The Game of Death
The Battle of Winterfell finally happened. The struggle between The Night King and Westeros came to fruition this past Sunday, and what we saw was far from disappointing. With the entire 82-minute episode being the longest in the show’s history, there was a lot happening all at once making it that much more enthralling and gut-wrenching to watch. I, personally, was on the edge of my seat for about 80 of those minutes and the final 2 minutes I spent standing and staring with my mouth hanging open, wondering, “What in the Seven Hells just happened?!?” But let’s just jump right into the recap, shall we?
So we pan right in the Winterfell courtyard to a shot of Sam Tarly completely freaking out because everyone is filing out to the front lines, weapons in hand, and he’s trying to find a familiar face to spend the rest of his living moments with. Then we take a look at a unsettling and quiet battlefield with all of our favorite characters at the ready to mount the first strike against the Army of the Dead. Suddenly, the sound of hooves breaks the silence, slowly approaching Jorah and the Dothraki Screamers, Melisandre appears and uses her magic to ignite all of the Dothraki arakhs on fire. With the new-found flaming advantage and shouts of confidence, the Dothraki, Jorah, and Ghost (for some reason) charge the hoard of corpses only to have their fires extinguished immediately upon impact with the wall of death. Upon seeing her beloved army decimated in one go, Dany abandons the plan Jon set to wait to attack with the dragons until The Night King appears to kill Bran. The Army of the Dead charges at the Unsullied, left flank, and right flank in almost a wave of bones. Dany and Jon take to the skies to rain dragon fire upon the attacking Wights and Jon flies over a line of Wight Walker lieutenants sitting on the hilltop. A blizzard then hits the Flying Targaryens before Jon can attack the high-ranking Wights, thus losing all vision and leaving them without the ability to attack.
Then we witness Sansa getting told what to do by Arya, which is new, but it’s in an effort to get Sansa to safety down in the crypt. Arya gives Sansa a Dragonglass dagger and tells her to “Stick ‘em with the pointy end.” Don’t you love full-circle stories? But, meanwhile, our favorite characters are being all but eaten alive by the undead on the battlefield and Edd of the Night’s Watch is killed by a Wight whilst saving Sam. Brienne can see that their numbers are dwindling and calls for retreat behind the walls of Winterfell. The Unsullied are left to defend the retreat and reduce the wave of dead soldiers as best they can so Grey Worm can drop the trench platforms allowing Dany and Drogon to light the trench with fire. Due to the blizzard Dany isn’t able to see Davos waving torches at her as a signal, which leaves only one option. Melisandre uses her god’s fire to light the trenches allowing Dany visibility to light ‘em up once more.
So far, The Night King hasn’t shown up for Bran yet, and Tyrion and Sansa are just having a grand ole time in the crypt with all the women, children and elderly. Bran decides to Warg out with some ravens in an attempt to locate and track The Night King creeping around the skies on an Undead Viserion. The Night King then uses his Spidey senses to sacrifice several dozen walking dead to lay over the trench acting as platforms allowing the remaining army to attack the castle walls. Jon finally spots The Night King and takes off after him. With everyone
important within the Winterfell walls, they rain down a slew of flaming arrows in an attempt to hold the army back and keep them from getting in. Unfortunately, there are just too many of the dead and too few of the living, and the Army of the Dead makes it into Winterfell. The Hound can be seen cowering in the corner because of the amount of fire surrounding him, but snaps out of it when he sees Arya struggling against a number of Wights chasing her onto a roof. This is the prime time for a Giant Wight to break down the gates and start destroying everything and everyone. Lucky for us, we have Little Lyanna Mormont to save the day. She runs, screaming, at the Giant Wight and as he crushes her tiny fragile body in his cold hand, she shoves a Dragonglass blade straight through his eye, prolonging the lives for a few of our friends.
There is more than just the battle on the ground. Jon and Dany have managed to fly above the clouds and take a few decent hits at The Night King and Wight Viserion, but they soon lose sight of The Night King and retreat to lower altitudes. Arya has now found herself inside the winding halls of Winterfell, which serve as a horror movie for her and us as viewers. She manages to sneak her way through the library which is now littered with walking corpses, only to stumble upon a small hoard tearing their way through several doorways. Arya then runs as fast as her legs can carry away from the paparazzi behind her. With the dead having now invaded the castle, those hiding in the crypt are getting more and more anxious with every passing footstep and slam upstairs. The Hound and Beric have made it into the halls of Winterfell in pursuit of Arya, and find the girl trying to fight off an undead attacker. Beric sacrifices himself to save The Hound and Arya, leaving them in the same room Brienne was knighted in last episode. Melisandre has taken refuge in this room fulfilling her previous prophecy that Arya and her would meet again with Arya shutting many eyes forever. Then, in a valiant effort to raise hope for our crew, Arya says to the God of Death once more, “Not today!” and jets off toward an unknown goal.
