characters when I saw all the Dothraki lights slowly go out. Same goes for the Arya stealth sequence, semi-random as it was. Watching Grey Worm first realise that he'd have to cut the Unsullied off to save the retreat, and then realise that the light-the-trenches plan was fucked because of the pure, simple, muddy, foggy chaos of the battle, and the fact that Dany couldn't see shit. Aaaaaaaaaaaa. I even didn't hate Theon. Good shit.

Too bad it all just kind of... fizzled. I'll be disappointed if there isn't at least one more weird magic/white walkers/children of the forest/three-eyed raven reveal in the episodes to come. The end of this episode will 100% redeem itself if it was all to lull us into a false sense of security.

(I feel the same way about so many characters surviving. Not that I'm complaining about getting to spend more time with them, mind - but I have to assume they're trying to trick us into thinking that these characters are now mostly safe, otherwise it just feels like an implausibly good outcome.)
posted by jurymast at 3:07 AM on April 29 [13 favorites]


YOU KNOW WHAT, a lot of the Night King shanking sequence would have felt less silly if we'd gotten some shots of Bran's warged ravens circling overhead. Maybe one or two of them land in the trees in the Godswood. Maybe they see a little rustle amongst the branches; maybe they see a little patch of shadow slightly darker than the rest flitting along the treeline. Then Bran jumps back into himself, stalls for time for a few seconds, and says exactly the right thing to Theon to get him to distract the Night King for just long enough and in just the right way that it just so happens to perfectly set up Arya's killshot.

That would have been, dare I say, dope.
posted by jurymast at 3:12 AM on April 29 [11 favorites]


Oh man, I loved this episode. At least until about 70% of the way in. Jon is confronting the NK outside the walls, and the NK has just raised a second army of the dead all around Jon. Jon's surrounded. How will he get out? Obviously, what's going to happen next is a dragon is going to swoop down and save him. That's the only thing that makes sense. Equally obviously, the dragon should just nuke Jon and everything around him with dragon fire, since being a Targ, Jon won't actually burn. And then, in a perfect callback to Season 1 with Danny stepping naked out of the flames, Jon steps out of the fire, Stark naked except for his erect Valerian steel sword. And then there's a climactic final dual between naked Jon (NJ) and the NK, tons of full frontal nudity, people both living and dead watching in awe from the walls. But for some reason the writers didn't take this obvious route, and instead we got another 15 minutes of corpse-fighting. What a waste.
posted by Balna Watya at 3:32 AM on April 29 [90 favorites]


Just to be clear, the key point in this hypothetical scenario is a very naked Jon Snow? At least that's what I'm getting.
posted by Justinian at 3:46 AM on April 29 [13 favorites]


And Night King. Naked Night King. Well, that was a sentence I was not expecting.
posted by jadepearl at 3:57 AM on April 29 [10 favorites]


From a narrative point of view, I’m sad Brienne didn’t die. Or Pod. Or Davos. Or Tormund.

But if it means people survived the zombie swarm/dragon roast in the courtyard, then I’ve made my peace because GREY WORM. When he had that furious, desperate moment realizing that the trenches weren’t lighting, I may have actually shrieked IRL and put my hands in my mouth.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:09 AM on April 29


Also, odds seem good Bronn shows up at Winterfell next episode, right?
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:12 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


I think Bran was waking up the Children yo head south.

Series ends with someone or no one on the throne, the children back behind the wall that Bran rebuilds, and Jon or Dany the Unburt king/queen in the North. Sansa abs Tyrion on the iron throne maybe.
posted by tilde at 4:28 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Corpses don't spread TB etc nearly as well as live people sitting around in tents waiting to fight a battle. As long as they're drinking from deep wells! They have to be drinking water somehow, they whole place is designed to survive a Winter, so I'm sure there's some deep wells underneath the crypts, they are probably drinking groundwater.

I don't think it's a books-only thing that Winterfell is what it is because it's built on a bunch of hot springs, so yeah.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:29 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Her dying at all sucked, but giving Lady Mormont a heroic death--the thirteen year old slays the undead giant by sheer grit--for me epitomizes how much the show is now embracing fantasy tropes. Most of the named characters who died went in some at least semi-heroic way. Surprises seem like they'll be limited in scope.

I've been saying this for ages but the idea that this wasn't a show that embraced fantasy tropes all along is absurd. That first major "subversion"--Ned's death, as seen through Arya's POV--is the first chapter or even prologue of every YA fantasy novel going back to the 90s. Nothing was particularly subversive except the fact that he did a bait and switch with the main characters and in fact all of the beats made perfect sense so long as you go in knowing that Arya, Jon, and Sansa are the actual main characters and pretty much everything in the series is there to inform their growth. I mention this upthread, but the level of narrative sophistication was really shown by the Hodor twist last season which was like something out of a Redwall book, not a Sophisticated Fantasy Novel with Great Worldbuilding. Of course, that level of bad, narmy, punnish dialogue has been with us since the first episode ("The things we do for love.") This just isn't that complex or sophisticated of a show.

So of course we get Lady Mormont stabbing a giant in the eye, because it gives us foreshadowing of Arya--and even Sansa, to an extent--being tough cookie fighters and coming into their own. In fact, the details of the battle almost specifically are recreated later in the Arya/Night King scene.

I've been happier with the series since I've admitted to myself that it's never going to rise above the level of fanfic, and I say this lovingly, as someone who reads a fair amount of it. Our best hope is to hope for satisfying fanfic, that our favorite characters will end up making out and paired off, that deaths, when they happen, will feel noble and earned and--if predictable--will at least satisfy the beats the storyteller needs. Occasionally this season we've gotten bad fanfic. Hate to use the term narmy again, but the first dragonriding scene was exactly that. My hope is that the rest of the series will at least be less narmy, but that interesting characters will end up kissing. It's the only real thing to root for now.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:31 AM on April 29 [27 favorites]


I think this is entirely a budgetary issue. The "falling into ice pieces" costs fx budget, getting stabbed is much cheaper.

I'm sure that's also why the only effect Viserion's ice breath ever had was to take down the wall. It's a shame. I had hoped to see lots of dudes on the battlefield getting flash-frozen and shattered like Terminator 2. That would have been badical.
posted by heatvision at 4:33 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Uh are we all ok with the dothraki just running into death and dying offstage? I mean as the people who supported Dany from the outset, that seems super crappy.

Just like America, Winterfell first sends its foreigners and minorities to fight the armies of the dead.
posted by chris24 at 4:35 AM on April 29 [17 favorites]


Jon: "Did your entire khalasar just... die?"

Dany: "You know, that was really unclear."

(Dany's entire khalasar is dead. So, as far as I can tell, are almost all her Unsullied, and two thirds of her dragons. That, uh. That's gonna throw a wrench in some things. Where by 'things' I mean 'plans of conquest'. I bet AeJon Starkgaryen and his theoretical claim are gonna start seeming like a whole lot more threatening prospect to her going forward.)
posted by jurymast at 4:35 AM on April 29 [9 favorites]


I knew the episode wasn't going to be the episode I wanted the moment that Jorah came back out of the darkness alive. Because for a second I thought that he had gotten cold mowed down with the Dothraki, and was like "so they're dispatching the b-tier heroes without a second thought, looks like we're gonna lose a bunch of a-tiers tonight." Instead we got a demonstration that plot armor exists in this universe.

also okay so I had really bought into the internet musings about how the real-world equivalents of Dothraki cavalry fought by raiding and retreating over and over again, so seeing them all die in one big dumb charge was a little bit "but why?" for me. maybe if there had been discussion of battle strategy before the start of the battle, or at some point in the last coupla episodes, so that we could get a clearer sense of how their plans had gone awry right from the start. Like some conversations between Jorah and whatshisname the Dothraki commander about rushing in and then retreating in order to bait the dead in a particular direction? so that when we see them all die right away, we're like "well that plan didn't work" rather than "wait, did they even have a plan?"

Anyway. I thought it was tense and thrilling throughout but I have no particular desire to rewatch it. I think the part of my brain that started taking GoT Very Seriously Indeed the last few weeks has turned back off. Going into the last three episodes expecting big dumb spectacle rather than anything that strictly speaking makes sense.

(which means by the principle that everything I predict about game of thrones is wrong that therefore the last three episodes are 1: going to be super talky 2: will bring all the plotlines together in a deeply satisfying way.)
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:36 AM on April 29 [13 favorites]


I liked it, really tense and crazy. My favorite part was Arya dispatching the Night King, because Arya should get all the best kills.

Melisandre showing up was awesome and the moment when she wasn’t sure she could light the trench was tense AF.

I have a lot of logic questions, but the biggest is that the Night King is impervious to dragon fire. Did we know that? Is it because he’s a Targaryen?

I would have been disappointed if Dany killed the Night King because then she would have been an uncomplicated hero to the people left in the North. Having a Stark kill the Night King is better for the plot, now Sansa can continue to fight for independence for the North because both Dany and Jon were basically useless in that battle. Jon Stark continues to be an idiot (just running at the Night King? Really?!?)

For a moment there I actually thought Dany might die, which would have been kind of incredible, but instead only people who should have already been dead were dispatched.
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:57 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


My brain is really NOT HELPING by reminding me it’s called a Song of Fire and Ice.

The song is Arya/Aria (groaner)
Ice is Jon
Fire you think is Danys until Arya does something to make Jon kill or not stop the killing of Dany and then it’s Sansa (trailers of her as Dark Phoenix isn’t helping)

Then Jon is the new Night Kingbehind the wall Bran builds. Maybe the Children bring the winter and you fight them fir the thaws.
posted by tilde at 5:02 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


My favorite part was the split second shot of the Dothraki horde at the moment when they could see the White Walker army. There was the briefest possible glimpse of their expressions of "OH NO OH GODS OH SHIT WHAT HAVE WE DONE WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE" before the Carnage began.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:03 AM on April 29 [6 favorites]


More coherent thoughts after a night's sleep.

First - I was excited about movie-length episodes, but now I'm less so. This episode was full of unearned tension. On first watch, it was tense, on later repeats it's going to be tedious. If any showrunners are reading this, please, you can have tension without the bullshit of dragging out battle scenes unnecessarily or resorting to "clearly about to die character being overwhelmed as a shot ends is miraculously alive in a pile of bodies sometime later." The trope was used up for all time by Joss Whedon when River Tam was shut in with the Reavers in Serenity and emerged unscathed. Or lightly scathed, I don't recall.

Second - Melisandre's end made perfect sense to me. She accomplished her life's work, and she was done. Maybe her magic ran out, maybe she just got tired of being old, or wanted to save Davos the trouble of doing it himself. Also, I would watch a show that is nothing but a small cast featuring Davos Seaworth post-GoT running a ship or something. Love the actor and character. (And the fact that Davos was, after everything, going to make good on his promise. He's still carrying that child's death with him, forever.)

Predictions for the rest of the series:

1) We will get Cleganebowl. It is mandatory.
2) Bronn will show up and kill Tyrion. As much as I love Tyrion, he's been useless this season and I think they're doing that on purpose. He'll get a minor redemption and then Bronn will show up and put a bolt in him with the crossbow that Tyrion used to kill Tywin.
3) Jaime will kill Bronn in retaliation. And ultimately Jaime kills Cersei.
4) The Warg-ing in S8E3 will make sense in a later episode. I hope.
5) Yara returns and kills Euron. Slowly, I hope.
6) We still never see Bronn and Cersei in a scene together.
7) Sam and Gilly have another child and name it Ed. (I hope.)

I guess Ellaria Sand is definitely dead? Or is there any chance she pops up again?
posted by jzb at 5:08 AM on April 29 [5 favorites]


I would have been disappointed if Dany killed the Night King because then she would have been an uncomplicated hero to the people left in the North. Having a Stark kill the Night King is better for the plot, now Sansa can continue to fight for independence for the North because both Dany and Jon were basically useless in that battle.

WE know that Arya killed off the Night King. What this comment presupposes is...does anybody else? Bran saw it happen, but Bran is just some weirdo stoner and a Stark besides -- will anyone believe him? Would anybody even ask him? My guess is that all the survivors really know is that they won.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:09 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


In the light of day--so they killed off all the brown people to save the white people? I know the brown-people-serve-the-white-people has been a thing this whole show, but gosh, that's crappy.
posted by schroedinger at 5:11 AM on April 29 [40 favorites]


Are all the Eowyns old enough yet to have Lyannas of their own?
posted by whuppy at 5:15 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Soooo, is Arya Azor Ahai, or did that just turn out to be not a thing? Maybe she's not Azor Ahai, but Lightbringer itself (the fancy sword Azor Ahai was supposed to have), since she's the most deadly weapon. Or not.

If you go by the theory that Melisandre's true purpose at the Battle of Winterfell was to snap Arya out of her panic and point her at the Night King, then technically, I guess that makes Melisandre herself Azor Ahai all along.

I'm into it.
posted by jurymast at 5:17 AM on April 29 [5 favorites]


So given all the reinforcement re: purpose that we got this episode (Beric, Melisandre) what’s in it for Jon? He’s done precisely nothing to help/protect Arya so that can’t be it. He was resurrected for a reason and that reason can’t have anything to do with the damn Iron Throne because “the gods” don’t give a shit.

So the NK is still in play. Whether it’s Bran turning into one or whatever, but there’s no way Jon was brought back to have sex with his aunt and get tangled up in politics.
posted by lydhre at 5:18 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Re: the tension and tedium; have none of y'all seen Das Boot.

I loved how the Hound was having a major PTSD flashback moment, until Beric pointed out Arya being a fucking badass, and then he finally stowed his shit to protect her. My heart grew ten sizes in that scene.

I also liked the earlier moment, a little easier to miss, when the Hound was ready to retreat inside the walls with everyone else, but Arya shot an arrow from the battlement, killing a rushing wight behind him, just off-hand saving his life. It shamed him into being part of the rearguard. And yeah when he sees Arya the second time it's not even shame or anything it's just instant rush to protect her ;_;
posted by fleacircus at 5:21 AM on April 29 [10 favorites]


I am done with the "here we see a shot of a character being swarmed and certainly dying" ... "and now they are miraculously alive!" shots.

Yeah, this. One of the very first things we see when the battle gets started is Brienne shout "Stand your ground!" and immediately get just freaking crushed to the ground by a wave of wights, screaming in fear and rage, and for a moment I thought this was going to be awesome, we were finally getting back to the narrative tension of actually not knowing who might die at any time, without warning or fanfare. Instead she just pops back up to her feet -- I had to rewatch to see that Jaime runs in to the rescue -- and the sense of danger just drains out of the episode. All major characters miraculously survive unscathed, and the throwaway minor characters who do die all get slow-motion orchestral elegies on the way down.

I like the show, it's fun and still has some great bits -- everyone squinting into the dark watching the dothraki swords silently get extinguished was excellent filmmaking -- but it sure doesn't feel like the same show it started out as.
posted by ook at 5:24 AM on April 29 [22 favorites]


Cersei's gonna be in the middle of a pitched battle vs. Team Good Guys on the steps of King's Landing when the real Night King and the true bulk of his army walks up out of the ocean behind them, Pirates of the Caribbean style.

Bet on it.

blease
posted by jurymast at 5:25 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


(Ok, not "all major characters" of course. Only the ones whose plot lines are obviously over. When Bran told Theon "you're a good man" it was like, oh thanks for closing his story arc, he's definitely doomed now)
posted by ook at 5:27 AM on April 29


I am a people-episodes over battle-episodes person just inherently (violence is really boring), but god that was worse than I even expected. It was all unearned tension and cheesiness. Oh really the Hound is inspired to help Arya? How shocking! Ten different people are saved from certain death by their friend coming up behind the wight and chopping it? What surprising tactics! You are just waiting around to see if the directors decided someone should die — that's it. There's no logic, nothing to follow along with or really care about. Nothing earned. Yawn.
posted by dame at 5:36 AM on April 29 [17 favorites]


Uh are we all ok with the dothraki just running into death and dying offstage? I mean as the people who supported Dany from the outset, that seems super crappy.
- - -
Just like America, Winterfell first sends its foreigners and minorities to fight the armies of the dead.


Adam Serwer (Atlantic)
The handling of the Dothraki and Unsullied last night reminded me of why I hope the GoT producers never get around to actually making “Confederate”

Also the show is just a bad idea
posted by chris24 at 5:39 AM on April 29 [35 favorites]


What I loved:
- Bran telling Theon "you're a good man" (OMG that was about the only thing that nearly made me cry, Theon had a good death. I've always had a soft spot for Theon, and I was so happy they let him find his honor and die trying to save a Stark. Him, of all people, yelling "stand your ground!" as the undead approached was perfect, and reaching for an arrow when there were none left. He killed Reek once and for all)
- Jon running forever through the field of dead to try and kill the Night King before he reached Winterfell
- the Night King smirking at Dany after the dragonfire does nothing to him, and then later giving Jon the "remember this?" look as he raised the dead
- Melisandre! "what do we say to the god of death?" like the world's most badass schoolteacher/mum, and lighting the Dothraki swords, and how much trouble she had lighting the defensive fires, and then fulfilling her own prophecy of being dead by dawn by....being dead by dawn
- the Dothraki riding into the dark
- Lyanna Mormont, holy shit (the undead giant was pretty scary)
- Arya all the way through. Not just shanking the NK in the most badass way possible, but before that, when she realizes the blood dripping from her head is loud enough to attract the undead when she's hiding under the table, the whole sneaking around the library Assassin's Creed thing, the fact that she's absolutely TERRIFIED like anyone would be and then remembers her training and gets her shit together to do what needs doing. Some masterful acting for sure
- Sansa and Tyrion in the crypt
- the Hound with PTSD
- the undead falling into the fire trench on purpose to make a bridge for the other undead to walk over, like ants

What I was meh about:
- the great epic dragon battle looked more like my dogs wrestling than giant mythological creatures having an airborne killfest
- as happy as I am that the plot armor proved to be impenetrable (Brienne! Jaime!), it felt dishonest that the only people who died were people we didn't really care THAT much about (except Theon)
- SUCH DARK! (I felt like an old lady: "WHAT'S HAPPENING? I CAN'T SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING! IS THAT A DRAGON?")
- there was so much battle that it got boring, and I wanted to see Brienne and Jaime et al doing brave things instead of just the occasional glimpse of them not getting killed
posted by biscotti at 5:39 AM on April 29 [22 favorites]


Missandei is totally going to snitch to Danerys re: Sansa's comment in the crypts to Tyrion about Dany and "divided loyalty". I bet we see some increased friction there next week.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 5:39 AM on April 29 [7 favorites]


Can Ser Jorah get a refund for his armor cuz his gear was about as effective as hot butter.
posted by srboisvert at 5:43 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


I WANT TO SEE GHOST KILL SOME FOOLS

ZOMBIE FOOLS

BLONDE RICH FOOLS

BUT DOG. GET WITH THE BITING
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:45 AM on April 29 [21 favorites]


Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Instagram is a good follow for those who like being gently trolled by their favorite GoT characters.
posted by sallybrown at 5:47 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


So given all the reinforcement re: purpose that we got this episode (Beric, Melisandre) what’s in it for Jon? He’s done precisely nothing to help/protect Arya so that can’t be it. He was resurrected for a reason and that reason can’t have anything to do with the damn Iron Throne because “the gods” don’t give a shit.

I mean, without Jon this whole battle isn't even happening, Winterfell is not a safe place for Arya to return to in the first place, etc etc. hopefully the lord of light doesn't always have to re-murder you the second you stop being useful to his grand plan of, uh, letting a little girl stab an ice lich
posted by Kybard at 5:49 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


my ironically favorite moment was the Night King's completely blank "ok I guess this is happening now" expression while falling off his ice-dragon

my unironically favorite moment was Sansa and Tyrion's moment behind the crypt. dinklage has always been a rock star on this show but their moments together (one of which contained the only decent dialogue in the whole episode) only emphasized how wonderfully Sophie Turner has matured as an actress
posted by Kybard at 5:53 AM on April 29 [21 favorites]


Why didn't that zombie dragon just move two feet forward and eat Jon? Why did he stand up and scream at it like he was trying to scare a bear away in the woods? And we'll never learn the answer to the question of what the blue fire was. Was it ice fire? Is Jon fireproof too?
posted by dis_integration at 6:11 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Random thoughts:

- Arya got her big kill, which means she can't get the Cersei kill too
- Sansa deserves a big kill, makes the most sense for that to be Cersei
- Jaime needs to die, can't let him kill Cersei, also can't have him around to interfere with my fav ship (tormund / brienne forever) so....what makes the most sense? Probably Cersei kills him. Or perhaps he goes down by saving (insert Brienne or Bran here) and getting a kill on the leader of the Golden Company bro
- Tyrion and Sansa might end up making sense
- Jon has kinda outlived his usefulness imo, and needs to die (again).
- Qyburn really needs to get killed by the Mountain somehow (only fitting, destroyed by his own monstrous creation etc)
- Clegainebowl 100%
- Bran feels a little useless now, can the Splinternet even be helpful w/ the upcoming conflict?
posted by lazaruslong at 6:14 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I definitely wanted to see if Jon was icefire-proof.

One thing that I did like was that every time they cut to those who were in the fight (so, not you, Sam), they were grunting and screaming and generally looked exhausted and terrified. It was good acting. That said, I agree with the comment that I would have prefered to see more actual fighting rather than just either swarmed or leaning against a wall and panting.
posted by TwoStride at 6:15 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


oh also if / when Tyrion dies, Sam would make an excellent replacement for Smarty Pants on Retainer
posted by lazaruslong at 6:16 AM on April 29


But my God, the thrill of the zombies swarming Drogon was fucking SOMETHING.


I especially loved the part where Drogon takes off and literally rained wights as he shook them off...
posted by mikelieman at 6:18 AM on April 29 [10 favorites]


Sam won't serve Dany, I bet, after gently toasting his brother. Sam is faithful to Jon. Without Jon, he'd be like "screw this I'm out."
posted by miss-lapin at 6:19 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


booooooring
posted by mwhybark at 6:38 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


I don't think Bran is the Night King that just got shanked, but I think it's possible that an upcoming twist is that he will be the next Night King. It makes sense that there's some sort of cyclical thing going on here, tied to the weird seasons, etc. Dany wants to break the wheel of human politics, but there's a bigger wheel that she probably can't break.

Someone in last episode's thread speculated about there being a pact made between the White Walkers and Starks thousands of years ago. It could be that this is all part of that arrangement: when Winter comes the White Walkers can attack (maybe related to the presence/absence of a Stark at Winterfell) if they are repulsed, a Stark becomes the Night King for the next go-around in a few thousand years.

On another note, I think for sure that this show (and the books) are absolutely littered with Chekov's Guns. There is so much stuff going on that not all of it can actually be significant. It adds to the world-building, and gives us a fantastic sense of detail but, much like real life, not everything is an actual omen. Sometimes a Direwolf is just a Direwolf.
posted by Shohn at 6:40 AM on April 29 [10 favorites]


I've slept on it thoughts:
This episode was essentially a bad horror movie and speaking as someone who doesn't get or like horror, no wonder I the episode left me cold.

Unlike previous large battle episodes this one was all about the unearned tension, characters being selectively stupid and the big threat, the zombies, alternating between oh so quick and violent, yet quiet and thoughtful when the plot needed. Mix that in with perpetual moments last minute saves (mostly, sorry Ed) and audience fake outs (Arya being under the table), and boring darkness and you get an astonishingly lackluster battle.

What I loved about previous large battles was that were a lot of characterization and intense conflict. Here, the zombies are pretty boring, and most of the characterization was pushed to the background, when it existed at all. The battle between dragons was...I dunno, it was too damn dark.

I have no idea why Mr. Hit a Dragon with one Ice Lance decided to fly around rather than waiting on the ground for Dany and Jon to show and getting himself all three dragons. Instead we get a couple of images of him holding a lance while on the dragon, waiting for the right moment, but it looked like he had several good moments, so why didn't he hit one of the other dragons? I dunno, just looked and felt like unearned tension.

So yeah, overall the episode was underwhelming but individual parts were great:
-Melissandre was completely amazing and loved that she literally came out of nowhere. Yet she wasn't sure she could light the trench and that was the best use of tension in the episode

-Little Bear, of course

-The Hound, awesome fighter, reduced to PTSD, yet snapping out of it for Arya. And her saving him!

-The realization that Bran pretty much manipulated everyone to be in position to kill the Night King. Did that mean a lot of people died? Yeah, but it got the job done and Bran's loss of humanity helped ensure it would get done.

-Arya! She wasn't totally quiet, one of the White Walker generals heard her and was reacting, but she was quiet enough for these super natural beings. Loved her years of training prepared her for this and it was foreshadowed in her sparing with others. .

-I'd totally ok with the Night King being dispatched in this episode. We've spent years watching people battle each other, it's only right that it comes down to that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:40 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Arya's empirically quieter than a drop of blood hitting the floor, which is also a good motto for her business card.
posted by fleacircus at 6:48 AM on April 29 [37 favorites]


I'm still processing this morning.

I generally enjoyed the episode, but prolonged battle scenes are tedious, and this one was no exception. I thought Arya's Jurassic Park Kitchen: Winterfell Edition scene was the strongest part of the episode.

I am feeling a bit unfulfilled simply because the show has been beating it into me for several seasons that who gets Iron Throne doesn't really matter, because Winter's Coming and the real battle is against the Night King. That's basically the only thing Jon Snow has been saying for the past two seasons.

And now, Winter came...and it's gone? The Night King is defeated, just like that? With 4 hours of content left?

I guess now we turn to Cersei, but I don't really care about Cersei all that much. Which is why I found A Feast For Crows to be such a slog.
posted by vitout at 6:49 AM on April 29 [12 favorites]


Nihilistic ending: Cersei wins the final battle and kills everyone, then takes a victory tour of the battlefield. Bran, who's back in Winterfell performs some ritual in the grove. Jon's corpse opens its blue eyes, and he's the new Night King. He stands, raises up the whole fallen army. Then all the named fallen characters, now zombies, surround and kill Cersei.
posted by Pryde at 7:01 AM on April 29 [15 favorites]


I'd love to see a Gendry-Arya alliance take the throne,

Didn’t Robert say something to Ned Stark back around the third episode about formalizing the connection between their houses — “My son, your daughter, eh?” He was of course talking about Joffrey and Sansa, but that was a match made somewhat lower than heaven.

I wish D&D realized that the most boring part of action shows is the action. Really and truly, the sobering reactions of our heroes to the Dothraki fires being extinguished one by one on the horizon was far more tense than the ensuing 55 minutes of murky pileups and grunts and clanging noises.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:15 AM on April 29 [15 favorites]


I watched it on my phone with my wife asleep next to me, so I had the volume down to almost nothing and the closed captioning on. I really need a supercut of just how many times the CC read “Man: Ugh!”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:17 AM on April 29 [15 favorites]


I guess the Dothraki are now a fully matriarchal society, so there's that.
posted by jurymast at 7:19 AM on April 29 [17 favorites]


I don't think Bran is the Night King that just got shanked, but I think it's possible that an upcoming twist is that he will be the next Night King.
There's a lot of dragonglass weaponry around now. I'm wondering if someone's going to try to kill Cersei with a dragonglass dagger through the heart and have that go wrong, but it might require other circumstances (Weirwood tree? Other rituals?) for appropriate magic to happen to get a rather worrying Night's Queen.
posted by edd at 7:23 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


I'm very late to the fun here, but Black Twitter has itself a great time watching #DemThrones.
posted by Nelson at 7:23 AM on April 29 [5 favorites]


Everyone but the characters thought hiding in the crypts was a crap idea when battling a zombie king. But here is the thing, Winterfell and the Starks have been aware of the zombie problem for generations. It makes no sense that they would not cremate their dead OR lay some magic mojo to make sure that the dead are kept down. I was hoping for some expensive fx of the Stark dead battling the Night King's army but no such luck. It just makes NO sense that a castle built on top of extensive catacombs did not take into account of the Stark dead as part of the battle planning.

Also, from a historical perspective, Bran the Builder made the Wall which was designed to keep the dead out, and he laid the foundations of Winterfell, no magic runes no traps or catches against the dead? Really?
posted by jadepearl at 7:24 AM on April 29 [24 favorites]


Yeah, the battle was monotonous and disgusting and terrifying and hard to follow, but for me it worked. War is attrition and horror, and the camera-work made it a properly Tolstoy-style view of battle, especially one where fire gets deployed strategically and it isn't a conventional battle like any of the people trained for. War by zombie is fundamentally war by attrition, except one side doesn't attrite.

And I mean, the part of me that was yelling about inappropriate deployment of light cavalry wanted there to be some more coughing and hacking from the smoke? But I can pretend it was Melisandre spending a little more of her fire-magic to shape the smoke on a massive scale.

(I still don't care about the Hound, guys. I can't find it within me to care. I cared about Theon in this episode, and I cared about Arya in this episode, and I cared about Jorah in this episode, but oh my God, I still don't give a fuck about the Hound.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:30 AM on April 29 [6 favorites]


I would have thought that the stone walls of the sarcophagi would have been enough to stop the half-decayed and mostly-decayed Stark remains from causing any trouble besides a lot of loud banging and scratching, but I guess the producers decided to go another way with that.
posted by cardboard at 7:32 AM on April 29 [6 favorites]


I would totally be down for a version of Game of Thrones that was all talky politics and intrigue and then references to how off-screen battles went, but that hasn't been that show since at least season 2, and I don't think it would ever have become anywhere near as popular without the periodic giant-epic battles, which apparently a lot of people like a lot.
posted by skewed at 7:33 AM on April 29 [7 favorites]


Full disclosure, I'm someone whose read all the books but who hasn't watched since season two because of the gratuitous sexual violence. I've been reading recaps since the show started outpacing the books because I kinda think we won't get them from GRRM. Given the direction of the books especially, I'm not surprised that the Night King isn't getting more story. This series has always been The War of the Roses with fantasy sprinkles.

To me the Night King/White Walkers have always been a sort of metaphor for climate change. The degree to which characters care about White walkers--or even believe in them depends on how much they are personally impacted by them. The Night's Watch are climate scientists; the free folk are nomadic communities affected by climate change but not listened to; Cersei and Kings Landing are the US: rich; arrogant; and refusing to acknowledge threat in the middle of power squabbles at home. The metaphor even holds up with this battle. The Unsullied and Dorthraki; are the global south who suffer first and most severely; the death of all but the most prominent and wealthy also tracks. It only falls apart with Arya killing the Night King. I think the books would have had the Night King as a threat hovering at the bottom of the last page. (Sam just discovers dragonglass in book 5, for Pete's sake.)

Anyway, back to the Game of Thrones. I think this is going to be the story of two queens now. Sansa: queen of the North vs. Dany who will become Queen of the South. Cersei is irrelevant. She will be killed by Dorne or the Iron Bank or slip on a patch of ice because who cares. Dany is going to want to rule all of Westeros because she's a Targaryen who can't stop listing her titles and Sansa will want a peaceful separation from the South. Jon will be caught between them and the war will be about Northern Independence. It will be a question of one throne vs. two and I think it will be settled in Winterfell. Sure Dany's lost her armies but there are probably might be some loose Freys around who won't bend the knee to a Stark; some anti-Secessionist southerners who will back Dany because she's got the dragons; or some rich families like the Tyrells who see her as a useful puppet who'd be easy to poison in a year or so. Someone will fight the Starks with her.

Finally, the killing of the Dothraki and Unsullied isn't pointless; it's the death of Dany the hero. Now she's just another Tagayren conqueror with a couple of dragons and not much concern about who they eat.
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 7:34 AM on April 29 [23 favorites]


I would totally be down for a version of Game of Thrones that was all talky politics and intrigue and then references to how off-screen battles went, but that hasn't been that show since at least season 2, and I don't think it would ever have become anywhere near as popular without the periodic giant-epic battles, which apparently a lot of people like a lot.

You could probably talk Sorkin into writing "The Red Keep." The women might not be as well-written in it, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:36 AM on April 29 [6 favorites]


White walkin' and talkin'
posted by fleacircus at 7:38 AM on April 29 [26 favorites]


If nothing else, on the one hand this could've stood to been extended another 10-15 minutes and split into two episodes, one with a cliffhanger downbeat ending and something something turn it around, so the actual named characters' deaths could've had a bit more time to breathe. On the other hand good lord it was pushing things at 81 minutes already.

I did like how they managed the beats between the living actually managing to keep the dead to a temporary standstill and the overwhelming numbers of the dead swarming the castle. And I know it was going to happen in the dark in a snowstorm with a chaotic blur of browns and blacks and blues, but it seems like they could've done a _bit_ more intentional lighting for the character beats inside the walls. Yeah great everything is naturally lit, fine OK, I'm sure it made the CG budget remotely approachable if they could sweep a lot of it under the "too dark to frickin' matter" rug... And while I really liked a lot of the living vs dead chaotic battle scenes - the dragon fights were just too impossible to follow so yeah, I tuned out until the end to see what happened. They looked cool, but neither the dragons nor the riders were identifiable. They needed, I dunno, jerseys. Something.
posted by Kyol at 8:01 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


The shot of Sansa and Tyrion hunkered down behind a crypt initially looked like they were being shot from above as they lay on top of a tall memorial of some sort and the idea of it cracked me up.

A bit too muddy looking in places for me to follow all the action and who's who, but I loved the lighted swords of the Dothraki going out.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:04 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Echo what others have said above re: favorite moments. I also said "oh NO!" out loud when Lyanna Mormont and Edd turned into wights.

Also hated the same things (too much darkness, plot armor, character stupidity, Arya Ex Machina). I always wonder the proportion of producers' notes or showrunners' blindness ruining things. Like someone said at the beginning of the thread, show just a moment or two of strategy (we Dothraki are going to false retreat to draw the wights) and then have that strategy fail! would help ratchet up the tension, rather than take me out of the episode because that was such a stupid move to waste some of your best warriors. All the arakh lights going out was nice moment, though.

I always wonder the proportion of showrunners' blindness or money-producers' notes goes into ruining shows/movies. Maybe they cut out all those little moments that would have made the show better because "moar zombies" was passed down from above.
posted by ishmael at 8:08 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Also liked the notion that the zombies are so overwhelming that they are raining down like water (coming off Drogon, or when Jon was walking through the castle to find the Night King).
posted by ishmael at 8:12 AM on April 29


Maybe I've just missed it but what or who was the Night King and what was the impetus for their campaign against the living (beyond "eh, living people suck")?

I thought all of this was building up to reveal about some meaningful connection to the world of the living or current events.

I assume the threat is over now but since I didn't actually understand the origin or reason behind the threat of the white walkers, I don't know?
posted by slimepuppy at 8:16 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Night King = magical experimentation by the Children of the Forest in their desperate attempts to push back humans invading from Essos goes badly, badly awry and holding him back becomes a principal focus of every significant power on the continent of Westeros for the next (ten?) thousand years. That’s show-only canon, not in the books afaik, but it’s a pretty blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene.
posted by Ryvar at 8:24 AM on April 29 [10 favorites]


I think Rhaegal survived and is gonna defect somehow. It seems the dragons have agency like humans do so maybe the battle for Winterfell broke something in his psyche. More dragon fights?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:25 AM on April 29


With all of Bran's extremely conspicuous warging around the Night King I'm not sure why anyone thinks that plotline is a wrap
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:27 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]




Arya Ex Machina

They literally spent the entire run of the show showing how she was preparing for basically this moment. If you disagree with the choice fine, but it’s not a deus ex machina by anything but a weirdly expanded definition beyond what it actually means.
posted by chris24 at 8:31 AM on April 29 [52 favorites]


OK here are my thoughts

LIGHTING PEOPLE LIGHTING. Spending a bajillion dollars on effects I can't really see and therefore don't really know what the hell is going on


I'll defend the dimness once. I suspect it was very much a budget thing. This is just TV after all, not some mega super hero epic for the cineplexes. And even if, has there seriously EVER been a TV episode this epic, even with the dimness?

Also, a quote from a friend who directs TV and film for a living and is best buds with one of the Game of Thrones' directors of photography:

I liked that. Bold choice. Most of the time broadcasters want levels way up. But this is how it would’ve been there and, for me, added to the anxiety of where are they? what was that? also makes me want to watch it again

Final emphasis mine.
posted by philip-random at 8:35 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


also, when is she going to tell Jaime she's the new Kinglsayer?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:35 AM on April 29 [12 favorites]


With all of Bran's extremely conspicuous warging around the Night King I'm not sure why anyone thinks that plotline is a wrap

Because the show is extremely inconsistent in terms of plot vs spectacle. That show may mean something or nothing, we don't know.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:38 AM on April 29 [11 favorites]


For what it's worth, in the after-show rundown they said they intentionally tried to distract the audience between her running offscreen and her appearing out of thin air. Which they did very effectively, at least to me, as I didn't expect her at all. It was meant to be a surprise!

As much as I'd have liked to see Jon cross swords with the Night King, Arya absolutely should have been the one to kill him. Jon's "run at it and try not to die" fighting style is obviously a bad, bad fit for this situation. A ninja with a Valyrian steel dagger, on the other hand, is exactly who you want for the job.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:39 AM on April 29 [12 favorites]


Because the show is extremely inconsistent in terms of plot vs spectacle. That show may mean something or nothing, we don't know.

