Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3 “The Long Night”
So last night’s episode basically serves as the penultimate episode of the ENTIRE series. And where I am a bit surprised that the whole series leading up to just a payoff of one battle, I honestly think they got it right. Thankfully GoT got Miguel Sapochnik to direct this 85-minute long battle. Sapochnik filmed what I deem to still be the two best episodes of the series (“The Battle of the Bastards” and “The Winds of Winter”), and though this episode still did not seem to live up to the resonance of emotion and plot development of those two episodes, this one still was masterfully filmed. In terms of direction, it is no exaggeration to say that there has never been anything like it on television…it was purely cinematic!!!!
So what did this episode get right? Well, you cannot talk about this episode unless you address the deaths that occurred and were highly expected. I loved how the episode definitely had you concerned for every character at least once throughout its run. I mean, for a second I actually thought Sansa and Tyrion were done for in the crypts (however, now I wonder if they will actually become an item?…Yes, I think that might actually become a thing). But as for the deaths, the show started you out simple with the death of Edd, who I loved as a character, but it was a quick death that the fanbase can easily move past with no real emotional impact.
Next up you had Lyanna Mormont. How ironic and fitting that a young character with such a big persona would die taking out the biggest wight in one of the un-dead giants. Very poetic. I was wondering what they would do with her character when they floundered with it during all of season 7? Has a 10-year-old character ever been more of a badass than her? All she cared about was the North, so dying in the battle to save the North was her only real play.
Then, you move to Beric Dondarrion, who from the first season we now have confirmed had one real role: he was resurrected from death six times, all to get Arya into a room with Melisandre. Interesting. And he went out a fighting soldier, which also was a fitting end to a rather dry character.
Then, you move to two very big deaths in the characters of Theon and Jorah. Theon has been one of my favorite character arcs (probably the best arc) throughout the entire series. Bran telling him “You’re a good man” allowed him to feel the redemption he needed since choosing the wrong path in season 2 and sending the Stark family’s path down an even more deadly road. And his final charge at The Night King was more about his character no longer running away or fleeing from any type of adversity. Alfie Allen is truly one of the best actors on this show, and he will be missed.
Skipping over the climactic death of The Night King, there was then Jorah, who died protecting the only person she ever truly cared about, and he even got to die in her arms. Sadly, he tried to say his last words, only to not be able to get any words out (yet, I think everyone understood what those words would be). I’ll miss Jorah and Ian Glen’s acting, but his character no longer served any purpose and being a knight, he deserved to die in battle protecting Daenerys. This is the death that I am sure affected fans the most. However, it was a death I wanted to see.
And then, of course, Melisandre ends the episode by fulfilling what I assume is some hundreds-or-so-odd years of destiny. All in all, the deaths were not as grandiose as people were probably expecting (a bit of an emotional letdown for the episode), but that just makes it eerily foreboding about what may occur in the later battle for the throne versus Cersei.
Now, you clearly cannot talk about this episode without talking about the centerpiece: Arya Stark. No, Jon was not the centerpiece of this episode, and I think from a writing standpoint that was brilliant. As a fan, I never truly thought that it would be a character like Arya to take down the Night King, but the show was so clever in setting all the pieces up throughout the episode for the huge, albeit a tad cliche, final blow at the end. What is more amazing is how the showrunners called back to all the memorable moments of Arya’s character throughout all 8 seasons and tied them all up into one prophetic moment of her being the savior of Bran, the battle, and ultimately the North.
The HBO aftershow even had the creators admit that they knew for some years now that it was going to be Arya to take out The Night King. Even during the episode, they kept reminding you, especially during the moments in the halls and the crypts, the stealth Arya learned in her training, which allowed her to sneak up on The Night King. What I loved, even more, is that we didn’t get the cliche showdown between Jon and The Night King, like I am sure 98% of the fans expected to happen. The Night King saw Jon as the big threat and had his dragon pin him down and away from Bran. But we now know, that one of her first lessons in fighting from Syrio in season 1 was “What do we say to the God of Death?… Not today!” And The Night King was literally a God of Death. It took me a while to realize that after watching the show. Her journey with The Hound in seasons 3 and 4, her run-in with Melisandre, etc., etc., were all a direct line to this moment.
Nonetheless, there were some moments where this episode of Game of Thrones Season 8 truly missed the mark. Besides the brilliant musical score and the top-notch cinematography, there were some failed moments in the writing. First, the opening charge with the lighted swords by the Dothraki was beautifully shot, but nevertheless so pointless. I understood that it was meant to showcase how daunting of a battle it would be and how immensely dominant the wights and White Walkers would be, but it was just a letdown in terms of emotional impact.
Then, there were too many moments where certain characters were overwhelmed and without plausibility should not have survived the scene. Of course, this happens in most films and shows, but GoT has always been a show that doesn’t sugarcoat or phone-in big moments, and it did so in this episode. However, I am nitpicking for the sake of honest criticism and not to be a totally biased fanboy here. In addition, I think one more big death could have pounded an even bittersweet tragic stamp on this great episode.
There is so much more I could ramble on about, and I’d be willing to discuss this with anyone. However, there is clearly more to come. And knowing that Sapochnik is directing episode 5 too and that the second-to-last episodes to seasons usually carry some major weight, I expect that will be a big showdown between whatever is left with Jon and Dany’s forces versus Cersei and Euron’s now outnumbering army.
What’s next after Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3
Plus, we still have to see the repercussions of Jon being Aegon Targaryen.
We still have to see the Clegane Bowl between The Hound and The Mountain.
We still have to see who kills Cersei (yes, she is dying).
We still have to find out who ends up on the Iron Throne.
Though there are only 3 episodes left, this show is long from over….
**Speaking of who kills Cersei, I really hope the action falls to one of her two brothers. Having Arya kill Cersei now, as many fans wanted, would be a bit overkill (wordplay intended), as I think she has earned enough glory and does not deserve all the big kills. In fact, I think it would be amazing if the show killed off Arya’s character. Her arc, like Brienne’s arc, is complete and really serves no more purpose. How tragically brilliant would it be to give her this glorious moment of being a savior, only to take her character down in the next episode or two!