Jon and Dany once again find themselves in a sky battle with The Night King which actually ends up with Jon and Dany on top and The Night King falling to the ground below. Dany has Drogon take a direct “Dracarys” at The Night King, which ends in failure. The Night King is unexpectedly immune to fire, and starts toward the Godswood in search of Bran. Jon pursues him on foot with Longclaw drawn, which leads to the impending doom devout fans have predicted. The Night KIng raises the dead allies we have lost to further ensure success for the Wight Walkers. This also means the corpses in the crypt have been awoken leading to the death of innocents and destruction of any safety they once had. Jon, now surrounded by his former allies, is saved by Dany and Drogon, leaving Jon an opening to get to Bran. The dead then climb onto Drogon, stabbing him all over his body. This causes him to panic and shake the pests off leading to Dany’s fall onto the heated battleground. But because the Queen can’t die (at least not yet) Jorah jumps out of nowhere to protect her, as the Lord of the Friendzone should. Then the sounds of death and chaos dull and the sad sound of a piano lays over top of our amazing cast of characters. Jon battles his way through the crowd to get to Bran, only to be trapped behind some rubble by an injured undead Viserion. Brienne, Jaime, Podrick, Sam, Tormund, and Gendry are all fighting for their lives. Sansa shares what she believes to be her last moments alive with Tyrion, a man she has respected since her days in King’s Landing. And
finally, Theon has lost all his men to the Wights, and is fighting all alone, to protect Bran with his life. The Night King arrives in the Godswood with his entourage and Theon runs head on toward death. The Night King snaps Theon’s spear and stabs him, leaving Theon to take his last breaths. Dany and Jorah are fighting side-by-side out on the battlefield and Jorah takes several fatal blows. We watch The Night KIng approach Bran and lock eyes with the Three-Eyed Raven. The music dies and a scream is heard. Arya leaps into the air with her Valyrian steel dagger in-hand. She is caught by the throat by The Night King’s cold, dead hand which causes her to drop the dagger. But she manages to catch it in her other hand, stabbing The Night King in the very place he was stabbed with Dragonglass when the Children of the Forest created him all those years ago. The Night King shatters as does the rest of his Army of the Dead and Viserion. Jorah and Daenerys are out in the field and Jorah is finally able to give into his wounds and pass in the arms of the woman he loves. Drogon returns and drapes himself around his mother and old friend. The final scene is Melisandre walking out of the castle past the bloody battlefield out into the blizzard and removing her necklace. She ages rapidly then collapses into a pile of ash which blows away into the storm.
Wow. All I have to say is WOW. This episode was what we have all been waiting for since episode one. I have mad respect for the cast and crew to put this together for our entertainment. As you guys know, I was pessimistic about the Living winning, but that’s why this show is so amazing is that just as you think the story is going to go one way, it veers off into a completely different direction. BUT ARYA THOUGH?!?! That was an M. Knight Shyamalan level plot twist right there. Although, Arya is my favorite character, so that move further solidifies her in that position on my list. Along with the death of The Night King, I was pleasantly surprised at the minimal death count of some of the major characters this go around. If you read my recap from last week, I predicted that Brienne, Jaime, Podrick, Grey Worm, Jorah, The Hound, Davos, Gendry, Sam, Theon, and Bran would die out of our main and recurring characters. So far only Lyanna Mormont, Edd, Theon, Jorah, and Beric have died out of the main, recurring, and guest characters, which 5 major deaths is significantly less than I anticipated. The fallen heroes had finished their stories and redeemed themselves if necessary. Of course not everyone can have a huge, important death, but these characters deserved an event of their death or should at least be acknowledged for their roles in this epic battle. Can we also talk about Ghost for a second? He shows up in the background of one scene in the last episode and this episode they throw him at the Wight Walkers first thing and then don’t follow up on whether he is alive or dead. Listen here, showrunners. You may have tried to write Ghost off the show to allow more CGI budget for the dragons, but I will always notice when my favorite Direwolf is nowhere to be found or just runs into battle with status unknown after 80 minutes of action. I WILL ALWAYS NOTICE. But maybe the reason they didn’t revisit the Ghost situation is that he will come back next episode without a scratch or Jon will find him injured but alive.
Now that The Night King is defeated, unfortunately, that leaves our northern pals weak and crippled against the impending Lannister army that is coming to destroy them. Cersei will not allow them a breath before attacking them will all her might. Who knows? Maybe they’ll beat the odds and manage to pull an “Arya” and take Cersei out in an unexpected way allowing Jon
and/or Dany to take the Iron Throne. All I know is that there is another huge battle headed their way and it may just be The Long Day. We’ll just have to see next Sunday. Until then, stick ‘em with the pointy end.
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