It could very easily just have been Bran taunting the Night King and mean nothing at all. I'm on team It Means Nothing, and I expect there will be extremely limited Magic Shit (other than dragons) happening for the next three episodes. Bran might have another vision I guess, but what of? He might warg the Mountain?
posted by BungaDunga at 8:42 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Not the first time Sansa’s waited out a battle in the basement with a drunken Lannister.
posted by bq at 8:45 AM on April 29 [11 favorites]


I'll defend the dimness once. I suspect it was very much a budget thing. This is just TV after all, not some mega super hero epic for the cineplexes. And even if, has there seriously EVER been a TV episode this epic, even with the dimness?

We have a brand new TV (like two months old) with the brightness somehow auto-optimized and the screenshots I've seen of this episode look NOTHING like what we saw, FWIW. The battle scenes were busy and therefore confusing but not that difficult to visually make out at all. The scenes of Tyrion and Sansa in the tomb, especially, looked much brighter on our TV than what I've seen online.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:45 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


They literally spent the entire run of the show showing how she was preparing for basically this moment. If you disagree with the choice fine, but it’s not a deus ex machina by anything but a weirdly expanded definition beyond what it actually means.

To clarify, I specifically meant the how did she get there? Was she in the tree?

Oh! we had a theory last night- it would have been so much cooler if they showed Arya taking off a zombie face after standing in the crowd of wights to jump at the Night King.
posted by ishmael at 8:46 AM on April 29 [6 favorites]


what was everybody in the crypts looking at in their final shot?
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:47 AM on April 29


It could very easily just have been Bran taunting the Night King and mean nothing at all.

A friend pointed out that Bran was likely following the NK with the Ravens, so he could time everyone else's movements.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:48 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


immediately after Bran warged into the ravens that flew straight for the Night King's head, the zombies' battle tactics got hella smarter
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:50 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


Oh! we had a theory last night- it would have been so much cooler if they showed Arya taking off a zombie face after standing in the crowd of wights to jump at the Night King.

She even could have taken off the face of the girl wight she Assassin's Creeded in the library! That would have been cool! But no.
posted by jurymast at 8:51 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]




I had the same issue with the warging - why if we and they get no information from it - and someone replied to my tweet that it was basically calling attention to himself to get the Night King to come after him. Not sure if that’s right - the connection Bran mentioned with the Night King had not been tied to warging - but I guess it’s possible he shows up on radar more when warging to use an imperfect analogy.
posted by chris24 at 8:54 AM on April 29


>> Don't forget his fireproofing! Take that, Danaerys.

> Yes, there is that. It was kind of amusing to see someone use Dany's unburnt trick against her.

Possibly showing Night King was a Targaryen, along with him being able to ride a dragon?

(Probably well-covered already, sorry about that)
posted by Pronoiac at 9:06 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


With all of Bran's extremely conspicuous warging around the Night King I'm not sure why anyone thinks that plotline is a wrap

Hmmm. Two things that may mean absolutely nothing just occurred to me. 1) We have an unaccounted for dragon. 2) The conversation in S1 with Bran about riding a horse with a special saddle. Bran can't walk, but maybe he could ride a dragon with the proper equipment? (I'm not sure where you find ADA-compliant dragon gear in Westeros, but if we can have undead and fire gods, why not Bran riding a dragon?)
posted by jzb at 9:06 AM on April 29


One thing that I'm pretty certain of is that at some point along the way the showrunners got enamored by the success of The Walking Dead and said to themselves: "you know what people like to watch? it's battles against zombies!" and that's why we ultimately got last night's hot mess.

I'm not sure GRRM's intent was zombies. I'm not sure the phrase "winter is coming" was ever meant to be "zombie army is coming!", but people do love zombie stories, so that's what GoT became. I'd like to think that a better writer would have made the army of the Night King full of were-bears and frost giants and cool wintery things with brains and intentions, not just same-old same-old swarm o' bones and rags. I know that train left the station seasons ago, but still, I think it colors the disappointment of why this battle felt hollow, and the victory felt like it didn't cost enough (although the overlong piano-backed walk toward the grove seemed a heavy price as i was watching it).

I was kinda hoping Bran's thing would be to say "Welcome, my King"

Arya's bad-assery paid for all though, so that was satisfying enough.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:10 AM on April 29 [17 favorites]


Night King = magical experimentation by the Children of the Forest in their desperate attempts to push back humans invading from Essos goes badly, badly awry and holding him back becomes a principal focus of every significant power on the continent of Westeros for the next (ten?) thousand years.

And all it took was a little stab with dragonglass, and he's done? Nobody over the course of thousands of years thought of that, or was able to execute it, even though they knew dragonglass could defeat the Walkers?

This is where the episode starts to break down for me -- it's too simplistic. Too easy.
posted by vitout at 9:15 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


My Brienne/Jaime/Tormund shipper heart is full. I don't care how ridiculous it was that all our main buddies got through this episode alive, I was starting to take GoT too seriously anyway.

I feel a new throuple fantasy a-brewing!
posted by doornoise at 9:16 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


So given all the reinforcement re: purpose that we got this episode (Beric, Melisandre) what’s in it for Jon? He’s done precisely nothing to help/protect Arya so that can’t be it. He was resurrected for a reason and that reason can’t have anything to do with the damn Iron Throne because “the gods” don’t give a shit.

Perhaps Jon's purpose was to carry the message about the Night King's army. He was the one who became Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and said, sure, we've been fighting the Wilding's forever, but that's not important - the battle of living vs dead is what's important now. Than he took that message to the North. And then he took that message to Dany. This has basically been his overarching purpose for most of the last 3 or 4 seasons.

Of course, then maybe that means he should have died in this battle, but I don't think you necessarily have to die the second you've fulfilled your purpose. It just means if you do die, the Lord of Light won't bring you back.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:18 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


So does this mean Arya was the Prince That Was Promised?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:21 AM on April 29


In re: why some people (read: me) are dissatisfied with Arya killing the Night King:

On a meta level, it's... I don't want to say it makes no sense; part of what makes GoT GoT is that it doesn't always hew to predictable story beats. But it is unsatisfying, on a narrative level. There are other characters whose entire stories have been about the threat from beyond the Wall, and repelling the darkness; preserving the world of men. Jon, Beric, Melisandre, even Sam and Edd and Tormund. There are characters for whom it would have been meaningful to set aside their personal goals, or overcome some internal struggle, or enact some kind of redemption in killing the Night King. Dany has a chance to kill Jon and secure her claim, but kills the NK instead; Sam overcomes his fear and takes him out the way he took out the very first white walker he killed; Jaime kills the NK and is redeemed as Kingslayer. I'm just pulling random examples off the top of my head, but there's plenty of ways it could have gone that would have felt satisfying on some level.

But Arya's story has never been about Light versus Dark. Arya's story has never been about the white walkers, or the Night King. Arya has never cared one bit about saving the world. Arya's story has always been personal: revenge, identity, and trauma; family, and whether or not one can ever go home. But now, just because Arya happens to be in the vicinity and because she shares the position of Writers' Favourite Character with Tyrion and is a Certified Unstoppable Badass™, of course she gets to kill the Night King. Maybe if the writers had done a little more work teasing out an emotional arc of letting go, of coming to terms with the fact that she can't bring back the family she's lost but she can still save the family she has left... but they didn't. So we're left with what we have, which is a resolution which currently feels unearned and out of place.

On a purely storytelling level: one minute she's halfway across Winterfell getting a pep talk from Melisandre, and the next she's just SURPRISE right behind the Night King out of nowhere. If she's so overpowered she can literally just stealth in and merc the Night King anywhere at any time, then this entire episode was basically pointless. I've written a little in other comments about how the writers could have set it up a little better - show Bran spotting something while warging and then have him stall for time to let Arya get into place, or show Arya pulling off the face of the wight girl she killed in the library. But again... they didn't. She's just sort of... there. And yeah, I get that that's kind of the whole point of ninjas, but that doesn't make it good writing, or mean that it's not silly as hell in the watching.

I love Arya. But man. That was some nonsense.
posted by jurymast at 9:21 AM on April 29 [45 favorites]


Rhaegal ate Ghost.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:27 AM on April 29 [9 favorites]


Killing the Night King was the only way that everyone lives. Killing the Night King saved not just everyone's skin but specifically Arya's skin. I had no problem whatsoever with her deciding NOT TODAY. That makes perfect narrative sense to me.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:28 AM on April 29 [17 favorites]


This is where the episode starts to break down for me -- it's too simplistic. Too easy.

Yeah, I don't think you show the NK surviving dragonfire and then oops he cracks to pieces if you poke him in the right spot. The NK was done doing whatever he'd come to Winterfell for by the time Arya killed him.

I mean, I won't rule out the possibility that the writing is hot garbage, but I'm assuming this ending is mostly based on outlines GRRM has been dicking around with since the early 90s and so we can expect at least one satisfying twist related to all the white walker/children of the forest/three-eyed-raven nonsense we've been subjected to for all these years.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:28 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


I love Arya. But man. That was some nonsense.

Nah, Melissandre foretold it back in Season 2 or 3, when she mentioned that Arya would shut "brown eyes, green eyes and (dramatic pause) blue eyes). She literally has to give up her life and train with magic assassins to get the ability to do this. And people have been noting how quietly Arya can move and even then the Night King stopped her, but didn't prepare for the slick move fighting style she learned.

The point, to me, isn't that a simple dragon glass knife or arrow to the heart could have stopped the Night King, but that no one could really get close enough to do that. Except the small, trained assassin. Everyone was else just clearing the way for her to survive long enough so she could get close to do her work.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:30 AM on April 29 [50 favorites]


I thought it was amazing, and for whatever reason it looked good on my TV. I was not expecting to see so much disappointment on fanfare!
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:31 AM on April 29 [8 favorites]


Kybard: that sure was a lot of expensive, glorious nonsense, huh?

For me, this is the best summary of this episode.

lydhre: See my problem is that I don’t trust the show anymore. I want to think they’re being clever but I’m actually pretty sure they’re just being stupid.

YES. So much this.

So. Fucking. Tense.

For me, it was so. fucking. dumb. Like, painfully so.

Let's have a recap of this episode of Idiotball! We know there are a fuck ton of undead out there, somewhere in the dark. How do you react to that? I know - send out skilled horse riders with flaming, short-handled sickles! That's a great offense against an endless horde! Ah crap, those flaming swords all frizzled out pretty quickly, that's not a good sign. (But it sure did look pretty!)

I know -- send out the dragons! Yeah! Right into the dark! Maybe we should have done that first ... except maybe the Night King is out there, with his dragon-slaying lance? Eh, whatevs, we have two dragons! (Didn't you start with three? Oh, never mind.)

Oh -- we can't see in the snow? Well, good luck, potential Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and former King in the North! (Good thing Sansa was hunkered down ... amidst the dead ... wouldn't want to end a battle with a power void.)

Don't worry, we have the Unsullied! They'll stand strong against a crushing wave of the dead! Just stand in front of those unlit logs! We have to save those for just the right time, because then the undead might be scared off by the fire, or not get crushed into the burning logs by the scores upon scores of undead behind them!

Oh bother, the Night King realized he can use the undead like ants, to lay down their bodies to create bridges and ladders. We really should have planned for ... ANY OF THIS. LITERALLY. ANY OF IT.

Don't worry, Bran is still safe! And look, they're using distance as a barrier! With flaming arrows! That's smart, right? But shouldn't the archers be paired with some pikes or at least guys with shields and swords, not only archers? Huh, maybe we'll try that next time.

But good news! Theon has a chance to charge the Night King! Go Theon, go! Oh, he also got defeated. But we just saw Lyanna Mormont kill an undead giant with her final breaths, so Theon will do something similar, right? Nah, that's too obvious, and his death would be too meaningful.

Oh hey, why not just let Ayra literally fly in and save the day? Yeah! Great plan, team! Way to win this game of Idiotball, and in doing so, put an end to the threat that was the tagline of this show. Winter came, but it was defeated! Boo-yah! Next stop: King's Landing! With our .. uh, remaining ten fighting people? Yeah, why not? Oh, we also have a dragon or two! (Don't they have giant crossbows to slay dragons in King's Landing?)

Sorry to piss in the punchbowl. I'll keep watching for the spectacle, but I'm suddenly verging on hate-watching.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:34 AM on April 29 [27 favorites]


I'd like to think that a better writer would have made the army of the Night King full of were-bears and frost giants and cool wintery things with brains and intentions, not just same-old same-old swarm o' bones and rags.

Ice-spiders. We were promised ice-spiders.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:36 AM on April 29 [25 favorites]


" I was not expecting to see so much disappointment on fanfare!"

I think at this point people have built up such elaborate and baroque theories, and there's so little time left in the series, that there's bound to be a lot of disappointment every episode as each one closes down a bunch of possible narrative corridors.

Also I think I'm going to be an army size truther (since shiptruthering has no place in this episode) ... they were packing massive hoards of people into Winterfell but then the courtyard was mostly empty and huge portions of the castle completely empty? That wrecked my suspension of disbelief a couple of times. "4700 people just raced into the courtyard and now it's mostly empty????" quoth my brain.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:38 AM on April 29 [15 favorites]


Possibly showing Night King was a Targaryen, along with him being able to ride a dragon?

When the White Walkers attacked the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven in season six, there was a moment when the Night King walked over a fire trench and the fire went out around his feet. So it wasn’t surprising to me that he’s apparently impervious to fire, though I was expecting to see some kind of bubble effect around him once the dragonfire died down. I definitely don’t think he’s a Targaryen, just winter personified.
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:40 AM on April 29 [5 favorites]


Soooo, what's a Three Eye Raven to do now? Night King is defeated, all that's left is wars between humans, will Bran even care?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:42 AM on April 29


I cannot express how much I agree with lilac girl’s comment above. Yes yes yes. Such an articulate and accurate explanation of why this particular denouement of the grand arc of the series feels so deeply disappointing, banal, and dated.

Also, for anyone still clinging to hope that the show runners have any plot-redeeming tricks up their collective sleeves, I urge you all to tune in to the “inside the episode” bits at the end, wherein said show runners spend several minutes crowing about the brilliance and subtlety of all their dullest and most obvious moves. This week, for example, they lauded their decision to “surprise” the audience with Arya’s ninja magic leap by making sure the audience had certainly “forgotten” (like, WTF?!) all about her in the preceding 20 minutes (seriously. They assumed we would forget Arya, the littlest most badass ninja with the thickest weight of portents and preparations and scores to be settles and basically the series’ central character, existed because she stepped out of frame for 10 minutes.) Much to my surprise, these comments were not made tongue-in-cheek; they seemed sincerely not to understand that the minute Arya ran out of frame proclaiming “Not today!” after a conversation with the prophecy witch, all anyone in the audience was waiting for was for her to pop back into frame in a moment of heroism. I’ll admit that I thought she was going to kill the Night King just in time to save Jon (not Bran), but there was never any doubt that it was going to be her from the minute she and Melisandre first locked eyes.

ugh.

Count me among the unsurprised yet disappointed. On the upside, I no longer have to deal for the next three weeks with the giddy anticipation and that things might turn out to be satisfying, a hope that Ep 2 sparked ever-so-briefly in my cynical heart.

Rage yawn!
posted by Dorinda at 9:50 AM on April 29 [19 favorites]


French Fry: Why piano??? PIANO ????

Seems like Ramin Djawadi (IMDb) got some Westworld in his GOT sountrack this time.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:50 AM on April 29 [11 favorites]


Why even send out the dothraki? It's not like the NK was using a siege strategy; he was coming to them. Which leads me to ask... shouldn't the NK have used a siege strategy? It's not like his army needed food. He's waited thousands of years already, what's a few months?

Now THAT would have been a high-quality trope subversion. Force the good guys to completely change their plans because their enemy denied them the decisive battle they prepared for.

(Jon was useless on his dragon mainly because he was distracted trying to keep his testicles un-crushed.)

I am done with the "here we see a shot of a character being swarmed and certainly dying" ... "and now they are miraculously alive!" shots.

What's the Westeros equivalent of a dumpster?

Well, that was a lot of expensively shot darkness.

Yeah, I'd love to know what kind of hardware the editors and such are watching these night scenes on when they decide that impenetrably muddy darkness is acceptable in a final cut.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:57 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


But Arya's story has never been about Light versus Dark. Arya's story has never been about the white walkers, or the Night King. Arya has never cared one bit about saving the world. Arya's story has always been personal: revenge, identity, and trauma; family, and whether or not one can ever go home. But now, just because Arya happens to be in the vicinity and because she shares the position of Writers' Favourite Character with Tyrion and is a Certified Unstoppable Badass™, of course she gets to kill the Night King. Maybe if the writers had done a little more work teasing out an emotional arc of letting go, of coming to terms with the fact that she can't bring back the family she's lost but she can still save the family she has left... but they didn't. So we're left with what we have, which is a resolution which currently feels unearned and out of place.

I think Arya sneaking up on the Night King makes perfect sense. This would be third time she's either murdered or arranged a murder to help free herself and her friends (1st time in Hallerral; 2nd time escaping Roose Bolton)-- and those were before becoming an assassin. Her arc has been "the ultimate survivor" +"the person no one saw coming."
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 10:04 AM on April 29 [19 favorites]


If I can be forgiven for offering a fan fiction rewrite of an already perfectly fantastic fan fiction rewrite, having Arya kill the Night King while wearing a face could have been even better if she was wearing Theon's face. "what is dead may never die" indeed.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:18 AM on April 29 [8 favorites]


tobascodagama: I'd love to know what kind of hardware the editors and such are watching these night scenes on when they decide that impenetrably muddy darkness is acceptable in a final cut.

It may not have been the editors ...

Nelson: Someone really fucked up the digital encoding. It wasn't all just too dark and snowy to see clearly; that's a trick to save money letting them cheat on the quality of the sfx. It was also video encoded poorly, judging by all the online complaints of posterization. It's possible to make a dark H.264 stream look good but it takes extra work.

With its latest battle, Game of Thrones solidifies its seat on TV’s VFX throne -- You can kind of tell by looking, but Ars spoke with some VFX pros who concur. (Nathan Mattise for Ars Technica, April 28, 2019)

But it's not all digital effects. Here's the Night King with heavy prosthetics only vs punched up in post-production (I didn't register the differences, so I threw them into one image).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:19 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Soooo, what's a Three Eye Raven to do now? Night King is defeated, all that's left is wars between humans, will Bran even care?

It will be incredibly weird if they introduce Bran's ability to warg through time just for a sad Hodor moment. Like surely that needs to come back, that's a crazy specific powerful move and a big ask for the audience to accept if it first shows up in the final episodes, so the Hodor thing feels like it's just establishing it for future use. But I don't have any faith that they will bring it back, I could totally see it just being this awkward blip.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:23 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


" I was not expecting to see so much disappointment on fanfare!"

The GoT related subreddits are unreadable now. I used to like them for theories and backstory from bookreading fans but now...hoo boy.
posted by MillMan at 10:25 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


/r/freefolk is the same delight it's always been, so I'd recommend sticking there.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:28 AM on April 29 [6 favorites]


For example.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:29 AM on April 29 [20 favorites]


I'm not disputing that Arya has the necessary skills to kill the Night King. That doesn't make her doing so any more satisfying to watch than if Gandalf had swooped in on those Eagles ten minutes earlier, plucked the Ring out of Frodo's hand, and dropped into Mt. Doom his own damn self. I mean... I guess????? But.

(I get that Gurm doesn't like Chosen One narratives. I'd have been more than fine with there having been a knock-down, drag-out, messy fight between the White Walkers and our heroes, and somehow in the chaos Arya manages to shiv him in the back because she's small and fast and war is messy and the Destined Hero doesn't always get to kill the Big Bad. But they sure played it like it was Arya's destiny™ all along to kill the Night King, slow-motion and dramatic music and all, and that just... nah.)
posted by jurymast at 10:30 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


You can't call it fan service if the fans are all pissed off lol
posted by clockzero at 10:33 AM on April 29 [14 favorites]


One thing that I'm pretty certain of is that at some point along the way the showrunners got enamored by the success of The Walking Dead and said to themselves: "you know what people like to watch? it's battles against zombies!" and that's why we ultimately got last night's hot mess.

This is funny because the The Walking Dead hasn't had zombies as the serious enemies for something like 3 or 4 seasons now.
posted by srboisvert at 10:36 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


They played it like we were supposed to see it as the culmination of something epic, like all the pieces of something were finally falling into place, like this was how it always had to be, for so it was written, etc. etc.

Instead it was just sort of like, "Wait, what? ...Oh."
posted by jurymast at 10:36 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


I'm not disputing that Arya has the necessary skills to kill the Night King. That doesn't make her doing so any more satisfying to watch than if Gandalf had swooped in on those Eagles ten minutes earlier, plucked the Ring out of Frodo's hand, and dropped into Mt. Doom his own damn self. I mean... I guess????? But.

I'm ok with Super Arya because the show has, in my mind, spent years building her up and foretelling everything she's been through would come to this moment. It didn't feel like it at the time, was a bit of a slog, especially with The Waif, but it's a good example of the show having some narrative bones.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:37 AM on April 29 [14 favorites]


The recent closeness between Sansa and Tyrion works on a bunch of levels, including providing a good reason for Sansa and Brienne to travel to Kings Landing with the Lannister brothers (and maybe Pod and Bronn?), further increasing the tension between Dany and Sansa. Without the good reason of accompanying Sansa, I can’t see Brienne being like “sure, Jaime, I’ll come with you to see your ex/sister who you’re ‘totally over’ but who’s also pregnant with your baby.”

:-O
posted by sallybrown at 10:37 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


I'm ok with Super Arya because the show has, in my mind, spent years building her up and foretelling everything she's been through would come to this moment. It didn't feel like it at the time, was a bit of a slog, especially with The Waif, but it's a good example of the show having some narrative bones.

Agreed. She's the chosen one because she's worked hard to be the chosen one. I guess that's still a subversion. Is it a super complex one? Nah. But it's a pretty good story.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:39 AM on April 29 [13 favorites]


They assumed we would forget Arya, the littlest most badass ninja with the thickest weight of portents and preparations and scores to be settles and basically the series’ central character, existed because she stepped out of frame for 10 minutes.)

I was surprised. Partly because I thought she'd gone to the crypt to save Sansa, and partly because they'd shown us that she couldn't get through more than a couple of undead at a time, and I knew that the Night King had a dozen white walkers with him plus thousands more undead right now in the courtyard. So I was really surprised when she showed up - I'd been waiting for something much bigger (that Bran was warging) to suddenly step on the Night King.
posted by Mogur at 10:47 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Overall I liked it. And I liked how Jon and Dany were useless in dispatching the Night King. The first three episodes have all been, in their own way, callbacks to the first season and the arcs it set up l but the ultimate arc was establishing the show's love for the Kansas City Shuffle. Oh you think this is your protagonist? Well FUCK your protagonist! Only works if you manage to get the audience to think that this is your protagonist. You had to make people. Actually believe that Ned could make it for that scene to matter at all.

But then where do you go from there? Well, you then tell a traditional fantasy story with two telegraphed heroes with a villain they need to face to get everybody looking at your left hand (which they already told you you shouldn't be looking at) while setting up the right. Ned's death was supposed to make you doubt everything and it didn't. You still had narrative expectations because of the opening scene, but you can't really complain you weren't warned that the rules you expected turned out not to be the rules at this point.

Now, you certainly might say that's cheap, and I think that the show has a tough hill to climb. "Haha that was my plan all along" is pretty lame on its own. But I think the goffy scene of Jon yelling at Viserion for no purpose manages to make the point explicit. These stupid fantasy tropes are stupid. Jon's honor amounts to nothing and would have gotten him killed but for Arya's tenacity. He just yells at the dragon and it dies for reasons entirely out of his control. Thats what this show has always been about. Honor is nice and all, but it's no substitute for compitence.

Also lighting the Dothraki swords and watching them all go out was masterfully done. To paraphrase another HBO show that encapsulates what this one is about "You thought it was going to be one way, but it's the other way."

And that gets me to some very valid criticisms of the episode I've seen. I do think that too many characters got away alive. Both because everybody at the "we're all going to die" drinking party did not, in fact die, and because (on a technical level) you can only bury a person in zombies so many times before I stop taking your zombies seriously. Even if I accept that a zombie bite doesn't automatically turn you into a zombie I still have to wonder what all thirty of the zombies are doing when they dog pile you that you can show up later with a cool scrape on your forehead. Also the Night kings Bond villain walk towards Bran was corny as hell. Arya gets to be as fast as she wants so why do you need to pad out that goofy shit?

As far as the darkness and chaos of the cinematography is concerned I didn't mind it as much as a lot of people. The battle was dark and chaotic. My girlfriend turned to me at one point and said "how do they know who to stab? " and that's exactly the question those sequences were meant to make you ask. But it did eventually make the episode frustrating to look at. Oh, more mist of a certain color. Great.

Overall I give this a tentative B+. It was visually gorgeous when you could see what was going on, surprisingly heartwarming/rending when it needed to be, and an effective reminder of exactly what this show has been selling from the beginning.

Davos should have died protecting Arya and The Hound with The Hound seeing it. Davos didn't need to see Mellisadre go all Ethan Edwards. Who cares about that? The whole point is her job is done.

B+
posted by East14thTaco at 10:50 AM on April 29 [12 favorites]


As nitpicks are such a very important part of life, here's mine:
When you are being swarmed and overwhelmed, don't use spears, bows, heavy hafted weapons, etc, etc, etc. The Unsullied in particular - they would have known it was time to switch to gladii or dragonglass dagger or something.

Seeing people fend off massive hoards of zombies with long and/or slow weapons kinda drove me a bit nuts.
posted by Golem XIV at 10:51 AM on April 29 [9 favorites]


Beric’s death made thematic sense, I guess, but scene-wise he specifically makes his way into a room that happens to have Melisandre in it. Why didn’t she revive him one last time, they were both literally there.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:54 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


One thing that's interesting to me (and this is related to the fact that it's not clear if anyone else in Westeros will even believe that the Night King and the army of the dead were real, or as bad as they were made out to be) is that the whole of the White Walker threat was completely dependent on the Night King's well-being, which made them nearly invincible because he was very close to invincible. The whole army of the dead was like a Prince Rupert's drop: from the Night King on down to the lowliest wight, they were terrifyingly strong and unstoppable; the NK took the equivalent of a bullet to the face ("DRACARYS!") without flinching, as a Prince Rupert's drop can do; but Arya snipping the tail (the NK's utter weakness to a Valyrian steel blade to the gut, right between the plates of his armor) literally shattered him, shattered his whole ~150,000 + army of unstoppable wights. Terribly strong but equally fragile to the right force applied in just the right way.

Remember that the Night King and his magic are not robustly constructed from human rationality and planning: they're powerful elemental magic, akin to nature (though sort of perverted by weaponization) and thus follow rules that don't necessarily comport with what a reasoning, sapient person might think logical or fitting.
posted by clockzero at 10:55 AM on April 29 [18 favorites]


I'm kind of coming around to the idea of the Night King being the Ned Stark of this season (surprise, he's dead now).

Depending how it all ends, I guess.
posted by rewil at 11:01 AM on April 29 [6 favorites]


I still feel a little weird about hero moments for Winterfell-sacking, child-murdering Theon and child-burning Melisandre.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:06 AM on April 29 [15 favorites]


I think Theon and Melisandre were both being used. Something is going on with Bran and the NK that hasn't been fully explained yet.

(Theon is not a good man. We should not trust anyone who tries to tell us that he is.)
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:08 AM on April 29 [11 favorites]


Ned's head wouldn't be in the crypt because Joffrey had it mounted on the castle wall at Kings Landing.

I forget who the brown eyes was, was Ayra's blue eyes kill was the Night King. I assume the green eyes will be Cersei. I'm just wondering whose face Arya will wear to get close to her.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 11:12 AM on April 29


"but Arya snipping the tail (the NK's utter weakness to a Valyrian steel blade to the gut, right between the plates of his armor) literally shattered him"

Also key point: the Night King had to be in a weirwood, where he was made, in order to be unmade. Likely he was invincible until he went into the weirwood to get Bran.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:12 AM on April 29 [33 favorites]


I think Theon and Melisandre were both being used. Something is going on with Bran and the NK that hasn't been fully explained yet.

Maybe the Long Night was only ever just a story Bran heard growing up and Bran manifested it and is basically Anthony Fremont just this side of wishing everyone to the cornfield.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:12 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Am I the only person who doesn't want to see Jaime and Brienne together? From the start, I've felt like Brienne's one true calling? Passion? Was being honorable and defending her liege. She has never seemed interested in romantic love, from anyone. All of her feelings for Jaime come from him treating her as she is. Falling in love with Jaime (or Tormund) would be a distraction away from her true purpose.

Also, Dany could not shed one actual tear for Jorah. She screwed up her face and made boo-hoo sounds, but not one tear?
posted by lyssabee at 11:15 AM on April 29 [9 favorites]


they would have known it was time to switch to gladii or dragonglass dagger or something.

In my circles, such as they are, by far the loudest and most detailed criticisms have been (other than the darkness) the extremely inept planning of the whole battle strategy. Weapon choices, defense posture, the whole thing - basically many of the points that dorothyisunderwood it on above.

If you're going to spend millions on special effects, maybe toss $10K or so at a military historian and/or tactician, particularly one who specializes in castle warfare.
posted by anastasiav at 11:17 AM on April 29 [22 favorites]


"Also key point: the Night King had to be in a weirwood, where he was made, in order to be unmade. Likely he was invincible until he went into the weirwood to get Bran."

I just rewatched both the making of the Night King, and Arya killing him, and she drives her dagger into him in the same place that the Child of the Forest did when creating him. So yeah, I think he wasn't so much killed as unmade, and the only way to unmake him was stabbing him in the same place (on his body) while under a weirwood tree. He might have been able to be slowed or hobbled by conventional methods of fighting white walkers, but to unmake him, it was always going to have to be blade to the chest under a weirwood tree.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:20 AM on April 29 [25 favorites]


Also, Dany could not shed one actual tear for Jorah. She screwed up her face and made boo-hoo sounds, but not one tear?

I imagine everyone was pretty dehydrated by that point.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:21 AM on April 29 [23 favorites]


Anyone else get the vibe that Grey Worm and Missandei are done with this shit? I mean they explicitly talked about wanting to live somewhere else. But also her telling off Sansa in the crypt, and Grey Worm realizing his troops were just zombie fodder poorly used. I think they leave right away, maybe found the nation of Wakanda.
posted by Nelson at 11:22 AM on April 29 [35 favorites]


Why didn’t she revive him one last time, they were both literally there.

She believed his task was over, and perhaps that the Red God would refuse to bring him back even if she asked. Thoros certainly didn't think he was bringing Beric back, but that the Red God was doing it when he asked. With Beric's task done (as she sees it), there'd be no point. He'd just stay dead.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:23 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


I feel like someone must have mentioned this already, but I'm not finding it, so: could Beric's death been any more of a visual Christ allegory? Dude was just backlit in the hall in his "hung like this" pose for so long I felt like D+D were going to cut in from the side and be like "get it? eh? eh?".
posted by tocts at 11:25 AM on April 29 [13 favorites]


No matter how big and pointy it is, I am going to be so pissed when, inevitably, at least one dragon survives an army of magical dead and undead and a zombie dragon and then dies from Cersei's stupid ballista thing.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:26 AM on April 29 [20 favorites]


Am I the only one who saw Arya drop her dagger, Bran catch it, and BRAN stick the Night King?

Do I need to go back and rewatch that?
posted by drfu at 11:26 AM on April 29


She [Brienne] has never seemed interested in romantic love, from anyone.
Wasn't she in love with Renly?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 11:27 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


tocts: I thought the same thing, but then decided that was him trying to hold back the zombies to give arya and the hound more time to escape. Which, fine, but then they kept WAITING FOR HIM TO CATCH UP. Yet another head-scratcher.
posted by nushustu at 11:27 AM on April 29


I feel like someone must have mentioned this already, but I'm not finding it, so: could Beric's death been anymore of a visual Christ allegory? Dude was just backlit in the hall in his "hung like this" pose for so long I felt like D+D were going to cut in from the side and be like "get it? eh? eh?".

Yup, I groaned at that moment, too.

jason_steakums: I still feel a little weird about hero moments for Winterfell-sacking, child-murdering Theon and child-burning Melisandre.

That's actually something I appreciate about this show -- most of the characters aren't villains or heroes, they're people who have done a variety of good and bad things, depending on the circumstances.

And then they go heavy with "The Religious Guy has his Selfless Christ On the Cross moment, dying so that others may live."

If it's subtle, some folks might miss it.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:27 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


I was surprised. Partly because I thought she'd gone to the crypt to save Sansa, and partly because they'd shown us that she couldn't get through more than a couple of undead at a time, and I knew that the Night King had a dozen white walkers with him plus thousands more undead right now in the courtyard. So I was really surprised when she showed up - I'd been waiting for something much bigger (that Bran was warging) to suddenly step on the Night King.

Me too. I thought Bran had some trick up his sleeve. Turns out his trick was Arya, that he'd set up forever ago, when he gave her the dagger. I really can't think of a better one, though I did like the suggestion upthread that Arya and Jon could have taken him out together. But overall- other than dragonfire, a bolt-from-the-blue was really the only plausible way the writers could have found to kill him. Only Arya was really equipped to get close enough- and she's the only person on the continent with a Valyrian steel dagger. Everyone else has big ol' swords that would not work well at all.

I am going to be so pissed when, inevitably

... Sea Ramsay pulls off some implausible bullshit and gets more character kills than the Night King did.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:31 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


She [Brienne] has never seemed interested in romantic love, from anyone.

rhamphorhynchus: Wasn't she in love with Renly?

It was kind of like Sansa's love of Joff -- it was an idealized love, though Brienne had more reverence and awe for Renly as a pure and good leader, where Sansa was in love with the idea of Joffrey, a prince who could make her queen one day.

While talking about the episode with co-workers, I 1) got kind of caught up in their enjoyment of the episode, and wished I saw it at a viewing party, and 2) was reminded of the sad and tragic lack of Lady Stoneheart. Fans were peering into shadows before last night's episode and thought they saw a face on Mars, er in the curtains.

But ... what if the Night King raised her from the dead, and she survived on a new-found desire for revenge? Yeah, I didn't think so.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:34 AM on April 29


Am I the only one who saw Arya drop her dagger, Bran catch it, and BRAN stick the Night King?

It was specifically a call-back to the Arya/Brienne sparring scene (2:47) from season seven, where she does a similar trick. It's easy to miss on-screen, but you can see it more clearly in this gif of Williams and Christie practicing.
posted by dephlogisticated at 11:39 AM on April 29 [17 favorites]


I guess the Night King really was, in the end, just an AI weapons system with a hard-to-reach off-switch that went rogue and tried to kill everyone. That's more or less all the show has told us he was, and everything else- all the theorycrafting, pulling stuff from the books and so on- was not borne out. Which may be disappointing for some but in the end I think it works.

With the one small caveat that there's no explanation at all why they suddenly became a threat recently, and not a thousand years previously or a hundred years hence.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:39 AM on April 29 [14 favorites]


Dephlogisticared: just went back and rewatched that scene, yeah I got confused.
posted by drfu at 11:43 AM on April 29


drfu: I thought Arya had landed on the Night King's sword, so I kept expecting her to keel over after killing him.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 11:45 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Also key point: the Night King had to be in a weirwood, where he was made, in order to be unmade. Likely he was invincible until he went into the weirwood to get Bran.

Oh man, GRRM just can't get away from Tolkien, huh?

There is certainly a perfect narrative harmony to that idea, but just out of curiosity, is there any specific indication that this was the only place where NK could be killed?
posted by clockzero at 11:57 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


I'm just wondering whose face Arya will wear to get close to her.
Oooh, Jaime Lannister's, methinks.
posted by missmobtown at 12:11 PM on April 29 [8 favorites]


the Night King does not (as far as we presently know) exist in the books.

That was just an offhand remark in reply to Eyebrows McGee's comment. Also this is a Show Only thread anyway, my good (great!) octorok
posted by clockzero at 12:31 PM on April 29


I honestly don't know what anyone was talking about with it being too dark to see. There was one five-minute stretch after the Dothraki are killed and the dead army swarms the front line where it's dark but the reason you can't tell what's going on is that it's a bunch of quick cuts and shaky camera movements. But to me that was a deliberate choice.

It reminded me a lot of shots I've seen in films where someone gets knocked over by a wave and the camera is tossed in the surf and you can't tell which way is up. After that sequence I had no trouble distinguishing who was doing what where. In fact, I'd say they did a lot of of work to make sure this night battle was filled with as much light as possible without shooting day for night.

Not to say I didn't have problems with some of the choices made in the episode, but lighting was not one of them.
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:31 PM on April 29


I honestly don't know what anyone was talking about with it being too dark to see.

