Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 3 – “The Long Night” Review
“The Long Night” deserved the extra long run time. It would have been painful if the episode cut off at the 60 minute mark and left us hanging for a week. Game of Thrones has delivered action-packed episodes before, but not one that sustained the intensity for this long, basically an hour and 20 minutes and without much dialogue.
I feel a little spoiled by how ambitious this show is some times. A lot of work, planning and attention to detail made this a visually stunning episode. It looked amazing with the snow coming down hard as people are battling inside Winterfell’s court yard. Using the simple visuals of Dothraki’s flaming weapons fading out in the darkness is a great tension builder. And when the Night King reaches back over his shoulder for his sword and Arya out of nowhere jumps into focus from behind is a beautifully constructed, technical shot.
Arya’s most important kill wasn’t on her list. Though some of her story lines in the latter seasons weren’t up to the level as the ones based on the books, Arya has earned this heroic moment. In a few ways, things have come full circle. Back in season one, Arya was helpless as she watched her father get executed. Now many years later she gets a chance to save a family member but this time she’s a trained assassin.
It’s also full circle in that the assassin’s dagger that was supposed to kill Bran in Season 1 was used to save Bran here. This also explains why the Lord of Light resurrected Beric – for the purpose of saving Arya’s life. Further, Melisandre’s prophecy about Arya killing blue eyes is fulfilled. Another full circle moment is the place in the chest where the Night Knight got stabbed is where the Children of the Forest drove the knife in that originally turned him into a weapon against men.
I suppose one can make the case that Dany or Jon should have dealt the death blow to the Night King, as many have theorized one of them is the prince who was promised. I’m not sure if this means Arya might be the true Azor Ahai? I guess it would have been too easy, or anti-climatic, if Dany had successfully used Drogon to burn the Night King. When the Night King and Bran were staring at each other, I didn’t know what was going to happen. In any case, I think this puts to rest theories about the Night King’s secret identity.
The Long Night had me really concerned for some characters that came close to biting the dust. When Brienne got mobbed by the wights it was pretty hairy, luckily Jamie saved her. We see Ghost in the beginning of the battle. Hopefully he’ll show up next episode. The first notable death is Dolorous Edd, after saving Sam, of course. Lady Mormont went out in a memorable way; the smallest fighter taking out the largest enemy. I loved that Ser Jorah died protecting Dany, it’s a fitting and noble death. It would have been better if Dany gave him a small kiss before he died.
I would have preferred that Theon put up a better fight at the end, such as taking out one White Walker before the Night King finishes him. But perhaps he was too exhausted to do anything except knowingly accept his fate as he charged forward with his spear. The old Theon would have run away like a coward. This is Theon at his most courageous and he got the redemption he deserved when Bran told him he’s a good man.
The Long Night isn’t a flawless episode. The dragon flying sequences are cool, but it wasn’t easy to understand everything that’s happening on the first watch. There should have been more dialogue between Jon and Dany to explain what they were trying to do. While the theory about the dead rising from the crypts played out exactly how many people guessed, not one major character in the tombs died. Tyrion and Sansa never felt like they were ever in real danger. That sequence could have used more suspense or at least close calls.
The sequence in the library with Arya went on for a bit too long. When Beric threw his flaming sword to save Arya it left him defenseless. It felt like this long build up was to set up the Hound’s death, not Beric’s. I thought there were going to be more deaths of some bigger characters, not just Jorah, Theon and Melisandre.
Over eight seasons, the series built up to this moment … the battle against the White Walkers. Now that the biggest threat is defeated half way into the final season, will it be anti-climatic moving forward? Will Jon and Dany’s alliance remain intact long enough for them to defeat Cersei? Even with Dany’s army suffering casualties and the Dothraki pretty much wiped out, it’s hard to imagine that Cersei can put up much of a resistance unless there’s some twists in store. I care about what happens to Cersei as a character and now the battle for the Iron Throne, which is what the show is about, is coming to a head.