Whew CHILE, this episode was a doozy. It killed. People were killed. The worst part, we cannot sit and think things will be okay because next week we head to King’s Landing to see Cersei. But, let’s get into some moments of this episode and why it was so devastatingly beautiful.
The tension is felt immediately as Sam nervously acquires his weapon and shuffles off. Tyrion is upset he is being sent to the crypts. Lyanna, praise her, is directing her men to secure the wall. The armies outside, Dothraki, Sullied and Winterpeople are all in position outside. Everyone is both ready and terrified. The score, tone, coloring, and camera work all lend to you feeling the same sense of dread as these characters. Even Melisandre finally strolls in from the darkness and does some big magic to light up the Dothraki’s arakhs. Mind you, last time we saw her she said she’d return because she’s supposed to die in the North. For a brief moment there a hope. Then we watch, on bated breath, as the horde of Dothraki charge and are snuffed out in seconds. This happens 14 minutes into an 80 minutes long episode.
Why they thought it was a great idea to send a bunch of desert people into a bunch of ice zombies is beyond me, but that was Jon’s plan. We cannot even blame Dany this time.
The Real Battle Begins
As the stragglers from the massacre start fleeing back to the gate, the wights flood them. There is something to be said about the similar World War Z imagery here. Death is literally spilling over them with no regard for formation or technique. Soldiers spend years perfecting effective ways of working together and the wights, who have no reason to fear their own demise, are simply running them over and stabbing as they go. Furthermore, wights are pawns of the Night King, they are literally not thinking about themselves, only the goal of their controller. Over the course of the episode, you will see this fact be the reason that our team loses the majority of their people.
Above all else, this battle and the one to come are going to be polar opposites. This war was pure chaos, humans versus a mindless flood. Next week is human on human violence. Everyone will have something to live for.
To The Fallen
There were a lot of big moments in this episode, that much is obvious, but to not pay homage to the characters who died would be a crime.
At fourteen minutes, most of the Dothraki are gone. At twenty-one minutes, Dolores Ed’s watch ends as saves Sam for the last time. Beric, who serves his lord well, finally finds peace at fifty-four minutes after doing everything in his power to save Arya. We’ve been told over and over how many times he’s been brought back, and this last time seems to have served the purpose of protecting Arya. Bless him. Melisandre, another member of the Lord of Light’s court, meets her end at the conclusion of the battle after she reminds Arya who the realest bitch in the world is. Consequently, we get the best scene of the battle.
Forty-four minutes in a character we have all loved goes out David and Goliath style. Yes, Lyanna, Little Bear, Mormont meets her end. This scene was rough. She was supposed to be a one-off character but, even the crew fell in love with Bella Ramsey. As an ice zombie giant bursts through the Winterfell gate, she stands in his way and is knocked aside immediately. She watches on in abject horror as the giant makes quick work of her men. With a fire seen in only a select few other characters in this show, she raises an ax and charges the giant. Her bones are broken, she is bleeding but she is going for it. The giant easily picks her up and as it’s crushing her she pulls out a hiddle blade and stabs it through the eye. Both the Walker Giant and Lyanna fall to the ground, dead. May she rest with her warrior queen mother in peace.
Jorah Mormont, forever friend zoned, once stricken with lizard hand as Jorah the Explora, meets his end as well. After saving Dany from a wight after she falls off a terrified Drogon, he battles until his last breath. Sadly, this means the end of the Mormont line. The saddest part of this entire scene as we watch Dany desperately try to assist in the fight, is that we clearly see she cares for him. In the end, he knows that but, he had to wait for his end to finally KNOW that. She had always said she cares but never really shown it until now. He falls at around an hour and eighteen minutes, after that we see both Dany and Drogon (who survived thankfully) mourn his death. May he rest in peace with his warrior father, small cousin queen, and the former warrior queen. Goodbye Mormonts.
Theon. Where to begin? Theon has been quite the confusing character for many over these eight seasons and to watch him give everything to protect Bran was poetically tragic. He was a ward of the Starks, betrayed the Starks and was forgiven entirely by the Starks. Sansa even seemed to love him in a true and honest way. Bran said he was home in his final moments before he charged the Night King, meeting his end. How, if you still do, can you hate Theon Greyjoy? He gave everything for forgiveness and died where his family was. I was already sobbing after Lyanna’s death but this scene broke me. If you also want to cry, one hour and fourteen minutes is where you want to click to.
The final big death goes to The Night King. This episode was gold for this character cinematically and musically. The dread he gave, you felt. Furthermore, they really gave him the swaggiest entrances and moments. The “BITCH YOU THOUGHT” moments were completely meme-able and not ones to be missed. His death came with a fresh sigh and the unclenching of my sphincter. Finally, he is gone, his army evaporated with him.