There were actual issues with the color/smoothness of the picture for a lot of people (not sure of the technical term, but the way a photo looks grainy/off if you filter it a bunch of times). I chalked it up to my tv being a few years old, but I’ve read elsewhere that there was some issue with the compression of the picture for streaming. It was noticeably different than last episode, but then so was the amount of blackness!
posted by sallybrown at 12:43 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Kinda wondering if there’s an HDR-related disconnect here between what different people are seeing, and also vs what the VFX/mastering team was seeing if they’re on higher-end equipment. Technically you’re always supposed to review on consumer-grade gear but on a tight timeline that’s one of the first steps everybody skips...
posted by Ryvar at 12:51 PM on April 29 [7 favorites]


One more thing RE: Bran and Theon. That wasn't a touching moment of humanity from Bran toward Theon. That was Bran getting Theon to sacrifice himself in order to give Arya the precious few moments she needed to get into place.
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:57 PM on April 29 [26 favorites]


You know, in thinking about this more, the meeting between NK and Bran was...weird. Like, that was a long amount of eye contact. And while I could be wrong, I don't remember either one them looking particularly....pissed? Even really menacing? Just kinda like, hey, how ya doin. Hey, fine thanks.

IDK. There's something weird going on with them.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:04 PM on April 29 [11 favorites]


My headcanon for this episode is that Arya assassinated the Night King by killing and weirwood tree and covering her face with bark, thus disguising herself as a tree. It's the only way that I can understand her sneaking up on him and attacking from that crazy angle.
posted by _cave at 1:08 PM on April 29 [7 favorites]


could Beric's death been anymore of a visual Christ allegory?

As I was watching I said "well somebody's seen Platoon and I think that's basically what is was. A director understanding that they only get this shot once and for $15 million why the hell not now?

And that's fair, actually. Treat yourself.
posted by East14thTaco at 1:09 PM on April 29 [9 favorites]


I’m just here to say that I loved it and it was amazing! So many characters I have had the thought “ohh, this one’s my favorite.... oh also this one is my favorite...”

But Arya was always my *favorite* favorite! I loved it. She 100% earned it. And actually before she made her move, when Theon went down I was thinking “c’mon Theon! Stab him in the toe with a dragonglass arrowhead or something!”. But yeah I was stunned and thrilled with how it went down.

And no matter how this episode was done, over half of the fans would be dissatisfied, it’s just how it goes with such an epic story.

I also had trouble seeing things but I could see ok enough kinda barely.

Can’t wait to watch it again!
posted by megafauna at 1:11 PM on April 29 [6 favorites]



I'll defend the dimness once. I suspect it was very much a budget thing. This is just TV after all, not some mega super hero epic for the cineplexes. And even if, has there seriously EVER been a TV episode this epic, even with the dimness?

We have a brand new TV (like two months old) with the brightness somehow auto-optimized and the screenshots I've seen of this episode look NOTHING like what we saw, FWIW. The battle scenes were busy and therefore confusing but not that difficult to visually make out at all. The scenes of Tyrion and Sansa in the tomb, especially, looked much brighter on our TV than what I've seen online.


We could also see everything just fine on a large, couple-years-old TV. I had already seen people on Twitter complaining about the darkness so I was expecting to see nothing, but it was never an issue. There are definitely screenshots floating around of reasonably lighted images along with the poor ones.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:16 PM on April 29


One more thing RE: Bran and Theon. That wasn't a touching moment of humanity from Bran toward Theon. That was Bran getting Theon to sacrifice himself in order to give Arya the precious few moments she needed to get into place.

That's one way to read that interaction, but I don't think it's what the show intends to demonstrate to us. Although Bran isn't really Bran anymore, I think that moment *was* a touching moment of humanity and thematic instance of the possibility of becoming whole again, meant to be a definitive absolution for all the horrible mistakes Theon made, and all the torture and abuse he was made to suffer: Bran is not only telling him he's actually a good person, but also that he's still a man, despite having been made a eunuch.

The fan theories about Bran being the REAL night king, or the new night king, or some other sort of weird conspiracy about his identity seem extremely far-fetched to me, as does the suggestion that Bran and the NK had any sort of private understanding about anything. I think that's over-interpretation. The showrunners, I suspect, were trying to ratchet up the tension in the audience and show how defenseless Bran really was in those shots where they're just *gazing* at each other balefully.

I have no more idea than anyone else what will happen in the remainder of the series, but I do think the producers of the narrative will want to strike a balance between satisfying the audience and surprising them, which is probably not how GRRM thinks as an author, and so any surprises which are to come in the show will likely either be complete surprises that weren't really hinted at or things that were heavily hinted at. Also I should probably take my own implicit advice and not prognosticate, haha.
posted by clockzero at 1:19 PM on April 29 [9 favorites]


This is just kinda a general response to all the questions about the uselessness of Bran's warging and of Jon's and Dany's flying round on dragons not getting much of significance done...

I think it makes more sense on rewatch. I watched last night and had no idea wtf Bran's ravens were supposed to be doing. Then I immediately rewatched all the major battle sequences and of course Arya's takedown of the NK (hell yeah).

Bran knows that he contains the memory of the living and that if he is destroyed, so are the living. There is nothing much he can actually DO to protect himself, so the ravens (I think) are just his means of watching the battle play out, and ultimately seeing how much time must be bought before Arya can reach him.

He checks out the NK's approach of course and watches the dragons battle each other. Jon and Dany aren't useless; they actually do get around to the original plan, which was to attack the NK once he's been lured out by Bran. Even though they don't defeat him, they delay him for some time.

The loss of the Dothraki and the Unsullied is not a waste (speaking in terms of all humanity, I mean; the brown people dying in defense of the white people does suck!)--they too delay the wights in defense of Winterfell, thus protecting Arya.

I think we can assume Bran sees Melisandre's conversation with Arya. He knows that Arya is coming, and he knows when she is close. That's when he returns from warging and gives Theon a kind of benediction and basically lets him know his job is done.
He sees when Arya arrives--in his staredown with the NK, his eyes drop to something over the NK's shoulder, and the NK responds with a quizzical look, just before Arya leaps.

I don't think Bran can control events or orchestrate them (much). But he wargs so that he can watch, and remember/record what goes down. And by doing that he has a better idea than the viewers do (and a better idea than the NK does) of the significance of what's happening on all fronts of the battle. All of it is important, and all the players serve their parts--in battling wights, staving off Drogo, delaying the NK, protecting Arya--just long enough for the one person who CAN get to the NK, gets to him.

It's interesting that there remains an existential threat to the living for as long as Bran is vulnerable (assuming he can be killed in normal ways, and not only by the NK). I'm not sure WHO exactly would be a danger to him now, except maybe Cersei, who has certainly shown nihilistic tendencies in the past especially when facing defeat. But in any case he needs to be put somewhere safe, right? I'll be interested to see where he goes, next episode.
posted by torticat at 1:28 PM on April 29 [17 favorites]


That's one way to read that interaction, but I don't think it's what the show intends to demonstrate to us.

I stayed up to watch the "making of" and the writers agree with you. They said (my paraphrase) that they wanted to leave room for at least one redemption = death storyline and that it's important for Theon's arc to get forgiveness from Bran.
posted by capricorn at 1:31 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


his eyes drop to something over the NK's shoulder, and the NK responds with a quizzical look, just before Arya leaps.

I was too busy thinking "here comes Arya" when he did that to realise that that look is also why the NK manages to grab her. Bran nearly blew it!
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 1:43 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


I know there have been some mentions of how horrible the battle was tactically, but this article pretty much nails all the stuff I was yelling at the TV last night.
posted by procrastination at 1:45 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


It's interesting that there remains an existential threat to the living for as long as Bran is vulnerable (assuming he can be killed in normal ways, and not only by the NK).

When everyone was gathered in one of Winterfell's halls right near the end of the second episode this season and Bran had this conversation with Sam, I don't think we're supposed to understand that everyone alive is linked to Bran in some way; I think the idea was that the Night King, as part of his campaign for conquest of all the world, would want to kill the one human who possesses the kind of magic knowledge (entailing an incalculable store of living memory) that could be a threat to NK, and then Sam sort of riffs on the relationship between life and memory, because that's what a highly literate and frightened person might do in such a situation.
posted by clockzero at 1:51 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


On rewatch, why wasn't Arya hiding in the weirwood the whole time just waiting for the Night King to show up and get close to Bran?
posted by kokaku at 1:53 PM on April 29 [5 favorites]


I liked the wisp of hair moving in the NK's squad as the the only indication that Arya was coming. I was like "oh snap!" when i saw the hair starting to move.

Also Little Lyanna Mormont is the most bad ass of all the fighters- the's gotta get a statue in the middle of the courtyard. And to think, she was only supposed to be a one scene character!
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 1:54 PM on April 29 [14 favorites]


I know there have been some mentions of how horrible the battle was tactically, but this article pretty much nails all the stuff I was yelling at the TV last night.

This is pretty much what I was saying last night, plus: why aren't they burning all the dead? There are Wildings at Winterfell right now, they know the importance of this more than anyone else. And is there no way to procure burning oil at this castle to pour on the heads of people trying to climb the walls? SMH.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:01 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


I think the original plan was that the dragons would have to engage NK/Viserion and then either a dragon would roast him (they tried) or Jon would do 1v1. They needed to separate NK from ice dragon otherwise he would have just ice-roasted the whole weirwood.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:02 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


On rewatch, why wasn't Arya hiding in the weirwood the whole time just waiting for the Night King to show up and get close to Bran?

Better yet, why didn't they get the giant eagles to fly her out deep behind enemy territory so she can then double back and stab the Night King in the back? Oh, I meant dragons, not eagles.
posted by skewed at 2:17 PM on April 29 [8 favorites]


On rewatch, why wasn't Arya hiding in the weirwood the whole time just waiting for the Night King to show up and get close to Bran?

She didn't know she was THE ONE, so was busy elsewhere.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:19 PM on April 29 [6 favorites]


From the Guardian (UK) comments section:

I would have thought The Guardian would have noticed that while 90% of the ordinary fighters died only about 10% of the main characters did. Yet this Westeros elite, we are lead to believe, are the real heroes. The Nights King for all his faults (lack of charisma being the main one and a certain dead eyed stare in front of the cameras, he probably can't dance either) stood for socialism and order. It's sad to see The Guardian take the side of the 1%.
posted by lalochezia at 2:22 PM on April 29 [12 favorites]


This was the first episode of GOT I ever managed to go in completely unspoiled, and that's probably good, because if I had known the gist, I would have skipped it. Lots of mindless slaughter, some long telegraphed heroic deaths, and nothing of great plot relevance, since apparently the zombies weren't that big of a deal after all.

I hate to say it, because Arya is a great character and she did have her moments this episode. But this? This felt pretty unearned. I mean yeah, stealth is her thing and she did get to demonstrate that in the library scene. But honestly, the Night King was surrounded by his generals (not mindless zombies, the thinking sort), and they didn’t notice anything? I really can’t see what could have possibly made Arya succeed here except for her plot armor.

The show just keeps doing that - skip over the difficult part of a scheme to spring it as a surprise on the viewer. See also Sansa and Arya getting over their misgivings and teaming up against Littlefinger. Do anything so that the big plot development comes properly out of nowhere. Yeah sure, we’re surprised, congratulations. But am I the only one feels it also really cheapens the effect?

I always saw the Night King as a natural disaster and I’m perfectly fine that we never got to see him in a fireside-scence where he gets to monologue about his motivations.

But since I saw him as a natural disaster, I’m extremly disappointed if this is really the end of him. Which it most probably is. I take back all my theories about a fake-victory ending in a false sense of security from the discussion of last episode. Melisande going gently into that good night signals that the show is done with the magic stuff. Underwhelming!

All this time, I thought this was a story about humans getting too distracted by petty in-fighting to focus on the real threat - a threat that can’t be bargained with, a threat you can’t lie and plot and scheme your way out of. And now it was disposed of in the course of one episode with fairly minimal sacrifice of named characters and magic companions. Suddenly the whole story feels so much less relevant. Somehow I don’t think we’ll be able to solve global warming via Arya-ex-machina.

I mean, we’re probably not going to solve it via magic ritual Bran stuff or whatever I thought would be the solution either, but at the very least I wanted to see some karma for Cersei’s blithe dismissiveness.

Turns out, Cersei was right all along. Sitting out that little zombie invasion was the clever thing to do, no fatal hybris at all.

Kinda interesting what counts for a smart character nowadays on this show. Can anyone remember when characters actually did smart stuff on GOT? God, I miss characters using their wits to get out of trouble. But who needs wits when you have plot amor!

And the crypts, could they have played that any more by the numbers? This is the one thing where I really expected some twist - that plan was so obviously bad, there had to be something we didn't know. Maybe there would be secret passageways leading the people to safety if Winterfell should fall. Or Bran knew that the dead would rise, but he would use his own magic to make them rise _in_defense_ of Winterfell against the other zombies. Or the the fact that it was a disaster waiting to happen, which Bran should obviously be able to foresee, and him not warning anyway would signify that he had already been compromised. But after this episode Ir eally think they most likely explanation is just that everyone in Winterfell is simply stupid. (Martin would probably have a 50 chapter side plot explaining why Bran can't warn anyone, and the showrunners just went with - nah, everyone's an idiot. Narrative economy!)

Will I even bother to watch the next episode? (Eh, probably, sunk cost fallacy and stuff. Might start spoiling myself again though beforehand. All this really works better for me when I manage my expectations.)
posted by sohalt at 2:25 PM on April 29 [12 favorites]


Better yet, why didn't they get the giant eagles to fly her out deep behind enemy territory so she can then double back and stab the Night King in the back? Oh, I meant dragons, not eagles.

Eagles would be better because if you rewatch you will notice that dragons always give away their attacks with their noisy asthmatic breathing or raspy roar. Jonboi could have killed the knight king at about minute 17 if his dragon could have just shut the fuck up.
posted by srboisvert at 2:33 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Sooo. I crossed off a mere 5 squares* on my Game of Thrones Death Bingo Card. One square is labeled "Zombie Hodor" though and that's not gonna happen. I might retcon it to "Zombie Wun Wun" if that's who that was.

*Due to lack of space, Edd and Beric weren't even listed.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:43 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


the dispatching of the Night King in basically a single episode

Seems like a lot of people agree with this/have this perception, but I admit I don't get it at all. There have been many, many episodes leading up to and preparing for the Winterfell battle--gathering of armies, politicking, skirmishing with the NK north of the wall--christ, capturing a wight and hauling it to Kings Landing. Losing a dragon to the NK and then a massive portion of the wall that had protected the seven kingdoms for centuries.

Then we had two episodes devoted to nothing more than prepping Winterfell for the battle and allowing us to spend time with characters facing potential devastation... up to the moment the army of the dead arrived at their doorstep.

Eventually the episode was going to come when the NK was dispatched, and there couldn't really be more than one of it. (Alternatively in this ep he could have survived and carried his battle to Kings Landing, but honestly I have NO desire to watch zombies vs Cersei, or a second epic zombie battle just in a southern setting. There's no resonance at all in a conflict between Cersei and the NK. In contrast, there is the compounded resonance of 7 seasons' worth of character development all coming together, in the Winterfell survivors preparing to take her down.)
posted by torticat at 2:44 PM on April 29 [18 favorites]


Kinda interesting what counts for a smart character nowadays on this show. Can anyone remember when characters actually did smart stuff on GOT? God, I miss characters using their wits to get out of trouble. But who needs wits when you have plot amor!

Seriously. For me it all fell apart at The Battle of the Bastards. All the characters lost their agency and motivations and are just getting sucked towards the plot black hole. It's really two shows. The last 3 seasons just coast on the goodwill built by the books and the first few seasons. It's like that episode of Seinfeld where the memory of the commercial makes the Wiz seems more familiar and attractive than he had any right to be. Maybe the real animated corpse is the show itself. Maybe the writers have metaphorically turned the series into a zombie in some form of self referential art.

Maybe that's always been the trick of this show; we imbue it with so much more credit than it's ever deserved. They've managed to ponzi scheme the plot threads forward every season, but they'll never come together in a meaningful way. We've been doing the heavy lifting through head canon and excuses.

I almost, almost thought this episode would be redemptive. The flickering out of the Dothraki blades followed by a wave of elemental, unstoppable, enemies could have been so powerful. Allowing 50% of the characters to just get wiped out without overwrought sendoffs would have really lent the show some much needed gravity. It would have returned some stakes to the show. It would have been so much more effective if they all got Lightbrigaded in a romantic but futile gesture.

What I'm most enjoying about the show now is watching the elaborate fandom conspiracy videos on youtube slowly get disproven one Byzantine, apologist theory at a time. They assume so much brilliance on the part of the writers, but it can't pan out. There's literally nothing that could bring the show back together in my opinion. I'll watch because I have 9 years of sunk costs, but I'm not expecting much.
posted by Telf at 2:46 PM on April 29 [21 favorites]


To me, the thing about the zombie stuff is a great example of having a poor understanding of history. Yeah, this isn't really Medieval history, but it branches from Medieval history as speculative fiction.

We can't really know what people in a speculative Medieval past might think of the concept of zombies, but we do know they were likely to have an understanding of middle places between life and death, but zombies, as we know them?

Even if the stories passed on from their elders included zombie-like behaviors, would those parts of the stories be believed south of the wall after generations? Doesn't that sound more like the fringes of belief, like biblical miracles which while illustrative, probably shouldn't be used in actual battle tactics?

My point about all of this is when we think the characters in the show are being idiots for not preparing for zombies, we're doing it from the perspective of a contemporary culture immersed in zombies since Romero and eventually resulting in a Walking Dead onesie available at a Walmart near you. You can't expect even pseudo-historic characters to know how zombie tropes work quite like you do. There's a really good case to suspend not only disbelief, but also your exposure to a lot of zombie narratives that perhaps the writers of GOT are aware of, but for which there's no reason to expect the characters to be aware of.
posted by Stanczyk at 2:54 PM on April 29 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I was watching on a 12 year-old, 28" tv and the visuals were complete garbage for me.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed the Gothamist's Power Rankings (recap), particularly for the bit where the actor who plays Gendry had a perfect #DemThrones contribution.
posted by TwoStride at 2:54 PM on April 29 [7 favorites]


When everyone was gathered in one of Winterfell's halls right near the end of the second episode this season and Bran had this conversation with Sam, I don't think we're supposed to understand that everyone alive is linked to Bran in some way

Yeah... it was some kind of ambiguous bullshit, anyway. I'm not sure what we're supposed to think would have happened to the remaining living, had Bran been killed. They would have been in a bad way, somehow or another. Here's the relevant dialogue, fwiw:
- What does he want?
- Endless night. He wants to erase this world, and I am its memory.
- That's what death is, isn't it, forgetting, being forgotten. If we forget where we've been, what we've done, we're not men anymore, just animals. Your memories don't come from books. Your stories aren't just stories. If I wanted to erase the world of men, I'd start with you.

posted by torticat at 3:07 PM on April 29


Stanczyk yes. I was watching and said aloud more than once, "clearly these guys have not learned the lesson that the army learned the hard way in World War Z" (the book, I never saw the movie.) In the book, there is documentation showing how all the ways armies fight were completely useless against zombies, because a) you couldn't scare zombies with the threat of dying, and b) most conventional weapons like grenades were totally useless because they don't stop when their limbs get blown off, and c) you don't need to armor yourself because your foe doesn't use conventional weapons. Instead you want to be light and nimble, like Arya was.
posted by nushustu at 3:12 PM on April 29 [5 favorites]


I was wondering about zombie lore too. It occurred to me that they didn't really know if killing the NK was going to destroy all the wights? It was their best guess, but for all they knew, killing NK might keep any more wights from resurrecting but do nothing for the thousands already there.

There are also other Walkers and we didn't see them all die.
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:17 PM on April 29


I stayed up to watch the "making of" and the writers agree with you. They said (my paraphrase) that they wanted to leave room for at least one redemption = death storyline and that it's important for Theon's arc to get forgiveness from Bran.

Both things can be true. For Theon it was the redemptive end to his arc. For Bran it was the thing he knew he could say that would get Theon to attack the scary big bad.
posted by runcibleshaw at 3:24 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


My point about all of this is when we think the characters in the show are being idiots for not preparing for zombies, we're doing it from the perspective of a contemporary culture immersed in zombies since Romero and eventually resulting in a Walking Dead onesie available at a Walmart near you.

My issue isn't that everyone should inherently know all about zombies. It's that several characters (Edd, Jon, Tormund) have literally watched the Night King reanimate the dead. Not to mention we have a group of supposedly very brilliant strategists/great thinkers/general smart people (Tyrion, Davos, Sansa, Varys, Sam...even Jaime has had his moments) not to mention Bran aka 3 Eyed Raven aka carries around all past, future, and current memories of the world, and no one hesitated to use the crypts in this way?

I should be clear: I'm not actually blaming the characters here. This is one of those things that clearly feels like a failure on the writers part.

That's been one of my biggest complaints about how D&D have handled things now that we are off book.* (Yes, I know they have an outline from GRRM, but the writing has clearly suffered in the latter half of the show.) So often, they go for shock value, even if it's at the expense character arcs they've spent seasons building up:

A major example of this was Sansa not telling Jon about the Knights of the Vale. It was to surprise the audience, but it made Sansa either look really thoughtless and/or coldblooded, and made Jon look even dumber than he otherwise can come off.

Or what about the "tension" between Arya and Sansa until surprise, they're in it together against Littlefinger.

And then in this episode, there were the crypts and also Arya apparating in at the last moment to stab the Night King.

And you know what ties all of these together aside from being major disservices to the characters (except arguably Arya stabbing the Night King)? None of them were actually surprises. A ton of people predicted the Knights of the Vale would save the day, we knew Arya and Sansa would come together to kill Littlefinger (any other outcome would have been even more stupid than the fake tension leading up to this moment), and a ton of people predicted the crypt thing.

I know D&D in the inside the episode interview said they set this up so that we would all forget about Arya, but did anyone actually forget her? A lot of the episode focused on her. She's been one of the main characters for the whole show. She's a fan favorite and I assume D&D's favorite (along with Tyrion). In fact, as I was watching it, I thought "Well, Jon isn't going to get there in time, so screw it, I hope Arya pops up out of nowhere to stab the Night King and put an end to this."

The early seasons felt very well thought out, and the shocking moments were emotionally shocking, but they didn't seem to exist only for shock value. Ned's beheading, Robb and the Red Wedding...you could see all the moments and decisions that led up to this, and they had an impact, even on rewatch, but they also came out of characters making decisions in keeping with their personality, and their was lots of groundwork leading up to those moments.

But at this point, I know that I shouldn't really expect anything else from the show, and I really need to let this go.

*My other biggest complaints being Euron's improbably armada #shiptruthers and basically every scene that Ramsay was in, especially the Sansa marrying Ramsay storyline.
posted by litera scripta manet at 3:29 PM on April 29 [13 favorites]


I was wondering about zombie lore too. It occurred to me that they didn't really know if killing the NK was going to destroy all the wights? It was their best guess, but for all they knew, killing NK might keep any more wights from resurrecting but do nothing for the thousands already there.

I don't know that they knew for sure, but it was a good educated guess. It was set up last season, both when we saw a bunch of wights disintegrate when the white walker that created them was killed by Jon. And then later, Beric said to Jon that there only way out of that situation where they were trapped on the ice island surrounded by wights was if they killed the Night King. Beric basically implied, the Night King created the White Walkers, and together, they created all the wights, so if you kill the Night King, all of the rest will be destroyed. So presumably they were counting on this being actually true.

Personally, I would have preferred:

So the wights seem to take orders from the white walkers and the Night King. So what if they don't disintegrate when the Night King is killed, but they just lose all sense of direction/purpose/organization? Similar to if you killed off all the commanding officers of any army. There's no one to give orders, to say charge and retreat and make a pile of bodies to bridge the fire. Some might keep fighting, a lot of them would just stand around being confused, some might run away.

So what if they killed the Night King and the white walkers first. And then they still would have to deal with the zombie army, but they'd be an easier threat to get rid of without that sort of hive mind attack formation. Still, to give the living any chance of winning, this would have required not having roughly 100 white walkers (Craster did have almost 100 sons he sacrificed), and it also would still probably require not having quite so many dead in the army. It also would mean you still would have to go kill all the zombies after the Night King is killed, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It would be kind of amusing if you saw, saw Sansa and Arya walking around Winterfell, and mid conversation Arya just stabs a wight that is still running circles around Winterfelll. It would also set up some tension around whether the next logical step is to fully eliminate the army of the dead or go deal with Cersei.
posted by litera scripta manet at 3:38 PM on April 29


Or hey, maybe in that scenario, Bran could warg into all the remaining zombies, and use the remaining army of the dead to go attack Cersei. Two birds/one stone and all that.

And then once Cersei is taken care of, Bran could compel all the remaining wights to jump into a giant fire pit.

At least this would give Bran something useful to do other than just staring and uttering creepy one liners.
posted by litera scripta manet at 3:40 PM on April 29


I think two things happened in seasons 7 and 8 that have forced them to be too rushed:

1. The show ran out of book material
2. HBO told them to wrap the the show up

If they re-did the series again with hindsight they probably could have done the first 5 seasons in 3 by dropping useless storylines like Dorne, Sansa/Theon in Boltonland and most of Dany's journeys in Essos.
posted by PenDevil at 3:40 PM on April 29 [12 favorites]


Or hey, maybe in that scenario, Bran could warg into all the remaining zombies, and use the remaining army of the dead to go attack Cersei. Two birds/one stone and all that.

There are lots of open questions about how it will happen, but one thing we know is there’s no shortage of characters who’d love to kill Cersei!
posted by sallybrown at 3:52 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


1. The show ran out of book material
2. HBO told them to wrap the the show up


The important thing to know is that HBO's owner/management changes are being accompanied by deliberate calculated changes in their production strategy away from the really high quality TV they have produced in the past.
posted by srboisvert at 3:54 PM on April 29 [5 favorites]


I wonder if we’ll have some Bran-Time seeing flashbacks to the battle and the exact machinations via warging on his part that brought Arya to the perfect leap position? Could happen.
posted by valkane at 3:59 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


[long list of complaints/critiques/dissatisfactions]

Will I even bother to watch the next episode?


Well, this is a complex question that requires a close reading not only of the points you've raised so far but also the dramaturgical 'ecosystem' in which they're presented. We really need to go all the way back to the first episode to begin setting up the calculus which we can then use to begin defining the way we would go about addressing this pressing mystery. If you'll recall, in the scene where Robert Baratheon comes to Winterfell, his stirrups
posted by clockzero at 4:00 PM on April 29 [10 favorites]


It seems unlikely that HBO wanted them to wrap the show up, since they're developing like fifteen spinoff shows.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:02 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


It was set up last season, both when we saw a bunch of wights disintegrate when the white walker that created them was killed by Jon.

Wait, I forgot about this. So until they kill every Walker, the wight-army threat isn't over? It didn't look like they killed all the Walkers.

Somehow I had ended up thinking only the NK could create wights.
posted by nakedmolerats at 4:02 PM on April 29


In what way did it not look like they killed all the Walkers? I thought the massive shattering of every icy/undead creature everywhere was pretty explicit!
posted by torticat at 4:10 PM on April 29 [6 favorites]


The D&D recap is gonna be lit.

Lit like a trench. But it will have to wait a day – or possibly two – while I re-process the episode. I was inspired to create a magic item, however:

Plot Armor
Armor (any), Very Rare (requires attunement)

While this armor gives no inherent bonus to armor class, it provides protection against death for its wearer. Any attack or series of attacks that would reduce the wearer's hit points to zero instead leave the wearer with one hit point. Should the wearer have their hit points dropped to zero through other means (e.g. life drain) they will then have advantage on the ensuing death saving throws.
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 4:14 PM on April 29 [8 favorites]


I guess if we are also assuming the NK was the first Walker and created all the others, that makes sense. I might have been covering my eyes at some parts. I wasn't sure if we saw all the WW die.
posted by nakedmolerats at 4:17 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Wait, I forgot about this. So until they kill every Walker, the wight-army threat isn't over? It didn't look like they killed all the Walkers.

My interpretation/assumption is that the Night King created all the white walkers, so when the Night King is killed, all the white walkers disintegrate too, and because the Night King and White Walkers created all the wights, they disintegrate/de-animate as well.

It was sort of like one giant cascade of dominoes, with the Night King being the first domino.
posted by litera scripta manet at 4:20 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Another random thought: Arya topped all of Merry, Eowyn, and Frodo with one blow. By slaying the Witch-King of Angmar with a blade of Westernesse she essentially cast the Ring into Mt. Doom. All that's left is dealing with Sharkey/Cersei.
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 4:29 PM on April 29 [15 favorites]


Loving this thread.

Liked much of the episode.

But was anyone else hoping that Bran would actually be "Bran" -- i.e. ARYA USING HER FACELESS MAN SKILL??
posted by foodbedgospel at 4:30 PM on April 29 [10 favorites]


I still feel a little weird about hero moments for Winterfell-sacking, child-murdering Theon and child-burning Melisandre.

As has been pointed out: one of the consistent themes in the GRRM-iverse is eschewing/subverting standard fantasy tropes. NOBODY in GoT is 100% good or 100% evil. Just like the rest of us. Just because someone has done terrible things doesn't mean they are forever excluded from doing noble, good, heroic things.

Redemption is a thing. Forgiveness is a thing.

I nearly stopped watching the series back during the awful "what happened to Theon" episodes. I'm glad his character arc ended the way it did.
posted by biscotti at 4:31 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


The Nutmeg of Consolation, I'm especially curious about how you will interpret Arya's encounter with the NK in D&D terms. It seems like a sneak attack that NK foils with an excellent reflex saving throw, but then Arya gets some kind of bonus attack?
posted by clockzero at 4:32 PM on April 29


1. The show ran out of book material

This feels like the root cause of my own problems with recent episodes. Granted there's still a lot to love and it's still among my favorite shows, but it does feel like the writers are veering too much toward fan service than trying to embody GRRM.

From upthread: "You can't call it fan service if the fans are all pissed off lol"

I'd argue paradoxically, you can, because what GRRM had done with this series was constantly break the expectations of television storytelling. This is a big part of the appeal despite the fact that no fan would say "My favorite part is when the main characters die, it needs more of that." Instead they cite the Tormund comic relief, the Jamie/Brienne romance, powerful female leads, Tyrion's drunken wisdom, Arya being a badass, big battles, etc, etc. But when you give them all of those with none of GRRM's hard left turns or killing main characters, the episodes don't feel true to the GOT universe. I think if GRRM had written this far on his own, he would have killed off a lead in this battle, like Dany or Jon Snow.

As a fan, I'll happily take the fan service version too, but it feels a bit off and unearned at points.
posted by p3t3 at 4:41 PM on April 29 [12 favorites]


It seems unlikely that HBO wanted them to wrap the show up, since they're developing like fifteen spinoff shows.

Eh, I'm pretty sure casts are cheaper in Season 1 than they are in Season 9.
posted by TwoStride at 4:43 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


clockzero, I might rather say that her first, main-hand, attack was blocked, but she shifted to her off-hand for the killing blow. (Maisie Williams is left-handed, and I believe Arya is as well, canonically.) The rules governing dual-wielding in the current edition of D&D aren't well-regarded, but they did serve her well in this instance.
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 4:44 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


What confused me is that we saw the Night King raise the recently dead and the zombie-dead at Hardhome but I thought it meant he could only raise the dead that he and his underlings had created and/or killed. So I wasn't worried about the long ago dead in the crypts who died from natural causes. I don't think that scene was necessary. Sansa and Tyrion could still have their beat while zombies were breaking down the door of the crypt.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:45 PM on April 29 [5 favorites]


The only explanation I can think of for why Arya's bug moment dog not involve her face swapping skill is that she has another bigger moment coming and it will factor in there.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:45 PM on April 29 [9 favorites]


We still haven't seen the big question answered. If Bran ever has to get glasses, will he be speccy five eyes or speccy six eyes?
posted by biffa at 4:48 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Reddit has a pretty excellent explanation of what Bran did to help in the battle
posted by JDHarper at 4:53 PM on April 29 [17 favorites]


So until they kill every Walker, the wight-army threat isn't over? It didn't look like they killed all the Walkers

The undead are like a multi-level marketing (pyramid) scheme, with the NK at the top. You get more wights by having your wights turn more wights, and in turn you progress your way up the wight hierarchy to level 9 Edgar Winter status. But when your boss gets caught and is sent to prison, your part of the pyramid crumbles. Either that or climate change.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:53 PM on April 29 [15 favorites]


On closer inspection I think maybe the dark / blocky / muddy visuals had more to do with TV performance than encoding or broadcast, at least if you were watching via Amazon. Some guy on the Internet took a close look at a pirated copy which was a direct rip of the Amazon 1080p stream and made this screenshot of the Dothraki charge. If you look very closely at the night sky above the flaming swords, there's some posterization / banding visible in the sky. If you look even closer with a color meter though you'll see the bands go from (8,8,8) to (7,7,7) to (6,6,6); a single bit difference in each band. That's about the best an 8 bits-per-channel color video stream can do (some dithering would be better). Some other scenes occasionally jump 2 bits at once (straight from 8 to 6) which is not ideal but not awful. Nothing is egregiously wrong in the encoding.

The posterization is barely visible in a still screenshot but it's a lot more noticeable in video as the moving blobs look like objects to the eye. And it could look a lot worse on a bad TV that doesn't reproduce blacks well (ie: almost all of them). Many TVs don't really have 8 bit color but have more like 6 bit color, so everything will be more banded. Also many TVs are doing some sort of digital processing / black enhancement / wildass guessing that can make things look worse.

There's also a graph of bitrate over time for the Amazon video. Some parts in the episode are quite low, those seem to correspond to the very dark scenes outdoors where there's not just not visual information. It's not a bad choice to use a lower bitrate to encode them, more reflects the cinematographer's choice to make things hard to see.

Also don't forget about 10 minutes of the battle scene takes place in an intense storm, with all sorts of crap flying around in the wind. Also several minutes are deliberately disorienting shakycam while riding dragons. Both of these also create the impression of "it's sure hard to see what's happening", but are different problems than it being dark.

Dark scenes are hard for home TVs. I think this video stream is the best basic consumer technology can do right now. A UHD stream with 10 bits-channel encoding would look better. I don't believe one is available yet, have to wait for the BluRay release.
posted by Nelson at 4:55 PM on April 29 [5 favorites]


Bran gets no respect! No respect I tell ya! The used to call him three eyes then he got glasses they called him six eyes!
posted by East14thTaco at 4:56 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


I hate to say it, because Arya is a great character and she did have her moments this episode. But this? This felt pretty unearned. I mean yeah, stealth is her thing and she did get to demonstrate that in the library scene. But honestly, the Night King was surrounded by his generals (not mindless zombies, the thinking sort), and they didn’t notice anything? I really can’t see what could have possibly made Arya succeed here except for her plot armor.

5-6 seasons of her character's development - an incredible amount of screen time on any show - which now clearly were to lead to this, weren't enough? Arya's skills are arguably mystical, and the White Walkers behave like standard issue knights who shatter when they come in contact with a particular type of sword. It was a legitimate payoff.
posted by MillMan at 4:58 PM on April 29 [20 favorites]


> I think if GRRM had written this far on his own, he would have killed off a lead in this battle, like Dany or Jon Snow.

At the very least, he'd have been unsentimental about how the b-tiers die. Like, instead of "Jorah survives charge, comes back, hacks and slashes across battlefield, reaches Dany just in time to save her," we'd get "Jorah dies in the charge." Instead of "Theon dies believing that Bran has affirmed his good-manhood," we'd get "Theon torn apart by zombies, Ironborn soldiers nevertheless boldly and brilliantly defend Bran." Instead of "Lyanna Mormont dies but kills zombie giant as she goes," we'd get "Lyanna Mormont brushed away with one offhand sweep from zombie giant."

And likely we wouldn't have this business about "the white walkers are led by one character who is the Death Star or whatever so if you blow him up all the wights die" because loard that is the tiredest trope. That's a trope that GRRM overtly writes against, the "make a battle between armies personal by reducing it to single combat between the leaders because if the leader dies all the soldiers die too" trope.

like dang folks how would we feel about this episode if the last scene was Arya killing the Night King, and then the Army of the Dead going limp for a second but then getting back up, because turns out killing the leader doesn't kill the army. and why did you think it would anyway what do you think this is a fantasy novel? I'd feel pretty good about that. Instead of feeling like the a-team heroes have invincible plot armor because only the b- and c-team heroes ever die, we'd be all "oh god all the minor characters are dead and the wights are still attacking this is so exciting I can't wait for next week."

