The Most Shocking Moments From ‘Game of Thrones’ Battle of Winterfell
We all know that Game of Thrones can get a little dark from time to time, but few expected the mightily anticipated third episode of the final season, “The Long Night,” to be so literally dark.
For the big showdown between the Night King and (almost) all the series' major characters, director Miguel Sapochnik made a creative choice to visualize the chaos and despair of this final confrontation in a way that was ... barely visible. It was a bold move, and a surprising one, especially since Sapochnik was the mastermind behind Season Six’s “The Battle of the Bastards,” the greatest example of action filmmaking in the history of television, as all reasonable people agree. Expect to hear nerds griping about this for the next ten years.
I can see where the decision came from. Darkness is a story element in “The Long Night.” Lighting the trenches around Winterfell's defensive perimeter is one of our heroes' major tasks (and it’s lucky the Red Woman, Melisandre, made an unexpected pop-in), and the dread that came from winked-out light was one of the first “uh-oh!” moments in this extremely tense 82 minute episode.
We were there on the couch, stress-eating like the rest of you, and these were the six moments that actually caused us to shout.
Melisandre's surprise appearance in “The Long Night” offers a little bit of early hope in this overwhelming fight against the Wight horde. With a Valar Morghulis to the gang, she lights up the Dothraki swords like the world's biggest shish kabob party. They race off, everyone feeling that maybe things will work out. Then slowly, the lights from the swords dim. If even these guys can't do any damage, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Then: A beat later, first we hear them, then we see them. A wall of zombies crashing like a tidal wave. It's truly one of the most terrifying images we've seen on this show. I screamed. I was sweating. And I wondered why the hell I wasn’t watching something nice and relaxing like David Attenborough’s Life of Birds.
2. Oh no, not Ser Brienne!
I spent a lot of time during the fighting (and there's so much fighting!) worrying about Brienne of Tarth, now Ser Brienne. I just want her to be happy. Early on she gets knocked down pretty hard. Then she gets battered around a lot, as does everyone, and I thought for sure she’d been killed. But she was just shoved. It takes more than that to fell the Big Woman!
But death did come for some of our characters. Although, quite frankly, no one I’m too upset about. Edd was the first confirmed kill and it did get a yelp out of me because it was front-and-center and easy to see, unlike everything else. “Edd is dead!” I cried. Then my wife had to remind me who Edd was. (He’s from the Night’s Watch.)
A little later Berric Dondarrion met his end when he, the Hound and Arya were running around the little horror movie that lurked within this episode. (I loved them crossing the beams of light with snowflakes in them.)
Arya snuck off into a library and a zombie was in there with her, so they played out the kitchen scenario from Jurassic Park. The Hound almost collapsed from fright earlier, but Berric showed him how fierce Arya was. Yet it was Berric who got killed. Too bad; he was a cool guy. He didn't really get a shout, though, more of an awwwwwwww.
Game of Thrones is all about pushing boundaries. So, yes, the tough little girl who wants to be treated like an adult? Lyanna Mormont, Lady of Bear Island? She's gonna get crunched to death by a zombie giant just like the rest of them. First she’s swatted away (that got a “Whoa!!”) and then squeezed by the grotesque beast's hands with her bones crunching and everything.
“Maybe ... maybe this show does go too far?” I wondered. But immediately thereafter we saw her death was not in vain. She pops the monster in the eye with her small sword and down he went, dying right beside her. A cheer went up from our couch, though certainly one fraught with mixed emotions.
4. Dragon Fleas
There’s a lot of the Khaleesi and Jon Snow not using the power of dragon fire to defeat the enemy in “The Long Night.” Part of this is because the Night King brings enormous wind and snow with him but, come on, this is not a JetBlue flight to LaGuardia! This is life or death! Stop circling the runway and do something!
Daenerys finally does (she even has Drogon blast the Night King head-on) and when she and her winged child lands, something so unexpected happens it got more of an “Aaaaaaaaaaaah!” then a full-on shout.
White walkers crawl all over Drogon, weighing him down and scurrying over him like enormous bugs. He tries to shake them off (flinging away his mother instead) and flies away in a panic. To see another of Daenerys' dragons in peril is triggering, especially after what happened to Viserion, but the image of the undead crawling all over a dragon in flight is pure nightmare fuel.
5. Flails From The Crypt
Very, very rarely do I predict anything on Game of Thrones. But even I saw this one coming.
With the White Walkers approaching why why why would Tyrion and the others head down the Stark crypt? These are creatures whose whole schtick is animating the dead. Don’t go where there are boxes of dead people!
Well, this is an 82-minute episode and they space it out, but what we all thought would happen finally did. The dead came back to life, and made us shout “Noooooooooo!” It did offer a tender moment between Tyrion and Sansa, though, so maybe if they survive the rest of this madness they'll run off and get married for real this time.
6. Arya Happy Now?
The youngest Stark is the bravest Stark.
All seems lost. Everyone’s writhing in agony. Undead Viserion is about to blast Jon Snow with his blue flames. Bran is facing down the Night King. Theon Greyjoy is already dead (eh, who cares, that guy had it coming a long time ago) and death is ready to swallow all of Winterfell. Until.
Leaping out of nowhere: Arya, with a fistful of dragonglass. But the Night King is ready with the block. However, with a quick hand-to-hand drop, she stabs him and ... it’s over?
Everyone shatters into gross undead ice cubes, even little Lyanna, we're guessing. We won. We won! (Oh, Jorah Mormont died, too.)
Now, with the battle over we can immediately shift gears and worry about Cersei and how Jon and Daenerys can come to terms with who shall sit on the Iron Throne. More importantly, somebody's gotta find some extra Swiffers to clean up this place.
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