While those other characters are dying a horrific death, there are a few things to be pointed out. The first, 100% of twitter called that the crypts were a terrible place to be. Again, Jon is to be blamed for all of those dead people. He has physically seen what the Night King can do to dead people and still sent women, children and Tyrion down there. Little pseudo-Shireen was not prepared to fight all the dead Starks. Most of the crypt dwellers were wiped out leaving a handful of Northerners, Missandei, Sansa and Dany’s court.
Speaking of Tyrion and Sansa. If anyone missed it, she fully acknowledges that she would have died had she not listened to Arya. A lesson in humility only helps her continue to grow as a person (because she will be alive). When Missandei says they would all be dead anyway if not for Dany, Sansa really seems to take that in. I believe this will make Sansa respect Dany going forward. Tyrion and Sansa also share a moment while cowering in fear from the wights who have overrun the crypt. Does anyone else foresee them rekindling their marriage should they survive? She admits that he was her best husband, granted her other options were terrible from the start. Or perhaps, this Sansa using the weapon Cersei taught her about so long ago.
The Red Woman is Mufasa
Arya was undeniably a powerhouse in this episode, but for a brief moment we saw defensless season one Arya. With a strong start and some staff skills, Arya gave the walkers a run for their money. Then she hit her head, lost her weapon, and fell off the wall. As we see her experience true fear for the first time in seasons (read years), it’s jarring. It is jarring to watch her navigate the Winterfell library in terror like it’s Resident Evil. We feel real fear watching her get chased down the various halls after more wights crash through the halls. She seems trapped, she seems small again.
By luck and the grace of the writers, she finds safety in the Hound and Beric. She had already saved the Hound earlier, and he didn’t hesitate to run after her as she fought. As the battle towards safety, Beric gives his life to make sure his group makes it into a safe room where the Red Woman is seemingly waiting. “He has served his purpose,” she tells them. The gravity of that should not be missed. Both the Red Woman and Beric serve the Lord of Light. The Lord of Light apparently has big plans for Arya.
The main thing to note here is that Melisandre can see the force in Arya waning. She reminds Arya who the baddest bitch in Winterfell is by partially re-quoting something she said in season three:
“I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes starring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes sealed shut forever. We will meet again.”
Brown eyes: Polliver, and Meryn Trant. Done.
Blue eyes: The Waif and Walder Frey. Done.
Green Eyes: Cersei Lannister, not yet dead but we pray she is soon.
However, I think the Red Woman wanted us to focus on the blue eyes of the Night King here instead of focusing on the far away, soon-to-be-murdered green eyes of Cersei. Arya still has a list and it will be completed. With this refocusing, Arya sets off with a job to do. First and foremost Arya has never been a soldier; she’s an assassin and needed that reminder. Safe to say, her skills did not disappoint.
Jon and Dany, yup
The plot armor on these two was strong and fully expected. However, I thought there would be more bickering. Jon has just told Dany that his claim to “her” throne is greater than hers. This news has chronologically just been given and yet, she saved his life twice in this episode. When Jon/Aegon VI was being attacked by zombie Viserion and the Night King, she came to his rescue, knocking King Zombie to the ground. The second time she saved him, she almost lost Drogon. If you’ve been keeping up, that would have been the second dragon lost because she has saved Jon’s life. It is all so interesting because if he dies, she has no one in her perceived way anymore other than Cersei.
Again, I find myself questioning whether Dany is good or not. She has displayed a high level of brattishness coupled with moments of profound growth. She, like Sansa, is a conundrum wrapped in stylish clothing with a lot of power.
While Viserion is dead (again), both Drogon and Rhaegal will both make it into the next episode.
Jon’s plan was entirely anti-black. Dany almost lost another dragon saving Jon’s ass. The Night King and his Night Crew are DEAD dead. Arya got some dick and then saved the world so, to all the men who were screaming into their waifu pillows about her losing her edge because she had sex, please shut up forever. Thanks. We lost several good people but even more are present and accounted for. Additionally, and most importantly, Ghost is confirmed alive. He just dipped out after the Dothraki got murdered. No worries, he is a smart boy.
It is confirmed that Nymeria is still in the south with her squad which means we will see some Starks with some Direwolves and I am living for that moment. Next Sunday’s episode is going to have a seventy-eight minute run time but, I doubt we’ll see the full Last War play out. Something will go awry. Cersei may evade the first attempt on her life. Let’s just hope Euron is among the first to die. Can we agree on that?