Ugh, okay, one more paragraph of the doctored-by-Thomas-Pynchon fanfic version of the story: all that above about Arya killing the Night King and the Army of the Dead shambling on, but also it's established earlier in the episode that Our Heroes are pretty sure that the AotD can't make new wights without the Night King. So we go into the next episode thinking both that Our Heroes are fucked and also that if they can get themselves unfucked, they've just won a major victory: the AotD now consists of a finite number of potentially killable zombies, rather than an infinite amount of zombies that all come back to life whenever the Ice KingNight King does his magic arms trick.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:59 PM on April 29 [25 favorites]


As has been pointed out: one of the consistent themes in the GRRM-iverse is eschewing/subverting standard fantasy tropes. NOBODY in GoT is 100% good or 100% evil. Just like the rest of us. Just because someone has done terrible things doesn't mean they are forever excluded from doing noble, good, heroic things.

Redemption is a thing. Forgiveness is a thing.


But like... Bran can't speak for the miller's sons Theon killed in Bran and Rickon's place, or any of his other victims. Sure bad acts don't preclude a character from doing good acts, but the show crosses the line into implicit absolution, imo, in depiction, tone and dialog. It is a weird choice.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:01 PM on April 29 [11 favorites]


(Maisie Williams is left-handed, and I believe Arya is as well, canonically.)

Point of order: Maisie Williams is absolutely right-handed (I am on my phone, so I can’t link to any of the many photos online of her autographing things) and Arya is canonically left-handed. In a Princess Bride twist, arguably the deadliest sword fighter in the show is doing it all with her off hand.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:13 PM on April 29 [7 favorites]


Okay a couple more things. Does anyone remember in a couple of the later overhead shots of Winterfell, the surrounding trench was on fire. There was also a separate fire off to the NW corner that appeared to be roughly spiral shaped. It covered a lot of ground, the area was bigger than Winterfell itself. What was that about?

Also, if anyone wants to see what a brighter picture of the battle looks like, Leslie Jones from SNL was live tweeting with video clips and even watching her tv via a smartphone video on my tablet, I can tell that she had better visuals. Someone needs to ask her about her set up.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:24 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


I actually agree with most of the things people have said about the tactics, rushed last season, and so on. It's all true. They could have made essentially the same episode without the tactics being, to put it nicely, somewhat opaque. But on the other hand you have stuff like this and I can't think of a single other show that would inspire something like this (which isn't a championship sporting event etc). So, you know, yeah it was some dumb cavalry tactics blah blah blah I still love it.
posted by Justinian at 5:28 PM on April 29 [12 favorites]


ricochet, I am happy to stand corrected. Do I mistakenly recall an interview in which Maisie said she was specifically training left-handed because Arya was?
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 5:33 PM on April 29


Point of order: Maisie Williams is absolutely right-handed

Point of order: this is a point of fact, not a point of order
posted by clockzero at 5:43 PM on April 29 [30 favorites]


I was wondering about zombie lore too. It occurred to me that they didn't really know if killing the NK was going to destroy all the wights? It was their best guess, but

Bran knew.
posted by philip-random at 5:48 PM on April 29


" just out of curiosity, is there any specific indication that this was the only place where NK could be killed?"

The showrunners mentioned something to this effect in the "making of." Don't know if it's GRRM lore or just-them lore, but they've been hitting that visual symbolism hard all season and both the books and the show have put a lot of importance on weirwoods; I definitely assumed the Night King would have to come to a weirwood so the power of the Children of the Forest and/or the Splinternet could be brought to bear on killing him.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:03 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Redemption is a thing, but if people start shipping Sansa and Tyrion without squaring that Tyrion MURDERED his last employee girlfriend and is therefore Not Husband Material then I'm gonna scream. (And no, killing Shae is not the same thing as killing Ramsay.) It also makes no damn sense! I'm trying to calm down about it because Sansa/Theon turned into a sort of chivalrous love, and I think the same could probably happen with Tyrion. But then I remember how little I trust Benioff and Weiss, especially with female characters...
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:04 PM on April 29 [21 favorites]


Redemption is a thing, but if people start shipping Sansa and Tyrion without squaring that Tyrion MURDERED his last employee girlfriend and is therefore Not Husband Material then I'm gonna scream.

I’m over here wishing for Brienne to get with his brother, who raped his last girlfriend (who was also his sister). I feel like I have to leave morals at the door in Westeros or else everyone turns heinous. The amount of murder alone!
posted by sallybrown at 6:10 PM on April 29 [7 favorites]


"I definitely assumed the Night King would have to come to a weirwood so the power of the Children of the Forest and/or the Splinternet could be brought to bear on killing him."

And I just went back and looked again to make sure I wasn't misremembering it -- but we get a nice overhead shot of the Ironborn in a ring around the weirwood when they're setting up, with Theon and Bran forming just the suggestion of a spiral, in an overhead shot that reminded me a lot of the Children making the Night King. And then when the Night King actually arrives, they give us an overhead shot of all the bodies on the ground, which aren't in a spiral per se but are definitely reminiscent of the White Walkers' body part art they're so fond of that appears in spirals (and in the "circle w/ buckle" shape) and of which we were just reminded a couple episodes ago with the Umber kid. So yeah, I think they were definitely giving us cues and clues that the weirwood was going to be important in the unmaking of the Night King, and repeatedly over the last 2-3 seasons where the importance of the weirwood and the spirals w/r/t the Night King have been emphasized again and again.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:20 PM on April 29 [7 favorites]


Bran didn’t redeem/forgive/cleanse Theon, the three eyed raven did.

It feeds into the idea that you have to have [terrible things] to [get to arc].

In that way it’s not a lie from Bran to make Theon die happy. Which is another interpretation.
posted by tilde at 6:33 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


but if people start shipping Sansa and Tyrion without squaring that Tyrion MURDERED his last employee girlfriend and is therefore Not Husband Material then I'm gonna scream.

Admittedly she was trying to kill him, so that always causes problems in relationships.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:39 PM on April 29 [11 favorites]


That was fun!  But I think they totally missed their chance to have the zombies go nuts when the Night King dies while Bran takes control through his warg-y abilities while solemnly intoning "There must always be a Night King."

Or wait, has that been done before? Seems strangely familiar…
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:48 PM on April 29


So yeah, I think they were definitely giving us cues and clues that the weirwood was going to be important in the unmaking of the Night King, and repeatedly over the last 2-3 seasons where the importance of the weirwood and the spirals w/r/t the Night King have been emphasized again and again.

Yeah, you make a good point, that does seem like the strong implication; in a world where rules like, oh, I don't know, just to make something up compleeeetely at random, "it can only be undone in the fires of Mount Doom where it was forged" aren't just given to the reader/viewer by some kind of angelic wizard, the things you described are about as close as any teller of GRRM's stories can reasonably come to the articulation of such a law.

And that kind of reinforces the point that the Night King (and by extension the whole of his army/war) was both terrifyingly powerful and astonishingly fragile. Under just the right conditions, as choreographed by the human vessel formerly known as Bran, little more than a stab from a dagger is enough to (apparently) utterly destroy an existential-threat-level evil force that had menaced all of humanity for thousands upon thousands of years. In magic, as in materials science, hardness and fragility are positively correlated.
posted by clockzero at 6:54 PM on April 29 [10 favorites]


Loved:
- the Dothraki lights going out (some survived that along with Jorah I think)
- the Hound having PTSD then pushing through it
- Dany and Jon's plan for thrilling heroics being out-strategised by the Night King
- Arya's years of training plus some tweaking from Bran leading to a 100-to-1 chance that just might work
- Davos being repeatedly useful even though he's not a fighter
- Theon doing his best

Trying to avoid thinking about:
- Sam snivelling all over the place. Fight or get in the crypts, dude, you're not helping.
- ridiculous amounts of plot armour
- ridiculous battle strategy which doesn't meet either historical standards or zombie standards
- people whinging about Arya saving the day, even though Jon and Dany have proven time and again that their usual battle modes (fire for Dany, honorable hack and slash for Jon) are useless in this context.

I enjoyed Sansa and Tyrion in the crypts but the problem there is that Peter Dinklage, like Ian Glen, is more charming and handsome than the character he plays. It's hard not to be swayed by that even though Tyrion is actually a little shit who has good ideas sometimes.
posted by harriet vane at 6:55 PM on April 29 [21 favorites]


I would have accepted an awful lot of budget cuts to free up the cgi budget for the zombie Dothraki horde on zombie horses that was totally a possibility to have. I was convinced that's what was coming back out of the darkness to hit Winterfell after the Dothraki lights went out and it would have ruled.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:27 PM on April 29 [25 favorites]


🌞 Spring Is Coming 🌼🌿
posted by sylvanshine at 7:54 PM on April 29 [5 favorites]


I was told there would be ice spiders.
posted by Gaz Errant at 7:55 PM on April 29 [13 favorites]


re: Sansa + Tyrion

Rare is the (surviving) highborn male who's taller than Sansa. So any arranged/ political marriage would be to someone shorter anyway - Tyrion being shorter is just a matter of scale than of absolute.
posted by porpoise at 7:56 PM on April 29


The "passing-down" of Valaryian steel will be interesting too. (Stark) Ice is now in the hands of a Lannister and an unhoused knight (albeit with loyalties to Stark).

Tarley's steel was in the hands of a Mormont before he died protecting Danny, who knows where it'll end up.

Mormont's is in Jon Snow/ Stark/ Targaryan's hands.

I totally thought that Arya passed on Catspaw to Sansa, but I totally saw Arya using Catspaw on the NK. My internal reconciliation is that Arya found a random VS dagger and made sure Sansa had something effective, if she was tested.

Any other notable Valaryan steel out there?
posted by porpoise at 8:03 PM on April 29


Justinian, when Breaking Bad was still airing, the Alamo Drafthouse (local movie theater) would show eps to full houses. There were particular episodes (Face/Off being the first one that comes to mind) that elicited the same reactions as the bar you just linked to.

There are TONS of good shows out there. GoT used to be one, but man the writing has really become shit the last 2-3 seasons. It's still fun, but it is definitely coasting.
posted by nushustu at 8:09 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


"My internal reconciliation is that Arya found a random VS dagger and made sure Sansa had something effective, if she was tested."

Didn't she hand Sansa a (lumpy) dragonglass blade? Or was that just my screen being too dark to tell?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:10 PM on April 29 [11 favorites]




My favorite game to play with this show is "is this good or is it just expensive?" This episode was very expensive.

I didn't hate it or anything. There were definitely some good moments, the tension early on was effective, and I'm sure it was even more impressive a technical achievement than it looked on screen. But I didn't enjoy watching it very much, either on its own or as the nominal payoff to that whole subset of storylines, and don't really feel the need to watch it again.
posted by jameaterblues at 8:14 PM on April 29 [7 favorites]


The most effective horror was the creeping dread of knowing how often I'd be reading random Internet pukes write the phrase "plot armour"

Fun, tense episode, but yeah, it's a way more conventional shown than it used to be, isn't it.
posted by ominous_paws at 8:38 PM on April 29 [6 favorites]


Didn't she hand Sansa a (lumpy) dragonglass blade? Or was that just my screen being too dark to tell?

It is a lumpy dragonglass blade but it's not shown very well. I was confused too.
posted by fleacircus at 8:48 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


I think all y'all saying that the show isn't what it once was because "it ran out of books" maybe didn't read the last two books... because jesus those last two books.

I think the show is dealing with the problems GRRM made for himself IE introducing new characters and plots in the end of book four and five like a runaway baking accident. '''juust a bit more flour.... just a bit more water... now a bit more flour.... op... that's too much... gonna need more water'''

hence; you know. why he hasn't been able to finish the books.
posted by French Fry at 8:57 PM on April 29 [18 favorites]


Also the inherit problem of a long running narrative based on subversion. At a certain point the subversion is no longer aimed at genre but also the early part of the narrative. If "not typical fantasy" is your subversion but than you do gritty grounded fantasy for 4-5 years than to continue being subversive and surprising you need to upend your own story.

Big episodes with lots of deaths is shocking when it's the red wedding but when we are all making death pools and eagerly awaiting a big battle, isn't all the characters who got nice "when I retire" scenes living the subversion?

Now... that said I'd still like to be able to see anything
posted by French Fry at 9:01 PM on April 29 [6 favorites]


This show is dreadful. That the first few seasons were snappy will soon be forgotten, and everyone will merely assume that it was all just another one of those inexplicably popular spectacles of its time. And even those first few seasons will be deemed unwatchable thanks to the irredeemable sexposition, so the whole thing is a loss.

Oh well, I guess I'll stick it out -- at least we can be sure there is no further chance of disappointment.
posted by chortly at 9:12 PM on April 29 [4 favorites]


I was trying to remember the backstory of the catspaw blade, and consulting the Wiki, I'd totally forgotten that it had such a long history: first used by the mysterious assassin aimed at Bran, stirs up drama while Catelyn carries it to help ID the assassin, eventually comes back to Bran by way of Littlefinger, Bran gives it to Arya who then uses it to execute Littlefinger, etc.
posted by p3t3 at 9:16 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Oh well, I guess I'll stick it out -- at least we can be sure there is no further chance of disappointment.

moooooohhhoooohahahahahahHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!
posted by clockzero at 9:24 PM on April 29 [11 favorites]


I think all y'all saying that the show isn't what it once was because "it ran out of books" maybe didn't read the last two books... because jesus those last two books.

Speaking for myself, I've read all the books (not that this is the thread to discuss them), and I agree, the last two books were a hot, overstuffed mess. But as far as the show is concerned, I think D&D are quite good at presenting a significantly more economical version of GRRM's sprawling tale. I know this is not a universal feeling, but I don't really miss any of the plotlines they cut.

It's not that the books were perfect, because they never were. It's just that D&D seemed to be much better at adapting GRRM's works when they were working off actual books, even when those books were a mess. What they are apparently pretty bad at is constructing the show based on whatever loose outline GRRM gave them once they ran out of books.

So not speaking for anyone else, but this is what I mean when I say the show got a lot worse when it once they ran out of books.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:32 PM on April 29 [22 favorites]


Then the rest of the darkness was tiresome.

A bit predictable and too dark to see, but it was a great television.

"Watching" this with my eyes that have witnessed the Earth going around the Sun 50 times, I was pretty much convinced this episode was an experiment in which it could work just as well as a radio broadcast (with voice overs from various characters) for all the things I actually saw. Ghost is dead? I saw a white wolfly smudge close to the beginning of the episode but afterward never saw it again.

Perhaps if I didn't spend so much time in a modern city I might have been able to see this episode.

I guess I should really stop trying to make any of this make sense.

Also essential advice if watching Star Trek Discovery.
posted by juiceCake at 9:34 PM on April 29 [9 favorites]




I just managed to finish the episode, and it was pretty unbearably tense for me, and at points, I wanted to turn it off and read a recap instead. The Dothraki charge was beautiful, and the build of watching the swords flames going out was terrifying, but I hated that the Dothraki were built up as such a strong force only to be thrown away/used to demonstrate the threat level. And yeah, the stuff about the unsullied and their sheild wall/spear tactics being useless just got aggravating, though not in a plot annoyance way, more in a watching people I cared for fail at the thing they’re supposed to be great at.

The pointed comments about how Beric had fulfilled his purpose, as had Melissande leaves serious questions about Jon. It seems there was some definite “lord of Light only answers prayers when they meet the Lord’s will” stuff going on, and yet the Lord granted Jon a second life. If his purpose wasn’t defeating the Night King, what was it? Screaming at an undead dragon?

The whisp of the white walker’s hair moving in the breeze, and Arya killing the Night King actually provoked joyous, stunned laughter, I think I actually spoke aloud, congratulating Arya.

They did a solid job of building and rebuilding tension, to the point that when the NK raised the dead, I seriously began to doubt anyone surviving. Each time something happened to provide a respite, it seemed immediately thwarted, with Dany saving Jon, only for the dragon to be overwhelmed because where humans would retreat in fear from a giant dragon, zombies just swarm, and Jorah saving Dany, only to almost immediately be stabbed, it just seemed so bleak. No matter how silly it might look in hindsight, Arya saving the day was a crushing weight lifted off my chest, allowing me to breathe free again.

Also, Beric throwing the flaming sword to save Arya was pretty damn amazing, even though it meant he was dead as soon as it left his hand.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:21 PM on April 29 [15 favorites]


The shot that has really stuck with me was the overwhelming wave of the dead swarming at the first line of the Unsullied. It was probably the most horrifying thing I've ever seen filmed. (As a rule, I don't enjoy horror movies, so it's entirely possible I'm missing things, but that was a lot.)

I was okay with Arya being the one to take out the Night King-- she's only been training since season one, even if it does sort of shoot the Azor Ahai prophecy to bits. I was expecting more main character deaths, and there were a couple of moments where I was sure that they were, in fact, going there, and pretty much everyone was toast. That probably would have granted this episode more narrative weight, tbh. I always had a sneaking suspicion that this episode was going to be the climax, with everything else being mostly cleanup. I'm reserving judgement until we see the whole season.

Honestly, I'm sticking with this out of a combination of sunk cost fallacy, and because I am rooting so very hard for Jaime and Brienne.
posted by dogheart at 10:36 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


It's been 24 hours since I watched it, and I still can't quite believe that the final twist against the Night King was quite literally...

*Teleports behind you.* "Nothing personnel, kid."

"NANI - !?!?"

Jesus Christ.
posted by jurymast at 11:08 PM on April 29 [5 favorites]


I guess if the past few seasons have taught us anything, it's that D&D can be trusted to always, without fail, prioritize the Rule of Cool over literally any other storytelling concern.

And given that Arya is their reigning Queen of Cool, I'm not sure why any of us ever thought it was going to play out any other way.
posted by jurymast at 11:12 PM on April 29 [6 favorites]


Stray thought:

Samwell: Hey, uh...
Jon: Just call me Jon, Sam.
Samwell: Okay...Jon. Well, I was thinking--
Jon: You?
Samwell: (smiling) Yes, I know, it seems that's all I'm good for. I was just thinking, remember when, ah...before the battle, when Arya asked, er, Bran, if dragonfire would stop the Night King?
Jon: Yeah, I remember...
Samwell: ...and then we tried that, and it didn't stop him?
Jon: Yes, Samwell, I remember that
Samwell: What if...we could...discover things, maybe like about other kinds of things besides dragons and ice monsters, about the world, by...testing them? Having an idea, that you're not sure about, and testing it?

~AND THAT, DEAR READER, IS HOW HYPOTHESIS TESTING WAS BORNE~
posted by clockzero at 11:23 PM on April 29 [6 favorites]


Ok, I've thought more about what's bothering me about this episode/recent seasons.

The show is breaking the wrong rules. More precisely, they're breaking the rules that were sort of promised at the start. Every production is about establishing the contract for suspension of disbelief. In musicals we accept that people will randomly start singing, in zombie movies we accept that the dead will come back, fantasy we accept magic etc.

The early seasons established:
-We'll respect the intelligence of the audience. (It was never The Wire or Breaking Bad but there were plot points that we could be rewarded for solving ourselves.)
-You will be rewarded for paying attention and keeping track of various threads.
- We'll subvert standard fantasy tropes about handsome heroes, noble knights, the repercussions of war, the fighting ability of a single warrior vs multiple opponents etc.
-A lot of the spectacle happens off screen, because this series wasn't about over the top battles. (This wasn't just a budgetary thing, GRRM did the same in the books.) The books are about human interaction and machinations. Sometimes we'll ignore "show not tell" for "tell, don't show." What I mean is, show is about humanity, plotting and scheming but ignore the big battles.
-There is a real world behind all this. It's not just about the main characters but the normal people who are affected.


The latests seasons have inverted that contract. Since at least The Battle of The Bastards onward, these tenets have been abandoned.
-We don't believe in the intelligence of the audience, you will no longer be rewarded for keeping track of motivations or various plot threads.
-Actually, we're going to need an drop 50% of the plot lines to get this done. Try to forget most of what's been happening in the background, none of that will come to fruition.
-We're going to reinstate all the common fantasy tropes. We'll just use the Stark kids and install them as the handsome heartthrob warriors and introduce a few more larger than life warriors, but we'll give them quirks.
-This show is about spectacle but let's ignore the basic communication and human interaction that made the show work. Best example is the horrible plot line between Arya and Sansa pretending to be enemies to kill Littlefinger, or something. Or Sansa not telling Jon about her secret army in order to create tension etc. Another example of this is Tyrion and everyone talking about how smart he is, without showing any evidence of that in the last 2-3 seasons.

This is almost literally not the same show. They've abandoned a lot of the promises that brought people in to the show and we can't attribute this to good writing. It's simply much easier just to lean on the same tropes and just sprint to the end of the series.

Maybe the writers' original mistake was focusing on the NK plot line at all. Maybe they should have the kept it as War of the Roses with Dragons. They expanded too much only to contract suddenly. (GRRM's fault, not the show writers.)

This episode was the culmination of those broken promises because it was the last opportunity to make good. They decided to go all in with the elements that make the show uninteresting and finally turn their backs on the elements that made the show compelling in the early seasons.
posted by Telf at 11:39 PM on April 29 [29 favorites]


GoT exists in such a large world that some corners have to be cut, in order to close out narrative threads. It was easy to kill off major GoT characters early in the series, because the world was big enough that new characters could be introduced (Yara, Margaery, the Sparrow, Tormund) and existing characters can have space and time to be developed (Arya, Sansa, Brienne, Jaime).

Closing a show out and making fans happy is very difficult. See: Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, Weeds — maybe The Cosby Show.

Even Breaking Bad made some fans angry enough to come up with conspiracy theories about how the season finale was a dream sequence, even though the cold open of the first half of the final season's first episode would have had to have been part of that dream, as well.

I would not envy GoT writers. They have, maybe, some scraps from GRRM about how things should conclude, and they have to fill in the gaps in such a way that HBO-grade spectacle can be delivered, along with critical narrative, in the space of only six episodes (well, now three). Not easy work, I'd imagine.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:00 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


5-6 seasons of her character's development - an incredible amount of screen time on any show - which now clearly were to lead to this, weren't enough? Arya's skills are arguably mystical, and the White Walkers behave like standard issue knights who shatter when they come in contact with a particular type of sword.

Arya's mystical skills like face-swapping, you mean? Which she didn't have to use at all?

Also, I would expect a standard issue knight to burn when incinerated by a dragon, which the Night King very much didn't. The only difference between Dany and Arya here is that Arya's magic bullet worked, and Dany's didn't, because the show wants us to be done with Dany and Arya is still cool.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Arya is a Mary Sue (and I'm sorry for wording my last post as I did to maybe give that impression, because that would put me in pretty bad company). She's a well developed, interesting character who's been obviously set up for a crucial role and I don't mind at all that she was the one who got to kill the Night Kill. She definitely has a couple of useful skills in that regard! I just think the show has done a pretty bad job actually showcasing them!

Sure, there's a bit of forshadowing last episode about her super-sneaking skills (Jon asking Arya how she managed to sneak up on him in the Goodswood - good question, my guess is that him not being surrounded by bodyguards in the middle of a battle might have helped), we are shown Arya's stealth again in this episode in the libarary scene (but honestly all that did was convince me that even being super sneaky she wouldn't get very far without tanks like Beric and the Hound for cover). And they did a nice call back with the turn-the-knife-pretend-to-drop-it-then-stab move to Arya sparing with Brienne, which I didn't notice the first time around, and do appreciate now. So, fine, the show has been setting this up as well as they generally do that sort of stuff.

But still, what it really came down to was "Stick them with the pointy end". And in a way that's a nice troll, after all these convoluted theories about magic swords and procphecies and stuff, and I get why some people might enjoy the anti-climax of it all, feasting on the fan-person tears. But Arya did learn that in season one.

And yes, that makes me think all those season of character development were not quite optimally exploited here. The skills she got to use here are sneaking and stabbing, but Arya's training was really about quite a bit more than that. Because the real challenge about being an assassin is getting close enough to the target. And no, mere sneaking often doesn't do the trick, otherwise the Faceless men would hardly bother with the face-swapping. And the drills about practising lying and subterfuge. Arya's is even sent to train with actors! And than all those training missions she had in the books, just gathering intell, when the target would be most vulnerable. Blending in with her surroundings, not by hiding under tables, but by becoming the commoner, the sort of person people overlook. Have we ever seen Arya really use those sort of skills on the show? I would find that so much more interesting to watch!

Eh, she's still gotta murder Cersei, I guess.
posted by sohalt at 12:13 AM on April 30 [7 favorites]


Everything in the story was so open ended, anything could have happened really.

When Jon was trying to square off against the NK and all the wights got raised from the dead around him, I legit thought Dany was going to just burn everything, including Jon.

It would conveniently "test" the theory that Jon was a targ (immune to fire)... and get rid of a potential fake claimant to the throne if not.

If Jon survived... then him and the NK could face each other 1v1 in a ring of dragonfire...

---

Jaime could also have been the one, as the conclusion of the entire story arc that began with him pushing Bran out the window. There's a theory he would be the last one between Bran and the NK. He thinks back to the words of the oath he took as a knight. As he gets closer, the world fades away around him into darkness, all he hears is the whisper of hundreds of people throughout his life saying "kingslayer", louder and louder... drawing Widow's Wail, it suddenly lights on fire. (end credits).
posted by xdvesper at 12:16 AM on April 30 [14 favorites]


>> I was told there would be ice spiders.

I was told there would be Grumpkins and Snarks.
posted by Molesome at 1:31 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


I had to come in to add my voice with the (minority?) group reserving judgement for the rest of the episodes. Maybe I'll look stupid once the series finishes but I'd much rather go in with a sense of wonder and curiosity than hate watching. I don't really get much out of hate watching and if it were to come down to that I would rather just stop watching. So I've decided to just keep and open mind and keep my enjoyment last as long as possible.

Loved:

- The tense atmosphere: There was one point (I think when the NK re-raised the dead) I could not stop chanting "Oh no oh no oh no oh no" like a broken record. Compared to the last episode, I think the joke count was zero and I felt it.
- Some of the visual frames: The dragons hovering in the moonlit sky above the clouds. The swarm of zombies crashing like a wave over the Unsullied. Drogon curling around Dany as she mourns over Jorah's body.
- Melisandre: I never liked her much and her contributions in this episode were a bit predictable but I still found them satisfying and fun to watch!
- Arya sneaking around the library: Ok a tiny bit too long and out of place, but still fun! I was reminded of the raptor scene in Jurassic Park and my husband was reminded of a Solid Snake level, hehe.
- Lyanna Mormont: We stan foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrr *heart eyes emoji*
- I don't think people appreciate what they have pulled off for television. I feel it and I'm happy to have witnessed it and felt all the emotions of it.

Questions left unanswered that I am hoping the next episodes will pay off:

- Melisandre was clear about Beric's purpose for being brought back to life being fulfilled (keep Arya alive), so why is Jon still alive? I do not believe it is the same purpose as Beric's as his role in the episode was at most a dragon assist (it felt like Dany/Drogon did most of the work). I think there is still something big left in his future and possibly still tied up with the NK which is... intriguing. They did leave his Targaryen heritage discussion with Dany unfinished as well.
- Bran. I don't believe we are yet done with Bran. I don't know if I'm on board with the Bran = New NK theories but if that's what it turns out to be I'm looking forward to seeing the why and how.
- I'm still waiting for Tyrion to become smart again. I *am* disappointed that his off-screen conversation with Bran didn't pay off (like why didn't he realise the crypts were not the best place to hide out??) but I'm still hoping there's something left for Tyrion to do.
- Same with Varys. He was such a lump in this episode he must have unfinished business to be kept alive. Does he have any more tricks up his sleeve?
- Greyworm. Pet theory he's gonna tell Dany he's done and he runs off with Missande with her blessing. Or Dany releases them both from service for noble Reasons tied up with taking (or not taking) the Iron Throne.
- Arya. I don't believe she's gonna kill Cersei. She's already killed the NK, it would be extremely unlikely she does in Cersei as well. So I think that squelches the (I think stupid) theories of her impersonating Jamie to kill Cersei.

THAT SAID - I think Arya still might *attempt* to kill Cersei as Jamie. But here's my wild speculation: At the last minute the Mountain steps in and kills the person who everyone thinks is Jamie. It's revealed it's Arya who dead now. We pan to The Hound. KLAXONS RING AS CLEGANEBOWL IS ABOUT TO COMMENCE.
posted by like_neon at 1:38 AM on April 30 [15 favorites]


In my circles, such as they are, by far the loudest and most detailed criticisms have been (other than the darkness) the extremely inept planning of the whole battle strategy.

We were yelling at the TV the whole time, especially the complete misuse of siege engines.
posted by corb at 1:42 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


Jon hustling across the field of corpses and fire and snow, from his wounded dragon over to the Night King... they did this moment okay but it's so fucking metal, hngh.

I enjoyed the Gothamist's Power Rankings (recap)

I've watched this crowd reaction like twenty times now.
posted by fleacircus at 2:07 AM on April 30 [11 favorites]


like_neon wrote:
I don't think people appreciate what they have pulled off for television. I feel it and I'm happy to have witnessed it and felt all the emotions of it.

Yes. You're right about the big picture. (You're right about pretty much everything in that comment, and are a much better person than I am in regards to positive perspectives.) Hell, the majority of people probably aren't even paying HBO to watch the show. So yeah, the show still has cool parts. There were some wonderful scenes that would have blown my mind 15 years ago.

The question I ask myself is, 'Would I go to the theatre for this?' What I mean is that I stopped watching movies like The Fast and Furious, Transformers and all the various MCU titles a long time ago. I'll catch up on Marvel movies on the plane but won't really use my own time to go out of my way to watch them.

In the past, I would have gone out to watch GoT. If season 7 was season 1 and we started with the current version of the show, I probably wouldn't have stuck with it despite the collection of cool things happening on the screen.
posted by Telf at 2:10 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Well, I've watched it for the third time, and it gets better every time. Nice bookends of the Red Witch lighting the darkness of the night, then collapsing when the dawn lights up the sky without her help. It has a breathless action/then slight pause rhythm to it that's reminiscent of some good recent battle/horror/suspense films ('71, Neil Marshall's Centurion). I wasn't upset by any assumed mythology being denied or left unexplained (Azor Ahai, Lord of Light, time travel loops, magic bloodlines, reanimation procedures of Beric/Jon/NK etc). There's been a persistent theme in the books and the show that no one really knows the rules of this world, but many conduct themselves like they think they do. And that upending of expectations was used well for this episode's story.
posted by Harry Caul at 3:20 AM on April 30 [7 favorites]


Because I am incredibly clever I managed over the last few years to watch only five (?) episodes so I have no idea about pretty much anything. And it's freakin' awesome. Seriously, if you aren't all invested in the arc of whatever character but are just watching some wild action and etc. - the show totally delivers. Last season when they're on the island in the North and are gonna get creamed by the zombies and then the dragon comes! and then the Night King Kills The Dragon! Holy Shit! That was terrific - a great bit of storytelling with just images.

This episode as well. I couldn't quite follow because it was so damn dark but what I could see was pretty damn wild - The 'Dothraki' running off and then their lights going out one by one? That was gorgeous. And the dragons up in the sky above the clouds. And lastly Arya showing up and totally fucking killing the Night King, who just survived full frontal dragon fire! Damn. That was tasty. (And Tormund and his attraction to Brienne is hilarious - I don't know what, if anything, it's supposed to mean (like, are they siblings also?) but it's a nice if conventional piece of set dressing.

Also, whenever I hear the name I think of "Bran" that my grandfather ate for breakfast and I find that funny.

I might just go and watch the rest of the seasons but not knowing might be better.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:35 AM on April 30 [11 favorites]


There's been a persistent theme in the books and the show that no one really knows the rules of this world, but many conduct themselves like they think they do. And that upending of expectations was used well for this episode's story.

Where's the upending though? Seems like Mel finally figured it all out/ was more or less right all along/ essentially justified in the way she conducted herself. All her magic worked this time, she finally correctly identified the savior in Arya and gave her the decisive pep talk, then goes gently into that good dawn, knowing she has fulfilled her purpose. Guess burning Shireen was worth the try, all things considered.

Bran's plan worked out, zombie overlord can't be killed by fire, but dragonglass still totally works, all the other zombies are dead. Unless the twist is that there wasn't much of a twist for once, I don't see it.
posted by sohalt at 3:36 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


I am an arya stan and have been since she first picked up a sword so this episode was not a wash for me but it was pure fan service for a lot. Oh well, off to go see Avengers Endgame!

Saw an interview with Maisie Williams where she commiserates about a decision she made when the show first started. The books make a point of Arya being left handed so young Maisie decided to be faithful to them & did her sword work that way although Maisie herself is right handed. Big mistake; she's been stuck with it ever since.
posted by scalefree at 3:50 AM on April 30 [5 favorites]


Got halfway through latest episode of The Watch podcast on the way to work, which is exclusively dedicated to this episode. After some of the internet critique I was expecting them to slam it, but they were very positive (having previously been pretty brutal on the last couple seasons) in ways that I found interesting.

So, you know, if you need one more piece of analysis on the show - I know there's not a lot of it about.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:56 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


xdvesper: Jon isn't burnination-proof. He burns his hand in his first encounter with the dead way back in S1 or S2.
posted by bfranklin at 4:16 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


she finally correctly identified the savior in Arya and gave her the decisive pep talk
One witch's 'finally correctly identified' seems like a fanbase's upending of expectations to me.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:16 AM on April 30


One witch's 'finally correctly identified' seems like a fanbase's upending of expectations to me.

Eh, that's surface detail. Point is the world seems to pretty much work as Melisandre thinks it does, great dichotomy between Lord of Light and Great Other, with no shades of grey, human sacrifice justified because it gets results.. Which fans pretty much also thought, so no subversion there either. Some guesswork with the specific details of the execution is to be expected with prophecies. My disappointment here is less about the "who" and more about the "how", and the "how" really couldn't have been done more by the numbers.
posted by sohalt at 5:18 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Jon might be burnination proof now that’s hes been dead and back.
posted by tilde at 5:21 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Point is the world seems to pretty much work as Melisandre thinks it does. Except for all the times it doesn't. Renly's murder by LoL-shadow doesn't put Stannis on the throne, Gendry's leeching doesn't produce anything. Shireen's murder doesn't produce anything, and Stannis dies from stupidity. Resurrecting Snow doesn't lead anywhere, (and it was Davos that talked her into it anyway?) Her only correct prediction was a glimpse of Arya's proclivity for murder. Which, hey, even the Hound figured out that one.
posted by Harry Caul at 5:31 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Jon might be burnination proof now that’s hes been dead and back.

But then it doesn't have anything to do with being a Targaryen and we're back to this making zero narrative sense.
posted by lydhre at 5:33 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


The pointed comments about how Beric had fulfilled his purpose, as had Melissande leaves serious questions about Jon.

I keep forgetting this bit and I need to not do that! Anyone who’s been resurrected is Dead Person Walking in that they’re only back as a temporary contract player for the Lord of Light. Not that the resurrectee knows what their purpose is, but once they complete it they are yanked back, it seems. So on that basis alone, Jon may not be the best choice as a stable ruler once the battles cease.
posted by sallybrown at 5:40 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Also, I might be wrong about this, but have the Starks found out yet that Jon isn’t a Snow? That, pregnant Cersei, and Bronn’s mission are narrative bombs that still haven’t gone off.
posted by sallybrown at 5:47 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


Well, Bran knows, and he's technically still a Stark. Other than that, it's Sam, almost certainly Gilly, Jon himself, and Dany. I expect it to come out any minute, though, because Jon simply Cannot.
posted by Mogur at 6:05 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Where's the upending though? Seems like Mel finally figured it all out/ was more or less right all along/ essentially justified in the way she conducted herself. All her magic worked this time, she finally correctly identified the savior in Arya and gave her the decisive pep talk, then goes gently into that good dawn, knowing she has fulfilled her purpose. Guess burning Shireen was worth the try, all things considered.

Was it, though? I think we can interpret her suicide in many ways, but I primarily interpreted it as a suicide. She helped save Westeros, and -- Davos aside -- most of the North would likely have let go of any past rancor because of her aid in the war. Eternally young and gorgeous and (maybe? it's not clear to me if her powers were fading, although I think that was implied) powerful, the Red Woman could have lived a pretty fine life in Westeros. That she checked out says to me that she didn't want to. I don't think her suicide was the intended outcome of Stannis' ascension. Melisandre may largely have been proven right in her predictions, but things still didn't go the way she had hoped.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:15 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


As I watched Jon dodge the dragon's ice blasts, I kept flashing back to playing the final challenge sequence in Dragon's Lair.
posted by Stanczyk at 6:19 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


Can report that the Australian official copy of The Long Night is beautifully clear.

It seemed clear to me that Melisandre had, to her knowledge, finally served her purpose; they even gave us a useful reminder. It's not entirely clear that she was actually right about what the Lord of Light was after - her interventions in the battle didn't really amount to very much (lighting the Dothraki's weapons, only for them to get immediately killed; trying very very hard to light the trench, which the dead basically just walked over one by one to stamp it out). I like that ambiguity.

What's interesting about the way this played out is, even though the show really didn't prune the way we kind of expected, Dany's army is basically wiped out.
posted by Merus at 6:24 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


thinking about this ep. EVEN MOAR over the last few days, and here's where I've landed:

There's a lot of problems with the show, and that sucks. I read all the books a couple times, and there's a lot of problems with them too.

BUT

Arya is the fucking best. She just is. She was put through some much fucking bullshit, from a very young age, and she somehow managed to keep her moral compass for the whole show, remain in control of her destiny, and fuckin' suit up to fight some nazis zombies. She's been training for like eleventy seasons while roaming around meting out justice to some seriously bad people (remember Meryn Trynt, anyone?) and I just fucking love her character. I'm so glad she got the kill and I think she's earned the title of Most Dangerous Badass in Westeros and deserves all the Gendry and wine and whatever else she might want.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:24 AM on April 30 [15 favorites]


I'm also landing on "there's a lot of problems with the show, but the biggest problem I had with it was that it was fucking nihilistic in places and they've landed on 'this world sucks but it's worth fighting for' and I'm overall happy with where it's ending up".

There are three episodes to go so I can see them lighting everything on fire just to have a shocking twist.
posted by Merus at 6:34 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


I like that Arya's kill shot maintained a long unbroken line of people rescuing Jon Snow after he tries to do something dumb and heroic. I mean his life starts with a rescue and it's been a non-stop rescue fest ever since, he is the perfect damsel.
posted by French Fry at 6:47 AM on April 30 [43 favorites]


Can report that the Australian official copy of The Long Night is beautifully clear.

A lot of the complaints seem to stem from the fact that cable companies are compressing the original 10mbps file (4.9 Gb) down to 3mbps to fit within the standard bandwidth per cable channel. You should get the original 10mbps quality if you stream it online.

(still waiting for the rest of the world to catch up to using H265)
posted by xdvesper at 6:51 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Yes, Dany's army is wiped out (god, that scene of the flames winking out -- spectacular). They averted the life-and-civilization-ending threat and no one knows about it. They didn't see it so they can't imagine it. I can see the rest of Westeros shrugging it off with a "thanks, mate, now about that money you owe me...".

I can't imagine that Dany still has a taste for conquest after the miraculous victory, not due to dragons like she thought (but maybe she'll go mad like her father). I can't imagine Jon joining her after the mother of all battles. He would want to rebuild the north with Sansa and get the wildings settled. If they had construction equipment, they could bulldoze all those zombie bodies to create a new border wall.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:53 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


So, is R'hllor the One True God then?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:06 PM on April 28 [1


The Red Priestess fulfilled her purpose by using the religion of the God of Death, then had to kill herself out of existential angst to fulfill her other prediction.

So the story seems to be 'gods exist, but are indecipherable, inscrutable, and it s folly to follow people who say otherwise'
posted by eustatic at 7:01 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


That she checked out says to me that she didn't want to. I don't think her suicide was the intended outcome of Stannis' ascension.

It's one possible reading, sure. As far as I'm concerned, I just didn't see anything in that scene that made me read Mel's shuffling off that mortal coil as some sort of atonement for burning Shireen. I mean, that woman has lived very long - too long, argueably. Did we ever get get any indication that she's still enjoying it? I imagine if you get that old, after some point the returns are diminishing. Who knows how long she might have already been longing for that sweet embrace of death? But all this time she had to keep going, because she had this mission. And now it's completed and she can go to rest. Seems like a happy ending to me. I mean, could we even imagine Mel in retirement? Has she ever shown interest in anything other than beating the Night King?

Another reading is that she just didn't have much of a choice. Her natural life would have been long over, it was artificially extended because she still had a part to play, just like Beric. That part being played, the life force just left her. Whatever had animated her before no longer had a reason to keep doing it, and so didn't.
posted by sohalt at 7:01 AM on April 30


"I can't imagine that Dany still has a taste for conquest after the miraculous victory"

Kinda doesn't matter if she does or not, she's got no ARMY. She ran through, what, half? two-thirds? of her troops throwing them away against the Night King. The Starks have the Wildlings, the Night's Watch, the northmen, etc. Dany's got whatever's left of the Unsullied. I expect the next few weeks are going to be a lot about Dany's lack of army and suddenly-subordinate claim to Jon's. She went from a position of great -- possibly overwhelming -- power and legitimacy to a startlingly weak one in the course of 24 hours, with a remnant army plus whatever rag-tag Northerners are willing to march on Cersei (after Sansa made pretty clear her price is independence), and a nephew-lover with a superior claim to hers.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:11 AM on April 30 [9 favorites]


It has a breathless action/then slight pause rhythm to it that's reminiscent of some good recent battle/horror/suspense films

Yeah it was decent. I think they got a little too involved in Arya's stealth mission library level in the middle of chaotic and terrifying situation of the castle having fallen and being overrun. The running around in hallways from peril was pretty generic. They could have cribbed from Army of Shadows: had Arya and another character hiding in a dark alcove whispering, the other one accepts they need to act as a decoy, run out first and go left, so Arya can run out and go right. As for which character that would be to sacrifice themselves, that's a fun question.

Because I am incredibly clever I managed over the last few years to watch only five (?) episodes so I have no idea about pretty much anything. And it's freakin' awesome. Seriously, if you aren't all invested in the arc of whatever character but are just watching some wild action and etc. - the show totally delivers.

I've heard this from a couple other people who don't watch the show, but have heard so much buzz about this episode that they watched it and thought it was kickin rad.

I can see the rest of Westeros shrugging it off with a "thanks, mate, now about that money you owe me...".

I'm hoping for some small things like a new bond between some characters. And maybe a demonstration of some gentlemen then a-bed holding their manhoods cheap; stuff that acknowledges that all that did really happen.

I can't imagine that Dany still has a taste for conquest after the miraculous victory, not due to dragons like she thought (but maybe she'll go mad like her father). I can't imagine Jon joining her after the mother of all battles. He would want to rebuild the north with Sansa and get the wildings settled. If they had construction equipment, they could bulldoze all those zombie bodies to create a new border wall.

They don't need a wall anymore tho. I can imagine a deal where the North helps Dany get her throne back in exchange for independence. They could probably raise another army of out of the chickenshits who took a pass on Winterfell but would be up for raiding the south and gaining independence, the true Queen in the North. I wouldn't like that as the ending but it seems a path forward.

The Red Priestess fulfilled her purpose by using the religion of the God of Death, then had to kill herself out of existential angst to fulfill her other prediction.

I imagine it as the last little fuck-you from Lord-o-Light. Melisandre has probably wanted release from her duty for a long time, and she welcomed the promise that she wouldn't survive the night of the battle. She survives, but her god is like, "...WELL?" and she has to do it herself. R'hllor is a cruel withholding fucker of a god.
posted by fleacircus at 7:31 AM on April 30 [5 favorites]


I'd really like it if there were no final, final battle. Make Tyrion useful again and send him down to negotiate with the Iron Bank. Have Cersei's plan turn into ashes just as she's wallowing in her own smugness. Wait... going to google that quote from Tyrion...

A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid.

'The debt is paid'? That seems portentous. Or, I guess Arya could just jump out of the rafters and stab Cersei. There's literally no reason why she couldn't use Trant or someone else's face to just kill Cersei.

Or no battle and Dany and Jon just fly at really high altitude then dive bomb in and melt Cersei's bedroom. I'm sure Varys could figure out where she sits and drinks wine all day.

Or just wait for the bulging pokeball of venereal diseases she caught from Euron Greyjoy to slowly worm their way through her system and let her die.

Or wait for a peasant's rebellion because all the peasants are still starving. This would be the most satisfying ending. All the little people we've forgotten about finally rise up and depose the monarchy.

Or, just wait and do nothing. Drain the resources being used to pay the Golden Company. Euron's fleet would grow restless as well. In fact, there's pretty much no reason to rush the battle.

Or send a supersonic dragon over to Dorne and get them to attack from the south. Wait, is Dorne still around? I honestly can't remember if they did something to negate them.

Just please don't drag it out with Bronn killing the Lannister boys or a stupid anti-dragon crossbow wiping out Dany's airforce. No more Jon charging into the middle of other armies and getting saved by somebody with forethought.
posted by Telf at 7:38 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who saw Arya drop her dagger, Bran catch it, and BRAN stick the Night King?

Arya: I know something you do not know
NK: whats that?

Arya: I am not left handed.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:41 AM on April 30 [31 favorites]


bulging pokeball of venereal diseases would be an amazing sockpuppet
posted by lazaruslong at 7:43 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


Just realized that with the death of the NK, we won't have the scene of dead allies charging in against the survivors in a final battle. No dead Jorah gnashing at Dany. No dead Brienne charging against Jaime. I guess I'm ok with that. It would have been a bit much.
posted by Telf at 7:43 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]




Telf, another option that comes out of your thinking. Why not go to Braavos and burn the people, take over the bank? Would that be doable?

Or send a supersonic dragon over to Dorne and get them to attack from the south. Wait, is Dorne still around? I honestly can't remember if they did something to negate them.

Weren't the Dorne army all on Yara's ships when they got tricked at King's Landing back in 7.2/7.3 and Euron's navy wrecked them?
posted by biffa at 7:58 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


> bulging pokeball of venereal diseases would be an amazing sockpuppet

it would not be a good sockpuppet because it seems like something that would be pretty unpleasant to put your hand in.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:59 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Right. That naval battle scene with the manic Euron and the weird sped up melee.

Regarding the direct assault of the Iron Bank, good idea. Maybe the real villain was capitalism* all along. The long winter was an allusion to late capitalism wage stagnation.

*Probably actually mercantilism, but who's counting?
posted by Telf at 8:12 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


if you aren't all invested in the arc of whatever character but are just watching some wild action and etc. - the show totally delivers. Last season when they're on the island in the North and are gonna get creamed by the zombies and then the dragon comes! and then the Night King Kills The Dragon! Holy Shit! That was terrific - a great bit of storytelling with just images.

whereas for me, that episode (not that particular sequence) was my "uh-oh, is that a shark down there we're jumping over?" moment ... because so much of the plotting/timing/logic was just OFF. It delivered bucketloads of "wow" but left a serious aftertaste of "whut".

Maybe that's why this most recent episode didn't clunk so badly with me, because I'd already lowered my expectations. At least with regard to those moments when spectacle and narrative logic fumble into each other -- spectacle's going to win, that's already been established. The upside being that, in dispensing with the Zombie Shit at the halfway point of the final season, the show now has three episodes (three mini-movies) to do what it does best. Hint: it's in the title. When Game Of Thrones fixes its focus on the game of the throne, it's still a pretty darned cool TV show. Not as fabulous as it once was, but what is? I think we can blame Donald Trump for that.
posted by philip-random at 8:27 AM on April 30 [7 favorites]


I don't know how one can suggest this episode as a shark-jumping moment after we made it through Arya's battle with the Waif and all the baroque silliness that was involved there. The show was giving us a very clear signal that the remaining big plot elements were going to be more traditional romantic action-adventurey, and that spectacle was going to reign supreme from then on out--and it's delivered on that. In contrast to something from season 1 or 2, this is really dramatically different in tone and style, but for better or worse, it's not that show anymore and hasn't been for quite awhile. Not saying that anyone has to or should like it, but it's not a very recent change.
posted by skewed at 9:15 AM on April 30 [6 favorites]


Fun / scary twist: Bran saw the creation of the Night King. Would he be able to do that again on his own?
posted by Pronoiac at 9:23 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


sure, especially since who the fuck knows what is actually occupying Bran's cranium at this point

I wonder if they're gonna burn all those bodies that fell to the ground intact when the NK shattered, or if they're gonna be all "leave 'em, we'll never have to worry about the reanimated dead ever again!"
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:29 AM on April 30


So if Arya is basically Inigo Montoya, complete with "you killed my father" revenge and a mastery of off-hand dueling, does that mean she turns pirate once the whole revenge business is done? That'll make the Arya/Yara shippers happy.
posted by surlyben at 9:37 AM on April 30 [6 favorites]


What Actually Happened to the Dothraki by Hank Green is pretty great. Come for the 10 reasons they may still be alive, but stay for the 4 reasons why they probably aren’t.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:39 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I imagine it as the last little fuck-you from Lord-o-Light. Melisandre has probably wanted release from her duty for a long time, and she welcomed the promise that she wouldn't survive the night of the battle. She survives, but her god is like, "...WELL?" and she has to do it herself. R'hllor is a cruel withholding fucker of a god.
posted by fleacircus at 7:31 AM on April 30 [3 favorites +] [!]


I had a vision! In an flickering, poorly-compressed dark screen! that Melisandre represents fans who rage-quit the show after years of LOST-ing and overinterpretation.

but really, i was warned decades ago, by book-readers. not to read these books.
posted by eustatic at 9:41 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


You know, in thinking about this more, the meeting between NK and Bran was...weird. Like, that was a long amount of eye contact. And while I could be wrong, I don't remember either one them looking particularly....pissed? Even really menacing?

I read that as a "well here we are, finally" beat. As Bran told us last week, the Night King and the Three Eyed Raven have been playing this game for a very long time; reaching the final move is a big moment for both of them.

So no, I don't think Bran's the Night King. He is uncomfortably other, though, and I think he's going to end out the series exiling himself back to his tree; maybe after issuing some unwelcome prognostications to the survivors.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:51 AM on April 30 [8 favorites]


Renly's murder by LoL-shadow doesn't put Stannis on the throne, Gendry's leeching doesn't produce anything. Shireen's murder doesn't produce anything, and Stannis dies from stupidity. Resurrecting Snow doesn't lead anywhere, (and it was Davos that talked her into it anyway?) Her only correct prediction was a glimpse of Arya's proclivity for murder.

Well, if she follows Bran's logic, it was all necessary to bring Arya to that one point in time where she could fulfill her destiny. Stannis hadn't lost that battle, Winterfell would have gone to him instead of Jon, and Sansa wouldn't have needed rescuing from Ramsay anymore and Jon would have kept his oath and wouldn't have become King in the North, and couldn't have made that alliance with Dany (can you see Stannis allying with Dany? I don't think so), without whose dragons the zombies probably couldn't have been kept at bay long enough for Arya to meet up again with Melisande, to get that one crucial pep talk that made her realize her destiny to kill the Night King. Voilà, everything adds up, everything justified. Total vindication of Melisandre.
posted by sohalt at 9:52 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


I meant to say (not seriously) building a wall of dead zombie bodies to the south, to ward off any incursions by Cersei. Dany wants to keep fighting because she's lost her mind after the slaughter of the Dothrakis and Unsullied but she still has a dragon or two and that throne is her birthright, dammit. Jon's over it. Was never interested in the Iron Throne, just wants the North to be left alone.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:11 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


skewed We know Gendry is alive because Beric Fucking Dondarion got a 90 second death scene, and there is literally nobody on the planet who cared about that character.

Nope, there's at least one person. Dondarrion has been one of my faves since the "Band of Brothers tries the Hound" bit, and his death was seriously personally distressing, second only to the Little Bear's death.

As an aside, for all that Theon was supposed to be an amazingly skilled archer, Alfie Allen needs some tutoring on proper form. The only screen archer who makes me angry enough to scream at the screen more than this episode's Theon is MCU Hawkeye.
posted by hanov3r at 10:37 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


If you want the snark take on how dumb the plot of this episode was, Cersei Lannister Is Smarter Than All These Morons has you covered.
The “Great War,” the war of the living against the dead, the existential fight for the survival of life itself, was fought in one location, in one night, over the span of a few hours ... somebody had the idea to wait for the Night King to come for the Three-Eyed Raven and then an assassin-school dropout jumped very far and poked him once with a knife that couldn’t even cut through Catelyn Stark’s fingers.
(The Catelyn crack identifies the author as a True Fan who remembers every detail and is now coming to terms with disappointment.)
posted by Nelson at 10:40 AM on April 30 [14 favorites]


Flames, flames on the side of my neck! I really didn't think that would be over quite so fast?
I was so tense I was amost crying during the first few minutes, and the tension build deliciously as far as the Dothraki lights going out. I would have loved if the horses had come back headless.

I like that they skipped some of the cheaper tricks like someone having to re-kill Lady Mormont or Dead Ned (or Rob) coming out to play. Dare I say we got off lightly? I have to go re-watch and see if Missandei is safe in the crypts.
posted by Iteki at 11:02 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


mikelieman: I especially loved the part where Drogon takes off and literally rained wights as he shook them off...

Reign of the undead or RAIN of the undead, amirite?
posted by hanov3r at 11:10 AM on April 30


Wait, how in R'hllor's name did Davos survive? He was out on the parapet front lines the whole time, as shown by his short scene with Arya. Did he just find the one room in Winterfell that was completely safe from the White Walkers (he knew better than to chill out in the crypts)? And why wasn't he in the crypts in the first place - he has continually said that he isn't a fighter, and true to form, we saw no fighting from him.

Is the answer just plot armor? Even compared to the rest of the episode, it seems like particularly egregious plot armor.
posted by facehugger at 11:25 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


harriet vane: I enjoyed Sansa and Tyrion in the crypts but the problem there is that Peter Dinklage, like Ian Glen, is more charming and handsome than the character he plays. It's hard not to be swayed by that even though Tyrion is actually a little shit who has good ideas sometimes.

In the show, or in the books? I ask this because after reading and hearing directors and writers talk about how actors change the roles for characters in movies and TV, I've come to the realization that a good actor can shape their character and improve upon the source material, whether it be a book or a script.

Which is another way of saying show-Tyrion is the character that Dinklage plays. He plays the character as charming and handsome, because that's the character in the show.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:26 AM on April 30 [8 favorites]


apparently in westeros the difference between knights and wights is that any knight can make a knight, but only a king can make a wight.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:33 AM on April 30 [11 favorites]


with a knife that couldn’t even cut through Catelyn Stark’s fingers

Feh! The WW's weakness to Valyrian steel is clearly magical, not due to just being pointier than normal steel.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:35 AM on April 30 [13 favorites]


anyway, yes, defecting from the army and running away when you're facing overwhelming odds is clearly the right choice (summary execution for deserters aside). When the army loses, you would have lost and died. When the army wins, you might have died or been injured, and so you're in all cases better off deserting, but if everyone does it, the battle will certainly be lost.

Cersei didn't want to live in a reality where she might lose to Dany or Jon; she preferred to roll the dice, as she knew that Jon and Dany's forces were ideologically committed to the cause and not going to desert. It's exactly the sort of "smart" that Cersei is good at. Evil will always triumph, because good is dumb. Being rewarded for doing the evil, selfish thing is pure GoT.

The only way to defeat the NK was going to be pulling something out of their ass; raw military power could not have worked. It just wasn't possible. An extended battle, or series of battles, would not have worked, because there can be no battle of attrition against literal zombies with dragons. If it had lasted more than one night, Winterfell would obviously be a goner.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:55 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


[A few deleted. Sorry, folks have asked that people please not discuss stuff from the "next week on GoT" teaser trailers.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:00 PM on April 30 [8 favorites]


"Is the answer just plot armor?"

The answer is plot armor.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:12 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


"plot armor" holds this weird place in my head where it is both so overused to whinge about stuff that I find it annoying AND such an incredibly useful shorthand for a concept we don't have a single word for that it has unavoidable utility.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:19 PM on April 30 [8 favorites]


Valar Morghulis
Valar Dohaeris
Valar my ragtime gal

(source)
posted by exogenous at 12:20 PM on April 30 [24 favorites]


Davos is an old smuggler. He spent that time in the courtyard serving soup, encouraging people and identifying really good hiding places, which he skived off to right sharpish when they started coming over the wall. He kept his head down until the noise stopped, then came back out.
posted by Mogur at 12:23 PM on April 30 [16 favorites]


knights and wights

Ah ha! Finally a title for my DIY fantasy RPG!
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:32 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


/he said jokingly, in case that wasn’t clear. ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:34 PM on April 30


"Davos is an old smuggler. He spent that time in the courtyard serving soup, encouraging people and identifying really good hiding places, which he skived off to right sharpish when they started coming over the wall. He kept his head down until the noise stopped, then came back out."

I will subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:34 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't it be hilarious if while Dany and Jon and all of them are burning the bodies and trying to recover from this battle, Cersei's mercenaries swept in (from where they've been hiding out at the Karstarks' castle or wherever) and just summarily finished them off? Like the military version of Arya's "dropped knife" trick?

I wish that Dany had died in this battle just so that then Jon would have to worry about whether he should try to get Cersei off the Iron Throne (for the good of everybody) and carry on Dany's mission to get the Targs back in power or not. Dany still being around means the game hasn't been shaken up THAT much. She started out with no army in the first place, so I'm not really that pressed about her not having one now.

My favorite things in this episode:
-- Melisandre's grand entrance
-- The Dothraki swords being snuffed out (beautiful but horrifying shot)
-- Tyrion and Sansa flirting in the crypt, and Messandri getting all hot under the collar with her "if it weren't for that dragon queen, we'd all be dead!" thing. I just wanted Tyrion and Sansa to turn to each other and try to stifle giggles after she said that, the whole thing was so teenager-y, but in a fun way.

I like Theon as a character (he's interesting), but this redemption arc is too hokey for me. I especially disliked the "heroic" suicidal charge against the Night King, because this is a character who gave up literally everything just to keep clinging to life, and then he essentially just commits suicide at the end anyway? Like, if that's what he was going to do, why not just do that while Ramsey was in the midst of torturing him and save everyone the trouble?

I thought that Arya's literal ability to assassinate the Night King is well supported by all her training, but it still felt like an anti-climax because the emotional payoff wasn't there. Was he even on her list? I think it would have been more interesting if Arya had gone rogue and used the battle as a distraction so that she could go about [insert creepy mission here]. Arya is like the embodiment of going rogue, so her being an obedient player in a larger plan falls flat to me *shrug*

Not really happy with how melodramatic the deaths and non-deaths were in general, because I think it goes against the spirit of the show/story/books. But YMMV. Like, I'm both happy to see Little Bear take another stand, and rolling my eyes at the cheesiness.
posted by rue72 at 12:36 PM on April 30 [10 favorites]


Knights in Wight Satin
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:36 PM on April 30 [23 favorites]


When the wights breached the wall and entered Winterfell, they systematically went about identifying the biggest threats, eliminating them, and then working their way down the list to the least threatening individuals. As it turns out, they had not yet gotten far enough down the list to get to Davos and Sam before the Night King was killed.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:59 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


> Ugh, okay, one more paragraph of the doctored-by-Thomas-Pynchon fanfic version of the story: all that above about Arya killing the Night King and the Army of the Dead shambling on, but also it's established earlier in the episode that Our Heroes are pretty sure that the AotD can't make new wights without the Night King.

wait I lied I have a bit more fanfic.

so: killing the Night King doesn't stop the Army of the Dead, but it means that there won't be any more wights once the ones already shambling about are dispatched.

Therefore: after a long sequence of very messy hack-and-slash, Our Heroes escape from the zombie-infested ruins of Winterfell, maybe minus a few of Our Heroes. like Bran gets eaten by zombies, Davos gets eaten by zombies, the Hound gets eaten by zombies (and in the distance, we feel a great disturbance in the hype-force as a million airhorns sound and then are suddenly silenced).

The next episode starts with Our Heroes leading the tattered survivors of the Battle of Winterfell along the Kingsroad in a several-week's-long fighting retreat south to Moat Cailin, beset by zombies every step of the way.

Oh and also: the sun never comes up. Oh shit it's the Long Night y'all.

Most of the next episode is set in King's Landing, though, where Cersei and Sea Ramsey have to manage some genuinely insane unrest in King's Landing as in the face of the Long Night the population of south-of-Neck Westeros goes full Isaac-Asimov's-Nightfall. The residents of Flea Bottom burn the place to the ground, nearly as desperate for light as the people watching S08E03 on non-OLED TVs were. Cersei keeps scheming in the Red Keep, but it's hard to scheme when every 15 minutes or so a new wildfire cache catches fire and blows up yet another chunk of King's Landing. Half the populace converts to R'hllor cults; the rest just roam the darkened streets poking each other with sharp things and bashing each other with blunt things.

At Moat Cailin what's left of the army of the living makes their last stand. Zombie Viserion kills Rhaegal, and mortally wounds Drogon. And at the last moment, when all hope appears lost, Melisandre (who is still alive — recall that the sun still hasn't come up yet so her prophecy of dying before the dawn hasn't been invalidated) does some sort of crazy Melisandre magic using damn hell ass dragon's blood. the sun comes up. as the dawn comes, the wights (who have been low-key slowly losing puissance since the Night King's death) sink to the ground and once more become rags and bones.

Melisandre takes off her ruby and dies. The few survivors of Moat Cailin make their way to the south. As in the actual story, the highborn south of the Neck never know that Our Heroes saved the world from an existential threat. Yes, yes, there was the Long Night, but Cersei thinks that some weird bit of magic that she cooked up with Qyburn is what ended it. But the smallfolk? The smallfolk believe every word the northern survivors say, and so Jon Snow (who wants none of this) ends up with kingship thrust upon him as a popular uprising deposes Cersei Lannister and installs in her place The Secret Targaryen who Saved the World.

You'd think that Daenerys would be pretty pissed about the throne going to her boyfriend nephew instead of to her, but the loss of her dragons and the traumatic experience of the Long Night have rearranged her priorities. And really, she doesn't care about the iron throne anymore. Jon Snow proposes marriage to her; she declines. Because she's realized that deep down she's not a Westerosi queen — she's a Dothraki Khaleesi, godsdammit. She goes back to Essos, rebuilds her khalasar, becomes the most fearsome Khaleesi the Dothraki Sea has ever seen.1

As Daenerys sails east, Arya sails west. She doesn't know what's on the other side of the Sunset Sea, but she knows that whatever's there, she can impress it if it's friendly and kill it if it's not.

Jon Snow oversees the rebuilding of south-of-neck Westeros and becomes remembered in the chronicles as the greatest king that Westeros has ever seen... and hates every last second of his rule. Of course, all the real decision-making is done by Sam, who is in fact the greatest Hand of the King that Westeros has ever seen. Sansa, as Queen of what's left of the North, gets to work rebuilding it. She keeps telling Jon he should abdicate and lead the refounded Night's Watch, which is at work rebuilding the wall, but since he believes he's the only thing holding the SevenSix Kingdoms together, he refuses every time.

Okay, there. no one has to watch Game of Thrones anymore. You're welcome.

[1]: How does she get to Essos? Why, she gets to Essos on the good ship Yara/Daenerys, the one true ship for her.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:00 PM on April 30 [16 favorites]


Wait, how in R'hllor's name did Davos survive? He was out on the parapet front lines the whole time

Same, and more so, with Grey Worm and Jorah. How did the commanders leading the charges survive the annihilation of all (or nearly all) their forces? Seems like, one way or another, it doesn't reflect well on their courage/solidarity?

(I am DELIGHTED that Grey Worm is still standing at the end of the episode, and deeply hope that he is sent off to a happily-ever-after in the south with Missandei. But given the way we saw the battle play out, his survival doesn't seem in line with his character?)

Guys, here is what I would like to hear, if anyone wants to take a stab at it (ha). I know nothing about battle plans or execution or what-have-you. I have to take the word of battletruthers (or shiptruthers in other contexts, or whatever) that what we saw in ep 3 was insanely stupid strategy.

I don't think the showrunners are stupid. I think the writing is sometimes stupid, and also the frequently manufactured tension (as in the example others have mentioned, Sansa's secretiveness prior to the BotB). I think the latter can be explained in terms of (cheap?) drama, and give it a pass. BUT--with all the buildup to this massive, epic last stand against an unstoppable existential threat, I would expect actually non-stupid showrunners to present a battle plan that is not in fact criminally inept in all the non-trivial ways that have been pointed out upthread.

So could anyone who understands both battle strategy AND dramatic TV storytelling explain why the showrunners may have made these choices? Seems like the general consensus is that they sacrificed realism (including the use of the combined battle expertise of Tyrion, Grey Worm, Brienne, Jorah, Jon, Jaime, and more probably that I'm not thinking of)--sacrificed all that, for spectacle?

If that's all it is, fine... it was great spectacle in any case, if dumb storytelling. But I'd love to see a more specific breakdown of why certain choices might have been made in the service of TV drama. Like, looking at comments from dorothyisunderwood, anastasiav, corb (there are so many more, but I don't have time to locate them)--can anyone break down into practical explanations why some of these specific choices might have been made? On a show that they knew was going to be nitpicked to death, I absolutely do not believe that the PtB did not, as anastasiav said, "toss $10K or so at a military historian and/or tactician." So why did they make the decisions they did?

Sort of related in terms of content--lazaruslong, that was indeed a delightful watch. Thanks for the link!
posted by torticat at 1:02 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


It was clear to me on second viewing that they had some plans that all went haywire when Dany panicked and took off on Drogon too early. So we're watching them fail to execute the plans they did make, improvising as best they could, and realizing that the NK had some tricks up his sleeve (being immune to dragonfire, reanimating the crypts, helping the zombies make better tactical decisions) that they didn't expect.

I still think a lot of their plans were dumb, but they were dumb well within the expected confines of epic fantasy logic.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:08 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


I guess Melisandre had to die so that no more characters will be resurrected as the story goes along. what is dead stays dead. The magical aspect of GOT are slowly going away.

This fire god seems to be messing with their lives. I wonder if the fire god will come back again.
Does that mean it will be long years of summer? Will they change the name of winterfell into summerfell.

So the Nightswatch watch has ended? No need to protect from wightwalkers. Are the wildlings going to go back to their town?
Is the north going build a wall to protect on the south to protect from humanwalkers?

so many questions !!?
posted by metafus at 1:14 PM on April 30


On a show that they knew was going to be nitpicked to death, I absolutely do not believe that the PtB did not, as anastasiav said, "toss $10K or so at a military historian and/or tactician." So why did they make the decisions they did?


I don't have any insider information, but a few things jumped out: the writers know that anything they do is going to get nitpicked to death, so I don't think that avoiding nitpickers is a driving motivation. The battleplan makes no sense strategically for the same reason that legal dramas don't make legal sense and medical dramas don't make medical sense. The writers are aiming for compelling drama, and they seriously do not give a fuck if their use of light cavalry or heavy infantry makes sense in the context of medieval military history. Why did the dothraki all die in a charge that had no chance of succeeding? Because someone at the writer's table had the idea of setting all their swords on fire and then seeing them all go out, and thought that would be a cool shot that people would talk about. It was! They didn't care that the point of a cavalry charge into infantry is to scare undisciplined soldiers into breaking formation and that had no chance of occurring because these soldiers are mindless zombies. Once they had that idea of the cool shot of the flaming swords going out one by one, the dothraki were toast.
posted by skewed at 1:22 PM on April 30 [30 favorites]


On a show that they knew was going to be nitpicked to death, I absolutely do not believe that the PtB did not, as anastasiav said, "toss $10K or so at a military historian and/or tactician." So why did they make the decisions they did?

On the more forgiving take, you could 1. forgive because suddenly Winterfell was supposed to host three plus armies all at once, and it doesn't look like that big a fortress to hold them all. Plus,
2.
even if you could get everyone crammed in there, waiting out a siege by an army that's already dead, in a possibly endless winter, probably is a bad idea too.

I will agree that there's GOT to be a better way to use the Dothraki, and to use two dragons against an extremely flammable foe. Bad choices everywhere.
posted by Harry Caul at 1:38 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


It was clear to me on second viewing that they had some plans that all went haywire when Dany panicked and took off on Drogon too early.

prize bull octorok: On rewatch I had kind of the opposite read. I thought Dany's jumping the gun there didn't really have much impact on strategy at all. She and Jon still ended up engaging the NK; it just turned out that he was not susceptible to dragonfire. I mean, what would have turned out differently had they waited and gone directly to the weirwood? Plus, Dany did manage to waste a hell of a lot of zombies in the meantime, thus diminishing (fwiw, which wasn't much as it turned out) the forces storming Winterfell; AND she and Jon knocked the NK off Viserion, which seems like something that couldn't be counted as anything other than a success.

...I guess that you could count it as plans going haywire that Jon ended up being cut off from the weirwood, and therefore was unable to battle the NK with his own Valyrian steel. I just don't see how the Jon and Dany storyline could have ending up having a negative impact on any other battle strategy.

The battleplan makes no sense strategically for the same reason that legal dramas don't make legal sense and medical dramas don't make medical sense.

skewed--gotcha, and if that's all it is, I'm good with it! I'm pretty fine with suspending disbelief during any show I enjoy watching, so I don't really care. (I tend to be judgmental about bad writing or characterization, not the technical stuff.) Was just curious about the inner workings of putting together an episode like this, and whether there might have been other practical considerations. In any case, thanks for responses, folks!
posted by torticat at 2:14 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


On rewatch I had kind of the opposite read. I thought Dany's jumping the gun there didn't really have much impact on strategy at all.

They make kind of a big deal about the fact that she wasn't there to light the moat on fire, failing twice to light it with flaming arrows/torches before Melisandre finally gets R'hllor to check his prayer notifications and light the thing up.

Then the zombies stop! The moat is effective! And then Bran is all "uhh I have to go" and flies directly up to the NK and suddenly the camera shifts to the NK's perspective and he reaches his hand out and the zombies start deliberately making bridges over the moat with their bodies.

Something is up with Bran.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:19 PM on April 30 [18 favorites]


I guess one implication I sort of like is that because Dany's forces were quite literally decimated, (or much worse, I haven't done the math) a straight battle doesn't make any sense. The Cersei problem could be solved in any of the ways mentioned above, but I am sort of excited about the prospect of the show switching into a Dirty Dozen/Ocean's 11-style crew on a mission scenario.

Tyrion, inexplicably wearing sunglasses: Ok do we all understand our roles?
Arya: I sneak in the scullery entrance and steal the face of the Cersei's head chef then wait for the signal.
Tyrion: Good, ok. Jon?
Jon: Wearing a fake moustache and a tight manbun, I'll knock out the master of stable and set the horses free.
Tyrion: Right. Hound? Tormund?
Tormund: We'll pose as interior decorators, here to remodel Cersei's wine cellar.
Tyrion: Perfect. Davos?
Davos: I'll smuggle in the Dragons by dressing them up as exotic dancers from the Qarth. Pod will pose as their manager and Gendry will pretend to be their makeup artist.
Tyrion. That's right. Ok, Ghost go meet up with Nymeria and get the wolf army to mass in the forests outside Kings Landing.
Ghost: Woof! (Silently.)
Tyrion: Sansa, you and I will hang back and use our giant brains to notice things that nobody else can. Varys, get the little bird flock back together and run some intel. We need guard schedules and the most recent passwords. If you have time, get a message to the merlings. Tell them that the time has come.
Varys: (Titters conspiratorially)
Tyrion: Ok, Dany we need you back in Mereen. See if you can find anymore people willing to fight for you. Don't mention what happened to the last 60,000 troops that you ordered into battle.
Dany: (Squishes her eyebrows together and makes her sad/confused/concerned face.)
Tyrion: Mmm. Ok Jaime you're the honeypot. Shave, get a haircut and wear one of those double breasted leather jerkins with the low cut floppy collars. We'll make sure Cersei is drunk, you do the rest.
Tyrion: Bran, are you there?
Bran: (Pupils rolled back into his head) ............
Tyrion: Ok, we'll dump Bran in a poppy house. He'll figure something out.
Brienne: I'll lead the Knights of the Vale in diversionary raids on the outskirts. That should draw out the city guard.
Sam: I'll secure the Wildfire in the crypts below and set them here, here and here.
Tyrion: Missandei and Greyworm: Here are two tickets to the Summer Isles. Enjoy your honeymoon. Anyone else, any questions? Let's do this.
posted by Telf at 2:22 PM on April 30 [33 favorites]


> If you have time, get a message to the merlings. Tell them that the time has come.

I lol'ed.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:25 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


really I'm just peeved that the flipped-over blue tiles in the opening sequence won't be creeping ever-farther south anymore.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:31 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Was he even on her list?

Arya makes up her list as she goes.

It just seems like Arya is an intended viewer-insert character for an anti-"fantasy", anti-monarchist, anti-magic, generically anti-misogynist, family-based, 'smallfolk'-centered modern-y (like, generic "US American") ethic who has been on a whirlwind tour of smallfolk, free cities, religions, and soldier's concerns. She is the hero of those somewhat 'modern American' concerns. Of all the characters, her travels are the most well-documented, and her family is at the center of the post renaissance-ish, smallfolk-ish modern-ish family ethic.

Her development is the modern comic book fan's idea of the training and intrigue it would 'realistically' take for one individual to fight and promote a just world--super special forces training combined with alignment with an international cadre of super-CIA revolutionaries (who have special forces training). Her family is the core of her batman-ish revenge plot, but also at the core of the story's values.

It's also very US American to love royalty, as little sense as that makes; but given that, Aejon makes sense, he's the 'secret prince' who has to convince the Radical Communist Benevolent Autocrat in-the-making that monarchist values are wrong. Because the real royalty is the content of your character, through the power of love, and stuff.

Of course, we can argue all day about whether batman is a good or realistic character, but this show doesn't seem to want to go there. It just seems like it wants Batgirl, who vaguely fights for the smallfolk, to out-ninja all of the super magic weirdoes and out-CIA all of the super corrupt Gotham-style politicking, from Littlefinger to King's Landing, and promote the rule of the Justice League, err, Stark Family. so, seems like the show will probably fall out somewhere on those lines.
posted by eustatic at 2:41 PM on April 30 [11 favorites]


They make kind of a big deal about the fact that she wasn't there to light the moat on fire, failing twice to light it with flaming arrows/torches before Melisandre finally gets R'hllor to check his prayer notifications and light the thing up.

She was there, but couldn't see the signal because Team DeathPuppets brought a blizzard.
posted by Pendragon at 2:45 PM on April 30 [7 favorites]


It seems like they could have used the Dothraki, remaining Night Watch and the 2 dragons to do recon/harrying of the wright horde, at least to get some of the numbers down before they arrived at the castle. Yeah the ice dragon is around, and maybe the Night King just pulls blizzard forces around him wherever he goes, but it seems like it might have been a better use for the mounted riders. Obviously, that would have been a lot less fun to watch than seeing all those lights snuffed out at once.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 2:46 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


I will agree that there's GOT to be a better way to use the Dothraki,

Oh, well done. [claps politely]
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:06 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


before Melisandre finally gets R'hllor to check his prayer notifications and light the thing up.

And speaking of doing things for drama rather than reality, on first watch I didn’t really notice, but on rewatch last night Melisandre stroooooooooooooolllllllllllssssss out to light the trench. They’re desperate to get it lit asap and she’s like a bride walking up the aisle in slow motion.

Also, unless I’m mistaken, every single person at the Ep2 “We die at dawn” fireside chat and sing along... lived? Still my issue with the episode, that it took no sacrifice of people we really care about to defeat the greatest threat to the world. Way too Hollywood.
posted by chris24 at 3:14 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


Tormund, Davis, and Pod should not have all lived. It was pretty absurd that all of them apparently remain among the living. If they wanted to be edgy, also one of Brienne, Jaime, or Tyrion should have bought it also.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:32 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]




On the more forgiving take, you could 1. forgive because suddenly Winterfell was supposed to host three plus armies all at once, and it doesn't look like that big a fortress to hold them all. Plus,

so much of what folks seem annoyed with could have been avoided with two things.

1. the army of the dead arriving a little sooner and not pausing, just marching on toward Winterfell, thus forcing more of a scramble from our "good guys", all of this exacerbated by the sudden worsening of the weather, winter indeed ...

2. a hasty strategy session scene where the point is made loud and clear that the Dothraki aren't going to sit around and wait for anything, they're going to charge, it's what they do, it's what they've always done and they've never really lost a battle, and holy shit, there they go! It's likewise made clear that the Unsullied are going to be best used as vast, reactive, mobile shield, that will hold in place unto death if necessary ... BUT John Snow, knowing this enemy better than anyone, just sort of shakes his head and knows they're all f***ing doomed unless ... Bran pulls off whatever weird shit he's got planned, which is impossible to explain, "Just slow these zombies down any way you can."
posted by philip-random at 4:14 PM on April 30 [8 favorites]


Arya is an intended viewer-insert character for an anti-"fantasy", anti-monarchist, anti-magic, generically anti-misogynist, family-based

Hardly anti-monarchist, she seems quite pro her relatives being on the throne. And she has magical powers to slip a face on and basically looks exactly like someone. This description doesn't cover the situation. The audience is happy to support her brand of feudalism and claim on power. Arya's story is a form of empowerment but its one that in many ways comes out of privilege. In many ways audience buy-in is similar to Harry Potter style wish fulfilment.
posted by biffa at 4:25 PM on April 30 [9 favorites]


Arya supports her family & ruling is the family business so to a degree she tacitly supports monarchy but personally she's very egalitarian. She befriends Gendry & Hotpie, both very low socially.
posted by scalefree at 5:10 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]



really I'm just peeved that the flipped-over blue tiles in the opening sequence won't be creeping ever-farther south anymore.


I dunno ....
posted by tilde at 5:14 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


At the risk of oversharing my Opinions, here is one more. I do not agree with this:
Turns out, Cersei was right all along. Sitting out that little zombie invasion was the clever thing to do

...because there is still the obvious fact that Jaime pointed out to her:
When the fighting in the north is over, somebody wins; you understand that, don't you? If the dead win, they march south, and kill us all. If the living win, and we've betrayed them, they march south and kill us all!

(oh how I love LOVE Nikolaj Coster Waldau in that scene)

Key words there: ...and we've betrayed them... Relationships matter. There's been a lot of talk about the decimation of Dany's armies; but what kind of forces does Cersei have? An army of mercenaries, plus the Lannisters and the other families of the south. What happens if Jaime and/or Tyrion calls the banners--who's to say the southerners don't cast their lot with them rather than Cersei, who is beloved by no one (and has no dragons!)? In fact isn't it likely that Bronn is working toward that very outcome right now? Does anyone really think Bronn, who has longstanding personal relationships with both Tyrion and Jaime, is planning on assassinating either of them? Especially when Tyrion has always promised to pay him double, and all that Tyrell gold is sitting in Kings Landing waiting for the taking*, and he gets to choose between facilitating either Cersei's control of it, or the Lannister brothers'?

*I'm not actually sure whether the gold is still in KL, or on Euron's ships. If the latter, I expect that Yara comes into play in either reclaiming or sinking it. Makes no difference as to where Bronn's ultimate loyalties will lie, nor those of the southern forces. And it could make a difference as to whether the Golden Company shows up at all, and if they do, on which side they fight.

ALL that to say, while is looks like Cersei's got the fighting strength at this point and that Jon, Dany, et al have next to none, I think that in fact Cersei's control of ANY forces is tenuous, and that her treachery is going to cost her.
posted by torticat at 5:15 PM on April 30 [7 favorites]


I know there have been some mentions of how horrible the battle was tactically, but this article pretty much nails all the stuff I was yelling at the TV last night.

A different view from a professor at the Army War College.

Salon: The Army of the Living’s Battle Plan Wasn’t So Bad
Recently an army of the living cobbled together from Dothraki cavalry, Unsullied emancipated infantry, a variety of Westerosi warriors, and a pair of dragons (hereafter known as “Team Alive”) fought against a diverse array of animated corpses (hereafter known as “Team Dead”). Neither army had fought anything like the Battle of Winterfell before. Despite some significant errors, Team Alive carried the day.

Most armchair analysis of the battle thus far, particularly on social media, has concentrated on the mistakes made by Team Alive, to the exclusion both of a careful account of Team Dead’s errors and of an appreciation for why Team Alive made the decisions it did. Here, using expertise developed through study and instruction at the United States Army War College, we examine with care how Team Alive overcame cultural and organizational impediments to develop and carry out the plan that defeated Team Dead...
posted by chris24 at 5:15 PM on April 30 [16 favorites]


I'd like to see a version where the soundtrack is heavy metal instead of strings.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:24 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


Well, not the whole episode but....

@iAmTheWarax
i set the last charge of the dothraki to Iron Maiden's "The Trooper."
you are welcome.
VIDEO
posted by chris24 at 5:35 PM on April 30 [17 favorites]


Hell yeah!
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:40 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


I mean, for all you could fault this hypertrophic episode for, that whole experience of the fiercest warriors in the world with flaming swords getting snuffed in one agonizing moment is really just an indelibly rich little allegory and deserves whatever trophies it gets.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:53 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


I mean, for all you could fault this hypertrophic episode for, that whole experience of the fiercest warriors in the world with flaming swords getting snuffed in one agonizing moment is really just an indelibly rich little allegory and deserves whatever trophies it gets

I feel like a small change to the writing would have had more punch - have the Zombies attack the Unsullied, and while they are held, the Dothraki attack from the flanks. And then get annihilated.

You're not wrong, but a light cavalry getting annihilated in a futile frontal charge is literally a trope. They were attacking from a weak position, so their death can be attributed to either the superiority of the Zombies or just plain stupidity on the Dothraki. Having them die attacking from a superior position carries more weight - if they literally had the advantage and still lost, that would communicate how truly fucked everyone was, and raised the emotional stakes.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:10 PM on April 30 [11 favorites]


Just because I don't think we've talked about this yet: Sansa's much-vaunted ability as Queen of the North is now pretty dubious if anyone who was in that crypt talks about what happened. First, she says she's going to stick out the battle - and flees to the crypt at the first sign of undead. Fair enough, we can't blame her for that. But when she gets down there, does she put on a brave face and give a big speech, that she's come down to tell us that our noble warriors are on the side of good and will prevail, and help a few of those children get through their final hours not scared to death? Nah. She scurries inside and tries to not make eye contact with anybody. (Again, that's what I'd do too - but it's not what someone in her position should do. It's certainly not what Dany would do.)

THEN, when the undead in the crypt wake up, does she use the quick wits everyone keeps talking about to figure out where the corpses are coming from, organise the women and children into some corner of the room that DOESN'T have undead crawling out of it (as Varys did!), and use her dragonglass dagger to defend that position as best she can? Remembering that her undead enemies are not overwhelming in number but limited to the ones that were already in the room? (We still could have had the meaningful look between Sansa and Tyrion.) Nope... she hides behind a sarcophagus and listens to everyone else in the room being slaughtered. I've never liked Dany, but if I were a Northperson I'd take a foreign invader standing on a pile of corpses doing her best blocking against a never-ending undead horde with a sword that's too heavy for her as my Queen over Sansa any day.
posted by trotzdem_kunst at 6:29 PM on April 30 [20 favorites]


> Recently an army of the living cobbled together from Dothraki cavalry, Unsullied emancipated infantry, a variety of Westerosi warriors, and a pair of dragons (hereafter known as “Team Alive”) fought against a diverse array of animated corpses (hereafter known as “Team Dead”).
More like, Team Alive vs Team Undead. Actual Team Dead, current membership of 1 in Winterfell, reminded the Night King that alive or undead, R'hllor or The Seven, Death still comes for everyone. And Death's current weapon is Arya. (Pretty sure Death is still coming for Arya too.)
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 6:46 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


The most realistic thing about the whole battle was that people make mistakes in war, sometimes very bad ones, especially when they're dealing with an enemy they don't really understand. The battle in this episode is a kind of asymmetric warfare that nobody in the GoT world has had to deal with in like 3,000 years.

From an in-world perspective, this was a struggle unlike any that had ever occurred in this world before, in like five different ways (the heterogeneity of the defending troops, the almost-complete lack of information about how the enemy was likely to behave, the presence of dragons, etc etc), and which is (presumably) never, ever going to happen again.
posted by clockzero at 6:58 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


Sansa's much-vaunted ability as Queen of the North is now pretty dubious if anyone who was in that crypt talks about what happened.

Reason #37 not to rewatch this episode. There's just too much narrative and character stupidity going on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:05 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


What happened to the extreme flammability of the undead? I mean, undead falling into the trench should just have made the fire burn brighter, from everything we supposedly know about them.

Introducing fire (arrows, whatever) into a horde of the undead like we saw hit the Unsullied should have been like flicking your bic inside a gas can. In theory, the initial charge by the Dothraki should have done a ton of damage with the tightly-massed undead they encountered. Flaming swords should have turned the riders from zombie-fodder into an extremely effective force, and a charge to the undead before they diffused makes sense.

I enjoy the show (a lot!) but inconsistency gets me itchy.
posted by maxwelton at 7:19 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


Maybe the NK ordered all the undead to soak in water before the battle? Being frozen probably wouldn't hurt their undead mobility, but it'd likely cut down on their flammability.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 7:24 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


THAT SAID, the NK's reanimating powers were interesting. When he wants to raise the dead, everything gets raised, it's not selective at all. From recently killed to dead for years, everybody wakes up. Even better, skeletons get reanimated and can move like normal human bodies, with the added benefit of not getting tired or needing to eat or sleep.

That's freaking amazing, there are no muscles to move the skeleton, it just full on moves, down to running at full speed! That's some damn sweet magic.

Also, what's up with the Night King, did he ever speak? Even to the White Walkers? Maybe it's a telepathic mind hive thing? I hope so, 'cause thousands of years not talking to anyone else sounds depressing as fuck, even to this introvert. Sure you can raise the dead, but they don't or can't talk to you and even if they could what would they say?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


They would say ”Beautiful day!" "Certainly is!"
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:33 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


The most realistic thing about the whole battle was that people make mistakes in war, sometimes very bad ones, especially when they're dealing with an enemy they don't really understand. The battle in this episode is a kind of asymmetric warfare that nobody in the GoT world has had to deal with in like 3,000 years.

From an in-world perspective, this was a struggle unlike any that had ever occurred in this world before, in like five different ways (the heterogeneity of the defending troops, the almost-complete lack of information about how the enemy was likely to behave, the presence of dragons, etc etc), and which is (presumably) never, ever going to happen again.


The characters knew everything that they made a "mistake" (that is, shitty script writing) about. They know that the NK can control weather, they know that the dead attack as a wave and will sacrifice troops for advantage without hesitation, they know that the NK has every corpse from the Wildling lands to just north of Winterfell, Daenerys has fought with dragons before, Jon has commanded troops against the undead before, they know about the ice javelin trick, they know about the linked hive mind, they know he can reanimate the dead. If this is the first battle against the undead, then fine. If you want your audience to think that every main character is a complete rube who's gotten here purely by chance, then fine. If you want to do whatever the fuck D&D were trying to do in this episode - not so successful. I guess, for what it's worth, Jon Snow does continually make one idiotic mistake after another and he just keeps getting out of it, so I guess (if he was the commander here) it's totally in character for him.
posted by codacorolla at 7:41 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


Let's posit that there is a "Lord of Light", and the battle of Winterfell was necessary to "him" to re-balance the world or whatever is supposedly going down there. There is a single cause-in-fact for the battle of Winterfell and all of Light's playing pieces being in the right place at the right time: Tyrion Lannister.

Working backwards, the critical event precipitating the battle was the adventure north of the wall in Season 7 to fetch the wight for the meeting with Cersei in the Dragonpit. Without it:
  • The Night King would not have the tool he needed (an un-dead dragon) to get past the wall
  • Daenerys would not have joined forces with the North--seeing the un-dead army was what convinced her
  • Beric and the Hound would not have joined forces with the North, either, both of whom were needed to protect Arya so she could pierce the Night King
All of this was set in motion during Dany's small council meeting when Tyrion suggesting capturing "just one soldier" from the undead army to show Cersei. This seemed like a completely random and rather stupid idea at the time, and still does, considering that for 10,000 previous years the wall had been sufficient to keep the white-walkers and the night king where they belonged...and that dealing with Cersei expecting a positive result is a fool's errand, in any case.

But if the idea was instigated by Tyrion at Light's behest, either unknowingly or actively (as his agent)? That's interesting. I mean, it seems indirect, chaotic and stupid, but if we know anything about humanity's tales of the gods and their doings, right up through the present day, "indirect, chaotic and stupid" is the god industry motto.

If you continue this line of reasoning further...once there was a dead dragon in the lake and Jon and Dany were making "we'll be boning soon" eyes at each other on the ship back to Dragonstone, the battle of Winterfell was inevitable. I think Dany would have come north whether there was a "truce" or not, or if there was a meeting or not. If you take that as a given (roll with me here), the only outcome of the Dragonpit meeting was to prompt Jaime Lannister to leave Cersei and ride north. Either that's happenstance, or Light needed both to happen: The battle of Winterfell, and the Jaime-Lannister-game-piece moving to a position for Light to use...

...a use we have not seen yet.

Not sure how much of that I actually believe.
posted by maxwelton at 7:56 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


(Pretty sure Death is still coming for Arya too.)

Not today.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:42 PM on April 30 [6 favorites]


Not today.

Wasn't that Syrio Forel's last words?
posted by traveler_ at 9:18 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


happiness is coming back to the thread and seeing 122 new comments
posted by soakimbo at 9:25 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


Nope... she hides behind a sarcophagus and listens to everyone else in the room being slaughtered.

Yes, that was most disappointing and felt really incongruous, character-wise--for Tyrion maybe even more than for Sansa (since he had, in the past, definitely rallied troops and led the charge(s) against scarier odds). And also especially because the people being slaughtered were the young and the elderly, who were presumably not armed--while Sansa and Tyrion both were.

The exchange between them was lovely. If we needed a dramatic pause for that to occur, they could have simply turned off the soundtrack of the fighting for a bit? so that we could assume T&S had just found a quiet place to take a quick breather? As it was, it was intensely uncomfortable to watch, since it came across as cowardice on both their parts--a trait not generally associated with either of them. (THIS is the kind of misstep--a betrayal of characterization--that does piss me off.)

Also--something about this was mentioned upthread--but wasn't there a potential callback that was missed there, to the time Cersei and Sansa were in the room with the women and children during the Battle of Blackwater? Could be wrong, but I feel like Sansa stepped up in that scene and gave comfort to the others in the room--in contrast with Cersei, who just sat there as always with her wineglass.
posted by torticat at 11:05 PM on April 30 [14 favorites]


Nope... she hides behind a sarcophagus and listens to everyone else in the room being slaughtered.

Apparently in a "making of" video there's footage of Sansa and Tyrion fighting in the crypts, but it must've gotten cut.
posted by ishmael at 11:37 PM on April 30


I was hoping Jaqen H'Hagar would show up, but maybe he still will...

Zombie Dondarien died protecting Arya as per the Lord of Light's mandate. Zombie Jon will die doing something similar?

Doesn't Bran need the ravens to see the past and future, like a conduit through time? "There must always be a Stark in Winterfell" perhaps hints that Bran needs the Godswood and close proximity to the NK to achieve definitive clarity.

And my theory that Brienne would have to kill Pod the wight was a no-go, I guess.

Bran needs Jaime to kill...the Mountain, Cersei? He didn't seem too critical in Winterfell. He's the Kingslayer, so maybe he will save the life of one.

Pissed about the Mormonts. REALLY PISSED.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:22 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


ALL that to say, while is looks like Cersei's got the fighting strength at this point and that Jon, Dany, et al have next to none, I think that in fact Cersei's control of ANY forces is tenuous, and that her treachery is going to cost her.

Sure, but Dany would have come for her anyway, unless Cersei bends the knee, which Cersei would never do. Dany coming for her with the decimated army is still the better option.

You bring up an interesting point that the real loss for Cersei here is Jaime, who might turn the Casterly Rock forces against her. (I would love them to properly use that Casterly Rock setting for once in one of the next episodes). But Cersei has planned for that and sent Bronn after him, to prevent that. Of course, Bronn might fail (or turn against her), but that's a managable risk. Surely all that Bravoosi credit could buy a Faceless Man or two.

My point is that Cersei is still apparently acting perfectly rationally in all of this. If it all comes crushing down on her as you predict, her crucial mistake won't have been blithely dismissing an potentially apocalyptic threat but not rather not counting on Bronn's sentimental side. Even a managable risk may go wrong for you occasionally, but that's the cost of doing business, and Cersei wouldn't have been unreasonable to take it.
posted by sohalt at 12:37 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


This interview with Vladimír Furdík, the stuntman/actor who plays the Night King, is kinda wonderful.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:52 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


One thing I hoped for, from the end of Episode 2's glimpse at the undead army, was dozens--or hundreds--of white walkers. I mean, the Crastors of the world have been offering up their kiddos for thousands of years, presumably. Maybe the walkers are mortal, and only a few exist at any one time?

But a bunch of intelligent ice dudes on the field would have made a lot more sense, and then things like breaching the trenches becomes something you can do without throwing out what we know about the zombies...we know walkers extinguish flame with their extreme cold (presumably), they could have just walked into the trench and ushered the wights past.

I've not read the books, but I'm curious...in the "lore", are undead "killed" by dragonglass permanently out-of-commission? Or can they be raised again?
posted by maxwelton at 1:03 AM on May 1


I enjoyed this. It was what it was. I would though like to get back to some good old fashioned intrigue.

I do think it’s nuts that they spent all this money but forgot to check what the final product looks like compressed for broadcast on an average consumer TV. They must be kicking themselves surely.
posted by chill at 5:06 AM on May 1 [9 favorites]


Wait, how in R'hllor's name did Davos survive?

He hung on by his fingertips.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:18 AM on May 1 [7 favorites]


Not today.

Wasn't that Syrio Forel's last words?


Those were his last on screen words. After defeating the entirety of the kings guard with half a practice sword, he escaped back to his home, and met a lovely person, married them, and raised a family. Happily ever after.

Right!?
posted by Ghidorah at 5:45 AM on May 1 [16 favorites]


I was hoping Jaqen H'Hagar would show up, but maybe he still will...

Maybe he already has and you didn't recognise him?

Or maybe he killed all those Dothraki?
posted by biffa at 5:49 AM on May 1


My first thought was that he was Melisandre, after the chat with Arya, but nothing else added up.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:04 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


codacorolla: The characters knew everything that they made a "mistake" (that is, shitty script writing) about.

I can see what you are saying. But I'm also willing to see this as Jon, Danny, Tyrion and Sansa failing and making mistakes in story. The NK also knew a lot about his opponents. I do not think that the NK's "mistake" about Arya was just due to the conveniences of writing this single episode. Maybe the NK had all of the threats he knew about accounted for and pinned down when he went for Bran.
posted by bdc34 at 6:41 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Surely all that Bravoosi credit could buy a Faceless Man or two.

In the books -- and I think in the show -- the faceless men operate with some kind of sliding scale pay structure. Basically the faceless men are too expensive for anyone above merchant class (and the merchant would only hire them if they were okay being beggared as a result). Tbh I kind of like that GRRM introduced a perfect assassin guild and simultaneously guaranteed that they'd never directly affect the plot.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:05 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


But I'm also willing to see this as Jon, Danny, Tyrion and Sansa failing and making mistakes in story.

Then you have to show that through dialogue, not just leave it up to the audience to surmise. I have no problem with these idiots making mistakes in battle (truth be told, I was rooting for the undead), but you need to show that on screen some how. If you're looking for some content to cut so that you can add five minutes of set-up for people we've been told are battle hardened tactical experts who've faced the undead multiple times making one stupid mistake after another in the one battle where it counts the most, then might I suggest one of the dozen of muddy, ugly shots where an important character is swarmed by 30 zombies that they miraculously survive.
posted by codacorolla at 7:05 AM on May 1 [7 favorites]


As an example, there are a few points where they actually do this pretty well. The fire trench was supposed to be lit by a dragon (Tyrion supplies this through dialogue), but Daenrys was upset by the loss of the Dothraki and is AWOL chasing the NK (not very well communicated, but clear enough), so instead they fall back to a plan they had before to light them with arrows, which don't work because of the suppressive effect of the NK's cold aura (told pretty well through shots of the arrows hitting and fizzling and then reaction shots). That's all stuff that goes wrong because of panic, and because of an ability that the audience / protagonists didn't know the NK had. It's conveyed through the actors, and it's a neat mini narrative arc that also allows for Melisandre to do something heroic.
posted by codacorolla at 7:16 AM on May 1 [6 favorites]


it's a neat mini narrative arc that also allows for Melisandre to do something heroic

I liked that they showed her waver just a teeny bit in her belief when the logs wouldn’t light at first.
posted by sallybrown at 7:17 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]


I think how annoyed different people got about the way Winterfell was defended might have been set fairly early on in the episode. If you took the charge of the light Dothraki brigade how it was intended, you were thinking "Yes! Charge! Take the fight to them!" closely followed by "Oh shit!". However, if, like me, you started by thinking "That's crazy. Where are they going? Why are they doing that?", then the answer you got was a Doylian "because the swords being extinguished looked cool". After that I was kind of expecting the rest of the episode to be dumb, even if that wasn't a fair assessment.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:18 AM on May 1 [7 favorites]


Plot twist: the dragon encircling Dany and seeming to comfort her following Jorah's death is actually laying eggs.
posted by carmicha at 7:39 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


One thing I really, really loved about the Winterfell battle:
Dany trying to help Jorah defeat Wights. She wasn't trained, could barely lift the sword, but damn if she wan't at least trying.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:11 AM on May 1 [18 favorites]


To be fair--I thought Dany was circling and waiting for the signal for the trench to be lit but she couldn't see Onion Knight waving through the storm.
posted by schroedinger at 8:13 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


In the books -- and I think in the show -- the faceless men operate with some kind of sliding scale pay structure. Basically the faceless men are too expensive for anyone above merchant class (and the merchant would only hire them if they were okay being beggared as a result).

Good point. I completely forgot that the Faceless Men aren't all about money, they've got ideals. They need to make sure that the cost is high enough for people to think twice about hiring them, but that's about it. For what it's worth, I never took this to mean that rich people couldn't hire them without going bankrupt - there are other ways to pay them after all. The rich person might hire them and stay rich, as long as they gave up something else of high value.

If we were talking about the books and not the show, I would come up with a convoluted prediction that Cersei's plan with Bronn obviously fails, so Cersei hires the Faceless Men, offering the life of her unborn child as payment. (Cersei had no qualms killing Robert's kid; now that Jaime's on her shitlist as well, what would stop her?). Of course the Faceless Men she hires is Arya (wearing some random commoner face). Arya doesn't kill Jaime, but gets his golden hand to show Cersei as proof of her completed mission. The moment Cersei bends over the trophy to inspect it, Arya stabs her.

But this is the show, and there are only three episodes left, so probably not.
posted by sohalt at 8:40 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


Thinking over it the last couple days, I think the core thing that bothered me about the actual action of the battle was the decision to have the army of the undead hit the front lines with such speed and ferocity, because it set the pacing of a long battle off immediately. Seeing the living's defensive lines universally crumple like tissue, shot after shot after shot, was a dramatic go at providing an "oh shit, they're in over their head" reaction, but it also meant that most of the drama of "can we hold them back?" just went POOF! immediately, which I think directly set up all the stupidity of plot armor for Our Shockingly Mostly Not Dead After All That Heroes coming through swarm scenario after swarm scenario.

Half the dramatic value of having a levee is waiting to see if it will hold. The dead have a thematic strength in their slow inexorability, the idea that they will not give up, will not walk away, but push and push and push. The eventual use of posthuman bridges of piled bodies to cross the burning trenches got at that much better; so too the climbing of the walls on piles of one another. But those moments all came after the show had basically decided to communicate the undead army as a tsunami up to which no defense was actually remotely standing. The levee broke immediately, and then the show had to find excuses to not have everyone drown in the way they certainly seemed like they should.

I think that's part of why Arya's stealth segment felt a little weird, too: it's a scene for a day or two later, with most folks seemingly dead, the battle over, the undead army resident and idle and occupying, and then Arya making her way through that settled camp of zombies despite all odds to make the late strike against the Night King that no one was accounting for. It was a good little sequence but it was such an odd fit in the dedicated cacophony of the Great Big Protracted Battle conceit and they didn't do enough to sell the placement or the rationale behind that scene to compensate for that.
posted by cortex at 8:47 AM on May 1 [23 favorites]


Hell, I’ve made room for the possibility that the reddit joke post was actually what “happened” since she seemingly dropped in from above.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:58 AM on May 1 [6 favorites]


the core thing that bothered me about the actual action of the battle was the decision to have the army of the undead hit the front lines with such speed and ferocity

Well - it didn't have to, though. Like, honestly, if I were doing this, I would have had the Dothraki out there to harry the dead - also seriously do they have no horse archers? Because that could have been super useful, shoot a fuckton of dragonglass arrows, retreat on horses to arrow range again, shoot a fuckton of dragonglass arrows. And you could have them realizing that they couldn't make it, that the undead were catching up to the horses, and had them retreating back behind the first trench.

You could also have had the siege engines BEHIND THE FIRST TRENCH (well in the castle too but let's not ask for MIRACLES here) thus pummelling the undead while they move - and it would have been able to train on those areas where the dead were breaking through.

Then you have the hordes swarm up the walls to get to the top which has dragonglass spikes or shards or what have you, and BURNING PITCH LIKE YOU CAN DO, so you know the dead are unstoppable but also you have the tension of 'how long can they hold out, can they hold out long enough'.

I really don't understand why this battle was done this way at /all/.
posted by corb at 9:17 AM on May 1 [9 favorites]


The Faceless Men also charge a "kin for a kin" fee, IIRC. Renly in exchange for Shireen, hmmmmmm? Nah, whatever.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:35 AM on May 1


Apparently in a "making of" video there's footage of Sansa and Tyrion fighting in the crypts, but it must've gotten cut.

Well fuck!! I would have absolutely loved to see that. And it would have totally made sense--their taking a second to rally behind the crypt. And given more depth to their "in this together" exchange of looks (since, really, Sansa and Tyrion haven't mutually been in anything together before, right?).

Sigh. I'm going to pretend in my head that the "making of" is how it actually went down. That was a really super dumb part to cut, and it makes me sad.

(I only care because I really loved the interaction, and was put off by the inexplicable circumstances. Also I would have LOVED to see Sansa fight!! Storytelling malpractice, goddamnit.)
posted by torticat at 10:44 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]


...well... unless the cut part was supposed to be from after they came out from behind the crypt. Which might make more sense from what we saw, since they had their daggers sheathed. In which case, no points even for effort. :-(
posted by torticat at 10:46 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's any military strategy that can't be overcome by throwing 100,000 more snarling wights at the problem. So while the tactics of Team Alive were indeed dumb on a number of levels, it's not like it would have made much of a difference in the end. They were going to be overwhelmed by sheer numbers no matter what they did.

I agree that something is likely up with Bran--he spent fully half of the battle warging for no apparent reason. But I don't think he's been turned evil. He exists beyond good and evil now. He's not going to be interested in Earthly concerns like conquering. The only way I could imagine Bran plotting against the living is if it's service to the timeline, i.e., if he perceives some grand order that needs to be maintained, a cycle of ice vs. fire or living vs. dead, like a metaphysical version of Dany's Wheel. But the truth is probably more banal. He may have just been sending ravens south to do recon on King's Landing, or north to communicate with the Children, or maybe he was doing some timewarging to see how certain future events were going to pan out. I expect it will be revealed in a future episode. Or maybe he wasn't doing anything important, and it was just lazy writing.

I'm still not convinced that the White Walker threat has been 100% neutralized. They've been defeated before, thousands of years ago, yet still managed to return. That suggests to me that the magic underlying the Night King goes beyond his physical form. I wouldn't be surprised if the final scene of the last episode was used to hint at some evil magic stirring in the snowy forests of the north, calling back to the first scene of the series. Perhaps a pair of glowing blue eyes opening in the shadows.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:59 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Also I would have LOVED to see Sansa fight!!

Sorry, there was only time for that or a fourth set of shots of the same heroes fighting the same zombies and totally being in peril but none of them actually were in peril.
posted by tocts at 11:02 AM on May 1 [16 favorites]


Why should Sansa fight? She hasn’t trained at all. No, her only swordplay following her sister’s advice to “stick them with the pointy end” will be to stab Cersei.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:18 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Why should Sansa fight? She hasn’t trained at all.
Which is why it would have been fun to see! Why should she fight? Because she's fierce, and she generally steps up, and she's the Lady of Winterfell, responsible for the people of Winterfell, who are currently under attack by zombies! Obvs
posted by torticat at 11:42 AM on May 1 [6 favorites]


I don't think there's any military strategy that can't be overcome by throwing 100,000 more snarling wights at the problem. So while the tactics of Team Alive were indeed dumb on a number of levels, it's not like it would have made much of a difference in the end. They were going to be overwhelmed by sheer numbers no matter what they did.

It matters to the audience, though, because there's a thing called narrative consistency. Cortex's comment above says what I was thinking, but to restate it: it's more terrifying to see a good plan go bad, then it is to see a bad plan go bad and then somehow just magically turn out alright. Honestly it would've taken maybe 10 minutes of screen time. Actually, I think that structuring your first episode around planning sessions would've been fucking awesome. You set up all of these ideas (trench of fire, dragon assault, fortifications, arguments about which troops go where). You intersperse that planning with key character moments - Tyrion and Daenerys arguing over what the Dothraki should do, with Tyrion insisting on a tried and true military strategy and Daenerys insisting you just let them charge (this gives Tyrion a chance to show he's well versed in tactics and to build tension between him and Daenerys); Arya scoping out the battlements near the Weirwood while having a conversation with Sansa (this lets attentive viewers feel good when they see something they noticed pay off, and makes the conversation more visually interesting); Turn the awkward dragon sex scene into a conversation about how they should use the dragons in the upcoming fight (and I guess have them fuck if you really feel the need for that, but it also establishes the use of dragons in the upcoming battle).

Then when these things go wrong the audience knows that it's a plan going wrong and not just your protagonists being dipshits. You don't even have to sacrifice character stuff, because the characters are acting in a believable way - setting up for an apocalyptic battle that decides the fate of humanity. Instead our first episode was a bunch of static walk and talk or talking head shit that was largely disconnected from the action apart from giving us a bunch of fanservice. From a broad plot perspective everything happens the same way: Arya knifes the NK, Daenerys and Jon screw up dragonriding and badly injure the remaining dragons, Daenerys' host is greatly reduced, not many mains die but are scarred and injured by the battle. But the difference is that the audience has a throughline to follow which is narratively consistent, and gives us actual stakes in what any particular moment means in terms of the character's story - we know that Daenerys' hubris is what caused the poor usage of the Dothraki and that it was facilitated by the growing rift of her and Tyrion.

In a lot of ways what happened reminded me of the bad parts of Lost (most of it), where the drama around the characters was always primary and the stuff that they did and that happened to them was just a big shitty metaphor for their internal state. If you're going to write a battle scene, then write a fucking battle scene. If you don't care about the logistics or stakes of a battle, then have it happen off screen.
posted by codacorolla at 12:09 PM on May 1 [27 favorites]


Which is why it would have been fun to see! Why should she fight? Because she's fierce, and she generally steps up

I mean, it would've been cool spectacle, but a complete and fundamental betrayal of her entire character arc in every single episode to this point.

The whole, entire point of Sansa is that she and Arya were both initially victimized by their inability to carry out serious violence, and Arya's reaction was to become an death cultist assassin. But Sansa never had the option of shoving Joffrey off the parapet like she wanted to, never had a realistic chance to kill Ramsay before, during, or after their wedding night. Her defining characteristic is that she survives and finds power and protects what she can through other means.

In a lot of ways, Sansa represents a different kind of ruler for Game of Thrones -- in fact, she is singular among the remaining leaders in Game of Thrones because her power does not come from her ability to carry out violence or the threat of it. Instead, she holds power because she has outwitted and outthought and outguessed and outbluffed and outworked everyone else. Littlefinger is dead because she didn't buy into his courting her, or his attempt divide and conquer. Ramsay is dead because she endured, she escaped, and at the crucial moment, she disobeyed the man technically in charge and went and got the Knights of the Vale.

You'll note, too, that the one time Sansa Fucked Someone Up besides Littlefinger, it was done in private -- when she sets Ramsay's dogs on him, nobody else is around to see. Contrast that with how Danerys and Cersei have exercised power. Danerys burns the Tullys in front of all the other lords. Cersei blows all of her competition the fuck up in the most public way possible with Wildfire. Their displays of violence are public, because they have a messaging purpose. Sansa is capable of cruelty, but keeps it in a dark, stone-walled room. Nobody else is in the kennel with her. Nobody else sees Ramsay die.

To me, Sansa is a specific repudiation of Ned's statement that the one who passes the sentence must swing the sword. And having her pick up a sword and suddenly go murder-type cheapens, I think, her entire development arc. It would also cheapen the story of how hard Arya and Brienne have had to train to gain the prowess they have.

tl;dr: There's more than one way to be a badass, and I'm glad that we didn't see Sansa murder zombies.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:13 PM on May 1 [40 favorites]


Why should Sansa fight? She hasn’t trained at all.

I do find it hard to believe that Arya has never said "Hey, let me teach you a couple of moves."

Give Sansa a torch or a flaming needle so she can at least set'em on fire. Hell, there were plenty of torches down there.

Also, the crypt scene would have been much better if we only heard the scratching of the dead trying to get out for a bit, with their coffins slowly breaking. That's some genuine tension, plus it's an "easy" way for Sansa to organize the group with torches and being all leader like.

And this battle should have gone over the 2nd and 3rd episode, with some of the characterization from the 2nd episode missed in. Because the showrunners correctly stated that an hour of battle is boring and tiring. Well, don't make an hour of just that! What's long battle scenes interesting in incorporating character development in it.
Perhaps have the Brienne knighting scene as basically the same, but at some point in the battle where the same group has barricaded themselves in the room, they can hear the wights breaking down through the barricades, so Jaime does a quick knighting, in front of everyone, so at least Brienne dies a knight and it give everyone a bit of hope, breaks the tension before they get back to business?

You'll note, too, that the one time Sansa Fucked Someone Up besides Littlefinger, it was done in private -- when she sets Ramsay's dogs on him, nobody else is around to see

I'm pretty sure people knew what was going to happen when they strapped Ramsey to the chair in the kennel and then left with only Sansa there.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:17 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


I just hope Lord Royce is okay.
posted by fleacircus at 12:27 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure people knew what was going to happen when they strapped Ramsey to the chair in the kennel and then left with only Sansa there.

I mean, yeah. I'm not saying that it was secret or anything. Jon definitely signed off.

But like, think about how Dany or Cersei would've handled the same thing. It would've been out in the courtyard or whatever, and staged as an object public lesson in how, if you hurt them, you'll end up murdered by your own dogs while tied to a chair. A lot more people would've had their faces spattered in blood.

Instead, Sansa has her revenge in private and enjoys it in private. Afterwards, she probably calmly mentions to the guards in the hallway that the hungry dogs everybody was worried about have been fed, and she'll make sure the body men come by sooner rather than later. Fresh straw will be delivered for the floor.

THAT'S SANSA STARK.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:43 PM on May 1 [4 favorites]


I just hope Lord Royce is okay.

He missed the battle because he forgot to reserve a squire to help get the cuirass over the girdle. Spent the whole fight in his bedchambers trying to suck it in while pulling on the straps, but to no avail. (No a vale?)
posted by Telf at 12:49 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


He's safe in a locked room petting Ghost telling him he's a good boy.
posted by fleacircus at 12:50 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


I don't think it betrays one's character much to fight back against zombies. There are no non-combatants when the enemy is death itself™. What probably should have happened in that crypt, vs. the scenes we got, is just how this show is and has been for a long time.

Given that, they didn't do so bad. My hot take: this episode did a better job telling the stories of this battle than Dunkirk did w/ the stories of its battle.
posted by fleacircus at 1:01 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Agree with Cortex's point. You get to have slow zombies or fast zombies. Both require different mechanics for maximum menace.

Slow zombies rely on the inevitability of attrition. Like roots pushing through concrete or waves crashing against rock over centuries. Think of the slow breakdown in Colson Whitehead's Zone One.

Fast zombies are like tsunami. An unstoppably violent, environmental force. Think the movie version of World War Z with the swarm mechanics.

The books never really conveyed how the undead would be portrayed and the show was sort of ambiguous until Hardhome. Then it became apparent that the writers were going full on fast zombies.

For this episode, during the Dothraki purge and and the early meat grinder assault on the Unsullied they wanted to emphasize the tsunami element. Unfortunately that's hard to drag out. That's why I think the pacing was so hard to pull off. As stated above, they'd need to use a Dunkirk-style time dilation to fit it all in.

The second half of the episode wanted to use slow zombie mechanics, think about the library scene. That's why the change of didn't work. The fast zombie mechanics require the stampeding of the living, but you can't repeat that over and over again; it doesn't make sense.

By applying the aesthetic of of fast zombies blitzkrieging over the defenders and implying that they're an inexorable buzzsaw, but then revealing unscathed heroes, they undermine the entire conceit.

That's why you never mix fast zombies with slow zombis. Pick one type and stick with it.
posted by Telf at 1:05 PM on May 1 [17 favorites]


* I wasn't referring to fleacircus' Dunkirk reference. That was just odd post synchronicity. Dunkirk was mentioned further upthread.
posted by Telf at 1:07 PM on May 1




They weren't some nameless wights. They were Starks.
posted by Brocktoon at 1:26 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I would have loved for them to do some serious time jumps. Let it turn into a multi-day siege, with the viewer returning repeatedly to moments of terror, then quiet, then loss. The sneaking scene with Arya would have fit in much better, and the pacing overall would be improved.

Of course, then it might not be considered one long scene, and since it seems like they designed this episode in large part angling to officially be considered the longest single battle scene ever, I guess that wasn't gonna fly.
posted by tocts at 1:29 PM on May 1 [4 favorites]


He missed the battle because he forgot to reserve a squire to help get the cuirass over the girdle.

Should have brought a breastplate spreader.
posted by The Tensor at 1:38 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


Let it turn into a multi-day siege,

you seem to be forgetting Hardhome. These undead types move fast.
posted by philip-random at 1:53 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


I watched a second time, this time working really hard to get the best possible not-so-dark viewing experience.

HIGHLY recommended.

You pick up just a ton more with a re-watch. Almost to the point where I need to discount single watch opinions as being incomplete.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:42 PM on May 1 [4 favorites]


You pick up just a ton more with a re-watch. Almost to the point where I need to discount single watch opinions as being incomplete.

Hmm, interesting. How about some examples?
posted by codacorolla at 3:13 PM on May 1


Looking at my "unoriginal predictions" from last week I see I was not too far off (the NK almost wins, is killed by a major character, his army goes poof thanks to the Keystone Army Trope, Melisandre shows up and does important stuff - motivating Arya in that case). The main differences were that I expected the battle to last two episodes, with Episode 3 ending on a cliffhanger, and that I thought that more lesser people would die (and only Theon died in my list of plot-armor-level-2 characters). After seeing episode 3 I understand why one episode was enough: battling zombies gets dull after a while (aaargh, aaaargh, aaaaaaargh). I'm still not sure about spending the next 3 episodes with Cersei but we'll see.

I also see that the plot armor of most of our heroes is much stronger than I thought. Now I can't really see the showrunners do a mass culling in the next three episodes the way they did with the Red Wedding and the Sept of Baelor. At the time, these cullings made sense plot-mechanics-wise because they reduced the storylines to a manageable number, but it's no longer the case now since the plots have finally converged. The show no longer needs to keep us informed about the Tyrells or the Martells because they're (mostly) dead, but a lot of viewers love Brienne and co., and far more will be pissed off if they end up dead than if they die. Some will die, but I'm sure that most will survive.

All and all I really liked the episode. I don't care about armchair military strategy: I can read actual military history for that, when one can learn about much bigger mistakes made by actual people. Just think about the way the Nazis rolled over European armies that were led by incredibly experienced people who'd fought in WW1. GoT is fantasy, where the Rule of Cool reigns supreme, and nothing else matters - only in the periphery, so we can talk about trope subversion as if it actually mattered. So: the charge of the Dothraki, in its visual minimalism, was awesome, beautiful, and sad, a callback to all those true war stories where whole squads of soldiers go (not quietly) into the night and disappear. The zombie waves were great, and I don't particularly like zombies. And Arya killing the NK? That was Squirrel Girl (leaping from a tree of course) defeating Thanos.
posted by elgilito at 3:25 PM on May 1 [7 favorites]




also seriously do they have no horse archers?

I gave up on piratical ways of watching and bought a round of HBO for this season. So I'm getting my money's worth and rewatching the whole danged series, partly as a good distraction from some recent unhappy life events. And it's reminded me of some things:

The early seasons were really good, so clearly better in this comparison.
A lot of these plotlines in season 5 I'm watching now are really boring: Mereen, the House of Black and White, and the Sparrows are all just ugh to me.
There are quite a few scenes that seem too dark to follow, at least while I stream them, so I think it's been their thing for a while. It was just more noticeable with all the almost-awesome action in this one.

And wrapping this up to the point, yes Dothraki have mounted archers! They were specifically mentioned in a scene where Robin Arryn is practicing archery and is not so good. Maybe none of them made it this far? It seems like the Khaleesi's forces have had their share of attrition between Essos and Winterfell.
posted by traveler_ at 4:46 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


After the Shattering...the only living we see, outside the crypts, are our heroes. Isn't that right? There are literally no other living soldiers shown, even in passing, like a melee in a corner involving a handful of living.

If somehow there is a survival rate for the living's army above 10% next week...that's going to increase the itch here at chez maxwelton. I mean, I'd like there to be, but that's not what we were shown.

Of course there were supposed to be, what...(numbers pulled from quickie web search)...100,000 Dothraki riders, 15,000 Unsullied...there should be more than 40,000 soldiers from the Vale, 10,000 remaining Northmen (though that number includes those houses which told Jon/Dany to piss off. In our view of Winterfell, from where J+D were standing--a position which should have had actual soldiers on it, but whatever, I'd say we saw, at most, 3,000 troops? Yeah, I know, TV, budgets, etc. But it should have been a considerably larger force to face the dead.
posted by maxwelton at 4:47 PM on May 1


Battle of Dragons BRIGHTNESS UP and SPEED

Lol that looks like Rodan vs Gamera, c. 1973. Dark and blurry and fast hides a lot of sins.
posted by Nelson at 5:04 PM on May 1


(We were shown a clump-o-Dothraki about 10 horses deep. A mounted horseman occupies roughly 32 square feet, so--where are you going?--anyway, 100,000 riders requires about 73 acres of ground--the front of the calvary facing the dead should have been more than seven miles long if it was 20-horses deep along its length. [How cool would that have been to see?]

Which just goes to show how great the acoustics in the North are, given Jorah's quietly spoken command to raise their swords. In any case, we saw maybe 1,500 riders in the charge.)

posted by maxwelton at 5:22 PM on May 1 [8 favorites]



The early seasons were really good, so clearly better in this comparison.
A lot of these plotlines in season 5 I'm watching now are really boring: Mereen, the House of Black and White, and the Sparrows are all just ugh to me.


This is a problem that Martin created by not simply jumping ahead in the story until the dragons were grown. A better writer would have figured out how to have time pass to solve this, but instead he marked time (poorly, unless you like descriptions of meals, torture and meaningless side quests) and thus, Mereen et al.
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:28 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


> Mereen et al.

also it seems like he wanted to shoehorn Daenerys's time in the east into a metaphor for the Iraq War, which
  1. doesn't seem as interesting here in the grim year 2019 as it did in the grim year 2003 or whatever,1
  2. doesn't exactly work, because Daenerys is way worse at being a bush-style crusading neoliberal than she is at being a targaryen-style possibly deranged crusading autocrat.
1: see also the New Caprica season of Battlestar Galactica
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:39 PM on May 1 [4 favorites]


And wrapping this up to the point, yes Dothraki have mounted archers!

When the Dothraki charge during the loot train attack in season seven, they actually stand up on top of their horses in full gallop and fire arrows, which I had completely forgotten about until I watched the VFX recap on it recently. They had to build special saddle rigs for the shot.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:56 PM on May 1 [5 favorites]


I can't remember if it's noted in the TV series, but wasn't the Golden Company founded by men loyal to the Targaryens?
posted by Brocktoon at 6:58 PM on May 1


Not so sure about this, but if you wanna believe...

Cosmo: ‘Game of Thrones’ Fans Found Hidden Proof That Jon Snow Helped Arya Kill the Night King
An eagle-eyed Game of Thrones fan rewatched the scene with headphones and realized that Jon isn’t actually screaming at the dragon. He’s screaming “GOOO, GOOOO, GOOOOO”—presumably at his little sister, who passed him on the way to killing the Night King. To quote u/Applesoapp:
“Jon screamed at the undead dragon to distract it so Arya can run past and kill the Night King. The undead dragon was protecting the entrance to the Godswood. Watch it again, you can actually hear him scream ‘GOOOOO - GO - GO.’ Ten seconds later...you can see the hair of a White Walker flying up when Arya sprints past the group of White Walkers. Jon once again was ready to sacrifice himself to kill the Night King.”
Okay, so if you watch the scene above, you can see Jon definitely notice something (Arya!) at around 00:28. And at around 01:30, you can hear Jon start screaming—and it certainly sounds like “go.” To which I say: !!!!!
posted by chris24 at 7:15 PM on May 1 [7 favorites]


An eagle-eyed Game of Thrones fan

That’s a funny way to spell “producer.”
posted by Sys Rq at 7:32 PM on May 1 [13 favorites]


Lol that looks like Rodan vs Gamera, c. 1973. Dark and blurry and fast hides a lot of sins.

To the contrary, I will say that
\begin[mode=high]{praise}
That looked better than any for-theater movie with dragons except Dragonslayer 
and, possibly, that one with Christian Bale.
\end{praise}

posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:37 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]


@nerdist Arya Stark should be mentioned in every acceptance speech moving forward. #BBMAs

[video: Drake at BBMA ceremony - "And a shout out to Arya Stark for putting in that work last week,"]
posted by scalefree at 7:58 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]


Hilarity going around teaching circles: Alex Rose tweet, "On a scale from Bran Stark to Arya Stark, how much do you contribute to group projects?"
posted by TwoStride at 8:22 PM on May 1 [19 favorites]


Do I mistakenly recall an interview in which Maisie said she was specifically training left-handed because Arya was?

It's been mentioned a bunch of times over the years. Most recently here at 11:10 in the BTS for S08E03.
posted by aielen at 9:22 PM on May 1


I don't think that's fair to Bran. He played a key role in setting the whole chain of events in motion, including providentially giving her the dagger (look at his face at the moment in the scene in which she takes it last season).
posted by bookman117 at 10:21 PM on May 1


I'm not seeing this perspective: Daenerys had a solid career which she'd built, bit by bit and with a lot of risk and suffering, and now she's lost pretty much everything, because of her love of Jon. Her love which is now also pretty much done. She's also lost the man who's been there for her from the beginning, Jorah Mormont. She's also lost, or almost lost, her children -- her dragons. If Grey Worm and Missandei leave, she'll essentially have no one. Because of a man.

I'm guessing that, if she's going to go mad, now might be the time. And it's an interesting story to look at through modern sensibilities.
posted by amtho at 11:20 PM on May 1 [19 favorites]


I'm not seeing this perspective: Daenerys had a solid career which she'd built, bit by bit and with a lot of risk and suffering, and now she's lost pretty much everything, because of her love of Jon.

Thank you. The show evidently wants us question Dany, fine - she's set up for a dark night of the soul here, clearly; I just don't think her descent into madness is a foregone conclusion.

The next episode will probably be hard to watch for a Dany apologist. She'll try to rally the battle-weary troops for a cause no one but her is any more that into, and I'm on the side of battle weary troops here. Last week I was all "don't underestimate the loyality of team Dany", when people already saw Jon's path to the throne as a walk in the park, with Dany's troops deserting her left and right, but after this episode?

This is why I just can't get over the thoughtless waste of the Dothraki. Sure, I don't usually mind dodgy battle tactics, and it was a nice visual effect, and I would have just rolled with it, if the rest of the episode had been equally bleak, with most of the other Westerosi characters also getting a quick demise. But sacrificing most of the brown people for a neat visual gag, while giving most of the white characters the most preposteros plot armor is not a good look - for the showrunners mostly (which, don't get me wrong, is no surprise. I've never forgiven them for killing off Dany's bloodriders and handmaidens so unceremoniously either; it was always clear that they didn't care one bit for the Dothraki perspective). But it also really undermines Dany as a character.

I do think she has actually earned some loyality from her people in the past (Dany makes a big deal about her name and her claim, but the people who've followed her so far have really decided to do that for other reasons. The "breaker of chains" thing is a title she earned, and has been way more useful to her, politically). But after that shitshow last episode I wouldn't blame anyone for desertion.

That said, Greyworm and Missandei apparently both survived (which I didn't realize at first; my reaction wouldn't have been quite so dejected if I had) and that has to count for something. I would be so pissed if Greyworm survived the zombies only to be killed by Sea-Ramsay and his goons! But he's still standing, and I hope, for the purpose to talk some sense into Dany when the shit truly hits the fan. Cersei has to be dealt with, Greyworm will probably still be down for that. But ultimately Greyworm and Missandei want to go home. And if Dany defeats Cersei, only to realize that all the seven kingdom are already itching to start the next war for their independance, maybe Greyworm and Missandei can convince her that it's not worth it.

Because Dany does care. She had a nice moment last episode, which I haven't seen talked about at all (probably people aren't really watching for her any more), but I find quite characteristic: When Drogon gets swarmed by the zombies, and Dany lands on the ground - everyone seems to read that as just her falling down, but if you watch a bit more closely, you can see that she's actually gently rolling off his back. She's dismounting on purpose, so that Drogon can shake free. Before he was harmstrung by trying to keep her on his back. And the moment he no longer has to consider her, he shakes free. It does show Dany's capacity for self-sacrifice - she's drastically reducing her own shot of surival by plunging herself into the zombie horde so that Drogon can have a better shot at escaping. That's not the action of someone who only cares about power and status for themselves.
posted by sohalt at 2:14 AM on May 2 [22 favorites]


I don't think it betrays one's character much to fight back against zombies.

Yeah, thanks, fleacircus, that was really my only point!! I fully understand that Sansa isn't a sword/dagger fighter (neither is Dany). I never said I wanted to see her and Tyrion laying waste to a bunch of Stark zombies! Or even succeeding in any way in fighting back. Only that what I did NOT want to see was the two of them cowering (occasionally peeping out from behind the crypt where they were hiding) while actual living Winterfell folk were being cut down.

Neither of them is a coward. Both of them were armed. The threat at the moment was not one that could be outwitted and outthought and outguessed and outbluffed and outworked. I get that all that is how Sansa normally operates. But an additional element of her character--possibly the most elemental element!--is that she takes VERY seriously the protection of the people of the North, and her position as the fucking Lady of Winterfell.

I didn't want some dramatic set piece with her and Tyrion rising as the heroes of the crypt. I would have liked to see a brief shot of the two of them TRYING, probably knowing they would fail--action that would have been fully in character for both under the circumstances, would have paid off Arya's handing Sansa a dagger in the first place, and would have earned their taking a breather, knowing the odds against them, and the emotional exchange that followed. Which, did I mention, I loved.
Whew!
posted by torticat at 4:59 AM on May 2 [9 favorites]


but if you watch a bit more closely, you can see that she's actually gently rolling off his back. She's dismounting on purpose, so that Drogon can shake free. Before he was harmstrung by trying to keep her on his back. And the moment he no longer has to consider her, he shakes free.

I’ll have to rewatch but if that’s true, it really, really, really didn’t come through for me. I actually really liked that scene for the opposite reason: Drogon is (I guess?) empathetically connected to Dany’s wishes and desires, but at the end of the day he’s still an independent, mostly wild animal, and in that moment was so maddened by pain that he totally forgot Dany in his quest to shake off the painful gnats that are gnawing at him. It telegraphed to me pretty clearly as him just shaking off everything in his mindless pain/panic. (Also, Dany’s just held on through a truly ludicrous set of aerial gyrations—why would she choose to dismount right then rather than urge him into the sky and to do some twisting/dislodging up there? ALSO ALSO, the “mindless animal panic” part helps explain why despite Drogon’s loyalty and protectiveness toward her, he’s TOTALLY ABSENT during the swarming scenes that follow and doesn’t return til, whoops, Jorah’s already dead and the wights are fragged.)

ALSO ALSO ALSO this was a freaking case in point for why Our Heroes should have developed some damn harnessing/saddle situation. Even a basic set of tethers would have made more sense than to try to just grab onto the spines of a twisting, plummeting dragon... and they could have had spots for, oh, some dragonglass spears. Which at the very least Jon would have been trained to employ.)
posted by alleycat01 at 6:21 AM on May 2 [8 favorites]


Also, Dany’s just held on through a truly ludicrous set of aerial gyrations—why would she choose to dismount right then rather than urge him into the sky and to do some twisting/dislodging up there?

It's of course open to interpretation, but to me it looked like Drogon was holding back at first, while Dany's still holding on to him. In the air, they were in sync - there might have been wild gyrations, but he wasn't actively trying to shake her off then, so he might think she couldn't hold on to him, if he did. Urging him to the sky is Dany's first idea too, but it just doesn't work - there are two many zombies already. And she realizes that Drogon can't shake them off without shaking her off as well.

Landing on the ground, Dany looks dazed, but not hurt. She's on her feet again quickly. Which also makes it look more like a controlled dismount to me.

Drogon seems quite badly wounded by the zombies, and probably has to use all his remaining energy to get to a place where he can break down in safety. He might have been willing to die for Dany (getting swarmed by zombies instead of shaking her off), but Dany decided against that. Staying in battle might doom him and make her sacrifice meaningless.
posted by sohalt at 6:43 AM on May 2


...her position as the fucking Lady of Winterfell

It's the North and Sansa has been through a lot and we have the example of Lady Mormont, Arya and Brienne. The Lady of Winterfell should have some basic knowledge of how to defend herself at this point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:32 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]


Sansa and Tyrion were doing their duty by not fighting and by doing whatever they could to survive -- that's exactly why they were in the crypts in the first place. As the Lady of Winterfell and the Hand of the "true queen" they were basically the North's and the Seven Kingdom's designated survivors. The idea was that whatever happened with the battle, those two needed to survive in order to regroup and advise/lead everyone (including Jon and Dany).

Jon and Dany themselves couldn't stay in the crypts for political reasons (aside from personality and dragon-obsession ones). So their second-in-commands were there.

When Tyrion was getting salty about being told to stay in the crypts, that was the argument -- that he couldn't go off and get himself killed because that would be a dereliction of his duty as Hand of the Queen. Same thing for Sansa -- what would happen to the North if she were to die?
posted by rue72 at 7:39 AM on May 2 [13 favorites]


Sansa and Tyrion were doing their duty by not fighting and by doing whatever they could to survive -- that's exactly why they were in the crypts in the first place

That's fine, just noting how odd it is to me that Sansa is the Lady of the Nawth and hasn't learned or been taught any fighting and none of the warriors around her have suggested learning anything.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:28 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]


But part of the reason why Arya, Brienne and Lyanna are subversive characters within the context of the show is that Westerosi women, especially high borne women, do not fight. Part of the point is that Sansa and Cersei have learned to use strengths other than the physical to gain and hold power. The fact that Sansa is not a fighter is an integral part of her character.

Now why they put her down there without at least one body guard is what’s surprising.
posted by lydhre at 8:53 AM on May 2 [6 favorites]


Sansa was groomed, from the opening scenes, to be a lady of the court. Her needlepoint was more important to her than any thought of following her tomboy sister into the courtyard to tilt with her brothers. Pretty much since the moment Joffrey dies she has been in hiding or on the run, and Littelfinger, her closest ally, was no warrior himself.
Her job in Winterfell, upon her return, has largely been quartermaster in chief, laying in stores and organizing, hardly leaving time for one of her subordinates to suggest that she learn the task of those she is far above, namely, bearing arms. It is totally within the scope of Sansa's character to be wholly removed the the martial aspects of life.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:58 AM on May 2 [13 favorites]


Sansa's main contribution is her ability in management and logistics. This is way more important to the war effort than whether she spends a few afternoons playing with a sword. Thinking logistics as separate from fighting is a good way to lose a war.
posted by Quonab at 9:00 AM on May 2 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: Thinking logistics as separate from fighting is a good way to lose a war.
posted by amtho at 9:02 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


she had time to respec dammit
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:03 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Now why they put her down there without at least one body guard is what’s surprising.

I could be mistaken, but my impression was that the men you hear getting attacked outside and pleading to be let into the crypts were the guards.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:25 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


The guys dying asking to be let in were outside. There could have been at least some contingency against the undead inside the crypt. Something.
posted by tilde at 9:54 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


I don't entirely get the pushback around whether Sansa should have fought. I'm not saying she should have been a great warrior, or even effective. I'm just saying, I think that without even her having to take one stab at a zombie and run off, the scene of her and Tyrion comes off real weird.

With fighting, even ineffective fighting (but supporting each other), the scene behind the sarcophagus becomes their shared experience and determination to not go gently into that good night (king).

Without fighting, it's the Lady of Winterfell hiding while her subjects die, along with the guy who literally hours before was saying he should be fighting and he's done it before, etc.

I mean in my headcanon I'm gonna go with the former, but for the final cut to not actually show that isn't great.
posted by tocts at 9:57 AM on May 2 [8 favorites]


Does anybody have any thoughts about that last shot of everybody in the crypt?

I think they're holding back on what, exactly, went down there.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:59 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Headless Ned and Skeleton Cat got reanimated to meet future grandkids?

I’m guessing they found a harp. Which means Aejon is outed.
posted by sixswitch at 10:29 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Without fighting, it's the Lady of Winterfell hiding while her subjects die, along with the guy who literally hours before was saying he should be fighting and he's done it before, etc.


The point is that Tyrion was wrong. And in watching Sansa basically have a full-on panic attack, but also hold it together enough to stay hidden and protected, while gripping a knife that she was never trained to use so that if the zombies do come for her, she can make her last moments count -- he gained a new, deep admiration for her.

And for the record, ineffective fighting doesn't mean that Sansa fails to kill zombies and doesn't get a high score. It means she dies, and with her, her hope of a North governed by someone with basic competence, united against whatever comes next. Remember when Danerys comes to her with the semi-apology, and it's awkward, but then Sansa smiles at Dany's joke, and they're laughing about Jon, and it's very much Margaery Tyrell-style just-us-girls stuff -- and then Sansa leans forward, drops the schtick, and is like, "So what about the North?" Her face in that moment is dead fucking serious, because Sansa is really, really serious about the North and governance and taking care of as many people as she can in the North by managing logistical details and doing the work nobody else cares about.

So my read of that scene is that in the crypts, Sansa knows that her people are dying. She can hear them, all around her, and she is fucking terrified. But she also knows that if she comes out and charges a zombie, she'll get dropped. And if that happens, but the zombies are eventually stopped, as actually happened, who is going to watch over and protect the North? Danerys will have her eyes turned south. Jon, if alive, can't do the job. Arya, if alive, isn't interested. Bran, if alive, is a massive weirdo.

Sansa is looking ahead and being smart and thinking about consequences in a way that Tyrion completely failed to when he was letting his ego push him to fight on the battlements. And he recognizes it.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:49 AM on May 2 [22 favorites]


If they wanted Sansa to ride out somewhere safely and not have to do any fighting, they also could have not put her in the crypt with all the zombies-in-waiting to begin with. The whole thing was just a dumb setup for cheap drama to begin with.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:05 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I guess at this point all I want is for the survivors of the battle to go let those who were sheltering in the crypts out and, when they see the carnage, say

“Uhhhh, shit, the undead. Our bad. That was a fucking idiotic plan, sorry.”
posted by lydhre at 11:07 AM on May 2 [7 favorites]


Which would be less irritating if not for Tyrion's "What if we would have noticed something?" speech. Like, you are currently failing Noticing 101.
posted by DebetEsse at 11:10 AM on May 2 [19 favorites]


But Sansa and Tyrion do run out from behind the thingy, Sansa with knife in hand. We don't actually see them fight any wights--I'm not sure exactly what their plan was* but surely at that point (when it seems like all is lost) they didn't plan on getting anywhere without having to fight any?

That's just to say that there's a slight difference between us not seeing them fight a wight and them not deciding to fight a wight (or deciding not to fight a wight). They seem to have decided to fight, and not just "I'll wait here and stab whoever comes for me" kind of fight.

*At the end of their scene where they make eye contact and she pulls out the knife, it seems like their plan is to actively go fight. But the next time we see them they're kind of like sneaking around the edge of the crypt and looking at Varys, then the next time after that they seem to be looking at the dead-again wights that fell with the death of the NK. Maybe, as prize bull octorok implies, there was something else going on that we don't know about yet. Or maybe they were just going for a "everyone is still trying even though it seems really dire" montage and it got a bit muddled.
posted by lampoil at 11:20 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Thank you, tocts. Jesus! All the analysis of how Sansa has always operated! ...Sorry, all that goes out the window when she's locked in a crypt with zombies attacking Winterfell's weakest, and diplomacy, manipulation, "management," or whatever is of no damn use at all! What does she do in THAT situation? Well, I'd expect some of her other traits might come into play--courage, protectiveness of her people, and a fighting instinct for survival.

And certainly, a similar argument (more so!) could be made in regard to Tyrion.

Furthermore, there was no narrative suggestion that they were hiding back there just to protect their respective BRAINS for future use in the 7 Kingdoms. If that were the point, then Varys would have hustled them into a safe spot, rather than the women and children!

---
Not so sure about this, but if you wanna believe...

I wanna believe!! I LOVE this. It would give nice depth to the interactions between Jon and Arya earlier in this season, and of course going all the way back to the beginning of the first season. Also, I was pretty sure, as I alluded to upthread, that what Jon was trying to do there was to distract/hold off Viserion.

But yeah, sadly I'm not so sure about that specific interpretation, either. If Jon was supposed to have actually spotted Arya, they made it awfully subtle. Also, this little turn has not been mentioned in after-show commentary by showrunners or actors, has it?
posted by torticat at 11:24 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]


Sansa basically have a full-on panic attack
...Sansa is looking ahead and being smart and thinking about consequences


joyceanmachine, that's not how I read it (and I'm not sure how exactly how those two reactions would go together, anyway). I read the scene as their recognizing that they faced near-certain death, and taking a moment to connect and honor each other on a personal level. However, I plan on rewatch to see if I get where you're coming from... otherwise, A2D! :)
posted by torticat at 11:40 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Sansa is really, really serious about the North and governance and taking care of as many people as she can in the North by managing logistical details and doing the work nobody else cares about.

While this is true, I think it's difficult in this kind of world to disambiguate an ability to provide physical protection from all the other kinds of protection owed to peasants/townfolk/bannermen. It's very modern to think "Oh, they need someone to survive who knows how to organize the food supply chain." In a medievalesque world, especially among people at the border, there would be an expectation of physical bravery, at least in extremis, from every leader.

To offer an analogous example, Eowyn was a lady of the court, a higher-ranking one than Sansa. No one would expect her to go charging into battle like she did at the very end; rather, they expected her to manage the noncombatants. But, had Helm's Deep fallen, she would not have hidden while her people were getting slaughtered.
posted by praemunire at 11:57 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]


I'm comfortable saying the Sansa and Tyrion scene was and out of character in an episode full of weird and out of character moments, storytellig, plot, direction and (dramatic pause) lighting.

I cheerfully admit I could be wrong about several things, but am stubbornly refusing to rewatch the episode, 'cause it doesn't seem like it would be fulfilling.

Contrast that with Avengers: Endgame (no spoilers or discussion needed or wanted here), where I have issues with several narrative and directorial choices, but feel that overall the storytellers nailed the characters actions and motives, so am willing to forgive and forget a lot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:58 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I am really surprised but I found the Jon-helping-Arya theory is really compelling, and not to go all conspiracy-theory, it looks to me like maybe they filmed it to be that way but then decided not to use that footage because they wanted Arya's lunge at the NK to be a shocking surprise (which it was to a lot of people, but for me, as soon as Melisandre made her extremely portentous speech to Arya about closing blue eyes, and then Arya goes offscreen, the rest of the episode might as well have had a countdown clock in the bottom corner to her eventual ambush).

If you watch the relevant clips, you see them give what in retrospect are "clues" as to Arya's appearance (some wind blows a White Walker's hair...wait, was that wind or a super stealthy ninja??!?), and I think maybe they had some other scenes where Jon shares a brief, maybe nonverbal exchange with Arya and they show that Viserion is blocking the way into the Godswood, Jon furrows his brow and realizes Arya is their only hope, so he will draw the dragon out to give her a chance to run past, even though that means he will be burnt/frozen/whatever the hell blue fire does. So he leaves his hiding spot and starts yelling (what sorta sound like "Goooo!"), hoping that's enough to give Arya a chance to run by and take a shot at the Night King. That would have ruined the surprise, but from a character point of view would have been pretty cool for both Arya and Jon. And it would have given us a chance to see Arya do a few other cool things along the way to get in position, to show off her skills. And now that I've typed it out, it's my headcannon and will be forever.
posted by skewed at 12:33 PM on May 2 [12 favorites]


when you see a ninja ally sneaking around stealthily, make sure to help them out by yelling "GOOOOO!" as loud as you can
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:02 PM on May 2 [27 favorites]


I mean... Jon Snow. Not exactly getting good news back from that mensa application.
posted by French Fry at 1:23 PM on May 2 [17 favorites]


But yeah I think people are reading more of a plan into this than there was. Nothing else in the episode was REMOTELY that subtle I highly doubt a moment that significant would be. There would be slow mo a shot/reaction shot and maybe a second one just to be sure.
posted by French Fry at 1:25 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


In a medievalesque world, especially among people at the border, there would be an expectation of physical bravery, at least in extremis, from every leader.

Strongly, strongly disagree.

Sansa, in the moment of the crypt, is, as far as she knows, the last of the Starks. Arya and Jon were on the front lines - even though they survived, it is reasonable at that moment to think that they did not or the fighting would not have gotten to the guards on the door in the heart of Winterfell.

By medievalesque morality, she has an obligation to protect the line that has existed for a thousand years much more than she has an obligation to save the lives of the smallfolk. Now we can (and probably do!) argue that's fucked up, but that is absolutely a medievalesque expectation, that the unbroken line must survive somehow, that Sansa owes an obligation to every Stark that has ever lived to survive.

It is thus a terrifying and horrifying act of courage to hide behind a tomb when everything in you is screaming not to - to allow yourself to be protected.

And here at the end, Sansa is going by the path she always has. She is surviving. She is allowing a parfit gentil knight - Tyrion, who she will never marry or even romantically love, but whom she has accepted as a good man and a good lord - to go in front of her and protect her because she has to survive.

And I think it's actually a good story, and I don't think she will suffer for it.
posted by corb at 1:36 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


Way back in season 1 they set up a very clear dichotomy between Sansa, the proper young lady who was praised for her needlepoint and ability to make her own dresses, and Arya, the bad girl who wanted to do things she wasn't supposed to do. She was a good archer, but she wasn't even on the practice field when the other boys were target shooting (neither was Sansa). And when Ned eventually let her start learning sword-fighting, it was a big deal, they had to literally lie about what she was doing--they told everybody that Arya was taking dancing lessons and didn't let anyone see that she was working with a master swordsman.
posted by skewed at 1:53 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Good lord this can get tedious. Not every character needs a zombie ass kicking scene to be a badass.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:08 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


But yeah I think people are reading more of a plan into this than there was. Nothing else in the episode was REMOTELY that subtle I highly doubt a moment that significant would be. There would be slow mo a shot/reaction shot and maybe a second one just to be sure.

Yeah, to be clear, I don't think that the episode as shown meant the viewer to take that in, even on rewatch. It seems to me from the way the scenes played out that at one point there were shots that showed something like what I suggested and those were cut out in favor of having Arya's surprise reveal. I am likely wrong either way, but wanted to be clear the exact nature of my tinfoil hat.
posted by skewed at 2:11 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


By medievalesque morality, she has an obligation to protect the line

No, because if you cannot provide protection, you are not worthy of leadership. That's the basic bargain at the heart of the system. A Stark who cannot protect and provide for the people is no Stark at all.
posted by praemunire at 2:17 PM on May 2


It's an interesting distinction. One that probably would've made for a great scene, regardless of which way you take it. Maybe they could've addressed this obvious problem with some sort of on screen interaction instead of giving us the umpteenth shot of Sam squealing and rolling around in a pile of zombies.
posted by codacorolla at 2:26 PM on May 2 [12 favorites]


It’s been clear to me from the very first episode that Sansa has one kind of needle (weapon) while Arya has another (Needle). Sansa learns from Cersei and Margery, who both wield their femininity as the most effective weapon they have access to (with Cersei railing against this as unfair at times). Arya learns from other masters about protecting herself through physical combat. They are both granted protection from people like Brienne because their birth status as having Stark blood is considered important. The active fighting at Winterfell was one in which Arya’s talents were desperately needed and Sansa’s not so much, but I would not be surprised if Sansa fights in her own way in the next episode.
posted by sallybrown at 2:44 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


To expand on that a little bit, the argument that's at play is actually a great question about Sansa's character. How much has she changed? How enamored is she still with the fantasy of the court? Is she a good leader? For Tyrion, we could learn a bit about how he's his own man instead of being a bitter lesser version of Jaime, or we could see him put his quick wit into play to come up with a last ditch effort to protect the women and children, or maybe he panics and feels the weight (the Wight, even) of his recent failures and Sansa needs to take his place as 'the brain'.

Each of those is its own story, and in different ways pays off 7 years of character development. One thing that drew me to this story 15 years ago and has kept me going (with diminishing returns) is that it takes familiar fantasy narratives and examines what it's like for the characters to at least semi-realistically respond to trauma as if they were real people and not just a blank space to project a power fantasy into.

This is more than bad-ass speeches with sarcastic catchphrases, or quippy Whedon-esque dialogue, or acrobatic fight scenes, or fanservice - it's about setting up a character's narrative arc, and then following it through. The show has essentially given up on doing that. It relies on the audience to fill in the blanks with shipping, and explanations, and memes, but it doesn't particularly care about developing characters any more. It has big points to hit, and regardless of how little sense it makes, it hits them. I think a major failing of both the audience and of D&D (and even GRRM) was to think that the power of the story was subversion and brutality / lewdness. The actual power of the story was a realism of character and a newness of perspective. Most mainstream fantasy absolutely does not take the perspective of the dispossessed and powerless, and for as much as it shows trauma, it tends to just use that as cheap and lazy characterization. D&D seem to have lost that plot. See: reveling in awful grimdark characters like Ramsay and Euron (both largely creations of the show) who are magically powerful instead of just privileged and cunning - the way that they're supposed to be evil is that they exploit the systems that are designed around them, not that they're badass vikings or especially competent fighters. See also: making Arya into a quipping super assassin instead of someone who has forsaken their humanity in pursuit of revenge. See also: pushing characters like Varys, and Tyrion into convenient bit parts instead of telling compelling stories about how the powerless try (and often fail) to seize power and use it to dismantle the system.
posted by codacorolla at 2:52 PM on May 2 [19 favorites]


I mean... Jon Snow. Not exactly getting good news back from that mensa application.

Jon Snow Colour-by-Numbers!
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:56 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Still not buying that Arya was able to run through all of those wights without being detected though.

My thought on this is that when the White Walkers and wights were under the Night King's direct control, they did exactly what he commanded, no more, no less. He commanded them to stand around and intimidate, not watch his back, so they stood around and intimidated, and didn't watch his back.
posted by ogooglebar at 3:32 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Not every character needs a zombie ass kicking scene to be a badass.

Good lord this can get tedious. Not a single comment in this thread has made that argument.
posted by torticat at 3:53 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I really don't think enough can be made of the fact that the Starks did it. They fulfilled their promise, to the North, to their bannermen, to the Night's Watch. From the day that Bran the builder built the wall, through the generations of Starks that have manned the wall, to Ned and his children, to guard the land from Winter was the Stark's purpose; and now their greatest hero(ine) has won that war. I can see absolutely no reason whatsoever that any Stark would ever go south again. No wildling either.
It's time for them to heal and rebuild to plan for the coming of spring, to start breeding like rabbits to repopulate the North.
Even if Cersei sends the Golden company all the way to Winterfell, they could simply hunker down and wait out a siege -- no way the remaining survivors number enough to go through all of the stores that Sansa has gathered against a winter that is no longer coming.

I know this is not what's going to happen, but it would be nice to have the Starks and the northmen realize, even in their grief, exactly what they've won.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:39 PM on May 2 [17 favorites]


[Couple book-derived references removed in the last couple days. Please mind the Show Only tag and avoid bringing in material from outside.]
posted by cortex at 5:51 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


> Oh man, GRRM just can't get away from Tolkien, huh?

His awful Mary Sue is literally named Sam.
posted by lkc at 6:48 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Apparently a scene of Sansa and Tyrion attacking wights was cut. So, just because we didnt see it, doesn't mean it didnt happen.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:56 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Upon rewatch... It's funny how much clearer the picture seems when you're not trying to scrutinize every face in the dark... re: The Cosmo Theory, with subtitles that convey information like "hoarse neighing", the subtitles when Jon jumps out in front of the ice dragon waving his arms just say "yelling" but it really does sound like "go".

But to get to my earlier question, this is what I meant by the extraneous flames outside Winterfell. Not really a spiral like I first thought but still, not sure what would be burning in straight lines unless it's leftover from random dragon passes. I guess the inflammable zombies were saved for crossing the trench?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:36 PM on May 2


I thought that was just the remaining fires from the dragon-scorching.

he will be burnt/frozen/whatever the hell blue fire does

Blue fire is fire. Flames are blue in our world, too.
posted by eustatic at 8:55 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Apparently a scene of Sansa and Tyrion attacking wights was cut. So, just because we didnt see it, doesn't mean it didnt happen.

a. I agree

b. but wait a second, this isn't historical record we're discussing here -- it's a TV show. The boss (hopefully the director, maybe the showrunners, maybe HBO, maybe the Bilderbergs) decided it was better without that footage -- similar to how a writer may decide he really doesn't need a particular paragraph in something he wrote yesterday, so he deletes it, it's gone, it was never meant to be.
posted by philip-random at 9:46 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


%n: "Apparently a scene of Sansa and Tyrion attacking wights was cut. So, just because we didnt see it, doesn't mean it didnt happen."

If it wasn't part of the final aired product, as far as I'm concerned it's not canon.
posted by crazy with stars at 9:47 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


b. but wait a second, this isn't historical record we're discussing here -- it's

crazy with stars put it better ...
posted by philip-random at 9:58 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I just hope Lord Royce is okay.

He is top of the death list I will be using to whisper myself to sleep till episode 6.
posted by biffa at 2:29 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Here's the behind the scene look at this episode, pretty interesting. The scene of Sansa and Tyrion attacking several wights is talked about at the nineteen-minute mark.

Y'all are crazy that Arya seems to come out of nowhere. They tried to shoot it by the weirwood tree, but the crane and wire rigging couldn't quite fit, so they reshot it on a soundstage.

Plus it's pretty great to see the cast talking about the story and scenes, they sound like they're having a blast with each other.

Maise Williams on killing the Night King: "It was a beautiful scene, like poetry and I'm grateful it was me and not Kit"

Kit: "yeah, I was pissed it wasn't me"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:27 AM on May 3 [12 favorites]


One thing I enjoyed from "behind the scenes" was learning that the reason fire seemed to be spewing from random places in Drogon's head was that he was undead, and had HOLES in his head. Ha! I guess that should have been obvious, but I had no idea what the asymmetric flame-breathing was all about.
posted by torticat at 4:42 AM on May 3 [5 favorites]


Also, it is completely crazy all the research and background work they put into some details that are (in my viewing) completely lost in the action. For example, prosthetics dude Gower talks about how they looked at genuine ancient desiccated skulls in order to create a whole NEW look for the crypt zombies. I mean, sorry man, all that work was lost on me. Basically the only specific thing I remember about the crypt zombies is the first hand breaking through a vault. Am I just a singularly unobservant viewer?

But in other news it was completely charming to see the excitement, and full buy-in, of the cast members when they learned that Arya was to be the NK assassin.
posted by torticat at 5:16 AM on May 3 [4 favorites]


Yeah all the behind-the-scenes stuff folks are posting here just makes me feel even more strongly that the episode was badly written and edited, with a few awesome moments. If you have to fucking *explain* how the climactic scene you've been teasing since the opening scene of Episode One was actually more interesting than any of your viewers suspected, you're doing TV wrong.
posted by mediareport at 5:23 AM on May 3 [12 favorites]


As I was poking around a mkv container I dowloaded at full HD and biggest filesize I could find, mplayer dumped out this additional information whcih helped me really get what they were going for, and it might be helpful in the context of thinking about the writing and editing.

ID_CHAPTER_0_NAME=Ratings
ID_CHAPTER_1_NAME=Studio Logo
ID_CHAPTER_2_NAME=Opening Credits
ID_CHAPTER_3_NAME=The calm before the storm
ID_CHAPTER_4_NAME=The Lord of Light enters the fight
ID_CHAPTER_5_NAME=The dead are already here
ID_CHAPTER_6_NAME=Silence in the crypts
ID_CHAPTER_7_NAME=A snowstorm complicates the battle plan
ID_CHAPTER_8_NAME=It's time to look the truth in the face
ID_CHAPTER_9_NAME=Man the wall
ID_CHAPTER_10_NAME=Wights infiltrate Winterfell
ID_CHAPTER_11_NAME=What do we say to the god of death?
ID_CHAPTER_12_NAME=Facing off with the Night King
ID_CHAPTER_13_NAME=The dead outnumber the living
ID_CHAPTER_14_NAME=Death has many faces
ID_CHAPTER_15_NAME=Dawn approaches
ID_CHAPTER_16_NAME=End Credits
ID_CHAPTER_17_NAME=Next Time

That said, I did a factory reset on my monitor, and compared the results to some HDTV test cards, and watched it in a dark room. The darkness/banding/etc wasn't a big issue.
posted by mikelieman at 5:27 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]


If you have to fucking *explain* how the climactic scene you've been teasing since the opening scene of Episode One was actually more interesting than any of your viewers suspected

Can you expand on that, mediareport? There was one thing I noticed on rewatch that seemed significant, which was Bran's seeing Arya's approach, and the NK's registering what Bran had seen. There was one thing I learned (or was reminded of) in the after-commentary, which was that Arya stabbed the NK in the same place where he had been stabbed at his creation. Both of those seem well within the bounds of the type of thing obsessed viewers of this kind of show typically pick up after a first watch.

The rest of it--chiefly, the series-long significance of the dagger, the culmination of Arya's long training (in both stealth and assassination), and the motivating of Arya with the callback to Syrio's line There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: "not today" --all that was pretty clear and adequate IMO to make the scene drop perfectly into place. But I am curious to know what you feel was revealed off screen to make it more interesting.
posted by torticat at 5:45 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Also, it is completely crazy all the research and background work they put into some details that are (in my viewing) completely lost in the action. For example, prosthetics dude Gower talks about how they looked at genuine ancient desiccated skulls in order to create a whole NEW look for the crypt zombies. I mean, sorry man, all that work was lost on me. Basically the only specific thing I remember about the crypt zombies is the first hand breaking through a vault. Am I just a singularly unobservant viewer?

I didn't notice either, but I suspect on rewatch one might notice more, especially if you've seen the behind the scenes video.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:40 AM on May 3


Arya killing the Night King was shot and edited to be a surprise to the viewers and if logistics of that happening got in the way, the Director/Showrunners just ignored it (the shown scene was actually shot on a sound stage, not on set, 'cause the tree got in the way). So we get a few seconds of OH WOW, followed by "wait what". That's standard procedure for GoT in general and a lot of film/tv.

But to me, if ever there was a case for single take action in GoT (Or something similar), this was it. It would have been thrilling to realize that Arya was their last shot, see her and Jon communicate that he distract the dragon, have Arya race across the courtyard, tangle with a White Walker or two, then face off against the Night King and seemingly lose, only to pull the knife drop/flip at the last minute.

As seem in my head, it would have been spectacular, wish y'all were here! Don't mind the weird fetish thing in the corner.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:50 AM on May 3 [7 favorites]


I really wonder if the situation was reversed, with Jon finding a way to surprise and kill the Night King alongside a shot of Arya yelling at a dragon, how many fans would interpret this as “Arya had a key role in the killing.” Somehow I think far fewer than are ready to believe Jon’s indecipherable yelling had anything to do with Arya’s plan.

For me, one key is that Arya herself didn’t seem to know she was going to do this, and needed the spur of talking to Melisandre and seeing Beric and the Hound fight for her to encourage her. So how would Jon have possible coordinated?
posted by sallybrown at 7:27 AM on May 3 [8 favorites]


Two significant things were missing from this ep. The first has been mentioned: it is dramatically more interesting to tell the audience of your plan, and then show that plan fall apart and watch everyone improvise. This happens in every good heist movie ever. The bank thieves go through the plan, then when they execute it, something goes wrong, but because of their competency, experience, and in some cases luck, they get through it. Often not everyone gets through it: some people sacrifice themselves for the others, and this is dramatically satisfying. We feel for these guys who are giving up to save the others, ESPECIALLY when it wasn't their fault that the plan went pear-shaped in the first place.

The OTHER thing that didn't happen: if it really truly was Jon and Arya's plan to have her knife the NK, then after it's over, you have to have them nod to one another, or say something that lets the audience know that they had a backup plan that they didn't tell to everybody else. Sometimes it's some other player saying "DID YOU HAVE THIS PLANNED THE WHOLE TIME?!?" or whatever. That elevates the status of the players to not only be bad-asses, but also clever bad-asses with foresight.

Neither of these things happened, and it wasn't because of the way it was shot, or because other things looked cool. It was because D&D are actually not really good storytellers. They do not appear to understand the basics of storytelling, how to show or EVEN TELL things to the audience. They make it so you have to watch something multiple times just to understand what has occurred.

Think about that. People are having to watch the episode multiple times to understand what is actually a very simple plot. There were absolutely zero feints, fake-outs, double-crosses, etc. in this story. Everything was (in theory) absolutely straightforward plot-wise. And yet the story was told so poorly that it's taking us watching making-of videos just to understand what occurred.

I will argue that this show was great in the early seasons primarily because not only did it understand how stories are told, it was confident enough it those stories that it was able to break the rules and be stronger for it. They established a world where magic was make-believe, where there was an understandable economy, solid reasons for characters' motivations. They knew the genre in which they were playing, and played it up. Then little by little they broke it down: dragon eggs suggesting perhaps magic existed but hadn't shown up in a long time, characters' motivations changing believably because of this. And then of course, with the death of our hero before the first season was up, they showed this was going to be different than LOTR or Harry Potter or the Chronicles of Pyrdain or or or. People were mortal here. Death wasn't going to be like it is in the comics: tragic but not really because they'll find a way to overcome it. But clearly after they got past GRRM's initial stories, there was nobody with that skill.

And that's why we're arguing over this battle in a way that we NEVER did in any of the earlier big episodes of the show. Nobody wondered what the hell happened at the Red Wedding or the Battle of Blackwater. It just told us the story, clearly, concisely. We knew what happened, why it happened, what the fallout was. But the stuff we see now? Not even close.
posted by nushustu at 8:23 AM on May 3 [17 favorites]


So how would Jon have possible coordinated?

Not coordinated in advance. Just spotted Arya running in Bran's direction, and recognized that she might be their last (only, and best) hope.

I hear your skepticism re viewer reaction had the script been flipped, and you're probably right. But (for me at least), the charm of this interpretation is in the bond between Jon and Arya--the idea that he would instantly recognize her potential to get to the NK, and have her back. A character connection... not so much the idea that Arya required Jon's help in order to succeed.
posted by torticat at 8:23 AM on May 3 [5 favorites]


Also, it would set up kind of a nice relay--Dany yelling "Go!" to Jon, after her failure, and Jon yelling the same to Arya, after his.
posted by torticat at 8:35 AM on May 3


it's friggin Friday and I still feel like I watched a different episode than 95% of the rest of the internet.
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:42 AM on May 3 [8 favorites]


See also: making Arya into a quipping super assassin instead of someone who has forsaken their humanity in pursuit of revenge.

I agree with just about all of your post, and the quipping part here. I disagree if your implication is that Arya wasn't set to become a super assassin, because book or show, her arc was to become a super assassin.
posted by avalonian at 8:51 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]


So how would Jon have possible coordinated?

Arya runs up and says "I need to get close to him". Jon either looks incredulous and nods or argues briefly and Arya shows him the valyarian steel dagger, says "Valyarian steel" to clue in the audience even more and then he nods and says "i'll distract the dragon" where Arya gets a pained look on her face as she realizes he'll probably die and then Jon yells "Go," shoves her a bit maybe and she's off, hears in eyes, but determined look.

Hell, have her to do the knife flip from one hand to the other in front of Jon to indicate she's got a plan on how to fake out the NK. But in end it's the drop the knife from one hand to other as we fake out the audience, but still in a narrative and character consistent manner.

Meanwhile Jon yells "shields" and a few other guards or characters run over with large shields and they proceed to distract dragon, using shields once or twice to deflect fire, but they're only a one time use, so numbers rapidly dwindle as Arya races to the NK and it's all down to the second blah blah till she knifes him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:00 AM on May 3 [4 favorites]


Deleting a scene from TV is not like deleting a scene from a book. If time were an issue, half of the goddamn descriptions of food and eating in The Wheel of Time would be gone. The characters probably still ate food, nonetheless. In any event, Sansa and Tyrion were not meant to fight, so they didn't. One was scared shitless, the other was specifically ordered to survive.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:05 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


I will argue that this show was great in the early seasons primarily because not only did it understand how stories are told, it was confident enough it those stories that it was able to break the rules and be stronger for it.

Maybe more that the early seasons had their focus on the story world, where the driving focus of the events and characters were the purpose of the story, while the later seasons instead had their eye on the audience for its reaction, thus, ironically, losing it. The difficulty with so many series/movies is that they seem less written than designed, less worry placed on the inner world motivations and actions than on the dynamics of the audience and their awareness of narrative convention. The whole purpose of actions or scenes all too often feeling like its just there to gain a response rather than serve a larger purpose.

The beauty of the first season wasn't just or even primarily in the way it surprised audiences by killing off characters that seemed central to the story or by events that turned in an unexpected fashion, but the way the whole of the season was balanced to give greater meaning to the whole for the events. For just the most notable example, Ned Stark kills a man for lying and dereliction of duty even though that man was telling the truth and acting in good faith, an event which comes to match Ned's own fate at the end of the season, along with the rest of the characters/events following similar paths of reversal in an almost dialectic fashion.

The end informing the beginning, the way the events tie the whole of the season together not only gives the events themselves more clarity, but speaks to there being a larger world view underlying everything which grips the audience not for tricks of narrative, but strength of vision. The story has a seeming meaning to it that is to be uncovered. Playing with narrative expectation for its own sake robs a story of that power for seeming either arbitrary or purposelessly contrary.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:06 AM on May 3 [10 favorites]


and Yeah, I still think a major character or two should have died in this battle. Perhaps have scene or two with Cersei and Qyburn getting sparse news about events, mention the 20K second sons that to give the indication that if the Winterfell battle fails, there will be another, to make the audience think our plucky hereos might loose at Winterfell.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:10 AM on May 3


Now I'm wondering...you have a dead dragon in the courtyard of your castle. I mean aside from the 100,000+ dead bodies everywhere, you have a 10-ton+ carcass you need to get out of your outdoor living room.

(I keep thinking of the horse-in-the-office scene from Animal House, except there are no chainsaws in the north.)

Not only are the good guys weary from the fight, there are weeks of back-breaking, hideous work to do just to Kondo the place.

Also, Sansa? New law on the books: All dead are cremated, period. You want to come back as a mindless zombie? Try the Riverlands or Dorn, buddy, we don't do that up here.
posted by maxwelton at 9:45 AM on May 3 [7 favorites]


Now I'm wondering...you have a dead dragon in the courtyard of your castle. I mean aside from the 100,000+ dead bodies everywhere, you have a 10-ton+ carcass you need to get out of your outdoor living room.

That dragon meat is going to get them through winter! Start the butchering/smoking/salting ASAP

Dany will probably be super grossed out but let's be logical here.
posted by rue72 at 9:48 AM on May 3 [5 favorites]


I've spent too much time in writers rooms to not have all kinds of ideas as to how any episode of TV could be better/worse/whatever ... so I generally try not to go there. If a show's good or great, I'm thankful. If not, I just watch something else. But like very many, I've invested a lot in Game of Thrones over the years (though clearly not near as much as some -- ie: this week's show is the first time I ever watched a real time HBO broadcast, it's always been the next day or week, or months later in some situations).

Anyway, based on all the discussion here-there-everywhere, the single thing I would've done differently in The Long Night is make the geography of things clearer, a lot clearer. With particular focus on Bran's location in the Godswood, its relative distance from all the other action, and the specifics of how it is accessed. Because, for instance, it wasn't clear to me that the dragon was specifically blocking Jon from access -- that the reason he wasn't just rerouting around it was because he couldn't, he had no other option but straight ahead. Whereas Anya with her stealth skills was up to it.

A better sense of geography would also have helped explain how/why they'd leave such a small contingent (Theon and some archers) to guard what had to be the good guys' single greatest hope (Bran). And overall, it would've clarified a lot of the motivations throughout the battle.

Combat is confusion. I accept that. But even in the most chaotic historic situations, defenders have generally known the layout of what they were defending -- what the priorities were, what the fallbacks might be ...
posted by philip-random at 9:50 AM on May 3 [10 favorites]


> That dragon meat is going to get them through winter! Start the butchering/smoking/salting ASAP

butchering/smoking/salting Viserion is a good idea... but he's been dead for a while and so we don't know how much good meat is left on him, and even if there's a significant amount of good meat, it's probably not enough to last all the survivors the entire winter. However, the Dothraki brought a lot of now-recently-slain horses, so it's a good idea to butcher/smoke/salt those.

The thing is, though, no one in the north can be exactly certain of how long the winter might last, and it might last a very long time indeed. Therefore, it's only prudent to also butcher/smoke/salt all the recently slain dothraki, unsullied, night's watchmen, mormonts, freefolk, and miscellaneous northerners as well. Just to be safe.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:51 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Bet that dragon meat is spicy. It’s no lemon cake!
posted by sallybrown at 10:55 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]


Eating zombie meat -- even zombie dragon meat -- seems like a pretty bad idea.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:59 AM on May 3 [5 favorites]


> Eating zombie meat -- even zombie dragon meat -- seems like a pretty bad idea.

if the zombie meat is tainted you can survive by [q]uaffing a potion of cure sickness, [a]pplying a blessed unicorn horn (you picked one up on Skagos, right?), or praying to your god, provided that your prayer timeout is at 0 and your god isn't angry at you.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:08 AM on May 3 [6 favorites]


also eating Viserion might grant you ice resistance, fire resistance, or both. which seems pretty handy in the universe of a song of ice and fire.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:18 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]


Dear AskMe, I've got some partially-frozen dragon meat that I left outside all night after a big, uh, party. It's a little scratched up and my nephew-boyfriend screamed at it for some reason and it smells a little off? Maybe? But the temperature outside has been pretty cold and I raised this thing from an egg so I feel kinda bad about just chucking it. Anyway I figure if I cook it to well done it should be OK but my Hand is like "just throw it out, we'll go to the Riverlands Costco this weekend" but arrgh I hate wasting food. Hivemind, your thoughts?
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:20 AM on May 3 [27 favorites]


TDMFA

(Tainted Dragon Meat For All)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:33 AM on May 3 [6 favorites]


Lyanna Stark was only entombed 20 years ago. She should have been a prime zombie in the crypt. That's a bit awkward.

I'm not sure I wanted to see it, but in any of the zombie slug-fests did we ever see one of our heroes have to fight the just-fallen body of one of our former heroes? I mean, that would be horrifying, for the audience and the character, but we never actually saw it...did we?
posted by maxwelton at 11:34 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Couldn’t you also leave all the bodies to freeze where they are and then just thaw them as needed?
posted by snofoam at 11:35 AM on May 3




I watched the ending again and I'm not a believer in the GO theory. Jon doesn't look like he sees anything, he looks like he's coming to terms with failure. He stands up and shouts (directly at the dragon, not even a little bit over his shoulder) because he wants to get it over with and die on his feet. It's the moment of greatest despair, there's not supposed to be any hope.

See if I was in charge he would have been hiding by one of those dragonglass tank traps they had lying around, hoping that when Viserion lunged he could leap out of the way, and Viserion's maw would smack into it, and then the dragon would thrash about like a cat with a big ball of masking tape stuck on its face, but for some reason I was not consulted.

Okay well at least he would be holding his sword at the ready.
posted by fleacircus at 11:49 AM on May 3 [6 favorites]


> Couldn’t you also leave all the bodies to freeze where they are and then just thaw them as needed?

yes but then they wouldn't be born in salt and smoke, and therefore couldn't be Azor Ahai.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:49 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Lyanna Stark was only entombed 20 years ago. She should have been a prime zombie in the crypt. That's a bit awkward.

Did we see Lyanna-tomb rocking?
posted by corb at 12:27 PM on May 3


Lyanna Stark was only entombed 20 years ago. She should have been a prime zombie in the crypt. That's a bit awkward.

When Ned died in Kings Landing they arranged for the Silent Sisters to convert his body to bones before shipping it up the road to Winterfell. Lyanna died in Dorne, presumably similar corpse prep was required, no?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:57 PM on May 3


I'm 100% fine with sansa never fighting. 100's of medieval leaders men and women never fought or killed anyone, and held immense power. Also it's TV show. Also yuck.
posted by French Fry at 3:11 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I wanted to see it, but in any of the zombie slug-fests did we ever see one of our heroes have to fight the just-fallen body of one of our former heroes? I mean, that would be horrifying, for the audience and the character, but we never actually saw it...did we?

I don't think so, but before the episode, I was sure that would be a major source of drama. Can you imagine any of our characters having to (try to) take down Little Bear Mormont? Such suspense! Instead all we got was some glimpses of blue eyes.
posted by ktkt at 5:01 PM on May 3


In the "making of" for episode 2, it looked like Pod had some sort of make-up around his eyes. I thought for sure Brienne would have to kill Pod-wight.

I'm glad we get several episodes of Cersei et al. And Bronn, of course! I'm hoping to see a lot of call-backs to things like The Faceless Men, Nymeria, etc. And why not work in something for Lady Stoneheart, eh?
posted by Brocktoon at 8:19 PM on May 3


From another EW story, about Maisie Williams learning of her part in the battle:

Game of Thrones: Maisie Williams on that Winterfell battle’s surprise ending
Williams was one of a couple dozen actors and hundreds of crew members who had to endure the Battle of Winterfell’s infamous 55 nights of shooting during amid freezing Northern Ireland rain, an effort that which EW detailed in its recent cover story.
Two months. Two months of intense shooting in freezing rain at night, for one episode.
posted by scalefree at 8:22 PM on May 3 [5 favorites]


A military historian rips apart the plan to defend Winterfell. Spoiler alert: The humans were idiots. They also don’t use Bran before the battle, Tumblin said, meaning, “They start the battle with two main problems: They don’t know where the dead are or what formation they’re in, and they don’t know how many of them there are . . . Bran can discover these things in about five minutes.”
posted by BungaDunga at 8:52 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


I don't think Bran cares about any of that. All he needed was the NK to enter the Godswood for some reason. The wights had "no power" within the Godswood north of the wall, however I don't think they ever really explain why. Greenseers use weirwoods for their magic too. Whatever the hell Bran was up to might be related to that.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:16 PM on May 3


The only thing Bran did was startle some ravens, and the last time he sent up ravens, they annoyed the NK, so he glanced at them and they scattered/fell and Bran's wifi signal dropped.

Count me with the others in this thread who are done trusting the show. This is exactly what happened to Walking Dead - they would spend serious time & effort setting up complex scenarios, and then just cleave them like the Gordian Knot. It's cute when Indiana Jones just shoots the dude - but it doesn't work when you treat every situation in that way.

Don't get me started on The Matrix... "You can use your MIND to BEND REALITY!" "uh ok cool I will imagine that I have guns and some wicked shades"
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:43 PM on May 3 [5 favorites]


Williams was one of a couple dozen actors and hundreds of crew members who had to endure the Battle of Winterfell’s infamous 55 nights of shooting during amid freezing Northern Ireland rain, an effort that which EW detailed in its recent cover story.
Ew, EW. Ew.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:11 PM on May 3 [5 favorites]


Has anyone brought up the fact that bran can Warg into people yet?
posted by xcasex at 9:35 AM on May 4


Sys, it seems likely that someone and did a strike-through edit (or track changes or something like that), and then c&p'd it over without actually deleting it.
posted by DebetEsse at 10:34 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


All he needed was the NK to enter the Godswood for some reason. The wights had "no power" within the Godswood north of the wall, however I don't think they ever really explain why. Greenseers use weirwoods for their magic too. Whatever the hell Bran was up to might be related to that.

The Godswoods are linked to the Children of the Forest, who we saw creating the Night King in the first place. It might kind of be that magic is linked to the places of power or centers of belief of the various gods, so the Godswood may soak up not just the belief of those who placed it but also the belief of all those who have used it in the intervening times. It's possible they were placed in part to be a worship center/battery recharger for those allied with the Children.
posted by corb at 11:32 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


Can't the Night King warg as well? I mean, that's how he left his mark on Bran, or something close to it. But maybe he can only interact with other wargers and warg directly into the un-dead. In which case, with all his own un-dead about to be re-dead, he would have to find another un-dead to warg into to save himself, and that means...

...the Mountain. Look for a layer of frost on his helmet as a clue, is all I'm saying.

There was a sale on hyphens today, thought I'd take advantage.
posted by maxwelton at 11:40 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


It would be really fascinating if the Night King was trying to warg into Bran while Bran was trying to stop him, and we won't quite know for a while if he succeeded or not. Also, when you warg into someone, is it the power of the body or the power of the warger? Could NightKing-riding-Bran raise the dead?
posted by corb at 12:14 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]


That would be interesting. If the NK warged into Bran while he was warging into the weirwood, he could conceivably raise the dead over the entire continent in an instant.
posted by Brocktoon at 4:07 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


speaking of Bran, Deep Geek, who knows way more about all this stuff than I ever will, has twelve minutes of insight:

What was Bran doing all that time?

though if there was medal, I'd award it to the second comment:

Bran was on the internet complaining about the episode
posted by philip-random at 4:35 PM on May 4 [9 favorites]


It would be really fascinating if the Night King was trying to warg into Bran while Bran was trying to stop him, and we won't quite know for a while if he succeeded or not.

Why would the NK be trying to warg into Bran at that point? He was seconds away from killing him and completely winning.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:59 PM on May 4


I'm no battle historian, but what about the role of morale? The Dothraki charge, with swords magically on fire, seems like a bit of "shock and awe". On the contrary to those who say this made context only to us viewers and not to the characters--the characters don't know (unlike us) that they'll be in store for a long drawn-out battle (we knew it was a long battle episode) with moments of grave danger and bleak prospects for the living (to heighten tension).

For all the characters know--many of whom, like the Dothraki, have never encountered wights--this could be a rout from the side of the living. (We, and those who've fought wights, know or suspect that morale doesn't count much to wights, but does it count to the Night King? It certainly counts to members of the living...)

Didn't olden armies set "champions" to battle each other at the start?

So yeah, I can see the Dothraki charging with the idea of: let's start off on our best foot, show them these fearsome warriors (who just mopped up the Lannisters), and those behind will be given hope that the enemy isn't so invincible after all. (Of course the OPPOSITE happened!)
posted by Schmucko at 6:48 PM on May 4


A tweet from Vladimir Furdik, the actor playing the Night King:
How did the #NightKing  change Craster's babies?

By touching them.

How did he change Viserion?

By touching it.

What did Bloodraven say to #BranStark  in the cave?

"He touched you."

#foodforthought
#nightking  #GameofThrones
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:26 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


Relevant tweet.
posted by fleacircus at 7:27 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


Didn't olden armies set "champions" to battle each other at the start?

Not really. There are a handful of examples in historical records, far more in heroic epics. I don't remember any in the most famous large scale medieval battles (which isn't dispositive).

The handful I vaguely remember historically usually involved two armies who wanted to fight but didn't want to fight quite yet--e.g., one had a good defensive position and didn't want to charge, the other side didn't want to charge them. You'd get taunting and goading while the two sides had nothing else to do.
posted by mark k at 7:34 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


A tweet from Vladimir Furdik, the actor playing the Night King:

Between this and Gwendolyn Christie’s Instagram story posts of Brienne/Tormund selfies I’m so curious about the HBO sign-off the actors need for social media. I think a lot of the actors are having fun with it :-P
posted by sallybrown at 7:35 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


I think the mockery for hiding in the tombs is unfair. They'd seen the NK raise the dead, but AFAIK only recently dead, actually killed by other wights or the Night King, when the corpses were still fleshly and at relatively close range. Animating long decomposed remains from the Stark tombs through stone walls and Earth--well, apparently it's doable since that's how it turned out but I don't think it was a "duh" moment without genre awareness. It's not like the living had seen them call up corpses from graves as they marched.
posted by mark k at 7:38 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


It's only a duh moment because in the previous episode they said "go to the crypts where it's safest" about seventy times. That's not foreshadowing. That's not even telegraphing. That's putting a giant neon sign over what's going to happen and is yet another example of how much the writing has fallen off over the years. It's like the main character of Flowers for Algernon is the showrunner.
posted by nushustu at 8:03 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


I think the mockery for hiding in the tombs is unfair. They'd seen the NK raise the dead, but AFAIK only recently dead, actually killed by other wights or the Night King, when the corpses were still fleshly and at relatively close range. Animating long decomposed remains from the Stark tombs through stone walls and Earth--well, apparently it's doable since that's how it turned out but I don't think it was a "duh" moment without genre awareness.

I dunno, I figure if you see an army of the dead attacking the idea of the dead being a threat would weigh pretty heavily on one's mind, I mean what one would have left of one given knowing dead people are coming back to life and trying to kill you would be, I imagine, fairly traumatizing. The idea then of hanging out with some other dead folk, even if you once were buddies, would seen a bit unwise by any standard given how extremely present and unlikely to be forgotten the idea of the dead coming back to life to kill you would be.

That would, I think, weigh a bit more heavily than worries about the honor and legacy of one's dead kin as the threat of potentially being torn to pieces by one's ancestors tends to have a dampening effect on one's affection for them as most people do tend to selfishly prioritize their fondness for living above other considerations. I don't think anyone playing rules lawyer over exactly how the dead come back would win a lot of converts for their theories, given the price of a wrong answer would be getting torn apart by creepy as fuck reanimated dead things.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:12 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]




I spent the last few weeks catching up with everything from season 3 onwards, and by now I'm pretty exhausted. But I did, I caught up! I'm now spoiler-proof again!
posted by Harald74 at 12:17 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


Could you make anti-WW claymore mines from dragonglass, wildfire and suitably shaped clay vessels?
posted by Harald74 at 1:54 AM on May 5 [4 favorites]


or, like, how much dragonglass do you need to dispose of a white walker? could you attach a few shards of it to a raven's claws and then get bran to warg into those ravens to attack and take them all out?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:20 AM on May 5


Are wights supposed to have super-human strength as well? They must, because the crypt-wights broke through stone to get out, but we don't really see the battle-wights tossing humans around or tearing them in half or anything.
posted by maxwelton at 7:01 AM on May 5


They move at the speed of plot and have the strength of plot as well.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:43 AM on May 5 [7 favorites]


I keep wondering if something is up with Bran. As others have noted, once he warged, the Night King got a lot smarter with his use of the wights. Was that just an edit that means nothing or an edit that means (dramatic pause) SOMETHING. It could go either way!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:05 AM on May 5


Aerosolized dragonglass. Get a thousand people with a thousands mortars and pestles, create great bushels of flinty powdered obsidian, then let the dragons make passes grabbing mouthfuls and spitting it out, just chemtrail the diddly dang army of the undead into uselessness before the fight ever starts.
posted by cortex at 8:46 AM on May 5 [4 favorites]


WHAT ABOUT THE OZONE LAYER DAMAGE?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


LION News reports: Record Highs in Dorne Despite So-Called "Coming of Winter"
posted by fleacircus at 9:12 AM on May 5 [11 favorites]


Even if something is up with Bran they have done such a piss poor job of setting it up that either way it goes will seem like a disappointment.

I'm on team Magic is Done, and they're just brutally chopping that whole dangling thread. Bran has already done all he needed to do, plot wise- attest to Jon's parentage, and stare meaningfully at the NK. If the writers had wanted to make him more interesting they would have already.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:21 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Y'know, I read that McSweeney's link and every subsequent comment here sounds like a conversation between Jon Snow and Courtney@23andMe Customer Care.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:47 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Podrick survives, gets knighted and is issued a squire to whom he is good and honorable, or we f*cking riot.

Who’s with me?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:33 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Build a giant hollow cylinder out of wood, two stories tall, with dragonglass shards studded all over to the exterior surface. Put a bunch of Unsullied inside and have them all walk forward in unison. Roll that shit right over the wight army. Watch Dany's face as she realizes that the solution was literally a wheel.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:02 PM on May 5 [18 favorites]




I’m supposed to wait TWO WHOLE MORE HOURS??
posted by sallybrown at 3:52 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


I’m supposed to wait TWO WHOLE MORE HOURS??

I think what pissed me off more than anything was waiting all that time and then HBO launches a 2 minute ad for everything they have. Like seriously guys, after last week, don't fuck with me. You get a MINUTE preview. Do not tax my patience.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:54 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I'm rewatching the series in anticipation of the finale, and Syrio Forel is still my favorite character. He's such a good person. Maybe the only good person in the whole series!

I just saw the episode when he teaches Arya that the only god there is is death, and there is only one thing to say to death: not today. I love that they did a callback to that -- and to Syrio Forel -- in this episode, and that that callback inspired Arya to go on and defeat death, aka the Night King.
posted by rue72 at 9:19 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


The LA Book review is so, so good:
None of this should have been a surprise. This show has been glorious trash for a while, perhaps forever. But as long as the Night King was still in the game, he was a promise that it might actually be more. From the first scene of the show and the Starks’ “Winter is Coming” to the slow inexorable discovery of the real plot of the show, he was an apocalyptic stakes-rising enemy that transformed this petty game of thrones into something deeper and ancient and more mysterious. His looming presence allowed the show to maintain a very delicate balance between its superficial character service — each person’s petty feuds and backstories — and the destiny that awaited all of them. It made Jon’s parentage matter, and it made Daenerys’s quest for the Iron Throne seem more important than mere power-hunger, and it made the entire story of Westeros seem a lot older and stranger and deeper than it has turned out to be. After all, the last two episodes were nothing but reminding us all of who all these people were and who their loved ones were, in anticipation of many of them getting killed and zombified and then killing (or having to be killed by) their loved ones; we saw the desperate precious smallness of life magnified against the yawning backdrop of oblivion. As Aristotle would want, we experienced terror, empathy, and fear.

And then it was all fine! The slow, implacable, and opaque Night King turned out to be exactly as predictable as Bran said he was, and while he can’t be killed by dragon fire, it turns out, he can be killed by a Valyrian steel dagger. This is because of reasons. He never speaks. He doesn’t have any more backstory, or significance, isn’t time-warged Bran or a metaphor for climate change or death or even a Targaryen. His art — those deeply weird pictograms he loved making — turn out to mean nothing. There’s nothing more to him; he was just a big scary lich king, who smirks, and now we killed him and got a bunch of experience points.
posted by corb at 8:47 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Pity and fear! Yes! I've been saying this too! The Aristotelian catharsis inherent in a final battle with Death was all retroactively wiped out by nearly everyone surviving. It turned from tragedy to comedy.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:58 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Seriously, the only way to play off the Night King thing successfully would be for him to die, his army to collapse, but Winter keeps coming anyway. Maybe that still happens next episode, but I doubt it.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:06 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Andrea Grimes on Twitter: I will accept all of the fuckery of #GOT season 8 if the last shot of the show is a zombie hand shooting out of the ice
posted by larrybob at 12:07 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]


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